Prepare The Way Of The Lord” - Choir
Today we begin our celebration of Advent. On these four Sundays leading up to Christmas, we will rejoice in the great gift that is ours in Jesus Christ.
To help us celebrate, we will be lighting the candles of the Advent wreath. The candles signify that Jesus is the Light of the World. The evergreens remind us that He is life and brings life to us. All these are arranged in a circle because life in Christ has no end.
Each Sunday we will light an additional candle. Then on Christmas Eve, we will light all the candles, including the center one, the Christ candle. As we do, we will rejoice that Christ has come to us. He is Emmanuel, God with us.
On this first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Hope.
(First candle is lit)
Hope is our assurance that God will finish all He has started. Hope is our confidence that He will do all He has promised.
All the promises of God are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He is our hope, today and forever!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
The legend of the White Gift
LEGEND OF THE WHITE GIFT
NARRATOR: Do you know how the first White Gift Service started? Or where? Perhaps you have heard different stories about white gifts, but today we are going to tell you the real story. We are going to present a play to show you how it happened. The year is 1903, and the place is the minister’s house.
(Father stands at one side, mother stands at other side. The children enter arguing “I want that doll,” “You can’t have it,” etc. Kathy carries a lovely big doll, and Mary has a very small doll. Mary stamps her feet and runs to her father. Kathy joins her mother.)
MARY: Just look at the big doll she has. It’s not fair. I want it.
FATHER: Now, now children, you shouldn’t fight. What a way for a minister’s family to carry on.
MARY: (shouting across to Kathy) You’re a greedy thing. I want that doll.
KATHY: (shouting back) Well, you can’t have it. Margaret gave it to me.
MOTHER: Children, stop it this minute.
FATHER: Do you mean to say, Kathy, that you got that lovely doll at the Sunday School party today?
KATHY: Yes, Father. You know that we can bring a gift for a friend. Well, Margaret is very rich and she brought this doll for me.
FATHER: Who gave you that little doll, Mary?
MARY: My best friend, Joan. She hasn’t much money, so that’s all she could give me.
FATHER: And don’t you like your doll?
MARY: Yes, but I’d rather have the big one that Kathy has.
MOTHER: This goes on every year. The well-off give and receive expensive presents, and the others get little gifts. No one is happy. That’s not the way to celebrate Christmas. Christians should show their love to everyone. I know it’s not the gift that’s important, but when you see that someone else has received something much better than you have, there’s bound to be disappointment. Well, you can see what happens.
FATHER: Yes, I suppose we will just have to stop having a Christmas tree with gifts, unless we can find a better way of showing our love for each other.
NARRATOR: That night the minister’s wife thought about the unequal gifts and she suddenly remembered the famous warrior-king of Cathay, the mighty Kubla Khan. He, unlike many kings of his time, was just, generous and wise. He treated the rich and the poor alike and was especially tender to little children. His subjects decided to hold a great birthday celebration to honour their king. This in itself was not new but the way they did it was original and made the king glad. Just as he showed no favourites in his kingly rule, so they showed no difference in their gifts, for the gifts all looked the same and were wrapped in white.
They brought the white gifts for the king. While one may have only been able to bring a handful of rice, and another a beautiful piece of ivory or jewels, the king valued not one more highly than another, because they were given of pure motive, a glad heart and all bore the same degree of devotion and love. Not only so, but in a white book, persons who had no material gifts, could offer their time or talent to serve the king, by entering their names. The next day the minister’s wife said to her husband:
MOTHER: I think I know what to do about the gifts at the Sunday School party next year.
FATHER: Good! What is it?
MOTHER: I have been thinking of the wise king, Kubla Khan and his people. They each gave him a gift, but they wrapped their gifts in white so all gifts looked equal, and then the most important thing had a chance to show through – the love and devotion of the giver, and not the value of the gift.
FATHER: What a wonderful idea! We can wrap our gifts in white paper.
MOTHER: And another thing – we have more than we need in our church. But there are others who haven’t got so much. We can bring our gifts to our King, Jesus, and then send them to people who need them more than we do.
KATHY: I like that idea. Then I won’t feel sad that I was given a better gift than the others got. Everyone would be happy.
FATHER: We must try that idea next year.
NARRATOR: And so, the next Christmas, in that little church in Ohio, in 1904, the suggestion of the minister and his wife was put into practice, and from that small beginning many beautiful White Gift services have grown.
Christmas is the day of Gifts, honouring the morn
When the Gift of God to man, Our Saviour, Christ was born.
In His name, and for His sake, now we give and share
Christmas tokens, on His Day, and His own name they bear.
When we buy or make or choose Gifts at Christmas time,
Let us always keep in mind that first great Gift sublime,
Put true meaning into all that we send or bring,
Knowing that a Christmas gift is named for Christ our King.
Christmas brings to everyone, everywhere, today,
What the sacred words of old on Scripture pages say.
Celebrate the Day of Gifts, honouring the morn
When our Lord, the Gift of God, in Bethlehem was born.
HYMN: THE ADVENT OF OUR GOD (Tune #411)
The advent of our God
Our prayers must now employ,
And we must meet Him on His road
With hymns of holy joy.
As Judge, on clouds of light,
He soon will come again,
And all His scattered saints unite
With Him in heaven to reign.
All glory to the Son
Who comes to set us free,
With Father, Spirit, ever One,
Through all eternity.
Awaiting meditation's text by Kevin!
Hope …. sees the invisible,
feels the intangible,
and achieves the impossible.