December 6, 2020


Unwrapping the Names of Jesus
Advent 2
At-Home edition
First Mennonite Church
Sugarcreek, Ohio December 6, 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 6
Advent 2: Preparation

Focus: What lies about God, yourself, relationships, emotions and life are you battling today? Jesus is the Truth that can set us free. He is the Lion of Judah who sits enthroned in power and glory. When we fix our gaze on Jesus, we learn to see life through the prism of reality, what is really true, instead of through the tinted glasses that our enemy would have us wear. We must prepare–fill our hearts and minds with the Truth, bathing all of life in His presence, so that we immediately recognize the enemy’s lies.

Prelude Every Valley Shall Be Exalted from Handel’s Messiah
Handel’s Messiah: Every Valley Shall be Exalted

Lighting of the Advent Candle of Preparation:

Read through this part of the Christmas Story: Isaiah 40:3-5; Luke 1:5-38

Reader One: Our lists are long, even in this strange mess where we live these days. And we want to do it right, we want to be safe, but we want to be able to enjoy the season. We’ve got work to do to put right what has gone wrong, to heal what is broken, to mend the relationships, and to prepare for the company that will come.

Reader Two: The prophet Isaiah reminded us that there is work to be done. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” When God comes in, then healing is to be found, but we need to make the way; we need to open the door into our lives.

Reader One: So, we light these candles as a sign of our faith that the God we worship is not far from us and that we can clear the way for

God to come and dwell in us. We light these candles in preparation for the Christ child to enter in.

Advent Hymn HWB 180 The angel Gabriel
The Angel Gabriel (Old Basque Carol) – Trad.

Call to Worship
The God who speaks comfort to us calls us here.
The God who addresses us with tenderness meets us here. The God who guides us with gentleness cares for us here. We come to prepare a way for the Lord.
We come to ready ourselves for the transformation of our lives. For the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it.

Prayer:

God, on the second Sunday of Advent, open wide our hearts and our minds to see, feel, hear, and know the salvation of our God. Amen.

Thought for Today: God wanted His people to be ready for the coming Messiah, so He sent prophets throughout history to remind them to prepare their hearts. He also sent John the Baptist to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming. What does this tell us about God?

As you “unwrap” the names of Jesus throughout the week, light the first two candles and thank Jesus for being

the answer to our preparation.

Monday: Jesus is the Word of God
Scripture to ponder: John 1:1-18; Revelation 19:11-16

Meditation:
God used prophets to speak to His people, sharing His thoughts and intentions with a select few, who then spread His message to the masses. But in Jesus, God’s Word became readily available to whoever was willing to listen. Jesus is also God’s final Word. He fulfills Old Testament prophesies that point to Him and not only sets in motion but finishes God’s redemptive plan for His people In Jesus, we have the very Word of God–the most direct, personal, meaningful communication God could ever give us–available to everyone who seeks Him.

Challenge: When we think about spending time in the Word, we often think of merely reading the Bible. And while studying Scripture is important, it should always drive us to a deeper relationship with Jesus. Today, let your time in the Word drive you to spend time with the Word. Talk to Him. Invite Him to speak into your life right now. And then listen to the Word.

Hymn HWB 173 Savior of the nations, come
Savior of the Nations, Come, lyrics (Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland)

Tuesday: Jesus is the Truth
Scripture to Ponder: John 14:6; John 8:31-38; John 17:17-19; 3 John 1:3-4

Meditation:
Jesus made many “I am” statements, but one of the most intriguing is when He calls Himself the Truth. Jesus is God’s truth. All He says is true and His very life demonstrates a life lived in singleness of mind and truth. We, however, are tempted to believe the lies the enemy whispers to us and we actually believe them. And just as he did in the Garden of Eden, he tempts us to question God’s goodness, His presence, His provision, and His love for us, sending us into a tailspin, wondering what’s really real. The only way to recognize lies is to be intimately acquainted with truth–fill our hearts and minds with the Truth, bathing all of life in His presence, so that we immediately recognize the enemy’s lies when he tries to deceive us. It’s Jesus, the Truth, who sets us free.

Challenge: What lies are you battling today? Write them on an index card, and take a few moments to find truth in Scripture on that topic. Write those verses on the back of the card and then spend time with the Truth. Ask Him to transform the way you view that area of your life so that you can walk in the freedom of the truth.

Hymn HWB 176 Comfort, comfort, O my people
Comfort, Comfort O My People

Wednesday: Jesus is the Lion of Judah
Scripture to Ponder: Isaiah 34:1-8; Psalm 2; Matthew 21:12-17; Revelation 5

Meditation:
Though Jesus humbled himself as a servant to all, He is not a pushover. Jesus is fierce. Like a young lion, His raw power makes His enemies scatter. We see glimpses of this when He cleared the temple of money changers and merchants, expressing His righteous indignation by turning over tables and sending coins flying. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has already won the battle, ad when He returns to settle accounts with the kingdom of darkness, He will unleash His fury against all His enemies. All who stand against Him will fall, but all who are gathered behind Him will rest in safety.

Challenge: Have you adopted our cultures’ view of Jesus as safe? Today, meditate on on His power and glory as the Lion of Judah. Ask Him to awaken you to the reality of grandeur and respond in humble worship.

