December 20, 2020

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

Advent 4

At-Home edition

First Mennonite Church

Sugarcreek, Ohio December 20, 202

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 20
Advent 4: Love

Focus: The fourth candle reminds us that God demonstrated His love by sending His Son Jesus to be born in a manger and suffer and die for our sins, so we may live with Him forever. We celebrate Jesus–the Good Shepherd, Immanuel (God with Us), Son of Man, Man of Sorrows, and Lamb of God.

Handel’s Messiah: Pastoral Symphony
Handel: Messiah, HWV 56 / Pt. 1 – Pastoral Symphony

Lighting of the Advent Candle of Love:

Read through this part of the Christmas Story: Luke 2:8-20

Reader One: We live on the brink every day. We stand on the threshold between this world and the next one. We live and move between the ordinary and divine, between the mundane and the mystery. Too often, we forget to look up and see the angels in our living room. We forget that the love we give and live is a sign of eternity, God with us, right now. We forget that company is coming.

Reader Two: Luke tells us that God’s favor came to a girl, an ordinary girl. It might have been you or your daughter; it might have been the girl down the street or your grandchild. But the messenger of God came and greeted her and said, “The Lord is with you.” What a gift and a promise: Emmanuel, God is with us.

Reader One: We light these candles with love in our hearts for the promise of proximity, the nearness of God. Even when we forget to listen, to lean into that presence, God is as close as our own breath. This, in a confused and confusing world, is a peace that passes all understanding. It is the peace that knows that company is coming.

Reader Two: O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Advent Hymn HWB 172 O come, O come, Immanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel – (Piano/Cello) – The Piano Guys

Call to Worship

This is the fourth Sunday of Advent, a time to rejoice in the wondrous things that God is doing.

Our hearts are filled with the hope that is coming into the world.

The time is fast approaching, not for parties or presents, but for the awareness of God’s loving gift to us–the gift of the Christ child.

Help slow us down, Lord, that we may realize that your gift of love is at the center of our lives and our celebrations.

Thanks be to God who again reminds us of God’s eternal love.

Open our hearts, O Lord, to receive your blessed gift. AMEN

Thought for Today: God could have wiped out all humans and started over, but He chose to sacrifice Jesus so He could rescue us. What does this tell us about God? How does the birth of Jesus show us God’s love? In what ways can we allow God’s love to pour out through us into the lives of others?

As you “unwrap” the names of Jesus throughout the week, light four candles and thank Jesus
for being our Love.

Monday: Jesus is The Good Shepherd

Scripture to ponder: Psalm 23; Luke 15:1-7; John 10:1-18; I Peter 2:25


Some of the metaphors and examples Jesus used in His teaching can be hard for us to understand, though they would have made complete sense to Jesus’ first hearers. When He refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, His listeners would have pictured a shabbily dressed, possibly smelly man who went all-out for his flock. A good shepherd cares for his sheep; a good shepherd knows his sheep; a good shepherd leads his sheep; the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. That is our Good Shepherd. Jesus is completely committed to us–caring for us, knowing us, leading us, and laying down His own life for us. Be comforted by the reassuring presence of the Good Shepherd by your side.

Challenge: If you are facing a menacing threat in your life right now (and we are all being challenged by the pandemic), know that you are not alone. Though you may not see the Good Shepherd, He never leaves your side. As you go about your day, talk to Jesus and tell Him what you’re facing. He knows you, cares for you, leads you, and will protect you with His own life.

HWB 170 The King of love my shepherd is
The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Tuesday: Jesus is Immanuel (God With Us)
Scripture to Ponder: Exodus 13:21; 24:15-17; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14


The verse from Matthew 1:23 is the first of forty-three Messianic quotes from the Old Testament that Matthew included in his gospel narrative. By linking Jesus’ life to the Old Testament promises, Matthew demonstrates that Jesus’ birth and life fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, to show God’s provision for His people and His faithfulness in following through. Throughout history, God has demonstrated His longing to be close to His people. Sin has marred our relationship with Him, but Jesus’ embodiment shows God’s commitment to dwelling with His people. He, the Creator of the world, became as one of the created, because He longs to be with us. And He was willing to do whatever it took, even setting aside His glory, humbling Himself to the point of death–on a cross–just to be with us forever.

Amazing love!

