Communion Worship Service
We are glad that you have chosen to worship with Kingsville Baptist today. We pray that all that we do and all that we say points you toward God’s great love for you revealed in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
As this is the first Sunday of the month, we will be observing the Lord’s Table at the end of the service. If you are participating, be sure to have bread and juice ready. Even though we know that we will not be taking part at the exact same time, we ask you to use your imagination and place yourself in the sanctuary among us. We look so forward to the day we will no longer have to use our imaginations!
Call to Worship
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
We are people of gratitude, our gracious Father, on whom the Light has shined. Continue to shine into every dark corner of our lives so that we may serve You in this part of Your Kingdom. We pray in the name of the One Who agreed to be sent on our behalf … amen.
Voice I (while candle being lit)
- A second candle to remind us of the Advent of peace, promised to us here with full consummation at the second coming of our Lord.
- “He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”
- We confess before you, Our Father, the ways and times in which we have sought peace without justice. Forgive us our works of violence and strife. Forgive our wronging the weak and powerless by our strength. Let your justice, O Lord, reign within and through us. Amen.
Scripture Reading - Exodus 3:1-15
Moses and the Burning Bush
3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.
Today's Message: When Immanuel Happens – Part 1
This may seem like a strange place to begin our Advent celebration. A scripture lesson from the book of Exodus hardly seems very “Christmassy” … and no ancient prophesy about the coming Messiah, no story of Jesus’ birth or visit of shepherd or Magi. Yet, at its essence the Advent or Christmas experience is about Immanuel or “God with us.” Certainly, the recounting of Jesus birth is the most vivid example of God making his presence felt … but it wasn’t the first one. And the more we read about Moses’ encounter with God, the more we see ourselves in this event.
Many of you know the story well. Moses seems content in a life of shepherding when God comes to him in a burning bush, in an attempt to recruit him to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. Moses’ first response is not surprising … “Moses hid his face” we read in v. 6. This is often the way we react as well, when we learn the possible accessibility of the “Father of Lights”, as James describes him. We acknowledge as much in our worship services, when something called “the assurance of pardon” is included in our order of service. It is an admission on our part that, if this Immanuel idea is true, we are out of our element. As Isaiah stated many centuries later, in his own “Immanuel” moment, “I am a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5).”
But Moses’ hesitancy runs much deeper than his perceived unworthiness. If you recall the previous chapter you likely know of his unique background. Born into a Hebrew family but (through unusual circumstances) raised in the Pharaoh’s court, he wore the “most likely to succeed” tag … until he took matters into his own hands and murdered one of the Egyptian slave drivers. He soon learned that his timing was “off” in his attempt to rescue his people from their Egyptian oppressors. He consequently fled from Egypt, attempting to bury his embarrassment in menial work far away.
I’m guessing that it’s Moses’ seeming failure that stands behind his resistance to God’s call. But the Voice from the bush persists … and by doing so, reveals his heart and purpose in this matter. “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers … and I know their suffering (v. 7).” The Hebrew verb here means “to learn, to know how to do a thing”. I think this may be the central message in this group of verses. The God of the universe, somehow, knows first-hand what is happening to His people, and, because of this, wants to do something about it … and He is calling Moses to assist in this wonderful project.
You might be wondering whatever this has to do with Advent and Christmas. These words from the burning bush remind me a bit of what the Father has attempted to do by the sending of His Son which is the essence of our celebration this time of year. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us”, we read in the first few verses of John’s gospel. With these few words, and in other places in the gospels, we are led to believe that the God we worship actually came to earth, “to come as a babe, to lie in the crook of a woman’s arm” as one writer has put it. And, if we can believe what we read in this Exodus passage, all this happened because God, the Voice from the bush, truly cares about His creation … and He is inviting us to care with him.
We may give our excuses, much the same as Moses did, citing instances of past failures, lost opportunities and the misreading of crucial moments … but I am suggesting that our Father calls us to care just the same. And the support he offers to us is the same offered to Moses, after he requests of God how he should answer if they ask the name of the one who is sending him. “I AM has sent me to you” (v. 14) is His reply. This word is a verb in Hebrew, meaning, “the one bringing into being, life-giver.” He is the one who brings new life into every situation … the one who brings relationships back to life after trust has been compromised; the one who brings new life to the ones who have been enslaved by problem addictions; the one who brings healing to those immobilized by grief or abuse. He is the one who brought His Son back to life. Yes, He is the One … and part of the message of Christmas is that we are invited, like Moses of old, to share in such restoration and renewal.
A great teacher of preachers, Dr. Fred Craddock tells of an experience in his own life, when he was serving as guest speaker at a church. Since he was due to speak at another service that very evening, he had to exit the pulpit while the final song was being sung to catch a plane early that afternoon. While dashing through the lower bowels of the church he rounded the corner into the cloak room where he’d hung his coat, only to discover a woman weeping. He felt so bad for her and explained how, because of his flight, he simply could not help her. He did offer to call as soon as his plane landed and find someone to follow up with her. She replied, “Give me the name of one person here in this church who cares!”
Dr. Craddock has told this story many times over the years. He always ends it with these words. “She was asking for names” he says. “May I give her yours?”
From the God who “knows their suffering” we sense a calling to care. There may be no greater Christmas gift you can share … but, He too, is looking for names.
Our gracious Father, how grateful we all are for the “Immanuel moments” in our own lives through the years, when we have sensed Your mighty presence in very tangible ways. Yet, we praise You even more so when You have walked with us when we couldn’t feel or sense it. Your promise is so true …”I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
As Moses of old, we confess to finding many reasons for resisting Your call to help usher in a measure of your kingdom here and now. We are reminded of Your Son and his wish that his disciples be “in the world but not of it.” Keep us aware of our joyous partnership to share with you the mission of Your church.
Finally, our Father, as we enter into this Advent season, we note that we do so under very complicating circumstances. As the celebration of this season continues to be tinged with fear about health concerns, develop in us a graciousness for those we may encounter even in a limited way. We pray a special measure of Your Spirit for those on the front lines of this crisis … health care personnel, delivery people and those who provide food for others. In the strong name of Jesus, we pray … amen.
Introduction to the Lord’s Supper
“How proper it is that Christmas should follow Advent. For him who looks toward the future, the Manger is situated on Golgotha, and the Cross has already been raised in Bethlehem.” -Dag Hammarskjold
The Sharing of the Bread
Hear Paul’s words, “the Lord Jesus, on the same night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take eat … this is My body, given for you.”
Prayer for the Bread
As we partake of this bread, we are reminded of the very physical presence of our Lord during his earthly life and how important this was to our salvation. As we eat, we remember, “the Word” who became flesh and dwelt among us. Amen.
Sharing of the Cup
“In the same manner also, He took the cup saying; this cup is the new agreement in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of Me.”
Prayer for the Cup
How grateful we are, our Father, for the cup that was used to cleanse wounds in ancient life became the symbol of the cleansing of our inner life. It happened through the shed blood of our Master, whom we praise this day … amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in Heaven … hallowed by 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.
“My help and glory are in God … granite-strength and safe-harbour God. So, trust Him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.”