Hymn Hail to the Lord’s anointed
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed – Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Thursday: Jesus is the Holy One of God
Scripture to Ponder: Psalm 16:7-11; Isaiah 41:13-14; John 6:69; I Peter 2:21-22

Meditation:
There is something about holiness that scares us, and rightfully so. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, God warns the Issraelites not to enter His holy presence because their sinfulness would lead to certain death. But we do not have to fear. In the entire history of humanity, no one has been holy…except Jesus. He is morally perfect. He has never sinned, nor tempted anyone else to sin. He himself has defeated sin. We do not have to draw back from God or fear entering His presence, precisely because Jesus’ sacrifice pays the penalty of our sins and cleanses us from our unrighteousness.

Challenge: Each time we confess our sins and yield an area of our lives to Jesus’ control, we grow a little more in His holy likeness. Today, take a few moments to confess the sins that have accumulated in your soul; then, thank Jesus for being faithful to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

Hymn HWB 206 Infant holy, infant lowly
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Friday: Jesus is the Lord of Lords
Scripture to Ponder: 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Acts 10:34-36

Meditation:
Many people who came to Jesus addressed Him as Lord, but did not place themselves under His rule. To call Jesus “Lord” but to allow Him no influence over our daily decisions is to make a masquerade of our spiritual lives. He is not our Lord if He does not have supreme authority to direct our actions, from the big-picture decisions of life to the minute daily details. We cannot bring only parts of our lives into submission to our Lord.

Challenge: Consider what parts of your life you’ve been withholding from Jesus’ lordship. Does He have complete control of your time, finances, schedule, relationships, career, and dreams? Spend some time today renewing your allegiance to your Lord. Bow your knees in worship to Him, and when He instructs you to do something, trust Him and obey immediately.

Angels from the Realms of Glory
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5mdybeyLVc

Saturday Devotions
Words from Pastor Mike (attached)

Prayers of the Congregation [please add your praises and concerns as needed] Father, thank you for giving us Your Word, Jesus, through whom we can learn more about You. Fill us to overflowing with Your words and Truth this week so that it spills out into the lives of those around us, bringing them hope, joy and freedom in You. May we realize that You are the Lion of Judah, who sits enthroned, and in control of whatever life brings us. Jesus, you are the Holy one of God. But You are also close to everyone who calls on You. Be with us Lord Jesus as we prepare to once again celebrate your birth. Amen.

HWB 318 Joy to the World
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oOwa0CWVVQ

Benediction
Go now: wait and work for the coming of the day of God. In the wild places, prepare a straight path for the Lord.

Lead lives of holiness and godliness, strive to be found at peace, and speak freely of the Lord’s comfort and promise.

Chorus / And The Glory Of The Lord from The Messiah
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuog35ZBBfM

THE CHURCH GIVES THANKS__________________
For the first Sunday of Advent with our ZOOM
friends.
Praise for our family gatherings whether it was in-person or virtual.
Sue Stauffer: Is thankful that her fall was not worse than what it was.

THE CHURCH PRAYS FOR_______________________
Prayers for Dan Hostetler and family on the passing of Aunt Marge. Also prayers for Amy as she is pulled in another direction helping her parents.
Continued prayers for Sue and Bruce as they are having to switch rolls a bit. And for comfort and healing of Sue’s ankle.
Mike Gehman: Hannah and Mike went to see Bev McNutt on Saturday. They had a good visit through the window of Bev’s room. Continued prayers as Bev is on a long road to recovery.
MMN: Mennonite Mission Network’s SOOP has developed COVID-19 protocols that permit serving in some locations. While the Navajo Nation has a high rate of infections, most of the cases are further west than the Navajo Brethren in Christ Mission. Pray for volunteers to serve through tutoring and Christmas activities.
Prayers for Mennonite Education-Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas: Give thanks for the dedication of the Bethel College Women’s Association, who have faithfully raised funds for the college for more than 80 years. Members carry out the annual BCWA holiday bake sale today, using curbside delivery this year.

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 your check on the memo line that it is for the White Gift Offering.
Bev McNutt: It is easier for Bev to answer the phone in her room
than her cell phone the number is: 330-874-5049 and her address is Bev McNutt, Hennis Care Center Rm 103, 300 Yant St., Bolivar, Ohio 44612
MC-USA-#Bring The Peace: Mennonite Church USA has called for bold
peacemaking during the election/post-election season, writing, “Peacemakers are most needed during times of uncertainty, fear and polarization.” Read the full statement here: https://mennoniteusa.org/news/bold-peacemaking/
MC-USA: Looking for health coverage for your congregational or conference staff? Consider The Corinthian Plan, MC USA health coverage and other benefits. Open enrollment is Nov. 1st-Dec. 31st. Read Duncan Smith’s blog, “The eleventh year of The Corinthian Plan” here: mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/the-eleventh-year-of-the-corinthian-plan/

THIS WEEK______________________________________
Dec. 11th Suzanne Stauffer has a Birthday
Dec. 13th 3rd Sunday of Advent

UPCOMING EVENTS______________________________
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

NEXT WEEK______________________________________
Minister:                                                        Mike Gehman
Worship Leader:                                          Julie Gerber
Song Leader:                                                 April Shupe
Head Usher:                                                  Herb Torgler

CHURCH LEADERSHIP_________________________
CHURCH:
Pastor: Mike Gehman:
Pastor’s Hours: Wednesday 9:30a.m.-2:30p.m.
Secretary: Tally Maust
Phone: 1-330-852-2822
Email: pastor@firstmennonitesugarcreek.com
Website: http//fmcsugarcreekoh.org
Address:
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: