Worship at Home for Sunday, December 10, 2023

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we light the Advent Candle of Peace. May we pray for peace in our troubled world and listen to songs of hope, peace, love, and joy being sung this season.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church).

  • For the Cookie Sale we are asking church members and friends to bake 3 batches of 3 dozen cookies and bring them to church by noon on Friday, December 8.
  • Cookie Sale will be on Saturday. December 9 from 9am to 1pm.
  • Caroling and Cocoa at 2pm on Saturday, December 9. We will meet at church and then carpool to members of our church to carol at their homes.
  • Youth shopping for adopted family, practice for Christmas Eve and pizza on Sunday, December 10 at 4pm.
  • Dorcas Christmas Party at Clancy’s on Thursday, December 14 at 11:30am. All women are invited to join us.
  • Thank you to all who helped with and attended the Advent Tea! This year we raised $1277.50 for Helping Hands, $702.75 for Every Child’s Hope and $674.75 for the GCR2 Crisis Fund. The total amount raised was $2655. Thank you again!
  • Need some Christmas Gifts and Stocking Stuffers. Apple Butter is still available at $6 for a pint.

Blessings, Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-4, 9-10 * Isaiah 40:1-11* 2 Peter 3:8-15a * Mark 1:1-8

Sermon: Sing to the Lord a New Song!

Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the end of the earth!
Let the sea roar and all that fills it,
the coastlands and their inhabitants. Isaiah 42: 10 NRSVUE

On Sunday, December 3, at 3pm we gathered in the sanctuary for a performance of Love! A Gospel Christmas Celebration composed and arranged by Joel Raney. The songs were joyous and filled with love. The melody and words of Love Came Down at Christmas has been floating in my mind for several days now. What songs have you heard this Advent season? Have any of them stuck with you for several days?

Interestingly, Luke’s Gospel does not describe the angels as singing.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” Luke 2:13-14 NRSVUE

Luke does say that the angels were praising God. Personally, I believe that angels voices praising God would sound like singing to those of us on earth. Others agree with me, just think of all the hymns and carols that describe the angels singing. Just look at this list: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Angels, from the Realms of Glory, Angels We Have Heard on High, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Over the years many people have loved to sing about angels singing on the night when Christ was born.

Sunday we will be singing It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. This popular hymn is often sung at Christmas, because the text asks us to listen to the words of the angels who praised God that night. Interestingly, the hymn does not mention Jesus’ birth, but does speak of the angels singing about peace. Hymnary.org offers this interesting note about this hymn:

Edmund H. Sears, a Unitarian minister at Wayland, Massachusetts, wrote this hymn in 1849. It was published that year a few days after Christmas in the Boston Christian Register. While obviously a Christmas hymn due to its theme of the angels' song, there is no mention at all of Christ or His birth about which the angels sang; it is a social gospel hymn. Perhaps this is due to the theological leanings of its author, even though Sears believed in the divinity of Christ, contrary to most Unitarians. Written only a dozen years before the outbreak of the American Civil War, the peaceable leanings of the Unitarian school of thought are evident in the text. (Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org)

Rev. Sears lived in that tumultuous time preceding the Civil War. He wrote this hymn to encourage people to listen to God’s of word of peace and respond to the call for peace.

I was intrigued to learn that there even was a third verse to this hymn. After a little internet searching, I found it. Edmund Sears lived in time in the United States when our nation was heading towards civil war. Remembering this reflect upon these words:

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, verse 3
But with the woes of sin and strife, The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled, Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not, The love-song which they bring; –
Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing!
— Sears, Edmund H. (Edmund Hamilton), Sermons and Songs of Christian Life, pp. 17-18, Library of Congress and The Internet Archive.[9]

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is a hymn that was written to encourage all of us to hush the noise of strife and to hear the angels sing about love and peace in a world that suffers and struggles with war. It is a good hymn to sing on the Sunday when we light the Advent Candle of Peace. When we ask ourselves this season “Do you hear what I hear?”, may we all take a moment to listen for the angels’ words of praise and call for peace. Then may we all sing a new song of peace with the angels.

Prayer: Upon my heart and my senses to hear your call for peace and love. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list for a while, Mark’ s brother Billy, Delores W., Tyra, Freya, Vicki B., Barb Z., Jesse, Tammy. Jennifer, Richard, Tamara, John, Dixon’s great granddaughter, Ashlely and Cody, Garth, Linda, Tessa, Carl, Kimbra, Liz’s father, Dannie, Lathe, Marilyn, Kris, Lee Ann, Bob, Diane, Louise, Janet, Linda, Keetha, Lori’s mom Judy, Bryson, Tanner, Coleton and all who are in need about which we do not know. If you know of anyone who would like a prayer shawl, please let us know.

Prayers for all the places in the world where there is war.