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The Peaceable Kingdom

A Christmas Fulfillment

What a vision of peace the prophet Isaiah paints for God’s people in the southern kingdom of Judah! Invasions by the ruthless Assyrians came from the north, they were betrayed by their sister kingdom Israel, and inadequate kings of their own made the time perilous.

Into this difficult time Isaiah persists in presenting the Lord’s promise of a kingdom of shalom. To make this kingdom possible, Isaiah repeats several themes in his prophecies. He points out the sins of the people in following other gods and not living up to the Lord’s commands to treat people as they should be treated. He holds up examples of their lifestyle to make his point.

Then he reminds the people that the Lord continues to be faithful in spite of their unfaithfulness. Healing and restoration are available. God provides God-fearing kings like Hezekiah. If the people put their trust in the Lord and his promises, the peaceable kingdom will come.

Using Isaiah’s theme of the peaceable kingdom and lessons and carols from Bert Polman (Reformed Worship 113, September 2014), the worship team at Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Edina, Minnesota, has developed an Advent series that connects to Christmas and Epiphany. Each Sunday develops an aspect of this theme so that the fullness of Isaiah’s prophetic vision informs our season’s joy.

Advent 1: Peace through Heartfelt Worship
Advent 2: The Peaceable Kingdom Festival of Lessons and Carols
Advent 3: Peace for God’s People
Advent 4: Peace for the Earth
Christmas Eve: The Peacemaker Comes!
Epiphany 1: Peace between the Times
Epiphany 2: Peace for the Nations

In each of these services, our confession time features readings from Isaiah. The first two readings call us to repentance just as the prophet called the people of his day to turn from their sins. Then we respond with a song of lament. Isaiah’s voice of healing follows to assure us that the Lord is a gracious God, merciful and true to his promises.

Each children’s message links an Advent story to the theme of the day. For example, the children’s message for first Sunday of Advent is Zechariah in the temple. His inability to recognize the answer to his prayer—and the Messianic promise to the people—illustrates the kind of problem to which Isaiah had spoken.

The Advent candlelighting and reading for each service is connected to the promise of healing. It brings in light for the people walking in great darkness. It anticipates the fulfillment that is always foretold in Isaiah’s prophecies. That light will also leave the sanctuary during the litany that closes the service. With special words each Sunday, we—God’s people in the twenty-first century—will be sent into our world to bring the good news of God’s peaceable kingdom. We will leave with two challenges: to confess our faith in that hope and to live our lives in such a way that people can see that hope in us.

To prepare the congregation for these services, a weekly devotion will accompany the bulletin prior to the Sunday that the theme is used. The Bible selections in the devotions are the three readings from Isaiah. The sermon text and the children’s sermon topic conclude the devotional week. A series of suggestions for family activities also is provided.

Finally, the bulletin art is a famous painting by Edward Hicks called The Peaceable Kingdom. You will see sections of it used to visually emphasize the different themes. The entire painting appears above so you can see how the pieces fit together.

Proper credit for the Lessons and Carols Festival and for the suggestion of the Edward Hicks painting goes to Bert Polman, a member and worship leader at Calvary when he was a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. He used his liturgical and musical gifts in many ways, including teaching at Redeemer University and chairing the music department at Calvin College. The last service he created before his death from cancer is the basis for our Lessons and Carols Festival.

As a team we pray that this series and its focus on the peaceable kingdom will enrich your season. May the King of that peaceable kingdom live in your hearts and lives, not just in December but throughout the whole year!

First Sunday of Advent

Entering God’s Presence

Prelude: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” arr. Edward Broughton
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” arr. Lani Smith

Welcome

Opening Song:On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s CryLUYH 70, PsH 327 (v. 1, 3, 5), WR 156, GtG 96

Anticipating God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Call to Worship from Psalm 100:
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

The Lord be with you!
And also with you.

God’s Greeting

Mutual Greeting

Song:Here I Am to Worship LUYH 567

Confessing that Peace Is Broken

The Voice of the Prophet: Isaiah 44:6, 9–11

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 29:13–16

Sung Prayer of Lament: Light of God Keith and Kristyn Getty (v. 1, 3)

The Voice of the Healer: Isaiah 55:1–3

Song:Angels, from the Realms of Glory LUYH 81, PH 22, PsH 354 (v. 1, 4), TH 218, WR 189, GtG 143

Hearing the Promise of God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Children’s Message: “Zechariah in the Temple”
Leader: People of God, what is our prayer for these children?
People: May the Lord be with you.
Children: And also with you.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit

Scripture Reading: John 4:1–26
This is the word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The Message: “Worship in Spirit and Truth”
The three Isaiah readings used earlier in the service focus our confession on peace through heartfelt worship. This service and the sermon are meant to help us reflect on what kind of worship the Lord wants from his people—worship that in turn leads to peace.

