The Fourth Sunday in Advent   December 18, 2022

Mary Had A “Little Lamb….

Who Took Away the Sin of the World

            A grade school class was putting on a Christmas play which included the story of Mary and Joseph coming to the inn in Bethlehem.   In that class was one little boy who wanted very much to be Joseph.  But when the parts were handed out, his biggest classroom competitor was given that part, and he was assigned to be the inn keeper instead.  He was more than a little bitter about it.

            So during all the rehearsals he kept plotting in his mind what he  might do the night of performance to get

 even with his rival who got to play the role of Joseph that he deserved.   The night of the performance arrived.  Mary and Joseph came walking across the stage. They knocked on the door of the inn.   The inn-keeper opened the door and asked them gruffly what they wanted.

            Joseph answered, “We’d like to have a room for the night.” Suddenly the inn-keeper, grinning, threw the door open wide and said, “Great, come on in and I’ll give you the best room in the house.”

            For a few seconds poor little Joseph didn’t know what to do, and a long silence ensued. Finally though, thinking quickly on his feet, Joseph looked in past the inn-keeper, first to the left and then to the right and said, “No wife of mine is going to stay in a dump like this. Come on, Mary, let’s go to the barn.” And once again the Christmas story was back on its correct course.

            When we set up our nativity sets for the Christmas season, one of the  figures that is often not given much

 attention is Joseph.  He’s not featured in many Christmas hymns and carols.   Not a single word he spoke is ever recorded in Scripture.   In our nativity scenes, Joseph just stands back in the shadows, watching over Mary, adoring Jesus.   But, at least in my estimation, Joseph – in many ways – is the unsung hero of the Christmas story.   Just as surely as God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, He also chose Joseph to be a stepfather, or father-figure on earth, for Jesus!   And what great faith Joseph had!   Though convinced in his well-reasoning mind that his now-pregnant fiancee Mary must have been “unfaithful” to him, instead of ending his engagement-marriage to Mary, Joseph immediately accepted the word of the angel Gabriel.  He changed his mind completely, now believing that Mary’s baby was a miracle and the Messiah, and took Mary to be his wife.  His faith was nothing short of amazing!

            Of course, the faith of Mary was amazing too.   Her second cousin, Zechariah, had doubted Gabriel’s words about him and Elizabeth having a miracle-baby (John the Baptist) in view of their advanced age and infertility.   When Gabriel came to Mary informing her that God would bless her with the privilege of being the Messiah’s mother, she was shocked, and inquired how a virgin could become pregnant, but she never doubted the angel’s word.  She believed what God told her.

            So did the Old Testament believers who faithfully embraced over 300 Messianic prophecies spread across the centuries. In many ways their faith in God’s promises about the coming Savior might just be the most amazing faith in the Christmas story.   It would be years and years and years before the Messiah was born.   And the information they were given about Him came only in bits, pieces, drips and drivels.  The Good News – though true – was so limited and little.  Still, beginning with Adam and Eve in Eden, down through believers like Abraham, Jacob, David and Isaiah, God’s Old Testament people trusted in His every word and promise, confident they were heaven’s heirs through the redeeming work of a not well-known Messiah they were waiting for.   Was their faith amazing?   You know it was!


Christmas’ Twin Miracles:  the Incarnation and Virgin Birth


            The Biblical doctrine of the Virgin Birth is one of the most amazing teachings in Scripture – and one of the most-often challenged and denied by those who wrongly question the total reliability and divine inspiration of the Bible.   In contrast to them, we accept, by faith, the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Jesus on the basis of Biblical authority.  We also admit that we do not understand how it could have happened because it is such a great miracle.  Yet, there’s more to the miracle of the Virgin Birth than the fact that Jesus was virgin-conceived and virgin-born.  Equally, if not more, amazing is the fact that within Mary, through the work of the Holy Spirit, God also became incarnate, i.e., He became human in the person of Jesus Christ……and He did that in order to become our Substitute in righteousness and our for sins so that He could deliver us from our transgressions, eternal death, and the Devil!

