Dec 20th Service

Due to the increase in virus spread in our area, services for Sunday will be  by Zoom Only .

                  St. Andrew Presbyterian Church

Sunday Worship Service Recording Bulletin  & Sermon

 To View The Recording Click Here 

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church

Sunday, December 20th, 2020  10:00 a.m. Worship Service

Fourth Sunday of Advent 
Worship Leaders:
Dale Green, Worship Leader
Mr. David Warfield, Director of Music Ministry
Elder Harold Haugeto, Liturgist

PRELUDE                                                   “Of The Father’s Love Begotten”                         Carlton Young                   



We light this candle as a sure and certain sign of the coming of Christ.
Advent means coming.
Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness;
Let the earth open, that salvation may spring up.
Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son,
And shall name him Immanuel; Prince of Peace.

CALL TO WORSHIP                                                                                              Luke 1: 26-32,38.                                 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will       give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
May we be so bold as to listen to God and the Angels in our lives – to God be the Glory. Amen

HYMN 93                                       “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates”                                       TRURO
 Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
behold, the King of glory waits;
the King of kings is drawing near;
the Savior of the world is here!

 Fling wide the portals of your heart;
make it a temple, set apart
from earthly use for heaven’s employ,
adorned with prayer and love and joy.

 Redeemer, come!  I open wide
my heart to thee; Lord, abide.
let me thy inner presence feel;
thy grace and love in me reveal.
 Beginning as a paraphrase of Psalm 24:7-10, this text then applies the door imagery to the singer’s heart. and concludes with the individual’s welcome of the approaching Savior.  It is set to a very effective anonymous 18th century English time that has served many texts.

                                                          PRAYER OF CONFESSIONGod of the future, 
you are coming in power to bring all nations peoples under your rule. 
But we confess that we have not expected your kingdom, 
for we live casual lives, ignoring your promised judgment and final peace. 
We accept lies as truth, 
We exploit neighbors as inferior, 
We abuse the earth as if it were infinite, 
and we refuse your justice and peace. 
In your mercy, forgive us. 
Grant us wisdom to welcome your perfect way, 
and to seek things that will endure when Christ comes to reconcile the world.
Through Jesus; Your Son, and the Holy Spirit,
HENCE WE PUT IT AT THE CENTER OF OUR WORSHIP.First Reading                               God’s Covenant with David 2 Samuel 7:1-11b, 16
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”  Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:  Go and tell my servant David:
Thus, says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 
 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 
 Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 
 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts:
I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel;  and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 
 Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.  When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. 
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
 Second Reading                                                                                                                         Romans 16:25-27 
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 
 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — 
 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
                                                                                                         PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION 