Challenge: Today, take time to respond to God’s Immanuel by spending time in His presence, worshiping Him. Even if its just two minutes, set aside your gift shopping, cookie baking, holiday frenzy and take a few moments to just be. With. Him. He longs for you and waits for you. Immanuel.

HWB 202 The virgin Mary had a baby boy
“The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” arr. Mack Wilberg, Cantico Singers

Wednesday: Jesus Is The Son of Man
Scripture to Ponder: Daniel 7:13-14; Mark 10:45; John 13:3-17; Philippians 2:5-11


A close study of the Gospels reveals that the most common title Jesus used for Himself is “Son of Man.” In fact, He used it eighty-one times in the Gospels though no one else used it to refer to Him. When the Jews heard Jesus call Himself the “Son of Man,” their minds would have immediately leapt to Daniel 7. Jesus was claiming that title for Himself and communicating to His first hearers that He has the right to judge humanity. But this title also refers to Jesus’ own humanity.

Jesus emptied Himself of heavenly glory, while still retaining His deity, and submitted to the humiliation of becoming a human. From His position of Lord of the universe, He stooped down to become a servant, washing His disciples’ dusty feet. Jesus entered our physical existence and experienced the joys and anguishes of being human yet without sin. What could possibly motivate Him to do this? Love.

Challenge: In one of the most touching scenes in the Gospels, Jesus humbles Himself to wash His disciples’ feet. Make note of what Jesus knew going into this scene, how He responded to the different disciples (including Peter and Judas), and why He acted as He did. Jesus’ example calls us to bow low in humble service. Who is God calling you to serve today? Imitate Him by stooping down and using your spiritual gifts to serve others as you would serve Christ Himself.

HWB 117 Fairest Lord Jesus (the link is for a different arrangement than our hymnal, but uses the same words)
Fairest Lord Jesus – Derek Hakes – arr. Craig Courtney – CovenantCHOIRS

Thursday: Jesus was a Man of Sorrows
Scripture to Ponder: Isaiah 53; John 10:17-18


In a society that avoids pain at all cost, Jesus’ actions are hard to grasp. We run from pain; Jesus ran headlong into it. In the Garden of Gethsemane, we glimpse the mental anguish Jesus experienced before His betrayal. He told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38), and Luke describes Jesus’ distress as so intense that His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (22:44). But, Jesus knew there was no “plan B” to satisfy God’s righteous wrath. Only He could secure salvation for His beloved creation, so He willingly accepted the hard road before Him even though He did not deserve any of it: the betrayal, the mock trial, the beating, the scorn, the humility, and the torturous death through suffocation on a cross. He came to save. And He did it all for love.

Challenge: For many, the Christmas season brings with it disappointment, loss, heartache, regret, and pain. We may lament and grieve what we don’t have, even though we’re surrounded by holiday displays and jolly season’s greetings.

Instead of ignoring this pain, allow it to surface and bring it to the feet of Jesus, who was Himself a Man of Sorrows, and understands the burdens that may weigh you down. Today, meditate on Jesus’ agony during His last moments on earth. Then spend the rest of your day worshiping Him, who was a Man of Sorrows and is now exalted at God’s right hand.

Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Straight No Chaser – Sweet Little Jesus Boy [Official Audio]

Friday: Jesus Is The Lamb of God
Scripture to Ponder: John 1:29; I Corinthians 5:7; Romans 3:25-26; Rev. 13:8, 17:14


Sin requires punishment and atonement. The sacrificial system was instituted by God Himself to satisfy His righteous wrath, turning it from those who deserve it to the object being sacrificed. Throughout the Bible, sacrificial lambs were killed in order to bear the burden of people’s sin. Sin was transferred from the guilty party to the animal. The person was declared innocent while the animal bore sin’s just punishment: death. This sacrificial system, instituted by God Himself, was limited in scope: the sacrifice was required every year. But it was all meant to foreshadow Jesus. The Lamb of God came to fulfill and supersede the sacrificial system. His death on the cross atoned for all of humankind’s sins once

and for all, through faith in Him. The Lamb of God makes possible our relationship with God.

Challenge: Have you lost the wonder and awe of Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins? Today, worship Jesus for His sacrificial atonement, for taking your sins on Himself. Pick a hymn or a song that speaks of his sacrifice, and sing it to Him in thankfulness.