Opposition Across the Centuries


            Unfortunately, across the centuries – beginning with Jewish attacks against any and everything  Christian during the first century, and right up to the “post-modernist,” liberal scholars of today who seem to question almost everything Christian – the doctrines of the Virgin Birth and the Incarnation of Christ have been attacked from many directions and by numerous enemies.  We, on the other hand, embrace these truths as a matter of faith, not reason – faith founded solely on the basis of the Holy Scriptures.

            Those who have persistently and faithfully held to these teachings (such as our own Wisconsin Synod) have been criticized regularly and repeatedly by those on the “denying side” for not knowing what we are talking about.  “How,” they ask, “can a child be born without a human father?    And how – even why – would God choose to become human?   It’s all too impossible to believe,” they say.  And so they refuse to believe these miraculous truths, while daring to question our intelligence for believing them.   Clearly, embracing the reality of the Incarnation and Virgin Birth are not matters of human “wisdom.”  Rather this is a matter of faith!    Faith has no trouble with the “fact” that miracles are impossible for human beings either to repeat or to explain.    And the Virgin Birth and Incarnation are miracles…..miracles performed by the almighty God Who can do the “impossible,” ……miracles which we embrace – comfortably, unquestioningly, gladly, and gratefully – by Spirit-given faith.

            Today, as a part of our Advent (pre-Christmas) preparations and worship, we’re focusing our attention on one of these doctrines – that of the Virgin Birth – not according to our “human reason” but – on the basis of the inspired words of God.   It’s been said that “Words do mean things,” and indeed the words we’ll consider –  – both the Biblical context in which they’re found, and the very words of the original Biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek – do mean something.   They point to ONLY one understanding (and it is essential for our salvation) ….that Jesus was miraculously born, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, in order to be the Savior from sin for our fallen human race.

We Believe This For Our Salvation Depends On It

            We regularly affirm the truths of Christ’s incarnation and Virgin Birth in both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.   As Christians we believe, teach, and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ, the God-Man (Colossians 2:9), took upon Himself our human flesh and nature through the miracle of being conceived by the Holy Spirit and being born to the Virgin Mary.    The Savior had to be “human” to sinlessly (Hebrews 4:15) live under the law (Galatians 4:4,5;  Romans 5:19) and to die sacrificially (Hebrews 2:14) for all our sin as our Substitute (Mark 10:45).   Yet He also had to be eternally God, so that His sacrificial, substitutionary  death (Hebrews 7:26,27) would be sufficient (Psalm 49:7,8) enough to pay for the sins of all humanity (John 1:29; I John 2:2).    God’s Incarnation was carried out through the Virgin Birth.  There the Second Person of the Trinity embraced human flesh (albeit sinlessly) in order to become the Messiah and Savior of our sinful race.  This we believe on the basis of Scripture….because it is the truth given to us from God Himself;  and upon this truth our salvation depends. 


These Truths Are Affirmed In Today’s Scripture Lessons

            The truth of Christ’s Incarnation through the Virgin Birth is well-expressed in (among other places) Isaiah, chapter 7:14.   Today’s  Old Testament Lesson was penned under divine inspiration 700 years before Jesus’ first coming.   This passage finds – as its background – a godless king ruling Judah (his name as Ahaz) at a time when that nation was gravely threatened by its enemies.  In spite of his unbelief, God wanted to assure Ahaz that Judah would be victorious, and told the king – through Isaiah – to ask for a “sign” from the Lord as a proof of the Lord’s faithfulness.  In a false display of piety Ahaz refused to ask (actually, he had already sought deliverance through an alliance with the Assyrians.)   And so, as a rebuke to Ahaz, the Lord declared that He would provide a sign for of deliverance not only for Judah but for all mankind – not one Ahaz (or Isaiah) would live to see – but one that would be fulfilled centuries later through the miraculous virgin birth of the Messiah, also known as Immanuel (God with us).  

            The Hebrew word for “virgin” here is Almah, which is always used in the OT to refer to a young woman who was not only of marriageable age, but who also had not had sexual relations.   In the Greek Old Testament (called the Septuagint) as well as in the Greek New Testament (from which today’s Sermon Text is drawn), the word used to describe Mary is “parthenos” – and it is also always translated “virgin.” 

