Worship Elements: December 27, 2020

November 30th, 2017

First Sunday After Christmas

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalms 148; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40

Call to Worship

L: The word comes forth from the mouth of God!
A new name shatters Caesar's rod!

P: Let us hear our new name,
Let us turn to the light,
Let us build a new earth,
Let us celebrate new life!

L: Let Simeon lift God's children to heaven!
Let Anna reveal the name God has given!

A: Let us hear our new name,
Let us turn to the light,
Let us build a new earth,
Let us celebrate new life!

Invocation

O Comforter of the world's peoples, we tarry in your temple, awaiting a sign. You have long promised that those who hunger for righteousness shall not taste death before their deliverance. But death swaggers now outside our door, taunting us with each strike of the dock.

Redeem us, O God. Send your life into our midst; deliver your spirit into our hearts. Then we, once feeble, shall cry, "God, my father!" We, once feeble, will become your children; we, once feeble, will take your name.

Litany

L: Embrace the Child and bless your God,

P: For the works of God's hands are faithful and just.

L: They have set a star to hang in the sky;

P: With a blazing torch our God shall lead us.

L: They have sewn the world a garment of light;

P: With swaddling love our God shall clothe us.

L: For the Child's sake, let us not keep silent;

P: For the Child's sake, let us not find rest,

A: Until all God's earth is robed in brightness,
Until all God's earth shall burn with life!

Prayer for One Voice

This very hour we give thanks to you, O God. For on this day we who have seen much with our eyes have seen all with our hearts. We who have seen the dusk of so many old days have seen the dawn of a new day.

We, O God, have seen our salvation.

We easily could have not seen. Not because of tired eyes, but because of weary spirits. Time violates the heart; the advance of years breeds the anxieties of age. Oh, to be children again! To be cradled in the arms of our fathers, to be lifted by the arms of our mothers! To be strangers once again to our parents' world!

But our childhood has vanished. We have grown, becoming strangers to one another and to ourselves. We have grown, becoming wise in the ways of our parents' world and feigning ignorance of the ways of your world.

We were groping for your new world, O God. In some remote corner of our foolish hearts, we were hoping for your salvation — but this is not what we expected. You sent no armies of angels to fight our fights, no yellow-brick roads to show us the way, no earthquakes to topple our great walls of fear. No, to save us, you sent what we had lost: You sent the child into our hearts, and we lifted the child into our arms and blessed your name.

This child is only one of many born among us, only one of many you have called holy, only one of many we have seen. Yet this child, whom we have seen with our hearts, has brought joy to all the world.

Still, our joy is pierced with great sorrow, for this child shall not remain a child. Surely he shall grow and become strong; he shall be filled with the wisdom of the new world. But when the child enters our world — Savior, we shudder to know that we shall rob him of his youth; that we shall sacrifice him upon ungodly altars. "Unto us a child is born," yes; but unto whom is this child given? Into whose hands, O God, have you commended his spirit? Are they ours, Lord? Is it we who have received him, only to give him up for thirty pieces of silver?

O God, return Mary and Joseph and Jesus safely to their own city. Be with them; watch over the Child as the days pass, but slow Time's course. Help us to prepare for him, to make straight our ways! Help us, before the hour is late, to bless, not curse; to declare, not deny; to trust, not betray; to be reborn, not die. Help us, O Lord, to keep the child within us safe, lest we destroy the child you sent to save us.

Benediction

L: Servants of God, depart now in peace; prophets, go in power—

P: For we have seen salvation prepared by the merciful hand of God.

L: With Mary and Joseph ponder these things; with Anna and Simeon praise the Lord.

P: Let us grow and be strong, that we may find wisdom.

A: May God's hand and ours hold the hands of earth's children.


Adapted from "Litanies and Other Prayers," Copyright 1992 Abingdon Press

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