Prayer

Offering Lives to God and His Peaceable Kingdom

Song:Blessed Be the God of Israel LUYH 67 (v. 1–3), SNC 104, WR 158

The Prayers of God’s People

The Gifts of God’s People

Offertory: “He Shall Feed His Flock” arr. Ross Anderson

Offertory Prayer

Going Out to Proclaim God’s Peaceable Kingdom

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 6:8; 55:2–3, (adapted)
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
“Who will go for us?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
Say to the people:
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

Benediction

Doxology:Angels, from the Realms of Glory LUYH 81, PH 22, PsH 354 (v. 5), TH 218, WR 189, GtG 143

Postlude: “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” arr. Ross Anderson

Second Sunday of Advent

An Advent Service of Lessons and Carols

See “Isaiah’s Peaceable Kingdom” from Reformed Worship 113

Third Sunday of Advent

Entering God’s Presence

Prelude

Welcome

Song:Comfort, Comfort Now My PeopleLUYH 59, PsH 194 (v. 1–3), TH 197, WR 155, GtG 87

Anticipating God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Call to Worship:
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever (Ps. 118:27, 29).
The Lord be with you!
And also with you.

God’s Greeting

Mutual Greeting

Song:Sing to the King LUYH 474

Confessing That Peace Is Broken

The Voice of the Prophet: Isaiah 5:8–25

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 65:11–12

Sung Prayer of Lament: O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock LUYH 64 (v. 1–2), PFAS 494

The Voice of the Healer: Isaiah 43:1–3

Song:Angels We Have Heard on High LUYH 82 (v. 1–2), PH 23, PsH 347, SWM 90, TH 214, WR 188, GtG 113

Hearing the Promise of God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Children’s Message
Leader: People of God, what is our prayer for these children?
People: May the Lord be with you.
Children: And also with you.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:1–7; Matthew 4:12–17
This is the word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The Message: “Kingdom Peace for God’s People in Jesus”
For this third Sunday of Advent, the three Isaiah readings focus our confession on peace for God’s people.

Peace—shalom—begins for and with God’s people. The Advent candle that signals the coming of God’s kingdom brings light to the people who walk in darkness. As we go forth, we are called to proclaim the good news that has come to us.

Prayer

Receiving Spiritual Food for Building His Peaceable Kingdom

Song: O God of Every Nation LUYH 282, PsH 606 (v. 1–4), WR 626, GtG 756

The Thanksgiving:
The peace of the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right for us to give thanks and praise.

Song: Angels We Have Heard on High LUYH 82, PH 23, PsH 347, SWM 90, TH 214, WR 188, GtG 113

The Institution

Prayer of Consecration

The Invitation

The Sacrament:
During the distribution of the bread, sing:
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence LUYH 821, PsH 341 (v. 1–4), TH 193, WR 232, GtG 347

During the distribution of the cup, sing:
Once in Royal David’s City LUYH 87, PFAS 866, PH 49, PsH 346 (v. 1–5), TH 225, WR 183, GtG 140

The Prayers of God’s People

The Gifts of God’s People

Offertory

Offertory Prayer

Going Out to Proclaim God’s Peaceable Kingdom

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 6:8; 52:7 (adapted)
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
“Who will go for us?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Doxology: Angels We Have Heard on High LUYH 82 (v. 3), PH 23, PsH 347, SWM 90, TH 214, WR 188, GtG 113

Benediction

Postlude

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Entering God’s Presence

Prelude: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” arr. Lani Smith
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” arr. Robert Thygerson

Welcome

Song:With Joy I Heard My Friends Exclaim LUYH 66 (v. 1–3)

Anticipating God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Call to Worship:
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
Praise the Lord
(Ps. 113:1–3, 9).
The Lord be with you!
And also with you.

God’s Greeting

Mutual Greeting

Song:Hark the Herald Angels Sing / King of Heaven Paul Baloche

Confessing That Peace Is Broken

The Voice of the Prophet: Isaiah 24:1–3

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 24:4–13

Sung Prayer of Lament and Confession:O Come, O Come Emmanuel LUYH 61, PH 9, PFAS 458, PsH 328 (v. 1, 5–7), SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154, GtG 88

The Voice of the Healer: Isaiah 55:12–13

Song: Joy Has Dawned Upon the World Stuart Townend

Hearing the Promise of God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Children’s Message
Leader: People of God, what is our prayer for these children?
People: May the Lord be with you.
Children: And also with you.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:18–25
This is the word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The Message: “Christ’s Peaceable Kingdom: Creation’s Hope for Release!”
For this fourth Sunday of Advent, the three Isaiah readings focus on peace for God’s world. Our prayer should be that the earth created by God in the beginning will experience his peaceable kingdom as well. 

How badly distorted God’s world is because of human mismanagement was evident when the flood of Genesis purified both the earth and the human culture that abused it. Today’s renewed Christian call to proper stewardship or “earth-keeping” gives God’s people guidance in how to begin God’s kingdom expansion and work for the peace for which the earth itself yearns. For Christians, creation care is part of a God-given mandate.

Prayer

We Offer Our All to God and His Peaceable Kingdom

Song: Joy to the WorldLUYH 92, PFAS 618, PH 40, PsH 337 (v. 1–4), SWM 94, TH 195, WR 179, GtG 134/266

Congregational Prayer

The Gifts of God’s People

Offertory: “The Coventry Carol” arr. Lani Smith

Offertory Prayer

Going Out to Proclaim God’s Peaceable Kingdom

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 6:8; 65:24–25
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
“Who will go for us?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
The Lord says: “Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and the dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain.”

Doxology:Go, Tell it On the Mountain LUYH 93, PH 29, PsH 356 (v. 3), TH 224, WR 218, GtG 136

Benediction

Postlude: “Receive Your King” arr. Ellen Lorenz

Christmas Eve

Entering God’s Presence

Prelude

Welcome

Opening Song:O Come, All Ye Faithfull” LUYH 76, PH 41/42, PsH 340 (v. 1, 3), SWM 102, TH 208, WR 182, GtG 133

Anticipating God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Call to Worship: John 3:16–18
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Christ, the peacemaker, has come!
Glory be to God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

God’s Greeting

Mutual Greeting

Song:On Christmas Night LUYH 89 (v. 1, 4)

Confessing That Peace Is Broken

The Voice of the Prophet: Isaiah 3:13–15

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 11:1–9

Sung Prayer of Lament:O Little Town of Bethlehem LUYH 88 (v. 1, 4), PH 44, TH 201, WR 180, GtG 121

The Voice of the Healer: Isaiah 42:1–4

Song: Once in Royal David’s City LUYH 87, PFAS 866, PH 49, PsH 346 (v. 1, 2, 4), TH 225, WR 183, GtG 140

Hearing the Promise of God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Children’s Message: “The Christmas Story”

Song: Away in a Manger LUYH 86, PH 24/25, PsH 348 (v. 1–3), SWM 87, TH 204/205, WR 203/205, GtG 114/115

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8–21
This is the word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The Message: “The Peace Child”
For this Christmas Eve service, the three Isaiah readings focus our confession on the fact that the Peacemaker himself has come as a baby, helpless and human. Yet this Peacemaker is also God. Throughout Israel’s history, no sinful human person has been able to live up to the pattern of peaceable kingship that the Lord knew would bring true shalom. Finally, two thousand years ago, this baby came equipped to bring true and lasting peace.

As citizens of this peaceable kingdom, we are responsible for extending this peace. Our lives are a flickering testimony to the fact that this kingdom exists.  Our lives point to the hope of its extension throughout God’s world when Jesus comes again. 

Prayer

Song: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing LUYH 80, PH 31/32, PsH 345 (v. 1, 3), TH 203, WR 185, GtG 119

Giving Our All To God and His Peaceable Kingdom

Offertory

Going Out to Proclaim God’s Peaceable Kingdom

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 6:8; 40:1–2, 9 (adapted)
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
“Who will go for us?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”

Song:Joy to the World LUYH 92, PFAS 618, PH 40, PsH 337 (v. 1, 4), SWM 94, TH 195, WR 179, GtG 134/266

Scripture: John 20:19–22

God’s Blessing

Closing Song:Silent Night, Holy Night LUYH 85, PH 60, PsH 344 (v. 1–4), TH 210, WR 186, GtG 122

Postlude

First Sunday of Epiphany

Entering God’s Presence

Prelude

Welcome

Song:Angels We Have Heard on High LUYH 82, PH 23, PsH 347 (v. 1‒3), SWM 90, TH 214, WR 188, GtG 113

Anticipating God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Call to Worship:
The Lord is in his holy temple;
The Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.
The Lord is righteous, he loves justice;
the upright will see his face (Psalm 11:4, 7).
The Lord be with you!
And also with you.