            In Luke 1:34-37 the Angel Gabriel explained to Mary how it was possible for this miracle to take place in her.   He said the “power of the most High”God would “overshadow” her, and that the Lord would work the humanly impossible in her (since all things are possible for God) so that Jesus would be fully God and fully human. 

            In today’s Gospel Lesson, Gabriel also explained this to Jesus’ earthly step-father, Joseph, who was ready to divorce Mary because he naturally assumed that she had behaved adulterously in becoming pregnant.   (We need to keep in mind that in those days engagement was viewed as “marriage,” even though the engaged couple stayed celibate following the betrothal ceremony until – months later – the wedding proper took place.   Then, and only then, would they live together and be physically intimate as husband and wife.)    Gabriel sets him straight by saying that Mary was still a virgin and that the child in her was conceived through the miraculous intervention of God the Holy Spirit.   This would take place to fulfill the Messianic prophesy given through Isaiah (7:14) centuries earlier……”The Virgin would be with child” and give birth to the “Immanuel, God with Us.” 

            Many portions of Scripture affirm the unique, “two natures” of Christ (his truly human and divine natures) – which was the product of the incarnation through the Virgin Birth.   Most of them refer to either Christ’s human or His divine nature, such as today’s Epistle Lesson, which is Paul’s introduction to his letter to the Romans.   Some portions refer to both natures.   Among the latter are Colossians 1:15-20 (the firstborn….God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him);   Isaiah 9:1-7 (to us a child is born….And He will be called…Mighty God, Everlasting Father);    Luke 1:35 (the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God);    John 1;14,18 (The Word became flesh);   Romans 1:3-4 (a descendant of David/the Son of God);   Romans 9:5 (human ancestry/God over all); & Galatians 4:4 (God sent His Son, born of a woman).

            Finally, the theme of our Children’s Lesson is “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and is based on the word of John the Baptist, as he pointed to Jesus as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”

Situated in the front of the church, to the right of the lectern, you’ll find an

“Advent Wreath.”  It’s been our practice at Grace Lutheran to use an Advent Wreath during the Advent and Christmas seasons as a symbolic means for both preparing ourselves for the coming of the Christ child and then joyously reflecting upon the arrival of that Savior.    The following brief history and explanation of the Advent Wreath’s symbolism is intended to help you enjoy and benefit from this traditional Christian expression.

The Advent Wreath


               The Advent wreath is a combination of two very common symbols:  light and the fir tree.   From the early centuries of Christianity it has been the practice to represent Christ by a burning candle.  The fir tree also has a long history of religious use.   One of the most popular themes for the medieval “mystery plays” revolved around the telling of the story of Paradise.  In those plays, the Garden of Eden was typically portrayed by a fir tree hung with apples.   In the Eastern churches (Eastern/Greek Orthodox) December 24th was celebrated as the Feast Day of Adam and Eve.    The custom of putting up a Paradise tree in the home on December 24th, decorated with apples, came into Europe (and the Americas) by way of the East.  In Germany there was also a custom of placing a lit Christmas candle on top of a wooden pyramid decorated with evergreen twigs.   In time the wooden pyramid was replaced by the Paradise tree, decorated with apples and lighted candles.

              No doubt the Advent wreath was suggested, at least in part, by the Christmas tree.   It seems that the Advent wreath originated a few hundred years ago among the Lutheran Christians of eastern Germany.  A wreath of evergreens, made of various sizes, was either suspended from the ceiling or placed on a table.   Four candles representing the four Sundays of Advent were fastened to the wreath.  Eventually the use of the Advent wreath became wide-spread and moved also from the home into the church.   The general symbolism of the Advent wreath lies in the growing light of the wreath, increasing each week as we approach the birthday of Jesus the Light of the world.

               The color of the candles in the Advent wreath is dictated by whatever emphasis a particular home or congregation gives to the season.   While the emphasis may change somewhat according to the sermons, the traditional emphases in Advent are those of repentance and anticipation (the Sunday sermons are generally more “up-beat” and “joyous,”  while mid-week sermons tend to be slightly more “sober” and “penitent” in character).  That’s why the altar cloths and furnishings are either in the color of purple (the traditional color of repentance) or blue (another penitential color) throughout the Advent season.   It’s no wonder, then, that the prevalent color (three out of five) of the Advent wreath candles is purple or blue.  

               The purple candle lit in our wreath on the first Sunday in Advent is called “the Candle of Prophecy,” and symbolizes the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Savior.   The second Advent candle (also purple) is referred to as the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing the coming to earth of Jesus, the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary.  The Third Advent candle (pink or rose-colored) is the “Shepherd Candle” and represents the coming of the Savior into the hearts and lives of His believers through His Holy Word.  The pink/rose color serves to remind us that a note of joy should also heard in this penitential season.  The fourth and final purple candle is the “Angel Candle,” symbolizing the final coming of the Savior in glory with all His holy angels.  The white candle at the center of the wreath is the “Christ Candle,” symbolizing the perfection of Christ, the fulfillment of prophesy, and the centrality of Jesus in our Advent preparations.   This “Christ Candle” remains unlighted during Advent in anticipation of the birth of the Savior, the Light of the world.  Advent’s penitent emphasis focuses our attention on our sins and the need for a Savior, but on Christmas Day we joyfully celebrate the birth of that Savior….and so we then light the white Christ Candle.  

                        White candles also replace the purple and pink ones, and the purple altar cloths are replaced by white altar cloths with the arrival of Christmas Day.   The wreath, now with all white candles, continues to be used until the Christmas Season officially ends with the arrival of Epiphany on January 6th.  The white altar cloths continue to be used through the first Sunday of Epiphany.   The colors then change to green.

The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,    The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission.

Grace Lutheran Church of Northwest Arkansas

is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a church body which spans the United States and Canada, and which also operates a number of foreign missions.

Our Vision:      Extend God’s Kingdom through His Word,

serving each Soul.

Our Mission:  Share the Gospel, Encourage Faith, and Prepare Souls through Worship, Education and Fellowship.

Pre-Service Prayer  Heavenly Father, please guide me in wisdom and truth through Your Holy Spirit, as I spend this hour meditating on Your Word and rejoicing in Your limitless love for me.  Assist me in being attentive in heart and mind to Your Word, as well as to the hymns of praise, the various petitions, and the prayers of thanksgiving my voice directs toward You.  Use this worship service, O Lord, to deepen my love for You, to strengthen my trust in You, and to renew my commitment to You.  All this I ask for the sake of and in the name of Your One and only Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior.  Amen.

Pre-service prayer                                                                                                                Pre-worship music

We Praise Our God

Greeting and Introduction to Worship


after the greeting, the Congregation will rise


The Invocation

We begin this morning, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our Psalm for Today                                                                                                                           Psalm 8


P:         O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth.


C:        You have set Your glory above the heavens.   +   From the lips of  children and infants   +   You have ordained             praise because of Your enemies,   +   to silence the foe and the avenger


P:         When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in   place,


C:        What is man that You are mindful of Him,  +    the Son of Man that You should care for Him?


P:         You made Him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned Him with love and compassion.


C:        You made Him Ruler over the works of Your hands;   +   You put everything under His feet.

P:         all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.


C:        O LORD, our Lord,   +   how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

after which the Congregation will be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                                       Hymn 23  “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”


1 Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,   And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here   Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!


2 Oh, come, O Root of Jesse, free    Your own from Satan’s tyranny;

From depths of hell your people save,    And bring them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!


3 Oh, come, O Dayspring from on high,    And cheer us by your drawing nigh;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,    And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel    Shall come to you, O Israel!


4 Oh, come, O Key of David, come,    And open wide our heav’nly home.

Make safe the way that leads on high,   And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel    Shall come to you, O Israel!


after which the Congregation will rise for



We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God

Pastor  God, our Heavenly Father, invites us to come into His presence and to worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness for all our sins.

Congregation  Holy and merciful Father,   I confess that I am by  nature sinful   and that I have disobeyed You in

                                    my thoughts, words, and actions;    I have done what is evil in Your sight   and have failed to do what is good.    For this I know that I deserve Your punishment, both now and for eternity.     But I am truly sorry for all my sins    and trusting in the perfect life     and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ,     I plead:    God have mercy on me, a sinner.


