Worship – The BIG Plan (You Are Not Alone!) – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Welcome to Advent worship!
For our journey towards the manger this year, we are following worship themes from A Sanctified Art. This incredibly creative group of women lends us their voices in poetry and prayer and their skills with art and visuals.

The four weeks of Advent have the following themes:
· First Week of Advent – Nov 29th – Dec 5th – Those Who Dream – Keep Awake
· Second Week of Advent – Dec 6th -12th – Those Who Dream – Prepare the Way
· Third Week of Advent – Dec 13th – 19th – Those Who Dream – Sow Joy
· Fourth Week of Advent – Dec 20th – 24th – Those Who Dream – Are Not Alone

This season, as we continue to stay safe through the COVID surge, we continue to worship online, but with some additional pieces to bring into your home. Please check out the weekly candle-lighting liturgy for your home below:
Advent At-Home Candle Lighting Liturgies

And, now, worship!

Gathering Poem – “Not Alone” – Read by Caleb Rogers

Prayer of Confession
God of Good News,
You say to me, “You are highly favored,” but I struggle to see how that could be.
You say to me, “Do not be afraid,” but I am afraid all the time.
You say to me, “Even the impossible is possible, just look at Elizabeth!”
But hope slips through my hands like water.
The impossible still feels impossible.

So, today we pray:
Teach us to sing like Mary.
Teach us to laugh like Elizabeth.
Teach us to trust like the angels.
Forgive us when we can only do one at a time, or none at all.

Gathering Song – He Came Down – Week 4
Performed by SOTH Worship Team

Scripture Readings
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
    with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
    your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever,
    and build your throne for all generations.’

19 Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:
    “I have set the crown on one who is mighty,
    I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found my servant David;
    with my holy oil I have anointed him;

21 my hand shall always remain with him;
    my arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him,
    the wicked shall not humble him.

23 I will crush his foes before him
    and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;
    and in my name his horn shall be exalted.

25 I will set his hand on the sea
    and his right hand on the rivers.
26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
    my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’

Gospel Reading – Luke 1:26-45
Read by Vicki Carroll
The reading can be found here.

Pastor Adam’s Message

Questions for Discussion:
When is a time that you have felt alone?

Who or what found you during that time?

Think hard and list all the “important” characters in the Bible that tell the story of God’s love (the Christmas story is a good place to start!)…

Think hard and list all the “important” characters in your life that tell the story of God’s love…

Would you let Ben work on your vehicle?

Centering Song My Soul Magnifies the Lord
Performed by SOTH Worship Team

Affirmation of Faith
We believe that this world is hard—
Harder than it has to be.
When the world falls apart around us,
We believe in listening for the angels that say, “Do not be afraid,”
And in seeking out the Elizabeths in our lives—
Those who laugh with joy at our arrival
And throw open the doors to their homes.
We believe that healthy relationships can offer healing,
Through the laughter of cousins,
The joy shared between siblings,
And the home found in partnership.

Therefore, we believe in church families,
In chosen families,
And in the love that extends beyond family.
We believe in friendships,
In neighbors,
And in leaning on each other when the going gets tough.

We believe in the Triune God—
Lover, Beloved, and Love itself—
Inherently relational, always connected, and never alone.

We believe that that same belovedness exists for us.
We believe that we are loved and claimed,
Never alone.

Thanks be to God for a love like that.

Closing Song – Born in Bethlehem
Performed by
Third Day
Lyrics in the video description

Blessing of Courage
I cannot say
where it lives,
only that it comes
to the heart
that is open,
to the heart
that asks,
to the heart
that does not turn away.

It can take practice,
days of tugging at
what keeps us bound,
seasons of pushing against
what keeps our dreaming

When it arrives,
it might surprise you
by how quiet it is,
how it moves
with such grace
for possessing
such power.

But you will know it
by the strength
that rises from within you
to meet it,
by the release
of the knot
in the center of
your chest
that suddenly lets go.

You will recognize it
by how still
your fear becomes
as it loosens its grip,
perhaps never quite
leaving you,
but calmly turning
into joy
as you enter the life
that is finally
your own.

Giving and Offering
Shepherd of the Hills is very blessed and grateful for your continued financial support during this difficult time of physical distancing required by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your giving allows us to continue to provide worship, support and outreach until it is safe to gather in person again. We realize that the pandemic has caused many financial challenges. As your finances allow, please consider continuing to support our shared ministries.

There are two ways to give:
– Mail your tithe or offering to the church office. The office will remain open for normal business hours.
– Give online! Our online giving is secure and fully operational. It can be found here.

Thank you again for helping us continue to spread God’s Word and help those in need during these challenging times.  

Confession Prayer and Affirmation of Faith – “Prayer by Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org.”
Blessing of Courage – Written by Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow