Advent Wreath Lighting I

First Sunday in Advent – Lighting of the First Advent Candle

1st Reader:

Your people sit in sackcloth and ashes,
Your creation broken,
Cain continues to hate Abel,
Hope has disappeared.

2nd Reader:

Come, bright Sun, and shine your face upon us!
Melt our sin; warm our cold hearts!
Save us from the darkness of our own creation
and lead us back from the brink of our destruction.

1st Reader:

We light this first candle of Advent in remembrance
of the image in which we were made.

(Light one purple candle)

This candle reminds us of God’s love for God’s people and the covenant of God’s salvation.

Congregation sings together “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” #117 in the RH


2nd Sunday in Advent – Lighting of the Second Advent Candle

1st Reader:

Out of the chaos,
Out of the desert,
Out of the wilderness
of our sin…

2nd Reader:

Comes a path,
A way forward
Towards peace
and reconciliation.

1st Reader:

God’s arms are flung open;
“Welcome Home” hung on the doorpost.
A promise of forgiveness
and unending grace is ours.

2nd Reader:

Will we hear when God speaks peace?
Will we recognize the gift God has sent?
Will we accept the baptism meant to heal us?
Will we live out the Good News?

1st Reader:

We light this second candle of Advent in remembrance
of the baptism of water and Holy Spirit.

(Light a second purple candle)

This candle reminds us of God’s provision of salvation through repentance and compassion.

Congregation speaks in unison:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He resoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


3rd Sunday in Advent – Lighting of the Third Advent Candle

1st Reader:

No longer in darkness,
We glow from within.
Our God inhabits our very bones;
God is stitched into our every cell.

2nd Reader:

Salvation comes from a man from Galilee
Who anoints us with his life.
Follow him and we will know
Peace, Joy, Gladness.

1st Reader:

Love will be restored;
The people will know justice.
We will share the bounty of God
with each other.

2nd Reader:

We light this third candle of Advent in remembrance
of how grace can change the world.

(Light the pink candle)

This candle reminds us of what God offers us: the garment of salvation and the robe of righteousness.

Congregation sings together “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light,” RH #206


4th Sunday in Advent – Lighting of the Fourth Advent Candle

1st Reader:

We wander in the desert
Afraid, hungry, and thirsty.
You feed us and give us water.
You move among us…
And in us.

2nd Reader:

We are in need of shelter;
a place safe and secure.
You promise us a home
and rest from our enemies.

1st Reader:

This is the night
when Your promise is kept.
Into our world You send a child;
a child who will be home for us.

2nd Reader:

This child will be our shelter,
Our place of acceptance and love.
Mercy will flow from his heart
and we will know God.

1st Reader:

This child will be born in a cattle stall;
a Savior for all the people.
He is the Word made flesh;
Emmanuel, God with us.
And his name is Jesus.

2nd Reader:

We light this fourth candle of Advent in anticipation
of the Child who will save us.

(Light the fourth candle)

Congregation sings together “Joy to the World” RH#246


Christmas Eve – Lighting of the Christ Candle

1st Reader:

The child has been born;
the waiting is over.
Joy, joy, joy is felt
everywhere, in everything!

2nd Reader:

We gaze at this baby
and he gazes at us,
eyes full of love,
arms open wide.

1st Reader:

“This, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of Mary.”

2nd Reader:

We light the Christ candle as a reminder
that Jesus fills our hearts with beauty.
Love, compassion, and kindness flows from Him into us,
healing wounds, making us whole.

(Light the Christ candle)

The congregation sings: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (v.1) RH #234

Awaken

Wake up!
Wake up!
Open your eyes!
Do you see?
Do you see?

There is beauty
in the ordinary;
the plain gives birth
to the magnificent.
Inside everything
is a diamond,
a pearl
ready to burst forth.

Not readily seen,
you must wait.
Patient as the sunrise,
wait for the beauty,
trusting it will emerge.

Your reward
will be gladness
that you were there
to see the splendor,
the presence of God.

Forgiveness

Anger, hurt, fear
burns like a red hot coal
or smoldering ember
in the belly.
Unease pervades the
peace within;
restlessness ruins
sleep.
No longer living
in the moment,
thoughts turn
over and over
to the wrong done.
Like a slow leak,
energy for living
is drained.

The grace of
forgiveness
is the healing path,
a return to wholeness,
given to us by God.
Found deep in our souls,
birthed by prayer,
held like an infant
in distress,
forgiveness is often
a struggle, a
self-revelation
unwanted,
rejected.
When embraced
and celebrated,
peace is restored.

Serve

Something cracks open in me
when I give to you.
My heart feels larger,
my hands gentler,
my eyes softer.
I no longer think of my own pain;
my attention is riveted on you:
your needs,
your feelings,
your world.

I am transformed by this giving.
I am Christ’s hands ministering to His children.
I am Christ’s feet moving among His people.
I am Christ’s heart loving His beloved.
I am who God meant me to be.