                                     Swimming in our Swim Lane

You may have heard the expression – “Stay in your swim lane”
As a phrase, it makes sense that it started in the pool, but it’s heard more often in the business world.
It means don’t do what others have been hired to do.  Don’t do marketing if you are the finance director, do marketing.
I’ve always had trouble with this concept, I tend to jump in…
There are similar metaphors like this, and they mostly relate to sports, like simply:
“Stay in your lane” (a track phrase but it’s used all the time in the military – same meaning though – stick to your job)
or “keep to your swing arc” (golf – be consistent)
or “stay in your swing circle” (baseball – play what you practice, or, stay with your strong suit).
Oh – there’s another one – a expression defining and metaphor; strong suit defining the swing circle.
The stories of both of our writers in scripture today have something to do with theses idioms, of growing where God plants you, you might say  –  oh, there’s another one!
David was a warrior king. David was rejected in his offer to build a house for God
Paul, a Jew, quite nearly a Pharisee was violently anti-Christian in his early life. He was rejected in his desire to persecute the followers of “The Way” (early Christians) but was given a new swim lane to exist and thrive within.
David was sent back into battle, to protect his nation and people so they would experience the promised land and the lives that God had gifted them .
Paul was pulled out of battle against Jesus and into a new job; to save the Gentiles. The Gentiles of all people – those who Paul despised.
Sometimes, God sends us down a path, down a swim lane we least expect.
What a strange and amazing story that brings us to the end of Advent.
Even if you don’t know of the lives of these characters in the Bible – they are the stuff of a great tale that brings us to Christmas and beyond. We’ve spent a good deal of time in the earliest part of the book of Luke, recalling the pre-birth narrative of Jesus and his family. But this story really started much earlier.
The “whole story” of course starts in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, committing the original sin. But that is only the beginning, and a story for another day.
Our lessons begin with David, the runt of the family, who was a youngest son doing his father’s bidding, a sheepherder. David was given a new plan to follow by God; he was anointed, as the future king of all Israel. He killed the giant Philistine warrior Goliath, married King Saul’s daughter and then was hunted down for death by his jealous Father-in-law. David eventually lead Israel as king for 40 years and to supremacy. There is a lot more to his story in-between all that but today we see him resting from his labors, his battles, his work, resting in his home of cedar and thinking what to do next. But God has a plan.
About 1000 years later we find Zachariah burning incense in the Temple. There, he unexpectedly met the angel Gabriel who announced his presence: Luke 1: 19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”
13“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 
16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Soon, Zachariah’s wife, known to be barren and beyond childbearing years would be pregnant with a child we would later know as John the Baptist.
½ a year later the angel Gabriel shows up again but this time at Elizabeth’s cousin Mary’s home in Nazareth.
Luke 1: 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.
This is key to the story here, because in our scripture today, God makes a covenant with David; that the rule over the Hebrew people, over Israel, would remain in David’s lineage.
So, the plan is for Mary to bear God’s child by miraculous conception and birth and to this plan Mary says:
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.” 
But Mary apparently didn’t let her future husband in on the plan that Gabriel explained so when Joseph finds out that she is “with child”, Matthew chapter 1 tells us he planned to quietly divorce her (break off the betrothed wedding plans).
But there is an angel in here again, maybe Gabriel, we’re not told.
Matthew says: 20 But after (Joseph) had considered (the divorce), an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem (the City of David, where David was raised) to register, and Mary gives birth there – and Jesus, the Christ, is with us.
Some 33 years later Jesus prays his last prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane and is arrested, crucified, is resurrected to life and ascends to heaven, having given all of humanity a way to reconcile, to build a bridge between our sinful lives and a loving God’s righteous nature.
Shortly after this, we found the budding Pharisee, Paul, on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, a trip of about 180 miles, to hunt down and jail or kill Jesus’ followers in Syria. He is a serious character! Acts 9 tells us of his conversion by the very presence of the resurrected Jesus, to become a Christ-believer and the greatest evangelist in history for Jesus and His message of hope and salvation.
Now, what if any one of these characters in this strange and amazing story had wandered out of his or her swim lane.
If David had never left the life of a shepherd, if he had run from Goliath or stood to fight Saul and died.
What if Zachariah had discounted the angel’s plan for John, if Mary had denied Gabriel, if Joseph (from the family of David no less) had followed his plan and rejected Mary. What if Paul had stayed in Jerusalem and become a Pharisee of Pharisees? Would we be in God’s family today? Would Jesus be our child become messiah?
It’s hard the fathom but this was the plan all along. That a garden would lead to the salvation of humanity. Not Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden but Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
The time of Advent is a time to look forward to the celebration of birth, toward a birthday party of the highest importance. But we do not celebrate the birth of one born 2000 years ago, without the death.
We would not look forward, to this new life of a child, without the new life celebrated later, in resurrection.
Because, through human sin humanity was saved. Through the actions of the Jews in charge and the Romans supporting them Jesus died for all mankind, and that’s the most significant news in history.  But before that, he was born with a purpose. And for that, we celebrate!
What if you were born for one specific, explicit, driving purpose and that was all that motivated you?
Do you think there are such people?
I’m certainly not an example. I thought, in high school, that my driving purpose was to serve my country in the military. I stayed in that swim lane for nearly 40 years before a new lane was opened for me. It’s not like I suddenly chose to shift my path from being a Navy guy to being a pastor. That change in direction was made quite clear for me.
But it also became a driving, motivating purpose.
So, what if you found in your life, that driving purpose that controlled your every future action? What if that purpose was to lead your people well, like David; to fight off their enemies; to make them prosperous?
Or – what if that purpose was to love people into heaven?
Summarizing our scripture from 2 Samuel today:
7:1 Now when the king (David) was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.”
(This Nathan is the same prophet who would later make it clear to David that he had sinned greatly. David had stayed away from fighting a war (which was his swim lane) to relax at home (out of his swim lane) and got into a sinful mess which left him having an affair with Bathsheba, murdering her husband, Uriah, marrying her and then having a son. For this sin, we are told, their first son died.)
Our scripture continues:
But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 
I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.
Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”
What’s happening here?
Isn’t David the guy we are told was a man after God’s own heart? He’s clearly been favored by the Lord his whole life. But now, after 400 years in a tent, God said “No” to David’s offer.
Why do you think that is?
God’s plan seemed to look forward to future history, where His people, would look back on the Temple as a place of peace, of direct connection with God. But, David was not a man of peace. He was chosen because he was a man of war, and God wanted a man of peace to build His temple.
 1 Chronicles 22:8-10 explains this: 
But the word of the LORD came to me (David), saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight… a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest… He shall build a house for My name.[1]
Then God blesses David, promises to make him great and establishes a covenant with him that is pivotal to our greater story that Jesus completes. God says:
12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
7:16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.
That is the covenant established by God for David; that the throne of David would be filled 28 generations, and nearly 1000 years later by Jesus. 
And David goes back to war.
Paul gives homage to this whole amazing story in Romans 16 when he said:
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith —
Paul is sometimes crushingly difficult to understand but what Paul preached is God’s gospel, the good news of Jesus, given to him directly by Jesus.
Paul is saying here that it the Biblical story made no sense; the plan of God for all people, until the great mystery kept secret for a millennia but written about by the prophets, was finally disclosed with the birth, life, and ultimate sacrifice of a child of God become king.
All of this story, this mystery,
from Adam to the Garden of Gethsemane,
to you and to me
is to give us reason to respond to God,
to have us respond in obedience of faith.
To have faith in the love of the one who Jesus loved so much,
that we would believe in the truth of Jesus,
in His life, offered in return,
for our souls being made clean.
When we stay in that faith,
when we follow in that lane God has for each of us,
when we swim in that swim lane – then we are forever God’s children.
May we be so blessed as David, to know our place in God’s story.
May we be so fortunate as Paul, to realize that our faith is the key to the eternity Jesus put in motion with His first cry as a child become king.
  [1] Accessed 12/14/20
TODAY.* AFFIRMATION OF FAITH                                                                         Brief Statement of Faith
In life and in death we belong to God. 
We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
In sovereign love God created the world good and makes everyone equally in God’s image
We trust in Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives,
We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life who justifies us through Grace by faith.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God
whom alone we worship and serve.

