Preparation for Worship for the Lord’s Day, December 17, 2017

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Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a woman who knew the Bible. Her joyful song of praise in Luke 1:46-55 is filled with Scripture allusions and references. She recognizes the profundity of the boy she carries. While her own words could easily serve as a call to worship, I’m choosing instead Isa 61:10-11, which themselves echo the language of Mary’s hymn to God. In Luke 1:46-47, Mary says, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Compare that to the exuberant opening salvo of Isaiah 61:10-11: I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation. The parallels are striking. The joy and exultation and reference to salvation. And all this in hope of the one who will bring salvation to Israel and the nations. If anything, Mary’s example teaches us that Scripture ought to shape our worship and praise. She is filled with God’s Word, and that spills out of her in her joy. So may it flow from us.

In the prayer service, we’ll look at a passage from Psa 119. The service will begin with the hymn Lift Up Your Heads (Red 224).

This Christmas season, I will be preaching a little two sermon series on the great Christian hymns based on Scripture that come from the narratives of the Christmas story. Those two hymns are Mary’s “Magnificat” and Simeon’s “Nunc Dimittis” (or “Now You are Letting Your Servant Depart,” Luke 2:29-32). The sermon this Sunday is based on Mary’s Magnificat, the hymn that Mary prays in gratitude to God. The text brings together several important themes: Mary’s hope, her God, and her humility. In many respects, Mary’s prayer bears many parallels to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 (the congregational reading for this Lord’s Day). But more important than the Old Testament allusions and even the faith of Mary is what Mary’s inspired song reveals to us about the person and work of Christ.

Worship Service

Call to Worship: Isaiah 61:10-11

Hymn 238 [Red] Good Christian Men, Rejoice

Congregational Reading: 1 Samuel 2:1b-8

Doxology: Doxology, Red 283

Hymn 232 [Red] From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

Hymn 230 [Red] Angels We Have Heard on High

Prayer

Offering

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 7 & Luke 1:26-56

Hymn 250 [Red] What Child is This? This hymn, like so many other Christmas carols, speaks of a lullaby of Mary to the infant child Jesus. This comes in the third stanza: Raise, raise a song on high, the virgin sings her lullaby. Do you ever wonder what kind of “lullaby” Mary sung to Jesus? On the one hand, we shouldn’t think that she didn’t sing the common lullabies that any other mother would sing to her son. Jesus is fully man in his great humiliation. Why shouldn’t he have a mother who sings to him the lowly and simple song of tenderness that any other son of Adam enjoys? At the same time, if the Magnificat is any indication, we get the idea that at least some of her songs to her son might have been more theological and biblically “loaded.” At very least, they must have been songs of joy. As the last line of this beautiful hymn puts it: Joy, joy, for Christ is born, the Babe, the Son of Mary!

Sermon: Magnificat from Luke 1:46-55

Hymn [Insert] In the Bleak Mid-winter

Prayer

Benediction

This Sunday, there will be no Sunday School or fellowship meal. Instead, we’ll gather at 4 PM for our annual Christmas Fellowship.

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