HWB 530 What wondrous love is this
What Wonderous Love Is This

Saturday Devotion
Luke 2:4-11; Romans 5:5-8

Words from Pastor Mike (attached) “Love Demonstrated”

Prayers of the Congregation [please add your praises and concerns as needed] Dear Jesus, what a privilege it is to be a part of Your flock and to be known by You! Help us learn to initiate You in the way we love others, laying down our own desires to better serve those You’ve placed in our lives. Immanuel, we are humbled by Your display of love! Help us never to get over the amazement of what You did for us on the cross. Make us a servant, and teach us to serve others joyfully. Thank you precious Jesus, Thank you. Amen.

HWB 208 Love came down at Christmas
love came down at Christmas arr edgar Pettman, christina rosetti


Be people of love. Let love live in your heart and share the love of Christ with all you meet. Share love by loving those you see regularly. Share love by loving your community. Share love by loving those you do not know. Share love by praying for our world.

Handel’s Messiah: He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd
Regula Mühlemann: He shall feed his flock – Messiah – G. F. Handel

THE CHURCH GIVES THANKS____________________
For ZOOM church and for Sue and Bruce Stauffer’s participation in the service.
Sue Stauffer:
Praise that today is the end of our quarantine!
Jean Flinner:
Thank you for all of the prayers. And Praise that the cancer removal went well.
Reno Stevanus:
Praise that the trucks are delivering the vaccine for the COVID virus.

THE CHURCH PRAYS FOR___________________________
Dan Hostetler:
Prayers for Dan’s mother as she make the adjustment to a new way of living.
Mike Gehman:
Prayers for Gene and JoAnne Miller as they are recovering from having COVID-19. Gene said that it has been a rough month. Also prayers for others in our congregation that might have been exposed or have the virus. Prayers of healing and comfort for all of them.
Sue Stauffer:
Prayers of protection for Bev McNutt who is at Hennis Care Center in Bolivar. The virus has increased a lot in the last days.
Join Mennonite Mission Network in praying for the peace witness of the Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia amid the conflict between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Northern Tigray region.
Prayers for Mennonite Education-Dock Mennonite Academy, Lansdale, Pennsylvania:
Pray for continued strength and health of our teachers, staff, students and families as we all work together during this unique year of learning.

Next Week’s Texts:
Isaiah 8:2; John 3:16; John 10:11; Matthew 1:23; Mark 10:45; Isaiah 53:3 (ESV); John 1:29 (ESV)
Harbor of Hope: Spaghetti Sauce & Pasta—57 items misc. items-3, $40.00 cash. Thank you for your donations. The Missions Committee This month’s items are: Canned Fruit and Veggies, and they are due on January 28th.
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.
Bev McNutt: Bev has a new room number her address is: Bev McNutt, Hennis Care Center Rm 124, 300 Yant St., Bolivar, Ohio 44612
MC-USA: “Glory to god in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) Mennonite Church USA staff extends the peace of Christ to you this Christmas, as we work together to bring God’s hope, love, joy and peace to the world around us.
MC-USA-MennoCon21: Did you know that planning for MennoCon21 started five years ago? Take a behind-the-scenes look at planning for Mennonite Church USA’s upcoming biennial convention on July 6-10, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
MC-USA-Menno Snapshots: Isaac S. Villegas, pastor of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship in North Carolina, shared a powerful prayer resource for our time, “Some trust in government and some in borders, but we trust in God.”

THIS WEEK_________________________________________
Dec. 20th 4th Sunday of Advent
Dec. 21st Wayne & Dorothy Schrock’s Wedding Anniversary
Dec. 21st First Day of Winter
Dec. 24th Christmas Eve Service {virtual service starting at 7:30p.m.}
Dec. 24th ZOOM Christmas Eve Service with Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship
Dec. 25th Christmas Day
Dec. 26th Dan & Nancy Yoder’s Wedding Anniversary
Dec. 26th Monroe & Susan Yoder’s Wedding Anniversary

UPCOMING EVENTS_______________________________
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

CHURCH LEADERSHIP______________________________
Mike Gehman:
Pastor’s Hours:
Wednesday 9:30a.m.-2:30p.m.
Tally Maust
113 W. Main St. P.O. Box 250
Sugarcreek, Ohio 44681

Mike Keim:
Office Contact:
Linda Yoder:
Trustees Contact:
Jim Armstrong:
Mission Contact:
Reno Stevanus:
Secretary Contact:
JoAnne Pyle: