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"Pray Humbly"

Light the Shepherd Candle
(A litany for lighting Advent Wreath)
Today is the third Sunday in Advent,
We gather today to listen to and obey God's Rule.
Advent is a season filled with opportunity to respond to God's wonderful news,
To hear the joyful news;
To respond humbly to God's wondrous promise fulfilled.
We light this third candle
To symbolize the joy that we can know in humble service.
God, help every ear and every heart be filled with humility as we receive the joy of your good news in Jesus Christ.
(unison:) "Come to us today."

236: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

Featured Hymn:
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

Third Sunday in Advent, Year C
Scripture Theme Hymns
Zephaniah 3:14-20 From punishment to pardon;
from oppression to honor.
165: Hallelujah! What a Savior
203: Hail to the Lord's Anointed
600: Wonderful Words of Life
Isaiah 12:2-6 God, our strength and our salvation 110: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
247: O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright
662: Stand Up and Bless the Lord
Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always! 89: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
160: Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart
229: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
715: Rejoice, the Lord Is King
Luke 3:7-18 John's message of good news and repentance 355: Depth of Mercy
539: O Spirit of the Living God

Featured Hymn
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

Text: Nahum Tate
Music: Harmonia Sacra; arr. from G.F. Handel
Meter: CM

"The story of Christmas" is not just one story. We have the story of Mary, who had the surprise of her life when an angel told her that she would bear a child by the Spirit of God. We have the story of Joseph, who heard the same thing, but from a very different perspective. We have the stories of the visit with Elizabeth, the journey to Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, and more.

This week's featured hymn was written by Nahum Tate (1652-1715), a contemporary of Isaac Watts. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks is probably Tate's only hymn that is still in general use, but the reason for its continuing popularity is clear. It captures the story of shepherds who received the good news of the Savior's birth on the very first Christmas night. These shepherds, none of whom are named, were terrified of the angels. But the angel comforted them and gave them "glad tidings of great joy." But that was not all. The angel described a sign by which the shepherds would recognize the promised child. They went, they saw, they rejoiced.

How often does God make His word known to us today? Every day. We can read and know and accept the messages given to Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the magi, and the shepherds. What will we do with that message each day? Will we hear and follow just as the shepherds did?

Read the words of this hymn, accept them as a challenge to believe God's message for you, and act on that message. Like the shepherds, you will be filled with great joy.

1. While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground;
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around,
and glory shone around.
2. "Fear not!" said he, for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind.
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to all of humankind,
to all of humankind."
3. "To you, in David's town, this day
is born of David's line
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
and this shall be the sign,
and this shall be the sign:"
4. "The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
and in a manger laid,
and in a manger laid."
5. Thus spake the seraph and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God on high,
who thus addressed their song,
who thus addressed their song:
6. "All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
good will henceforth from heaven to earth
begin and never cease,
begin and never cease!"

May hear the word of the Lord and experience the joy of the shepherds every day.

God bless you--

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Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.