Unwrapping the Names of Jesus
First Mennonite Church
Sugarcreek, Ohio December 13, 2020
Unwrapping the names of Jesus Advent 2020
[Based on a book by asheritah ciuciu]
Introduction to our 2020 Advent Theme
From the book Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, the author, Asheritah Ciuciu shares the following:
“One year, as I reflected on the names of Jesus that appear in Christmas Carols, I realized that I need to worship Jesus for who He is in the privacy of my home before I can fully celebrate His birth in the company of His congregation. This practice of meditating on a different name each day, while not an Advent tradition per se, taught me to worship Jesus in a way I’d never learned before. Like twirling a brilliant-cut diamond in sunlight, meditating on Jesus’ names led me to admire the many facets of His character, each beautiful on its own, but when put together comprising a breathtaking picture of the Son of God made man for us. As the days of Advent passed, I found myself, like David, gazing upon the beauty of the Lord day by day, delighting in Him and dwelling in His presence.”
Since we cannot worship together in person this Advent, it is our hope and prayer that you will be able to incorporate these services into your preparation for this Christmas season, whether it be doing it bit by bit throughout the week, or reading through in its entirety on the assigned Sunday. We have structured it so that you may begin on Sunday by lighting your advent candle, with scripture, words and a song, a call to worship and a prayer, then continue on “unwrapping” the names of Jesus throughout the rest of the week, reserving one name for each day of the week, and finishing on Saturday with the prayers and Pastor’s thoughts. OR, you may choose to simply go through the entire service on Sunday as we usually do.
May these services help you delve deeper into each name’s significance with singing, praying, scripture, and challenges to help you grow. We invite you to get out your Christmas CDs and listen to the songs we have planned, and light your advent candle each Sunday. We will be using Handel’s Messiah at the beginning and end of each service, and hope you will be able to actually listen to all the songs to make this a more worshipful and special time (we have provided helpful links for those of you who have internet access; just click on the blue link which will take you to the song on Youtube). As we all spend time quieting our hearts before God and worshipping Him, may we gain a greater sense of awe and wonder at who Jesus is. “O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”
Alongside you in the journey of Christmas joy, The Worship Committee
Sunday December 13
Advent 3: Joy
Focus: The third candle reminds us that Jesus’ birth brings joy to all who believe in him, so we join all of creation in celebrating Him—The Great High Priest, the Alpha & Omega, the True Vine, Prince of Peace and Bread of Life!
Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive/O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion
Lighting of the Advent Candle of Preparation:
Read through this part of the Christmas Story: Luke 1:39-56; Luke 2:1-7
Reader One: We want everything to look nice: the decorations of the season, our homes with their lights and tinsel, wreaths and ribbons. We want to lighten the darkness around us, bring beauty to the ugliness that wears us down. We decorate, because it is tradition. Because it lifts our hearts. Because it makes us feel like children again. We deck our halls because company is coming.
Reader Two: The prophet Isaiah smiled when he said, “God will give a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.” No matter how far we feel from the spirit of the season, God promises to decorate us with love and with joy.
Reader One: We light these candles as a sign of our joy in the beautiful things of this season – not just the things that glitter and flash, but the deeper things, the beauty of the heart and the soul, the beauty of love shared in service and hospitality. We light this candle of joy because company is coming.
Reader Two: O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
Advent Hymn SJ 13 My soul is filled with joy (Holy is your Name)
Call to Worship
One: Rejoice in the Lord always.
All: We come to worship and rejoice.
One: Again, I say “rejoice!”
All: We come to worship and rejoice!
One: Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
All: We come to worship and rejoice.
One: The Lord is near!
All: We come to worship and rejoice the One who is with us!
O God of the exiles and the lost, you promise restoration and wholeness through the power of Jesus Christ. On this, the third Sunday of Advent, give us faith to live joyfully, sustained by your promises as we eagerly await the day when they will be fulfilled for all the world to see, through the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thought for Today:
As you “unwrap” the names of Jesus throughout the week, light the first three candles and thank Jesus for being the answer to our Joy.