God’s Greeting

Mutual Greeting

Song: Good Christian Friends, Rejoice LUYH 98, PH 28, PsH 355 (v. 1–3), TH 207, WR 198, GtG 132

Confessing That Peace Is Broken

The Voice of the Prophet: Isaiah 65:1–7

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 16:6–11

Sung Prayer of Lament:What Child Is This LUYH 95 (v. 1– 2), PH 53, TH 213, WR 184, GtG 145

The Voice of the Healer: Isaiah 65:17–23

Song: Of the Father’s Love BegottenLUYH 78, PH 309, PsH 342 (v. 1, 3, 5), TH 162, WR 181, GtG 108

Hearing the Promise of God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Children’s Message: “Simeon and Anna in the Temple”
Leader: People of God, what is our prayer for these children?
People: May the Lord be with you.
Children: And also with you.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit

Scripture Reading: John 14:23–27; John 20:19–23
This is the word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The Message: “The Rule of Peace in War Time”
The peaceable kingdom as described by Isaiah has come! Now the question remains: how do we live in the times between Jesus’s first and second comings? We turn to the prophet Isaiah for some ways in which to live in these “between times.” 

The Peacemaker brings in a new day. That day is not disconnected from God’s work in the past, but a fulfillment of it. So we look back while we also look forward so that we may understand the promises that God has made from the beginning.

Throughout Old Testament history, the people knew and practiced God’s pattern for true shalom. But they did so very imperfectly. Their best moments were broken with sin and death and unrest. They couldn’t bring peace to the nations as God had intended. 

Now, as citizens of the new kingdom, we look to the pattern God established at creation and iterated throughout history. We have a Savior who removed the guilt of our sins and empowered his people with his Spirit. Reconciled to God, we are to live as peacemakers in our communities and in God’s world.

Prayer

We Offer Our All to God and His Peaceable Kingdom

Song: God Reigns! Earth Rejoices LUYH 91 (v. 1, 3, 4)

Congregational Prayer

The Gifts of God’s People

Offertory

Offertory Prayer

Going Out to Proclaim God’s Peaceable Kingdom

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 6:8; 60:19
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
“Who will go for us?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light.
Our God will be our glory.

Benediction

Doxology:Glory to God PsH 214

Postlude

Second Sunday of Epiphany

Entering God’s Presence

Prelude

Welcome

Opening Song:Hail to the Lord’s Anointed LUYH 109 (v. 1, 2, 4)

Anticipating God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Call to Worship
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord
(Ps. 117).
The Lord be with you!
And also with you.

God’s Greeting

Mutual Greeting

Song: King of Heaven Paul Baloche

Confessing That Peace Is Broken

The Voice of the Prophet: Isaiah 59:1-4, 7

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 59:9-15

Sung Prayer of Lament: Come, Light, Light of God LUYH 107, SNC 76

The Voice of the Healer: Isaiah 25:6-8

Song:Amazing Love/You are My King Chris Tomlin

Hearing the Promise of God’s Peaceable Kingdom

Children’s Message
Leader: People of God, what is our prayer for these children?
People: May the Lord be with you.
Children: And also with you.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 65:17-25
This is the word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The Message: “Welcoming the Kingdom from Afar”

We know that the Peacemaker brings in a new day and a new creation that expands far beyond our personal and cultural horizons. That kingdom includes all the nations of the earth—including the nations within our own borders. The promises that God made from the beginning include all peoples.

As citizens of the new kingdom, we look to the pattern that God established at creation and iterated throughout Old Testament history. We have a Savior who removed the guilt of our sins and empowered his people with his Spirit. Now our joy overflows to the point where we want to tell the whole world that Christ has come!

We are invited to think of ways in which we, God’s people, are responsible for modeling the peaceable kingdom to all the nations.

We continue to wait for the final coming of the peaceable kingdom. We wait as its citizens empowered to tell the world that shalom is here—and it is coming!

Prayer

Giving Our All for God and His Peaceable Kingdom

Song:As with Gladness Men of OldLUYH 105, PH 63, PsH 358 (v. 1, 4, 5), TH 226, WR 236, GtG 150

The Thanksgiving:
The peace of the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right for us to give thanks and praise.

Song:Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God AlmightyLUYH 538, PH 138, PsH 249 (v. 4), SWM 28, TH 100, WR 136, GtG 1

The Institution

Prayer of Consecration

The Invitation

The Sacrament

The Prayers of God’s People

The Gifts of God’s People

Going Out to Proclaim God’s Peaceable Kingdom

The Voice of the Proclaimer: Isaiah 6:8; 52:8,10 (adapted)
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
“Who will go for us?”
“Here am I. Send me!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.
The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations.
All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

Benediction

Doxology:By the Sea of CrystalLUYH 489, PsH 620 (v. 1–3), TH 549

Postlude