Knowing, Loving, Serving…
So the World Will Know Christ’s Love

12.20.20 “Fourth Sunday of Advent”

“Joy to the World: The Ruler Loves”

Isaiah 9:2-7 & Luke 1:46-55

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love.

Dear Bethel,

Join us for worship today, the Fourth Sunday of Advent! You may find today’s worship service on YouTube and posted to our Bethel UMC Facebook page. Links to our Facebook page, YouTube channel and an order of worship are shared below.  Bethel’s Facebook page:
Bethel’s YouTube channel:
If you would like to receive a DVD of our worship service please email a request to Sheryl at  We would be happy to send you one!

It’s Christmas week, my friends. This Christmas Eve, as we continue to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, we will be adapting and combining our regular candlelight service into one online celebration of the birth of Jesus. This service will feature readings from the nativity story from our Bethel staff, accompanied by special music from our Bethel preschool children, carols led by our Bethel choir, and a Christmas message from Rev. Julie Belman. While it won’t be the same as gathering in our physical space together, we think it will be a really special service, and we hope you will make plans to join us!

There have been so many moments this year where we have acutely felt how much we miss being able to gather as a church family. We anticipate that singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve without lifting up candles in our physical sanctuary will be high on that list…so we want YOU to help us pull off a virtual candlel-ighting! Will you please record a short video of yourself lighting or holding up a candle (real or electric) or lighting your home Advent wreath and send it to by the end of the day on Monday, December 21?  We won’t be using the sound, so you don’t have to say anything—even just a few seconds of video is great. We would love to include as many different candles and homes as possible. 

If you are in need, please do not hesitate to let us know. Both Sheryl and Pastor Julie are working in the church office Monday through Thursday. The telephone number to the church office is (803) 787-3058 and the church office email is

Pastor Julie and Pastor Reggie may be reached directly on their personal cell phones at any time.
Julie Belman: (803) 319-6169
Reggie Rowell: (843) 697-6967

May the Peace of Christ surround you today, and always,
Pastor Julie 

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Sunday Worship at Home

Bethel UMC Columbia | Rev. Julie Songer Belman
December 20, 2020

Welcome: Thank you for joining us! We pray you will be blessed by your time of worship with us today.

Prelude   “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
While our organist Bill Webb plays, we invite you to find a spot in your home for yourself/your family to engage in worship. Include your Bible, a candle and a lighter or matches (or battery operated candle or low wattage table lamp), if possible. You might consider a small cross as well. Use the beautiful music as a time to invite the Holy Spirit into your heart.

Offertory:  “See Amid the Winter’s Snow”
My friends, your continued support of God’s ongoing work at Bethel UMC this year has been greatly appreciated. Contributions to the mission of Bethel {Knowing, Loving, Serving: so the world may experience Christ’s Love!} may be made by mailing a check to 4600 Daniel Drive, Columbia SC 29206, or giving online at:  You may also contact your bank to have them draft a check on your behalf.

Pastoral Prayer:  Please join with Pastor Reggie as he prays today. Pray for yourself, your family, your church community, your city, your state, your country, our world. Pray for the global health situation, particularly for those who are sick, those who are lonely, those who are gripped by fear, those who are facing financial hardship, those without safe shelter, those who are hungry, our healthcare workers, our leaders in every realm. Give thanks, once again, for God’s faithfulness and seek God’s guidance for ways to offer love and grace in the world right now.

The Lord’s Prayer:  Our 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

Anthem: “When Will the Little King Come?  Enjoy this lovely Advent anthem sung by our Bethel Choir.

Scripture:  During the season of Advent, we are having a special worship series on Joy to the World! Our Year of Mark will pick back up in January. Today, Pastor Julie is preaching on Isaiah 9:2-7 & Luke 1:46-55.  We invite you to open your Bibles (or the Bible app on your phone!) at home and read along.

Sermon:  “Joy to the World: The Ruler Loves!”

Hymn MeditationAngels from the Realms of Glory
Words by James Montgomery    Music REGENT SQUARE by Henry Smart  

Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth;
ye who sang creation’s story now proclaim Messiah’s birth:

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn king.

Shepherds, in the field abiding, watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing; yonder shines the infant light: [Refrain]

Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar;
seek the great Desire of nations; ye have seen his natal star:[Refrain]

Saints, before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear;
suddenly the Lord, descending, in his temple shall appear:[Refrain]

James Montgomery (1771-1854) followed in the footsteps of two poetic luminaries—Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley. In many hymnals, he is well represented, third only to Watts and Wesley for British hymn writers before 1850, with six original hymns in The UM Hymnal

Montgomery’s father was a minister, and his parents later served as missionaries to the West Indies. He remained in Yorkshire, and from age 6 was raised in a boy’s boarding school run by the Brethren of Fulneck. Montgomery later said, “There, whatever we did was done in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, whom we were taught to regard in the amiable and endearing light of a friend and brother.”

He began writing poetry at age 10, inspired by the hymns of the Moravians, the same group that influenced John Wesley. Though he flunked out of school at age 14, Montgomery found a job in 1792 at a radical weekly newspaper, the Sheffield Register.

He assumed the leadership of the paper when the previous editor, due to his politics, had to flee the country for fear of persecution. Montgomery then changed the name of the paper to the Sheffield Iris and served for 31 years as editor.

“Angels from the Realms of Glory” was first published on Christmas Eve 1816 in the Sheffield Iris. The hymn has a sense of urgency and excitement, magnified by the use of imperative verbs throughout, especially in the refrain: “Come and worship . . .” 

The original final stanza is usually omitted in hymnals:
Sinners, wrung with true repentance, doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes your sentence, mercy calls you; break your chains . . .

While such language seems harsh to modern ears, and indeed seems to end the Christmas hymn on a bit of a “downer,” it completes a thoughtful progression from the first to the last stanzas. The Angels song (stanza one) leads to the Shepherds’ adoration (stanza two), and to Sages’ gifts (stanza three), and to Saints’ praise in heaven (stanza four), and finally, to the Sinners’ repentance on earth (stanza five).

Mr. Watson points out that the final original stanza, “appealing to the sinners, is highly appropriate because it echoes the Psalm for Christmas morning, Psalm 85, especially verse 10: ‘Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’”

The themes of justice and mercy as well as the image of broken chains are also appropriate in the context of the poet’s life. His newspaper denounced the social evils of his day, especially the slave trade. Montgomery was even jailed for his radical views: once for publishing a poem that celebrated the fall of the Bastille, and another time for denouncing the actions of the Sheffield police during a riot. He used the time in prison to write poetry.

Even though the original final stanza may seem to put a damper on unbridled Christmas joy, Montgomery reminds us that the Nativity was more than a sweet manger scene. As many texts from Isaiah and the prophets remind us, the Incarnation was an event celebrating the liberation of oppressed peoples by a just and merciful God taking on human form. Let us celebrate, in the words of Montgomery, that God’s “justice now revokes [our] sentence” and that God’s “mercy . . . break[s] [our] chains”!

This week’s  hymn meditation is from The UMC Discipleship Ministries History of Hymns website  (  
*Thank you always to Marian Scullion to providing the information for our Hymn Meditations*

Benediction: Say these words aloud:  
Let us go forth singing with JOY on our lips and HOPE in our hearts,
And share the Good News of Christ’s coming with all. AMEN.

Go in Peace: Check on someone you love today.