Monday: Jesus is the Great High Priest
Scripture to ponder: Leviticus 16:1-34; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 5:7-10
The old priesthood and system of sacrifices was not meant to last forever. God gave them to Moses and the Israelites to foreshadow their fulfillment in Jesus. They had to repeat sacrifices every year, but Jesus’ death on the cross made final atonement for our sins and abolished the system once and for all. In heaven, Jesus sits on the great throne of grace, ready to hear our prayers and assist us in our time of need; He sympathizes with our weaknesses because He Himself was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin. This comforting truth invites us to approach the throne of grace with confidence.
Challenge: What a privilege to have direct access to God! It might seem strange to picture the Old Testament sacrifices, especially since many of us recoil from the sight of blood and fear of pathogens. But understanding the priests’ role in offering sacrifices helps us rejoice in the finished work of Jesus. So approach the throne of grace confidently today and pour out your heart to God!
Hymn HWB 131 When in the hour of deepest need
Tuesday: Jesus is the Alpha and Omega
Scripture to Ponder: John 1:1-3; 19:30; Hebrews 12:2; 13:8; Revelation 1: 8-18
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and represent the entirety of not just letters, but all knowledge, all existence, and all time. From beginning to end, Jesus was, is, and will be, and all things live, move, and have their being in Him (Acts 17:28). But Jesus is not only the beginning and end of all creation, He is also the author and finisher of our faith. He experience the full range of human life alongside us, yet without sin. Jesus did all this looking at His current circumstances through the eyes of faith, knowing “the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). We can take comfort in our Alpha and Omega, knowing that whatever we experience in this journey of faith, we are not alone: Jesus has gone before us, He welcomed us into this journey, and He will see us safely to the end.
Challenge: Faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1), trusting God’s character regardless of what our life’s circumstances look like. In what area of your life do you need to trust the Author and Perfector of your faith? Surrender it to Him today, asking Him to continue to work faith in that area of your life.
HWB 592 Love divine, all loves excelling
Wednesday: Jesus Is The Vine
Scripture to Ponder: Psalm 80:8-16; Isaiah 5:1-7; John 15:1-5
Throughout the Old Testament, the vine was used as a symbol of Israel, often to show how she was lacking in some way. God carefully tended His vine, protecting it from harsh elements and creating an environment for it to flourish, yet Israel rebelled. In contrast to Israel, Jesus is the True Vine He is the faithful One who fulfills all that Israel failed to do: whereas she was wild and rebellious, He was submissive and obedient; while she yielded bad fruit, He produced good fruit in keeping with righteousness. He was in every way the epitome of all God called Hid people to do, and He calls us to union with Him so that we may also produce good fruit. Surprisingly, Jesus does not call us to work hard to be more fruitful; rather, He calls us to abide in Him, to wait on Him. Fruit will naturally follow for those who remain connected to Him, because His Spirit is the One who produces fruit (Gal. 5:22-25). We need only abide, and He will do the rest.
Challenge: Recognizing our destructive bent toward self-reliance, Jesus urges His followers to “remain in me” five times in only eight verses. Today, read John 15:1-8 and reflect on the invitation to savor a close connection to the True Vine.
Throughout the day, recognize His life pulsing through you and energizing you for His work even as you learn to rest in Him.
HWB 373 Thou true Vine, that heals
Thursday: Jesus is the Prince Of Peace
Scripture to Ponder: Isaiah 8:21 – 9:7, 11:1-9; Luke 2:14; Ephesians 2:13-18; Phil. 4:4-7
During His time on earth, Jesus restored peace everywhere He went. He calmed tumultuous storms; He brought healing to the sick; He raised the dead to life; He forgave sinners their sins. Jesus came to restore not just peace as we understand a cessation of hostility, but a rich, full, abiding harmony of life. His first coming began this process of restoring peace between us and God; His second coming will bring wholeness as He intended His creation to be when He first set the universe in motion. Just as He is the Prince of Peace, so He calls us to be makers of peace all around us (Matt. 5:9). Though the world may be caught up in anxiety and worry, we can rest securely in the knowledge that Jesus is making all things right, and we can participate with Him in bringing peace to a broken world as we look forward to the future kingdom of peace.
Challenge: This holiday season is rife with opportunities to bicker and worry, especially as we walk through the current pandemic. Spend some time with Jesus today, asking for His direction in relationships that cause unrest in your heart, and circumstances that are out of your control. Then commit yourself to being an ambassador of peace this holiday season.