The door flings open
between God and me.
No barriers, no walls, no excuses.
Only the desire to serve –
to give what I have,
to give who I am
to you.

Welcoming

Welcoming
Demands an open heart
Suspension of fear
Striping away of the protective barrier
Commitment to vulnerability

Welcoming
Encourages kindness
Generosity
Unencumbered motivation
Visions of potential

Welcoming
Embraces all that I am
All that you are
All that we can be
Together

Communion Liturgy II

Invitation
Jesus gathered his followers together round a table and they ate the Passover meal as a family, not related by blood but by faith. Each person there brought to the gathering talents and growing edges. They had hopes and dreams, disappointments, and fears. Sometimes they all got along, and sometimes they didn’t, but they were bound together by their love and belief in Jesus.

Look around you…today we are the family Jesus has gathered together for this meal. We are the people who bring all that we are, and all that we hope to be, to the table. We are brothers and sisters by faith, the Body of Christ, children of God. We have all received Jesus’ invitation to share the bread and cup so Come! Eat! and know that we have found a common home and family in Jesus Christ.

Hymn “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother” BH#2225 v.1
Who is my mother, who is my brother?
all those who gather round Jesus Christ:
Spirit-blown people, born from the Gospel
sit at the table, round Jesus Christ.

Prayer of Confession
Dearest Lord, we come to this table bringing all parts of ourselves: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We confess that we are not perfect. We carry within us both goodness and shame, compassion and contempt, holiness and idolatry. We lay the worst parts of ourselves at your feet and ask for forgiveness. Fashion for us an open and loving heart, an unbiased mind, and a willing spirit. Widen our circle to include all of your people, even those we do not like, we do not understand, or we do not agree with. Transform our stubbornness, unclench our fists, and give us the eyes and heart of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, forgives you and reminds you of his love.

Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, forgives you and reminds you of his love.

Hymn “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother” BH#2225 v.2
Differently abled, differently labeled
widen the circle round Jesus Christ:
Crutches and stigmas, cultures’ enigmas
all come together round Jesus Christ.

In the beginning, God took a blank canvas
and painted our world.
Light filled the universe; colors streamed out:
the blues of the sky and water, the greens of the
trees and grass, the yellow of the sun, and reds,
purples, oranges, and every color in-between of
the flowers.
People whose skin reflected every hue filled the earth,
our beautiful, amazing, wondrous
God-given home.

“Dominion…over every living thing that moves upon the earth”
was given to men and women by God. We now had
responsibility for the future of our planet and everything
that inhabited it, including each other.
God’s hope for this future was for us to make a
heaven on earth:
a place of harmony and peace,
equity and compassion,
tolerance and positive regard,
a home that was safe for all its creatures.

But humans, with a taste of both good and evil in our mouths,
made homes for our own pleasure.
“Mine, mine, mine!!”
became our cry and our greed and selfish desires overshadowed
God’s kingdom and the needs of our planet as well as our neighbors,
both human and non-human.
And so God swept the earth clean and life began again
with a rainbow and a promise.
Two by two new homes were made,
a new earth was born, and God
crossed God’s fingers.

Despite God’s best efforts through men and women,
prophets and kings, however,
human failings made necessary God’s most
heart-felt intervention:
Jesus Christ was born,
God’s own Son, sent to resurrect the original vision
of God’s peaceable Kingdom.

Hymn “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother” BH#2225 v.3
Love will relate us –
color or status can’t segregate us,
round Jesus Christ:
Family failings, human derailings
all are accepted, round Jesus Christ.

And so,
with your people on earth
and all the company of heaven
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Jesus came as teacher, full of stories and lessons
meant to change our ways.
Jesus came as prophet, to testify to the truth of
God’s love and presence in our lives.
Jesus came as a revolutionary, eager to challenge
the thinking and practices of the leaders.
Jesus came as a man: a man who ate and drank
with the outcasts, who loved and forgave his enemies,
and who suffered and died an excruciating death
on a cross.

But Jesus left us gifts to help us through the ordinary
and the extraordinary.
His spirit lives within us, guiding, comforting, challenging,
forgiving, and loving us each moment of every day.
His life example inspires us to live the life he lived
even when it seems difficult and sometimes impossible.
And he gave us this meal we are about to eat:
a reminder of his love, his faithfulness, his hope
for our salvation, and his wish that we serve each other
the bread and cup as a covenant to the community that
binds us to him.

We offer ourselves as a holy and living sacrifice,
in union with Christ,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

Hymn “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother” BH#2225 v.4
Bound by one vision, met for one mission
we claim each other, round Jesus Christ:
Here is my mother, here is my brother,
kindred in Spirit, through Jesus Christ.

