December 13, 2020, Third Sunday of Advent


Original Artwork by Bodhi C.

Bethesda United Church of Christ Worship Service

“We welcome all without exception as we worship God together, journey in the spirit, and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world.”

For Your Reflection: “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”  –Tom Bodett

Question:    What “three things” bring you joy?  Do you have someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for?   If not, what might you change?


Rev. Dee


Musical Selection


The Congregation

God’s Light Grows

Call To Worship  (responsive)

Nolan R

God comes to dwell among us. 
In flesh like ours. 
In flesh like our neighbors. 
In flesh like the creatures and creations of the earth. 
Made in the image of God, 
all life and all lives are potential sites of the Sacred. 
Every moment is an opportunity enflesh the Holy among us. 
Where there is beauty and connection, liberation and freedom, 
practices of care and compassion: 
The presence of God is among us.

Gathering Carol

#124  Away in a Manger

Music and lyrics to Away in a Manger

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Opening Prayer (unison)

Sophia N

Liberating One, we have been told much about power. That it resides in social status, institutional authority, and access to wealth. That it is synonymous with dominance and thrives off fear. But you call us gently toward a different truth. One born of a manger – a place of vulnerability where radical love and solidarity are born. May we journey together in the direction of a sacred kind of power. Yours, everlasting and enduring, coming to dwell among us. Amen.

Passing The Peace

Leader: The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

People:  And also with you.

Lighting Of The Third Candle Of Advent  (responsive)

Nolan R and Sophia N

You are invited to light a candle as you worship with us. If you are lighting Advent candles, please light 2 blue/1 pink candle today. The pink stands for “JOY” and is the color for this Sunday.     

One: We want everything to look nice: the decorations of the season, our homes with their lights and tinsel, wreaths and ribbons. We want to lighten the darkness around us, bring beauty to the ugliness that wears us down. We decorate, because it is tradition. Because it lifts our hearts. Because it makes us feel like children again. We deck our halls because company is coming.

Two: The prophet Isaiah smiled when he said, “God will give a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.” 

No matter how far we feel from the spirit of the season, God promises to decorate us with love and with joy.

One: We light these candles as a sign of our joy in the beautiful things of this season – not just the things that glitter and flash, but the deeper things, the beauty of the heart and the soul, the beauty of love shared in service and hospitality. We light this candle of joy because company is coming.

Two: O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Sung Response

We Gather ‘Round An Advent Candle Song

Tune: THE FIRST NOWELL, Anonymous, 1833
Lyrics by Rev. Elana Keppel Levy, 2020

[Joy] We gather ‘round celebrating our joy
Thanking God for the mercies You daily employ.
We may sin and fall away – from the path we may roam,
but you tenderly guide us and welcome us home.

Refrain: The candles glow, showing us God’s light / 

Calling us forward, united in Christ.

Sung Contemporary Reading

“In the Bleak Midwinter”

performed by  Geraldine Latty and Carey Luce, used with permission 


A Reading From The Gospel

read by Zeke R

John 1:6-8, 19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.[b]

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own,[c] and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[d] full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,[e] who is close to the Father’s heart,[f] who has made him known.

19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”[g] 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said,

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”

as the prophet Isaiah said.

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah,[h] nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Our First Zoom Pageant

“Zooming Into Bethlehem”   


Bodhi C., Eli G., Griffin G., Danny L., Nora L.,  Sophia N., Quinn R., Nolan R.,  and unexpected others!

“Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace, people, everywhere
Listen to what I say
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

Special thanks to Karen Crist, Jean Thompson, Emily Liddel, our church school teachers: Jennifer and Katie, and any/all who made this pageant possible!

Joys/Concerns, Pastoral Prayer And Prayer Of Our Savior

Our Mother/Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.

Musical Meditation

Prayer Of Dedication For The Offerings, Pledges, And Gifts Of Today And This Week

If you wish to give to support the work of Bethesda UCC, you can donate via Venmo @Bethesda-UCC or send a check via mail to Bethesda UCC c/o Treasurer; 10010 Fernwood Road; Bethesda, MD 20817

Led by Jean Thompson

This season we remember to perceive ourselves and one another differently. Not through the lens of hierarchies, subtle or explicit. But through the life of God – as sites of divine incarnation, always brimming with potential to enflesh love, choose justice, and live transformed lives together. In gratitude for all the power God has given us to re-order our worlds, let us bring our offerings together with thanks. 

Holy One, we know voices are still crying out in the wilderness today. Beloveds, proclaiming the truths hidden away or forgotten. Brave and tender ones, drawing attention to the wisdom our collective world needs. With gratitude, we bring our offerings and pray that our lives and resources would faithfully point to the sources of love that liberates. Amen.


#122 Come, O Long-Expected Jesus

Music and lyrics to Come, O Long-Expected Jesus

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712


Prepare the way!” The prophets cry. 
Tear down the barriers that oppress. 
Rise up the sources of wisdom that free. 
Pay attention to the silenced and let the arrogant go unheard. 
This season invites us to make space – 
within us, around us, and between us – 
for the joy of God to come and dwell. 
May it be so.


Musical Selection

Liturgical Resources/Credits:   Our Advent Candle-Lighting liturgy is from / Unless otherwise noted, our liturgy and “More Food for Spiritual Thought” comes from and is adapted use for our worship today.  All resources are used with permission from authors/source.

More Food For Spiritual Thought

  • How does the incarnation (God taking on flesh in humankind) shape your understanding of where spiritual/moral authority and divine power abides today? 
  • Who is not recognized as an authority over their own lives in your faith community – women, trans people, people who use drugs, people with mental health challenges, people with disabilities, BIPOC people, children, etc? 
  • What is preventing this from changing? 
  • What is one practice of freedom, justice, and/or liberation that is not dependent on institutional authorities or systems of power?

More about us

Bethesda UCC was founded in 1957 as Bethesda Congregational Church.  United Church of Christ is the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

We are located at the corner of Fernwood and Democracy. Our postal address is:

Bethesda United Church of Christ
10010 Fernwood Road
Bethesda, Maryland  20817

Minister: Rev. Dee Ledger
Music Director: Kay Krekow

Today’s music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

A ONE LICENSE Reprint License grants churches, schools, religious communities, retreat centers, and other worshiping bodies permission to reprint or project music for their congregations from any of our Member Publishers.

Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-726712. All rights reserved.

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