Advent IV: December 20, 2020

                

Welcome/Opening Prayer

Greetings Everyone- and welcome to Community Mennonite Church Of Lancaster. Welcome to the final Sunday of Advent. I am Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck, Associate Pastor here at CMCL- and I work with our children and young families. 

This morning is one of my favorite Sundays of the year. It is the Sunday of our children’s Christmas Program. We usually have the children live out and narrate the story of the Coming of Jesus- the Bethlehem Star, the shepherds and angels- Mary and Joseph and Herod and Gabriel, and of course the sheep and shepherds & baby Jesus- live in the church sanctuary. As we all know, Covid 19 has changed everything- so it is going to be a little different this year- and even more different than what is already normally different. Still we are together- albeit on zoom- and we will celebrate. 

Let us begin with a prayer. 

Holy Blessed Spirit – Come. Fill our hearts with the joy of celebrating what is good and beautiful in the world. Let us set aside our pain and our fears for just this time, and be open to holding joy together. Maybe we can’t set the pain aside- so let us hold it along with our JOY. Breathing deeply. Listening to the sounds and words of life- of children- of hope. Holy Blessed Spirit – Come.

(pause)

This morning the Chubb/Krumm family will be lighting the Advent Candles for us- Margaret, Andre, Gwen, and Pascal.
Candle Lighting Liturgy | The Candle of Joy, read by Margaret and Gwen Krumm and André and Pascal Chubb (from A Sanctified Art, “Those Who Dream”)

I dream of music that makes my heart swell.
I dream of trees that take my breath away.
I dream of sunrises that wrap me in light.
I dream of family dinners that feel like hoe.
I dream of church services that give me hope.
I dream of love as the default.
So today, as we draw near to Christmas day, we light the candle of love.

          light candle

May this light burn bright as a reminder that God is here and God is love.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God for a love like that. Amen

Introduction to the Christmas Video

I love the whole Christmas season. It is a holiday full of tradition and cookies and fruitcakes, pine trees and cold nights and fires and short days…and being with those we love (and/or those we are related to and have to see once a year). But this year most of us aren’t seeing one another in person. We are having to adjust our traditions. We meet one another on zoom- or through glass windows, or talk on the phone. I am a hugging person- and yet in these new times so many of us aren’t able to touch one another safely. 

But in this new normal I have found pockets of joy- and this morning we are going to have about 40 minutes of shared joy- from our church family. This morning, our Christmas program is made up of videos spliced together from over 20 families here among our CMCL Church community. Put together they tell the story of the coming of Jesus through a play called “Do Not be Afraid.” Others share by playing piano or singing in between the scenes of the story.  As you watch- if you have any prayer requests to be shared during sharing time- feel free to send them to me in chat, or via email or text. And after the service concludes, I hope we will be able to see some of the gingerbread house creations you may have gotten to in your homes since opening the 4th gift of your Advent Bag. 

We all know Covid 19 doesn’t keep Christmas from coming- right? Dr. Seuss taught us that. 

“Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot… but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville did not.”- It is almost as if we are living in a time where the Coronavirus is masquerading as the Grinch- trying to steal our Christmas. But we remember the hearts of the people of Who-ville. 

“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any presents at all! He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came. Somehow or other, it came just the same!

“…It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

“…Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!”

This morning we have the privilege of enjoying time remembering that in spite of inconveniences and pandemic fears and political disappointments and failures- in spite of quarantining and isolation- Jesus Came. Jesus continues to come to us. We celebrate today that coming- and how this one man changed the rest of the world for all times. 

Christmas Program,  (video compiled & edited by Malinda Clatterbuck)

Sharing Time—  Email your prayer requests or reflections (or any dreams you’ve been dreaming!) to malinda@communitymennonite.org. They will be sent out by email by Monday morning.Let us Pray…  Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

You have heard our prayers of joy and pain-
the prayers of our hearts and the prayers given voice.
We believe you hear us.
Come Lord Jesus Come.

Announcements — We are grateful for your continued donations that allow our church to meet the needs of our community during Covid. We didn’t have a full offering time today- but we take this time to say thank you.

There is a Congregational Meeting directly following open sharing time (after the service ends, and Gingerbread houses are shared). Please join us. The discussion is an update on the Grant Street project. We want your input and support moving forward.

Benediction— 

Christmas Light
By May Sarton

When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!

And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love’s presence near.

Love distant, love detached
And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.

(Go in Peace to love and serve.) 

 Worship Leader: Malinda Clatterbuck
Christmas Program: children and families of CMCL
Advent Wreath Candle Lighting & Reading: André and Pascal Chubb and Margaret and Gwen Krumm
Tech Host: Karen Davis