Sung     Lord have mercy on us.   Christ have mercy on us.  Lord have mercy on us.


Pastor  Our gracious Lord and Master has shown us His mercy:   He has given His one and only Son to save us from all our sins.    And now, having humbly and sincerely confessed your sins before Almighty God, be

strengthened in your faith, mindful that our Lord is not willing that anyone should perish eternally, but that everyone should come to repentance, turning from their evil ways and receiving from Him everlasting life.    God has commanded His ministers to declare His forgiveness of sins to all who are penitent.   Therefore, addressing you as a called servant of Christ,  and according to His command and under His authority,   I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Pastor                        “Behold, people of God!  Your King comes to you; 

Congregation             He is just and brings salvation!


Pastor                        “Rejoice people of God!   Your Lord Jesus Christ has appeared and fulfilled God’s promises of old for your comfort and salvation.”

Congregation           The Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth.   My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord.    O my God, You are my Help and my Deliverer;  do not delay.


1 Lift up your heads, you mighty gates!      Behold, the King of glory waits.

The King of kings is drawing near;   The Savior of the world is here.

Life and salvation He will bring;    Therefore rejoice and gladly sing.

To God the Father raise    Your joyful songs of praise.


2 The King is born in poverty,    His chariot is humility,

His kingly crown is holiness,    His scepter, pity in distress.

The end of all our woe He brings;    Therefore the earth is glad and sings.

To Christ the Savior raise    Your grateful hymns of praise.


Redeemer, come!   I open wide   My heart to You;   here, Lord, abide!

Let me Your inner presence feel,    Your grace and love in me reveal;

Your Holy Spirit guide us on    Until our glorious goal is won.

Eternal praise and fame    We offer to Your name.     Amen.


The Prayer For The Fourth Sunday in Advent                                                                                               

O Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth + through Your Spirit’s working in our hearts + enable us to live sober-minded and godly lives in this present world;   +   and as we look forward to Your second coming.   +   Enable us to walk day by day  +  in the paths of Your righteousness  +  so that, by Your grace,  + we may receive – through faith – the eternal, heavenly inheritance which You have prepared us and for all who are part of  Your Church.  +  All this we ask   +  in the name of Jesus Christ, +  Your Son our Lord   +  Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit   + as the One, tree God, + now and forever.   +  Amen.


after which the Congregation will be seated

Today’s Special Vocal Selection                                                                                        Like a Child I Wait

by Ruth Elaine Schram, Lorenz music

sung by Danielle Ashley

Like a child I wait for the promises to be fulfilled;

for Emmanuel to come, the completion of God’s will.

And so I trust His Word with a simple child-like faith.

Till our Savior has come, eagerly I wait.

Emmanuel will come!   He’s the gift that Christmas brings:

the precious Prince of Peace, the glorious King of kings!

Our Emmanuel will come!   And until that blessed day,

with a pure and open heart, like a child, like a child, I wait.

Anticipation builds for the Savior to appear,

fill our darkness with His light, give us hope to calm our fear.

Then we will know the joy of a Savior we can touch;

our Redeemer in the flesh!  God Himself with us!

Emmanuel will come!   He’s the gift that Christmas brings:

the precious Prince of Peace, the glorious King of kings!

Our Emmanuel will come!  And until that blessed day,

with a pure and open heart, like a child, like a child, I wait.

I eagerly wait.   Like a child I wait.

We Hear God’s Word

The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                          Isaiah 7:1-17

This took place in the days when Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah. Rezin king of Aram, and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, marched up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but they could not capture it.

2 The house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim.” The heart of Ahaz trembled, and the heart of his people trembled as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind. 

3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah:    Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear Jashub.  Meet him at the end of the water channel from the upper pool, on the road that goes to the launderers field.

