This chapel service centers on Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The service addresses each of those titles in turn, followed by a sung response. Consider using two readers throughout, one to read the Scripture portion, and one as a narrator as laid out in the first portion of the service. The Scripture should “interrupt” the narrator, with no silence between the two speaking portions.By way of introduction, consider placing these comforting words from John Calvin in the bulletin or order of service:
“Whenever it appears to us that everything is in a ruinous condition, let us recall to our remembrance that Christ is called Wonderful, because he has inconceivable methods of assisting us, and because his power is far beyond what we are able to conceive. When we need counsel, let us remember that he is the Counselor. When we need strength, let us remember that he is Mighty and Strong. When new terrors spring up suddenly every instant, and when many deaths threaten us from various quarters, let us rely on that eternity of which he is with good reason called the Father, and by the same comfort let us learn to soothe all temporal distresses. When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is the Prince of Peace, and that it is easy for him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings. These titles confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ, and fortify us against Satan and against hell itself. “
—Calvin’s Commentaries: Isaiah, vol. 1, Eerdmans 1948
Call to Worship
(Visit tinyurl.com/adventliturgy for a video to use as the call to worship. The full version is almost five minutes long, but you could break it at the 1:18 time signature.)
Opening Sung Prayer: “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” (st. 1, 2, 7) LUYH, CH 245, PH 9, PsH 328, SFL 123, SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154
Words of Reflection
Reader 1: Christmas parties, wrapping paper, goodies to eat, family and friends, more to eat, Christmas presents to buy, Christmas programs, church, more food yet. . . . It’s a busy time, it’s a giving time. A time when we give of ourselves, our time, our gifts, our money. . . .
Reader 2: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Reader 1: Sometimes we are so busy giving of ourselves, trying to get that present just right, that we forget about the fact that this season is about receiving.
Reader 2: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. . . .
Reader 1: William Willimon writes: “Luke and Matthew go to great lengths to demonstrate that we—with our power, generosity, competence and capabilities—had little to do with God’s work in Jesus. God wanted to do something for us so strange, so utterly beyond the bounds of human imagination, so foreign to human projection, that God had to resort to angels, pregnant virgins and stars in the sky to get it done. We didn’t think of it, understand it or approve it. All we could do, at Bethlehem, was receive it. A gift from a God we hardly even knew . . . this stranger comes to us, blesses us with a gift, and calls us to see ourselves as we are—empty-handed recipients of a gracious God who, rather than leave us to our own devices, gave us a baby” (from Watch For the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, Orbis Books 2004).
Sung Response: “Come and Stand Amazed, You People” (st. 1-2) LUYH, PsH 338
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor.” This Christ-child is not some distant God who stands aloof in judgment. He is not one to turn away from us when we are in need. No, this God who came in the form of a human understands what it is like to be human. He understands our hurts, our struggles, our concerns, and he is there for us, ready to lead us, assure us, carry us.
Sung Response: “Come and Stand Amazed, You People” (st. 3)
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called . . . Mighty God.” This Jesus, our Savior, is certainly kind, meek, and humble, but that does not mean he lacks power. The arm that enfolds and cares for us is the same arm that protects us and fights for us. This Jesus is a mighty God with authority over all the earth and a plan to build a righteous kingdom.
Sung Response: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” LUYH, CH 244, PH 2, PsH 329, SFL 122, SWM 83, TH 196, WR 153
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called . . . Everlasting Father.” So many gods in this world come and go. When we were children we thought, “If only I had . . . if only I were like . . . then all would be well.” As adults we still have gods. “If only I had . . . if only I was . . . then I would be successful, recognized, appreciated, esteemed.” It’s not that success, recognition, appreciation, or being esteemed are bad things, it’s just that they are fleeting; they don’t last. We can’t base our identity on them or put our trust in them. Our self-made gods topple. But the true God, the baby in the manger—this child is the everlasting God. He won’t change, he won’t go away; he is constant, true, and for eternity.
Sung Response: “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” (st. 1, 3, 4) LUYH, CH 240, PH 309, PsH 342, TH 162, WR 181
Prince of Peace
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called . . . Prince of Peace.” We pray for peace; we yearn for it in our own lives and in the world, yet it always eludes us. But we have a Prince of Peace who has the authority, the wisdom, and the might necessary to bring about true peace. The shalom he brings doesn’t erase the past or ignore injustices, but it puts the universe back in balance so that each plant, animal, and human can live and thrive and be in perfect relationship, like we were meant to be.
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” LUYH, CH 277, PH 31/32, PsH 345, TH 203, WR 185
“Jesus, Jesus, O What a Wonderful Child” (see “Noteworthy,” p. 40) LUYH, SNC 108
Prayers of the People
May the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shine in our hearts, transform our lives, and brighten the world. And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, rest upon you always. Amen.
Closing Song: “Joy to the World!” LUYH, CH 270, PH 40, PsH 337, SFL 137, SWM 94, TH 195, WR 179