Worship Connection: December 30, 2012

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First Sunday after Christmas Day

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Psalm 148; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: Praise the Lord, all the earth, from the highest heights to the deepest depths!
P: Let everything sing and shout praise to the Creator!
L: Praise the Lord, all the heavens and starry host!
P: All throughout the universe may praise to God abound!
L: Come, let us joyfully praise God!
P: Let us live our praise in deeds of loving kindness. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: How are we to live as God's beloved children?
P: We are to have attitudes and actions of compassion and justice.
L: How are we to live as neighbors with one another?
P: We are to put on the garments of love and peace.
L: Let us come before the Lord in gratitude for all we have been given.
P: Lord, thank you for all you continue to do in our lives. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2092, "Like A Child", offer the following call to worship as directed]

L: We have celebrated the birth of Jesus, but how shall we know him when he comes?
P: How shall we greet and respond to the Promised One?
Women's chorus singing verse 1 of "Like A Child"
L: Will Jesus come to us as a prince or a pauper?
P: Will we see him in those of greatest need?
Men's chorus singing verse 2 of ''Like A Child"
L: Lord, make us truly ready to receive the gift of Jesus, your beloved Son
P: Open our hearts to the good news Jesus brings to us.

Choir singing verse 3 of "Like A Child"

Call to Worship #4

L: Like Joseph and Mary, we want to protect the child Jesus.
P: We want him to be safe and sound.
L: And when something unexpected happens, we are frightened.
P: We wonder what we should have done differently.
L: Lord, in this day, help us to remember that God is ever with us.
P: Let us place our trust in God's loving presence as we grow in our own faith. AMEN.

PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

God, who walks with each one of us, help us to place our trust in your guiding care for us as we gather to learn the great lessons of living in peaceful community with each other. Prepare us to be witnesses of your love and forgiveness. Make us ready to work for you in your creation; for we ask this in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Lord, it's only a few days after the Christmas celebration and we are exhausted. People have come and gone; gatherings are winding down; we are being reminded of the “normalcy" of life returning to us. We don't want to go there just yet. We want to linger in the warmth of the season. Forgive us when we don't seem to feel your warmth in our lives all the time. Forgive us when we assign warmth only to Christmas, and then to Easter and seem to dwell on the mundane the rest of the time. Give us courage to live as people of the Light, those who find your comforting, encouraging presence in our lives at all times. Strengthen us for joyful service in your name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

People of God, feel the presence of God right now, in this place, warming your hearts, forgiving your fears and strife; preparing you for joyful service. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are beloved and forgiven. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord, you know our confusion this day when the gospel reflects that moment in Jesus' life when he is found in the Temple learning from and teaching the Elders. We haven't really gotten over the mystique of Christmas, the birth and angels and shepherds, and suddenly we are cast, just for this moment, into this scene. We aren't ready for Jesus to be the 12year old boy. We want to keep him a baby. Like the worried parents of Jesus, we are frightened by his disappearance. Why weren't his parents more diligent? Why didn't they know where he would be? When Joseph and Mary found Jesus, they were upset. They wanted to know how he could be so thoughtless; but he responded with a rather cryptic message about being in His Father's house. What did that mean? What does that mean to us? We come to this building, for this time of worship, and we say we are in God's house. And for this time we feel a sense of the spirit; of the presence of God. But then we go back "into the world", and lose that feeling. God's house is our very selves. God makes God's home in each of our lives. The gathering time we have and call worship is a time to remind ourselves of God's abiding love and to celebrate with each other God's infinite presence and challenge to be God's community. Open our hearts this day, Lord, to understand your loving presence and your challenge to us. Make us ready to serve you in this world. AMEN.

Reading

Reader 1: I like going to church. It's the place where God is. It's the place where people are nice to each other. I like the music; the preaching; the worship; the fellowship, and even the coffee hour after church. I like church!
Reader 2: Are you nuts? Those people are only pretending to be nice to get in God's good graces. Just look at how they behave outside the church building. At work they lie, cheat and steal. They are abusive to each other and to the creation. They don't care about others, but only about what they can get for themselves. I wouldn't set foot in church with those hypocrites!
Reader 1: Wow! I'm sorry you feel that way. My experience is a little different, I guess. I need to be in church, in the place where people gather. These people are not "holier than thou"; they struggle and fall short. But they keep on trying; they keep asking God to help them be better. And it's reflected in all that they do, In our worship, we know that God is with us, working with imperfect people; helping us to grow. We know that God continually forgives those who sincerely seek forgiveness and who want to be better people. Here, we are trying to live as God would have us live. Sometimes we do it better than at other times.
Reader 2: Yeah, but what about how these folks live outside the church? How are they any different from the rest of us? Don't they fail? Don't they fear and do some things wrong?
Reader 1:Of course, we fail, we fear, and we do some things wrong? The church isn't a hotel for saints you know. It's more like a hospital for "sinners", people who know that they stand in continual need of God's love and forgiveness. It is here that we again learn how to live out our faith a little better. What is it that you are looking for?
Reader 2: I don't know. I guess that I thought the church should be a place where people were perfect; where they didn't fear or fail; where they understood all that God wants from the people. I was looking more at people in judgment; than at God in love. I need to rethink this. Church and worship are like "refueling stations"? I mean, it's where people can go to receive hope and forgiveness; and get ready for the time ahead, right?
Reader 1:I think you're on the right track. It's an opportunity for each of us to be present to each other in forgiveness, love, and peace; to learn the great lessons of Jesus which will help us to be people of hope in this world. It's a growing place; a forgiving place; a love-your-neighbor place; a place of hope and encouragement. At least, that's what it is for me. And I love coming to church!

Benediction

People who have been found, loved, and forgiven, go into God's world bringing messages of peace, love and hope to all you meet. Be prepared for lives of service, helping others in all kinds of needs and situations. Go in peace. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is: WHITE

SURFACE: Place a 6" riser at the back left side of the worship center. Place 2-3" risers in various "staggered" positions on the worship table.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center in white fabric, making sure that all risers are covered and that the fabric puddles to the floor.

CANDLES: Place a 3" white pillar candle on each of the risers on the table, with the exception of the 6"riser at the back left side.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Place poinsettias or other Christmas seasonal flowers on the floor at the base of the worship center. If you have several smaller poinsettias, make a group of them at the upper right comer of the worship center. Place a larger one behind the 6"riser.

ROCKS/WOOD: Not necessary for this setting

OTHER: Place a brass cross on the 6"riser. Using burgundy (dark red) and gold ribbon, have streamers coming fiom beneath the cross, across the risers on which the candles are placed and spilling down the fiont and sides of the worship center.

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