4 Tell Ahaz, “Get control of yourself, and remain calm. Do not be afraid. Do not lose your courage because of these two stubs of smoldering torches. Do not be afraid because of the fierce anger of Rezin, Aram, and the son of Remaliah, 5 even though Aram, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you and said, 6 ‘Let’s go up against Judah and tear it apart. Let’s divide it among ourselves and set up a king over it, namely, this son of Tabe’el.’   7 This is what the Lord God says.   Their plan shall not succeed.   It shall not take place.  8 Yes, the head of Aram is Damascus,  and the head of Damascus is Rezin,  but within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken into pieces, so that it will no longer be a people.  9 The head of Ephraim is only Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son.  If you do not stand firm in faith,  you will not stand at all.”

10 The Lord spoke to Ahaz again. He said, 11 “Ask for a sign from the Lord your God. Ask for it either in the depths below or in the heights above.”    12 But Ahaz responded, “I will not ask. I will not test the Lord.”

13 So Isaiah said:   “Listen now, you house of David. Is it not enough for you to test the patience of men? Will you test the patience of my God as well? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give a sign for all of you.  Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and name him Immanuel.  15 He will eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse evil and choose good, 16 because even before the child knows how to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.   17 The Lord will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house days worse than any since the day that Ephraim broke away from Judah. The Lord will bring the king of Assyria.”

The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                      Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised in advance through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. 3 This gospel is about His Son—Who in the flesh was born a Descendant of David, 4 Who in the spirit of holiness was declared to be God’s powerful Son by His resurrection from the dead—Jesus Christ, our Lord. 5 Through Him we received grace and the call to be an apostle on behalf of His name, to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, 6 including you, who were called by Jesus Christ.   7 To all those loved by God who are in Rome, called to be saints:   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

After which the Congregation will rise out of respect for

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                 Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother, Mary, was pledged in marriage to Joseph. Before they came together, she was found to be with Child by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her. So he decided to divorce her privately. 20 But as he was considering these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because the Child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 All this happened to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin will be with Child and will give birth to a Son. And they will name Him Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.”   24 When Joseph woke up from his sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him. He took Mary home as his wife, 25 but he was not intimate with her until she gave birth to her firstborn Son. And he named Him Jesus.



The Nicene Creed


I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,  and of all things visible and invisible.  And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God,  Light of Light.  Very God of Very God.  Begotten, not made.  Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made;  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven   And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary   And was made man;  And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.  He suffered and was buried;  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures;  And ascended into heaven,  And sitteth on the right hand of the Father;   And he shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;  Whose Kingdom shall have no end.   And I believe in the Holy Ghost,  The Lord and Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,  Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,  And I look for the resurrection of the dead,  And the life of the world to come.  Amen.



The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                       John 1:29


The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,

 “Look! The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!

Mary Had A Little Lamb


after which the Congregation will be seated for

The Sermon Hymn                                                                           “We Now Praise Christ, the Holy One”

                                                                                        sung to the melody of “From Heaven Above To Earth I Come”

                                                                                    based on a hymn by Coelius Sedulius, c 450, (adapted, cwh 2004)


Now we praise Christ, the Holy One,   The blessed Virgin Mary’s Son.

From east to west, from shore to shore    Let earth its Lord and King adore.


He Who Himself all things did make    A Servant’s form agreed to take

That He, as man, mankind might win     And save His creatures from their sin.


The grace and pow’r of God the Lord    Upon the mother was outpoured;

A Virgin pure and undefiled    In wond’rous way conceived a Child.


The noble mother bore a Son –     For so did Gabriel’s promise run –

God’s holy Law He’d satisfy    Then give His life, our death to die.


All honor unto Christ the Lord    Eternal and incarnate Word

Who, with the Spirit, e’er shall be    One in the Father’s majesty.     Amen.


After which the Congregation will remain seated for


The Greeting

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!   May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.



The Sermon                                                                                                                   based on Luke 1:26-38


26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin pledged in marriage to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.”  29 But she was greatly troubled by the statement and was wondering what kind of greeting this could be.  

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God. 31 Listen, you will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will never end.”  34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 

 35 The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Listen, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age even though she was called barren, and this is her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible for God.”   38 Then Mary said, “See, I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.


Mary’s Miracle Child (and Savior)


following the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for

The Post-Sermon Blessing

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, now encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord

Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.

