Worship Elements: December 29, 2019

December 5th, 2019

First Sunday after Christmas

Color: White
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 63:7-9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2:10-18; Matthew 2: 13-23

Theme Ideas

The psalmist puts it well: "Hallelujah! Praise God from the heavens, praise God in the heights! Praise God, all you angels; praise God, all you multitudes in heaven! ... Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of God, for God's name alone is exalted" (Psalm 148:1-2, 12-13a, The New Testament and Psalms, an Inclusive Version). What better words to welcome the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of God? Praise for all creation!Praise for God come among us! Praise in the carols we sing throughout this Christmas season!

Call to Worship (Psalm 148, GNT)

(As a variation, alternate men and women reading the congregational responses.)
Praise the Lord! Let all the angels praise the Lord.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, shining stars;
praise him, highest heavens.
Let them all praise the name of the Lord!
God commanded, and the universe
was created, fixed in place forever.
Praise God,
Kings and all peoples, princes and all other rulers,
girls and young men, old people and children too.
Let us all praise the name of the Lord,
and worship the Prince of Peace.

Call to Worship (from Psalm 148:13)

God has come among us. Let us rejoice.
Praise the Lord, all creation.
For God’s name alone is exalted.
God’s glory is above heaven and earth.

Invocation

Merciful God, in Christ you have come among us and we rejoice; yet still the world groans in hope of redemption. Open our hearts to hear you speaking today in and through some difficult texts. By your Spirit give us grace so that we deny neither the sufferings that remain nor the hope that you give us; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Invocation

God of peace, teach us to sorrow, not as those without hope, but as people who remember the grace that comes in Jesus. Help us remember that the first act of worship offered to the newborn baby was that of giving. Lead us to give ourselves to Christ. Amen.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 148)

Holy Creator, loving God, 
we thank you for the special gift
of your child Jesus. 
Generous Creator, giving God, 
with the moon and stars, 
and all that lives,
we join in praise and thanks! Amen. 

Contemporary Gathering Words (Isaiah 63, THE MESSAGE)

Make a list of God's gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising:
The generous bounties of God,
and God's great goodness to all
the families of the earth!
Compassion lavished, love extravagant.
The most wondrous thing God ever did
was to come to us, to help us in person.
Out of God's own love and pity, God redeemed us.
God rescued us and carried us for a longtime.
Let us worship and praise our Redeemer
this Christmas time!

Litany

Shall those who flee take refuge in the shadow of the pyramids? No, look to the Rock that is higher than heaven.

Lift up your eyes unto the hills. Your help shall come from the hand that fashioned earth and sky.

Refugees of war, fugitives of famine, the One who keeps you will not slumber; the eyes of God shall never close.

"Silent night, holy night, . . . sleep in heavenly peace."

From the enemy the Lord shall hide your face.

The moon shall not betray you by night. The sun shall not strike you by day.

Gently the Lord shall keep you close, shielding your life's flame from angry winds.

The Lord shall keep your goings-out and your comings-in until you find your home.

Prayer of Confession (Matthew 2)

Like King Herod before us, 
we hunt down that which threatens our way of life, 
and we want to kill.
When we feel tricked by those who outsmart us,
we fly into a rage and want to destroy
that which threatens us.
Forgive us, O God.
Give us sight and insight
to set aside our fragile egos,
and to flee into your loving and protective arms,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Amen.

Prayer of Confession

O God of goodness and light, illumine a path for us by which we may walk in faithfulness. Too often we have lost our way. Too often we have lived out of our pride and stubbornness and failed to turn to you in our times of need. You have given us all that we need to live sober lives in a right mind. Impel us to sin no more and give us a more perfect knowledge of your divine ways in the world. Help us accept the forgiveness you offer if we but only ask for it. Grant us the opportunity to celebrate this coming year with a faithfulness that we scarcely knew we had in us. Power this celebration through your Holy Spirit—the greatest gift you can offer us today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Words of Assurance

Release the burdens of the past. Relinquish control from that which is only in God’s hands. Allow the peace of God to dwell in you. You are forgiven. Accept the gift. Relax in the warmth of God’s embrace.

Prayer of Assurance

Holy God, though the perfection of Jesus Christ has power to judge our sinfulness you have chosen to accept his advocacy and priesthood on our behalf. We rely on him in confidence that you accept us graciously because of his intercession. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Pastoral Prayer

God, who comes to share our sorrows, we know that you care because you come among us in the midst of the darkness. We pray for those who are sad at this season, who have lost loved ones, and whose families are divided. Grant us the peace that only you can give. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God above time, God in our history, God in our present, we are thankful that you govern the times and seasons. Our times are in your hands, and we are grateful for times of joy as well as sorrow, for dancing as well as mourning, for the time of Christ's birth as well as his death. Our own families know these cycles of change as generations rise and pass away. We rejoice in the babies, the children and grandchildren among us, and in the long life which allows many of us to see them grow up. Hear our praise in voices young and old, high and low, weak and strong, until our time of silence comes. Amen

Benediction (Hebrews 2, THE MESSAGE)

Let us go into the new year with Jesus, 
common in origin with us.
We go into the new year with Jesus, 
who treats us as family, as brothers and sisters.
Let us go, placing our trust in God, just as Jesus did.
We go as children of God, with Jesus by our side.
And all of God's Christmas people say together:
Amen!

Benediction 

Go forth to love and serve God in all that you do. In God’s strength, comfort the afflicted, stand with those who weep, and defend the oppressed. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit abide with you, now and always, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Benediction

May the birth of Jesus be renewed in our lives.
May the Spirit of Jesus guide our words and thoughts.
May the life of Jesus inspire us to follow in the way of hope.

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