Worship Service for December 24, 2023

December 24, 2023 – Fourth Sunday in Advent (Love)

A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, December 24, at 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EST on Sunday, December 24.

Previous livestreams and other worship and musical content is available on our YouTube channel. You can also check out our entire worship services archive. Our SoundCloud channel has yet more music and worship content.



Call to Worship for the Fourth Sunday in Advent: LOVE

Voice 1: The prophets call and the psalmists sing to announce that God is love.

Voice 2: “For the mountain may depart and the hills may be moved, but my steadfast love shall never depart from you…and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54) “Give thanks to the LORD, who is good… give thanks to the Lord of lords, whose steadfast love endures  forever.” (Psalm 136)

Voice 1: From the mystery of God’s love came our creation and we are nurtured daily by it. The power of God’s love is transformative; because we have received God’s love, we cannot remain the same. Love means seeking the best for others. Love is compassion for all creation. Love speaks the truth with kindness. Love is the way of seeing others as God sees them.

Voice 2: Holy are you, Source of all new life among us.

All: Jesus Christ is the love of God come into the world.

Voice 2: We join with all creation and lift our hearts in joyful praise.

All: We light this candle to burn for love.
(while lighting the candle of love)

Sing verse 4 of Hymn 119 Hope is a star

“Hope is a Star” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 119). Words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–); music (tune “Moon Beams”; 1989) by Joan Collier Fogg (1949–). Words and music © copyright 1989 Hope Publishing Co. Used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

Opening Hymn

“Lord, you were rich” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 134). Words by English Anglican minister and author Frank Houghton (1894–1972). Music (tune: “Fragrance”) French traditional carol. Harmony by English organist and educator Charles Herbert Kitson (1874–1944). Words, music, and harmony public domain.

Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)

God of majesty and mercy,
you are powerful, you are holy, and you are loving. You come among us not as a warrior or tyrant, but as a child, new life born among us, reaching out to embrace us in love. And so we come to worship you this day, trusting your wisdom with Joseph, pondering your mystery with Mary. We offer you our love for all that you have been, all that you are, and all that you will be, Creator, Christ and Spirit, one God. holy and loving, now and forever, Amen.

God of mystery and mercy,
You came to offer us love, but we confess we can be stubborn and selfish in the ways we live. You came to reconcile all people, but we often nurse grudges and resist repairing relationships . Forgive who we have been, amend who we are, and direct who we shall be, through Jesus Christ who reaches out to us from the manger and the cross.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.

Declaration of Pardon

Words from Christina Rosetti fit the Advent theme for today:

“Love came down at Christmas; Love all lovely, love divine. Love shall be our token, Love for plea and gift and sign.” We meet God’s gift of love in Christ Jesus, whose forgiveness restores us for whatever lies ahead. Thanks be to God for this hope! Thanks be to God!

The Peace

One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.

The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)

Guildwood Senior Choir Presents

“Mid-Winter”. Based on the hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter” with words (1872) by English poet Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) and music (1906) by English composer Gustav Holst (1874–1934). This setting by English singer and composer Bob Chilcott (1955–). Words and music public domain. Setting copyright © 1994 Oxford University Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

Fun with the Young at Heart (children’s story)

Scripture Readings

Luke 1:26–38  <– these link to on-line texts of the NRSV bible
Romans 16:25–27

Click here for additional scripture readings from today’s lectionary. Links courtesy of the Revised Common Lectionary, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

Luke 1:26–38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Romans 16:25–27

25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.



“Born in the night” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 137). Words and music (1964; tune: “Mary’s Child”) by English minister and composer Geoffrey Jackson Ainger (1925–1913). Harmony (1964) by American music academic and composer Richard D. Wetzel (1935–2023). Words, music and harmony copyright © 1964 Stainer & Bell, Ltd. (admin. Hope Publishing Company); used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A


May we present our gifts to God in response to what we have received from God?

Invitation (Musical Reflection)

We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.

Dedication of our Gifts

Our offering will now be received.

Doxology 306

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 306). Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–). Words copyright © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God all creatures high and low;
praise God in Jesus fully known,
Creator Word and Spirit One.

Prayer of dedication

The fourth Sunday in Advent celebrates God’s gift of love. At this time of year, we give gifts to express our love. So let your offering today be a sign of your love for God and for those in God’s world who need love to brighten difficult times.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving and Hope

God of Hope,
whenever the world seems confusing and bleak, you shed light, offering hope and vision for the way ahead. As nature around us prepares for the long sleep of winter, we pray for those who are ill or dying, and for those who are bereaved or feel any burden of loss.

O God, reach out to all of us in Christ, and give us hope for the living of these days.

O God of Peace,
within our lives and relationships, and in communities around the world, there is conflict, mistrust and resentment. We pray for all places where violence has done its worst, where cruelty and suspicion appear to win the day, and where the vulnerable live in fear for tomorrow.

O God, reach out to all of us in Christ, and give us peace for the living of these days.

O Creator of Joy,
we thank you for moments of joy and celebration in our lives, for pleasure given and received, for quiet times spent in reflection and remembering, for happy gatherings and connections over distance. In these colder, darker days, we remember those who feel left out, the lonely and the unhappy, and those we find difficult to love. Be their light and their warmth.

O God, reach out to all of us in Christ, and give us joy to share in the living of these days.

O Love Come Down at Christmas,
you call us to live in communion with you and one another. Today we pray for our family members, whether we’re close or estranged, for our friends, whether nearby or far away, and for neighbours who share our community, like-minded or not. Help us express both our love and concern in gentle words and kind actions.

O God, reach out to all of us in Christ, and strengthen our love for you and for one another. Amen.

Closing Hymn

Infant holy, Infant lowly” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 143). Words and music (tune: “Polish Carol”) traditional Polish carol. English words (1921) by British musician and playwright Edith Margaret Gellibrand Reed (1885-1933). This harmony by A.E. Rusbridge (1917–1969). Words, English words, music, and harmony public domain.


May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (the risen Christ), the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.

Choral Amen

“Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.


Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church