HWB 201 Hark! The herald angels sing
Friday: Jesus Is The Bread of Life
Scripture to Ponder: Leviticus 24:5-9; Matthew 5:6; John 6:25-35, 14:6
In the ancient Middle East, bread was a staple part of people’s diet. It was the most reliable source of energy for the body and was readily available with little preparation. For the Israelites in particular, bread was considered a special food because of its religious connotations. When Jesus used the phrases “bread of life” and “bread…from heaven,” His listeners would have immediately thought of the story of manna. God gave manna to the traveling Israelites in the wilderness to save them from certain death by starvation. In a similar way, God gave Jesus into the world to save us from certain death by separation from Him. The manna God provided through Moses satisfied only temporarily. The manna
Jesus was offering, His very life, satisfies eternally. In the beautiful picture of the Last Supper, we’re reminded that Jesus’ broken body secures our place at God’s table.
Challenge: Many people try to fill the void in their lives with more stuff–more shopping, more money, more friends, more food–but they’re always left wanting more. As Christmas draws near, examine your heart and your desires. Do you crave more stuff, or do you crave more of Jesus? Ask Him to give you a hunger for more of Him.
HWB 456 Shepherd of souls, refresh (the link below uses a different tune than our hymnal)
Words from Pastor Mike (attached)
Prayers of the Congregation [please add your praises and concerns as needed] Dear Jesus, through your death on the cross, You tore the curtain that separated us from the presence of God, and now we can come directly to You! We also take comfort in knowing whatever we experience in this journey of faith we are not alone: You have gone before us, and You have welcomed us into this journey, and will see us safely to the end. Help us to rely on You and to rejoice in my connection to you–The Vine. Fill us with Your peace and help us to bring peace in all our interactions. Where there is worry, bring a reassurance of Your provision. Where there is strife, bring to mind Your humility. Where there is bickering, bring to our hearts Your love. Be our peace. Only You can satisfy.
Teach us to hunger for You and feast on You. May You be our heart’s chief desire. Amen.
HWB 212 O Come, all ye faithful
(enjoy this extended version, with pause in the middle for prayer, and verses not printed in our hymnal)
Surely God is our salvation, we will trust in God and not be afraid, for the Lord God is our Strength and Might. Shout aloud and sing for joy . . . for great in our midst is the Holy One of Zion. (Is.12)
For Unto Us A Child is Born
THE CHURCH GIVES THANKS______________________
For the service with Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship and a surprise visit with John the Baptist.
Sue Stauffer: A praise for Rebecca Cahill. Rebecca’s doctor in Houston said that in 2023 there will be a new medicine that could help her. Also she might be able to have some of the expense traveling to Houston from California reimbursed.
Mike Gehman: Visited with Dan and Nancy Yoder they are doing well.
Bill Flinner: Praise that the corona virus is easing up a bit at Walnut Hills.
THE CHURCH PRAYS FOR___________________________
Jean Flinner: Prayers are needed for Jean who is having bladder cancer surgery on Tuesday afternoon.
Sue Stauffer: Prayers for the staff and residents at Hennis Care in Dover where the corona virus is still on the rise.
Sue Stauffer: Prayers for all who are adjusting to new changes in their lives, and living in new places.
Prayers for the families of the 20-22 people that have passed away due to the corona virus at Walnut Hills.
MMN: Praise God for Joe Sawatzky, who recently became an international education liaison for Mennonite Mission Network and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Pray for Joe and global church leaders, as they seek to strengthen the body of Christ through Anabaptist education initiatives around the world.
Prayers for Mennonite Education-Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana: Pray for Goshen College students who are at home this month, taking a break after an intense semester. Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas: Pray for Jill Hoopes, Bethel College’s director of student wellness, as she meets the challenge of connecting with students after most have returned home to complete the semester via remote learning.
FMC LIVES IN DISCIPLESHIP TOGETHER____________
Next Week’s Texts: Psalm 97:11-12; Matthew 2:10-11a; Luke 2:1-7; Hebrews 4:14; Revelation 1:8; John 15:1, 5a; Isaiah 9:6-7a; John 6:35;
Harbor of Hope: This month’s items are: Spaghetti Sauce & Pasta and are due on December 16th.
Mission Projects for December 2020: White Gift (Deacon’s Fund); Harbor of Hope: Spaghetti Sauce & Pasta; Homeless Shelter Meal
White Gift Offering: This December we will be collecting for the White Gift which goes to the Deacon’s Fund. Since we will not be in Sunday School to collect the offering just send your donations to Bruce and earmark you check on the memo line that it is for the White Gift Offering.
