Emmanuel Lutheran Church
08:45 a.m. Formal Lutheran Worship with Holy Communion.
Child care provided.
10:00 a.m. Sunday Church School
10:00 a.m. Fellowship Hour with refreshments.
11:15 a.m. Contemporary Worship with Holy Communion.
Child care provided.
I went to the contemporary service early in my Ecumenical Advent, and I didn't notice much different this time -- though I'm sure that's aided by the fact that it's been a while since I attended and I've been to an assortment of High Church type services since then.
I recall the pastor standing at the front of the sanctuary to give Communion whereas in this service they did the kneeling rail thing, but that's the only difference that sticks out.
I came in and the front of the sanctuary was awash with red, and some green. I hadn't been in since Advent. And there was a drape on either side -- the Holy Family on the left and the Magi on the right. Creams and browns, very nice.
As one came in the sanctuary, there were the Magi Nativity figurines on the little table that has pamphlets and stuff.
The Processional Carol was "We Three Kings of Orient Are." Congregation sings opening verse and refrain, Pastor reads The Story of the Magi as instrumental music plays quietly in the background, then we have the three verses sung by the men with the women joining in for the refrains. Gaspard (gold), Melchior (frankincense), Balthazar (myrrh). I'm always a bit weirded by the mention of Balthazar 'cause I remember Balthazar&Pebbles from JMN 94.5. At each verse, an altar boy (or whatever they're called) processed down the aisle holding one of the figurines and then stood in front of the altar holding it. After the hymn was over the figurines got placed in front of the Nativity. Just the other night I had been saying to Ari that if you do Three Kings Day you can't have them as part of your Nativity on Christmas Day, so this pleased me muchly.
I saw Pastor Saling process in, which pleased me. I don't know if this was the first time he was back since his stroke or what, but he looked well.
Reading from the Hebrew Scriptures: Genesis 1:1-5
To a people experiencing the chaos of defeat, devastation, and exile, these familiar words bring great comfort. Out of chaos, God brings order. Creation by command demonstrates God's absolute sovereignty, which is not shared with any other gods. Notice the sequence of "evening" and "morning"--the Jewish day begins at sunset.
The version in the bulletin began: "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters."
I found it interesting that the bulletin intro would talk about familiarity and comfort because hearing about the "waters" of the pre-Creation always makes me think of Joel's class and the various non-Judeo-Christian Creation stories and the sea creatures and just so many different things that trouble the comfortable traditional understanding of the Creation story.
I did like the idea of looking at it as, "Out of chaos, God brings order."
I loved the idea that Judaism starts its days at sunset because of how this is phrased.
The Epiphany Canticle was "Gift of God," which refrain is "Gift of God, O Emmanuel." One of the lines is "With the anawim and Magi." Google tells me that Anawim is an Old Testament Hebrew word variously translated as "poor," "afflicted," "humble," or "meek" -- c.f. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven," and "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:3,5).
Reading from the Acts of the Apostles: Acts 19:1-7
Gospel Processional Hymn:
Verse one only:
As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed in light, leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to thee.
Gospel Announcement: Mark 1:4-11
Gospel Recessional Hymn:
Verse four only:
Holy Jesus, every day keep us in the narrow way;
And when earthly things are past, bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide, where no clouds thy glory hide.
Pastor Saling talked about John the Baptist as the opening act for Jesus the headliner.
The most interesting part of his sermon came early on when he talked about how John was very careful in the planning of everything and selected the Jordan River -- where the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Love love love all the implications and layers of that. He also talked about Jesus bringing them back to the starting line, and I'm not entirely sure how that followed, and John being place-specific whereas Jesus was like GPS, and having grown up in Christian churches I get where he was going with it but it felt a bit clumsily executed. But Jordan River as entry point!
And skipping over the rest of the service . . .
The Sending Hymn was "All Things Now Living," which I don't think I'd ever heard before but which was upbeat and energetic and I liked muchly.