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"Pray Joyfully"

Light the Angel Candle
(A litany for lighting Advent Wreath)
Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent,
We gather today to hear and share praises to God, who comes to us.
Indeed, God comes to us into our lives;
Through His messengers we hear Him;
They comfort us and show us the glory of living to praise God.
We light this fourth candle
To remember the witness of the heavenly host, which lifted its praise to God at the birth of Christ.
God, fill every heart with praise for Jesus Christ.
(unison:) "Be born in us today."

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Featured Hymn:
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Fourth Sunday in Advent, Year C
Scripture Theme Hymns
Micah 5:2-5a A prophecy of Bethlehem and shepherds 179: O Sing a Song of Bethlehem
236: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
240: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
245: The First Noel
Luke 1:46b-55
Psalm 80:1-7
Mary's Song
A plea for restoration
66: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
163: Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know
Hebrews 10:5-10 Holiness through Christ 88: Maker in Whom We Live
562: Jesus, Lord, We Look to Thee
580: Lead On, O King Eternal
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55) Mary visits Elizabeth, and Mary's Song 66: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
163: Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know

Featured Hymn
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788; alt. by George Whitefield and others
Music: Felix Mendelssohn; arr. by William H. Cummings

There are many variations in the tradition of observing the season of Advent. Some follow a litany based on hope, love, joy, and peace. Other litanies help us understand the roles of prophets, parents (Mary and Joseph), angels, and shepherds. Still others seem to emphasize prophecies, expectations, and other themes. Ultimately, though, all of the variations come to one time and one place. They all come to the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

There must have been so many other weary nights that had been very similar to this one. A weary nation labored to count the people and pay taxes to the Roman government. Weary innkeepers tended to their weary travelers. Weary shepherds worked in the fields. Weary mothers held their newborn children. There is no record of those weary nights.

In the midst of all of these common, weary events, the night that Christ was born was special. The census was still being conducted and taxes were still being collected. Innkeepers were still tending to their travelers. Shepherds were still tending their flocks. Mothers were still holding their children. But this time, there was someone else. Herald angels were singing "Glory!"

This week's featured hymn, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, was written by Charles Wesley. Wesley is credited with having written over 5,000 hymns. This may be one of his best known works. Somehow that seems very fitting. Just as this hymn is particularly glorious when compared to thousands of others, the night when Christ was born is particularly glorious when compared to the thousands of nights that Israel lived under Roman rule. When you read and sing the words, remember God's glory, which shines beyond the ordinary.

1. Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"
2. Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th' incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"
3. Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"

God sent angels to deliver the marvelous message of glory at Christmas. May your Christmas be so marvelous and glorious.

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.