   However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address

 (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can also donate on our website:


the Congregation will please rise as the offerings are brought to the altar

Today’s Prayers


Included in our prayers this morning is

A Prayer of Intercession

for Debbie Terrian, will will undergo a surgical procedure this Friday


P:         And finally, with all our prayers being offered in Jesus’ name, we also join in that special prayer which has been given to us by our Savior:

C:         Our Father, Who art in heaven,  +   Hallowed be Thy name;   +   Thy Kingdom come;   +   Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven;   +  Give us this day our daily bread;   +   and forgive us  our trespasses,  as we forgive those who trespass against us;   +  and lead us not into temptation;   +   but deliver us from evil;    +   for Thine is the Kingdom,  and the power,  and the glory,   forever and ever.  +   Amen.


We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper

Our Self-Examination Before Receiving the Lord’s Supper


Pastor            At this point in our service, I invite you to join me in examining ourselves in preparation for receiving

                                    the Sacrament of our Lord’s Supper, as the inspired Apostle Paul so instructs us in I Corinthians 11, where he  writes,  “…whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the  body and blood of the Lord.  Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgement on himself.”


Pastor           Accordingly, are you sincerely sorry for your sins and determined, with God’s help, to change your sinful ways?

Congregation  Yes, I am sorry for my sins and desire to serve Jesus and not a sinful lifestyle.


Pastor            Do you believe that here in the Lord’s Supper you will receive, along with the bread and wine, the true body and blood of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?                   

Congregation Yes, I believe that I will be receiving the true body and blood of my Lord and Savior, which was given into death for my sins.


Pastor            Are you coming to the Lord’s table as one in the faith with this Christian congregation, as the Scriptures teach?

Congregation  Yes I have studied the teachings of this congregation concerning God’s Word;  I agree with them;  And am one in faith with them, as the Scriptures command me to be before I come to the Lord’s table with anyone.

Pastor            Finally, do you recognize your need for forgiveness and do you believe that you will receive through the Lord’s Supper the full and free forgiveness of all your sins?

Congregation  Yes, I have examined my life, see the need for God’s forgiveness and believe that I will receive complete forgiveness for all my sins, as my Savior has promised.


Pastor            Having examined yourselves and confessed your sins, come now with confidence and joy to your Lord’s table and receive here, through His body and blood, the guarantee that your sins are all forgiven, and that eternal life and salvation are surely yours.


(Please read the following if you have not spoken with our Pastor about taking communion.  Thank you.)


We offer the Lord’s Supper this afternoon only to those individuals who are confirmed,   communicant members of Faith Lutheran congregation, or of a member congregation of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.    To our Guests this evening,  we appreciate your presence among us and celebrate the faith in Christ which we share with you.   However, we ask that you will please respect our communion practice (see above).   A brochure further explaining the Biblical basis for our Communion practice is available on the table in the rear of this worship area.  We encourage you both to examine it – especially the Biblical references within it, and also to speak with our Pastor after the service (at your convenience) so that you might better understand and appreciate our Biblically-based “Close Communion” practice.   Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and for your presence here among us this morning.


The Words of Institution


The Distribution

Distribution Hymn                                                                Hymn 310   “I Come, O Savior, To Your Table”

                                                                                                      sung in three 5 verse units (1-5; 6-10; 11-15)

  1. I come, O Savior, to Your table, For weak and weary is my soul;

O Jesus You alone are able To satisfy and make me whole:

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. Oh, grant that I in manner worthy May now trust solely in Your Word

And, conscious of the sins before me,  Look only unto You, O Lord!

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. Unworthy though I am, O Savior, Because I have a sinful heart,

Yet You Your lamb will banish never, Nor will Your faithfulness depart.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. Oh, let me loathe all sin forever As death and poison to my soul

That I through willful sinning never May see Your judgment take its toll!

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. Your heart is filled with fervent yearning That sinners may salvation see

Who, Lord, to You in faith are turning; So let me too come trustingly.

 Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. Weary am I and heavy laden, With sin my soul is sore oppressed;

Receive me graciously and gladden My heart, for I am now Your guest.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. You here will find a heart most lowly That feels unworthy in Your sight,

That duly weeps o’er sin, yet solely Your merit pleads, as it is right.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. By faith I call Your holy table The testament of Your deep love;

For by Your gift I now am able   To know the heart of God above.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. What higher gift can we inherit? It is faith’s bond and solid base;

It is the strength of heart and spirit, The covenant of hope and grace.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

10.This feast is manna, wealth abounding Unto the poor, to weak ones power,

To angels joy, to hell confounding, And life for me in death’s dark hour.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

11.Your body, giv’n for me, O Savior, Your blood which You for me did shed,

These are my life and strength forever, By them my hungry soul is fed.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

12.With You, Lord, I am now united; I live in You and You in me.

No sorrow fills my soul, delighted   It finds its peace on Calvary.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

13.Who can condemn me now? For surely    The Lord is near, who justifies.

No hell I fear, and thus securely With Jesus I to Heaven rise.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

  1. Though death may threaten with disaster, It cannot rob me of my cheer;

For He Who is of death the Master, With help and strength is always near.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

15.My heart has now become Your dwelling, O blessèd, holy Trinity.

With angels I, Your praises telling, Shall live in joy eternally.

Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!

We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Benediction

The LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The LORD look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.    Amen.

The Closing Hymn                                                                        Hymn 56   “Gentle Mary Laid Her Child”


1 Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;   There he lay, the undefiled, To the world a stranger.

Such a babe in such a place — Can he be the Savior?   Ask the saved of all the race Who have found his favor.


2 Angels sang about his birth; Wise men sought and found him. 

  Heaven’s star shone brightly forth, Glory all around them.

Shepherds saw the wondrous sight, Heard the angels singing.  

  All the plains were lit that night; All the hills were ringing.


3 Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;    He is still the undefiled, But no more a stranger.

Son of God, of humble birth, Beautiful the story;   Praise his name in all the earth, Hail the King of glory!


Silent Prayer, Announcements,  Postlude



Last Week at Grace         Sunday  worship: 74     Online views: 18

Bible Class: 26 (9 Online)   Sunday School: 3     Tuesday Bible Study: 11

Midweek Advent Service 29   Online views: 12

Sunday Budgetary: $ 4332   Online: $675.24   Midweek Offerings:   $893

Cookie Exchange gifts for Benevolence: $157

This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

lk,   Today       Morning Worship, with the Lord’s Supper 9:30 a.m,  

                        Fellowship, 10:45 am     Bible Class/Sunday School 11:05am                                                  

                        Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday          Tuesday Morning Bible Class, 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday     Christmas Caroling to nursing homes, 5 p.m.

Saturday         Christmas Eve Worship Service, 7 p.m.

Sunday            Christmas Day Worship, 9:30 a.m.

Serving Us Next Sunday           Elders:   Steve Stone, Rick Tragasz             Fellowship:    Debbie Huebner

Ushers:   Taylor Ashley, John Johnson, John Wambold                 Altar Guild:    Mary Karloski, Vicki Walker

Fellowship Volunteers Needed    Would you be willing to volunteer to prepare after-worship coffee, drinks, and light snacks?   A sign-up poster is on the fellowship hall bulletin board.  We need more volunteers for the first few months of the upcoming new year.   Reimbursement of $25 per week for expenses is available to help defray costs. 



Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Worship Services     Please join us for worship this coming Saturday, Christmas Eve, at 7:00 p.m. as we close our out Advent preparations through a special worship service.   The next morning, (Sunday, December 25th), we’ll return at 9:30 a.m. for the festival celebration of Christ’s nativity.  We’re looking forward to joining with you in these special observances of Jesus’ birth. – And please don’t forget to invite those of your family and friends who don’t have a church home of their own to come and celebrate our Savior’s birth with us!

Christmas Poinsettias at Church!   A request to those of you who will enjoy the beauty of a poinsettia plant in your home this Christmas season:   Please consider sharing its beauty with us during our worship services on Saturday (the 24th) and Sunday, Christmas Day (the 25th).   We’d like to use your poinsettias as part of a large floral arrangement beautifying the chancel (front) area of our church during those services.   Finally, please be sure to “label” your poinsettia(s) with your name, so we can make sure it returns to you.