So we take this bread and juice,
Jesus’ body and blood,
into our own bodies, hearts, and minds.
May these elements change our thinking
and way of relating to each other,
to our family and friends,
and most of all, to those we have
difficulty relating at all.
As Jesus has made a home in us,
let us make a loving and nurturing
home for others.

(Consecration and serving of the elements – consider having the members of the congregation serve each other)

Prayer of Thanksgiving
We are grateful, Lord, for this food of your body and spirit, reminding us of your deep love of us and your desire that we live in harmony and peace with our neighbors. Show us the way as your people to make our church a home for those who need love, attention, nurturing, and a sense of belonging. Break open our hearts and extinguish any resistance we might have so all will truly be welcome as one of our family. Encircle this family as well as all the families of our community, nation, and world so that every person might feel safe and cared for. We ask all these things in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Communion Liturgy I

Invitation
The sacrament of Communion is one of those “thin places,” where we might see and know God in a more intimate way. Jesus invited his disciples, just as we are invited in this moment, to “remember” through the sharing of the bread and cup: remember the love poured out for us, remember the sacrifice made for us, and remember the gift of the Spirit given to us. These elements are taken into our bodies, minds, and spirits so we might experience our Creator in new and transformative ways. Everyone is welcome to the table. Come and eat and feel the presence of God!

Confession and Pardon
On this Communion table, O God, I place all that I am. With humility, I acknowledge the me who is gentle and kind, slow to anger, and easy to please. With honesty, I admit to the me who is short-tempered and defensive, wanting my own way, and difficult to please. With true self-reflection, I recognize the me who was not Jesus for my neighbor, refused to be who You made me to be, and ignored Your call to act. For these things and in all the ways I fall short, I am truly sorry. Say the Word, Lord, and your grace and mercy will wash me clean. With Your help, I will choose to have the heart of Jesus and be his hands and feet in my family, my community, and in my world. Amen.

Hear the Good News! Jesus, who knows you and loves you, forgives all your short-comings and embraces you.

Hear the Good News! Jesus, who knows you and loves you, forgives all your short-comings and embraces you.

The Great Thanksgiving
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 to give our thanks and praise.

In the beginning, God danced through the universe,
bringing light to the darkness, form to the void,
and separating the water
into earth and sky.
Divine life was breathed into the plants and creatures;
Man and Woman received God’s touch and
love was born between the Holy One
and humans.
The Garden held only joy and delight if the
couple surrendered to God’s will for them.

But temptation slithered into their hearts
and the freedom to choice
became their undoing.
Rejected from God’s kingdom,
a life of toil and sweat,
pain and suffering for all of humankind
was the cost of their decision.

And so cast out, but not abandoned by God,
the couple became a family,
and families became clans,
and clans tribes;
People trying to survive amid turmoil, jealousy, and murderous rage.
Time and again humans turned from the way of God
until God destroyed creation by the waters,
save one family.

Noah, listening and obeying God’s instructions,
built an ark, a floating Eden, another chance to
experience God’s kingdom.
Humans are a stubborn lot, however, seeking the goal of their
own happiness and pleasure,
while ignoring the desires of God.
Despite all of God’s attempts to save humanity from themselves,
peace and harmony seemed out of reach
for God’s people.

Never giving up, God became human.
Born into humble beginnings,
God, through Jesus,
experienced the fullness of earthly life.
He knew the glory of a sunset,
the relief of laughter, the deep sorrow of loss,
and the frustration of being misunderstood.
He told stories of compassion, forgiveness, and justice;
he loved his enemies,
ate with sinners,
healed minds, bodies, and souls,
and gave completely of himself
to all who believed in him.

And so,
with your people on earth
and all the company of heaven
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Fear and anger, however, once again stilled the voice of God.
Betrayal put in motion events
that would end the life of this
man of God.
Knowing what was ahead, Jesus gave his
disciples, and all who followed, a gift:
a celebration of remembrance,
a way of experiencing Jesus
in the here and now.

At that first table, Jesus took bread,
the food that had feed so many
during his ministry,
and he broke it, just as his body would
be broken,
and he gave it to his friends, saying,
“Take and eat;
this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”

Then he took the cup,
full of the sweet and sour juice of the vine,
and made the ordinary into the
extraordinary by saying,
“Drink from this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many for the
forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.”

At this meal, Jesus surrendered his heart.
In the garden, Jesus surrendered his body.
On the cross, Jesus surrendered his soul.

And now, we surrender ourselves
as a holy and living sacrifice,
in union with Christ,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

Through the mystery of faith,
we eat this bread
and drink this juice,
keeping alive the spirit of Jesus
within us,
and remembering his love
poured out for us.

With our Creator God,
our friend, Jesus Christ,
and our Comforter, the Holy Spirit,
We honor the covenant to love
those difficult to love,
to forgive
those difficult to forgive,
and to act with kindness
even when not inclined to do so.

May God’s peace make a home in you
now and forever.
Amen.