Leadership Team: As the year draws to a close there is a need to find a replacement for JoAnne Pyle on the Leadership Team. JoAnne’s term is coming to a close and she has decided to take a break from serving on the Leadership Team. So in the future weeks we will be voting on a person to take over JoAnne’s spot. Unless you feel led to be a part of the Team. If you feel a calling just get in touch with Mike Keim.
MCC Connections: MCC Connections Thrift Shop is expanding into the Massillon community. During December and January, we will be in need of short-term volunteers to help prepare the facility by doing minor construction, painting, setting up fixtures and, general cleaning. If you are available to assist in this short term volunteer venture, please call 330-857-7802 and speak with Cindy or Michael.
MC-USA: The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions is seeking participants from Mennonite Church USA congregations and universities to participate in its cross-country 2021 Climate Ride to raise awareness of critical issues related to climate change. Read more: mennoniteusa.org/news/climate-ride-seeking-riders/
MC-USA-#Bring the Peace: Mennonite Church USA Women in Leadership and Mennonite Women USA called on the church to respond to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police officers in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13th, 2020. Read the statement here: Mennoniteusa.org/news/breonna-taylor/
MC-USA-Menno Snapshots: “My understanding and experience of the Triune God has broadened and deepened considerably by working with the Voices together team over the last three years,” said AMBS Professor Allan Rudy-Froese in his blog, “Gender and God language in Voices together.” Read his reflections here: mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/gender-god/
MC-USA: Recordings of the Mennonite Church USA Women in Leadership “What We Need is Here” webinar series and worship service are now available. View the videos here: mennoniteusa.org/wil-
ABMS Pastors and Leaders 2021: Thriving Together. Meeting online March 1-14! How can congregations and their leaders thrive in this time of unprecedented disruption? Our speakers—Cynthia L. Hale, James Nelson Gingerich, Marvin Lorenzana and Drew Strait—will offer their best insights into how to lead will in today’s world. Ambs.edu/pastorsandleaders
A Christmas gift to you from AMBS! Thinking about seminary? Strengthen your spiritual and biblical grounding and develop practical leadership skills for such a time as this with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary—whether on campus or at a distance. Submit your Admissions Application in the month of December, and we’ll waive the $50 application fee! This is a great way to explore your next step in this Advent season of hope and anticipation. When you apply select “Pay by check.” Code: hope2020 ambs.edu/academics
Dec. 13th 3rd Sunday of Advent
Dec. 16th Harbor of Hope items due: Spaghetti Sauce & Pasta
Dec. 24th Christmas Eve
Dec. 25th Christmas Day
Dec. 29th Homeless Shelter Meal 6:00 p.m.
Dec. 31st Yearly reports due
Dec. 31st New Years Eve
Jan. 1st Happy New Year!
Jan. 3rd Epiphany
Jan. 6th Leadership Team Meeting 7:00p.m.
Jan. 18th Candlelighters 7:00p.m.
Jan. 22nd Senior Breakfast @ Dutch Valley 9:00a.m.
Jan. 27th Harbor of Hope: Canned Veggies & Fruit
Feb. 1st Candlelighters 7:00p.m.
Feb. 3rd Leadership Team Meeing 7:00p.m.
Feb. 14th Happy Valentine’s Day!
Feb. 15th Candlelighters 7:00p.m.
Feb. 17th Ash Wednesday
Fab. 21st 1st Sunday of Lent
Feb. 24th Harbor of Hope: Cereal
Feb. 26th Senior Breakfast @ Dutch Valley 9:00a.m.
Feb. 28th 2nd Sunday of Lent
Minister: Mike Gehman
Worship Leader: Julie Gerber
Song Leader: April Shupe
Head Usher: Herb Torgler
Pastor: Mike Gehman:
Pastor’s Hours: Wednesday 9:30a.m.-2:30p.m.
Secretary: Tally Maust
113 W. Main St. P.O. Box 250
Sugarcreek, Ohio 44681
CONGREGATIONAL LEADERSHIP TEAM:
Chairperson: Mike Keim:
Office Contact: Linda Yoder:
Trustees Contact: Jim Armstrong:
Mission Contact: Reno Stevanus:
Secretary Contact: JoAnne Pyle: