Dec. 26, 2021
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Call to Worship:
By now Joseph was used to angels. And now he needed their timely warnings more than ever. Jesus was barely a toddler and his trouble with the Roman Empire had begun. Jesus, the Savior of Humankind becomes a refugee–forced from home by oppression and violence. How might we usher in #morelife in the face of that which feels destructive?
There are angels among us that may not meet the eye
There are messages of [life] coming from a choir on high
But don’t just look up;
for the way God works
is to plant more [life] right here on earth
just like it was with Jesus birth.
There are angels among us,
there are angels among us,
bringing [life] on earth.
Do not be afraid
Carol: We Three Kings — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0BJonwPCds
If you have children please share this – if you do not, navigate to the prayer section below. Please register on the Sunday School website by clicking on “log in” in the top right and sign up.
Children’s Church: A Reason for the Season — https://www.umcherkimer.com/post/the-reason-for-the-season
Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-23 (adapted from The Voice translation)
Narrator: Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. [three people come down the aisle] Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise ones or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. They made inquiries.
Wise Ones: [in unison] Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.
Narrator: King Herod [in a big chair] began to hear rumors of the wise one’s quest, and he, and all of his followers in Jerusalem, were worried. So Herod [gesturing] called all of the leading Jewish teachers, the chief priests and head scribes, [a “gaggle” of scribes and priests enter from the side, all trying to be in the front of the pack]
Herod: Where does Hebrew tradition claim the long-awaited Anointed One will be born?
Scribes and Priests: [in unison] An ancient Hebrew prophet, Micah, said this:
But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are no poor relation—
For from your people will come a Ruler
who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.
Narrator: Herod [big, gesturing to come and then go… the wise ones move toward Herod and then back as he does] called the wise ones to him, demanding to know the exact time the special star had appeared to them.
Herod: Go to Bethlehem and search high and low for this Savior child; and as soon as you know where He is, report it to me so that I may go and worship Him. Then Herod sent them to Bethlehem.
Narrator: The wise ones left Herod’s chambers and went on their way [Herod and the scribes/priests exit]. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared—a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured them. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise ones arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him [they bow before the manger]. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And then, just as Joseph did a few months before [Joseph enters, the Messenger enters and waves feathers around the heads of the wise ones with their eyes closed], the wise ones had a dream warning them not to go back to Herod. The wise ones heeded the dream. Ignoring Herod’s instructions, they returned to their homes in the East by a different route. After the wise ones left, a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. [the feathers are waved around Joseph’s head as well]
Messenger of the Lord (to Joseph): Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for. He is planning to search for the child and kill Him. But you will be safe in Egypt.
Narrator: So Joseph got up in the middle of the night; he bundled up Mary and Jesus, and they left for Egypt, heeding this guardian angel’s words. [Joseph exits with the manger, if possible]
Narrator: After a few months had passed, Herod realized he’d been tricked. The wise ones were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. He knew the baby King was this age because of what the wise men told him.
This sad event had long been foretold by the prophet Jeremiah:
People: A voice will be heard in Ramah,
weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night.
The voice is Rachel’s, weeping for her children,
her children who have been killed;
she weeps, and she will not be comforted.
Narrator: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This fulfilled yet another prophecy. The prophet Hosea once wrote, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
And after Herod died, a messenger of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt:
Messenger of the Lord: [unseen, voice in a microphone] You may go home now. Take the child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, for the people who were trying to take the child’s life are now dead.
So Joseph got up and took Mary and Jesus and returned to the land of Israel. Soon he learned that Archelaus, Herod’s oldest and notoriously brutal son, was ruling Judea. Archelaus might not be any friendlier than Herod had been. Joseph was simply afraid. He had another dream, and in this dream, he was warned away from Judea; so Joseph decided to settle up north in a district called Galilee, in a town called Nazareth. And this, too, fulfilled what the prophets have taught, “The Savior will be a Nazarene.”
Please take this time to speak out loud the things that have brought you joy and blessing this week. I am sure you have them, but sometimes we have to be reminded to look for them. Thank you Jesus for these things. Then after you have have shared those joys, list your concerns as you would if we were together. Now, let us join together in prayer:
Carol: He is Born — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPyZEJWgl2I&t=11s
Take this time to exercise the privilege of sharing in the work of God by giving your tithe to the church. You have options:
First United Methodist Church of Herkimer
127 N. Prospect Street
Herkimer, NY 13350.
Morning Star United Methodist Church
36 Second Avenue
Ilion, NY 13357
Online Giving for HFUMC (safe and secure)
You can use this link or download the Tithe.ly app from the app store https://tithe.ly/give?c=1695306
Prayer of Dedication:
God of life and possibility, we offer these gifts so that they may be transformed into your good news for the sake of the world. Amen.
Carol: Go Tell it on the Mountain — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAfIKeh04KU
Every week I have given you a mission, “should you choose to accept it.” It is a mission with a message. So this last week of this series I’m inviting you to be “hashtaggers of life” and to Facebook, Tweet, Instagram, Snapchat our quote meme for the week and hashtag it #morelife. Thank you for being witnesses in this series in this way!
Let us turn toward the Candle–for Christ is our Life
and say to one another the message
we must take to the world:
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Passing of the Peace of God
Let your hearts sing a new song in place of your benediction song. Reach out to someone in our congregation and place a song in their heart by your contact.
Service adapted from Worship Design Studio Angels Among Us Series – http://www.worshipdesignstudio.com