* HYMN102                                     “Savior of the Nations, Come”                                 NUN KOMM,   
                                                                                                                                     DER HEIDEN HEILAND  

 Savior of the nations, come;
virgin’s son, make here your home.
Marvel now, O heav’n and earth:
God has chosen such a birth.

 From God’s heart the Savior speeds,
back to God his pathway leads;
out to vanquish death’s command,
back to reign at God’s right hand.

 Now your manger, shining bright,
hallows night with newborn light.
Night cannot this light subdue;
let our faith shine ever new.

 Praise we sing to Christ the Lord,
virgin’s son, incarnate Word!
To the holy Trinity
praise we sing eternally!
 Though some hymns attributed to Ambrose are doubtful, this one seems rather surely to be by him. Luther’s German version (commemorated in the tune name) dropped one syllable from each line of the Latin text, giving the hymn its characteristically declarative Lutheran form.

 (If you’re joining us via Zoom, 
we invite you to make your offering online.
Thank you to everyone for your generous support!)

Lord of all, we thank you for providing for us every day of our lives; in times of plenty and in times of want. Thank you for giving us today, enough to offer back for your work in your church and our community tomorrow. Take these offerings and amplify their use to your Kingdom through Your church. 


                                                                                                                 SENDING     WE HEAR THE CHARGE, RECEIVE THE BENEDICTION, AND ARE SENT TO CARRY GOD’S WORD INTO THE WORLD.CHARGE & BENEDICTION 

                      “Nun Komm, Der Heiden Heiland”                          JS Bach