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This service of worship known as "Blue Christmas" or "Longest Night"
You may reproduce this service, in whole or in part but please include the
was published in the Whole People of God Sunday School
Curriculum 1996-97 Clergy Supplement. The service was written and
contributed to Whole People of God by First United Church, Kelowna, B.C.
Wood Lake Books is located at 10162 Newene Road, Winfield, B.C., V4V 1R2
Phone 604-766- 2778.
following notice: "Copyright 1996, Wood Lake Books. Used with Permission."
You may reproduce this service, in whole or in part but please include the
The Gathering Words of Welcome The Approach Call to Worship (from Isaiah 9) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. For the yoke that was weighing upon them, and the burden upon their shoulders, thou hast broken in pieces O God, our Renewer. Opening Prayer God of Mercy, hear out prayer in this Advent Season for ourselves and our families who live with the painful memories of loss. We ask for strength for today, courage for tomorrow and peace for the past. We ask these things in the name of you Christ who shares out life in joy and sorrow. Death and new birth, despair and promise. Amen. 1. Isaiah 40 Our first scripture reading comes from the Book of Isaiah. It was written in a time when many of the people of Judah had been taken as captives into exile in Babylon, and were feeling crushed and without hope. "Comfort, comfort my people," says our God. "Encourage the people of Jerusalem and tell them that their time of suffering is ended. with whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?" asks the Holy One. "Look up to the heavens! Who made the stars, if not the One who leads them out like an army, calling each one by its own name? So mighty is God's power and strength that not one fails to answer. Israel, why then do you complain that our God does not know your troubles or care if you suffer injustice? Our God, the everlasting God, the creator of the farthest parts of the earth, never grows tired or weary. No one can fathom the depths of God's understanding. God gives power to the faint and strength to the powerless. Even youths become exhausted and young ones give up. but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles they shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint." 2. Responsive psalm 121 One: I will life up mine eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? Many: My help comes form God who made heaven and earth. One: God will not suffer your foot to be moved. The one who keeps you will not slumber. Many: Behold the one who keeps Israel shall not slumber or sleep. One: The holy one is your keeper. The Holy one is your shade on your right hand. Many: The sun shall not hurt you by day nor the moon by night. One: Our God shall preserve you from all evil and shall preserve you soul. Many: Our God shall preserve your going out and ;your coming in form this time forth and even for evermore. 3 Matthew 1 and 2 The story of the first Christmas is not really a happy story but a story about life in the real world. Mary of Nazareth, who is engaged to the carpenter Joseph, discovers she is pregnant. Joseph does not want to embarrass Mary and plans to break the engagement privately. This was not an easy time for this couple. Their country was under Roman occupation and King was not an easy time for this couple. Their country was under Roman occupation and King Herod who ruled Palestine for the Romans was known for his cruelty. These are not exactly ideal conditions for bringing a child into the world. In the midst of their turmoil, an angel-God's messenger- speaks to Joseph in a dream and tells him to proceed with his marriage to Mary. (Read Matthew 1:18-24) In the midst of Mary and Joseph's joy over the safe birth of their son Jesus, a new crisis looms. King Herod orders the death of all children under 2 and so the Holy Family have to flee as refugees to Egypt. There they live for several years until King Herod dies and it is safe to return. Mary and Joseph felt God's presence with them through all the hardships they had to face. (Read Matthew 2:7-23) Music: "You'll never Walk Alone" 4 John 1 Matthew and Luke describe Jesus' birth Bethlehem with stories of visits from shepherds and Magi. But John's gospel speaks of Jesus as God's word for all humanity, as God's word spoken through this one born into a hurting world. He also describes Jesus's birth as light in out darkness. "Before the world was created, the world already existed; the word was with God and was the same as God. From this very beginning the word was with God. Through the word God made all things. Not one thing in all creation was made without the word. The word contained life and this life brought light to all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overpowered it. The true light that enlightens all people was coming into the world. And the word was made flesh and lived among us; and we saw his glory, full of grace and truth." 5 Message A very short reflection and affirmation using some poetry such as "The Christmas Spirit" and "Into This Silent Night" by Ann Weems from Kneeling in Bethlehem Music: "The Impossible Dream" Responding to God's Word A Liturgy of Remembering (Using the Advent Wreath Candles) One: This first candle we light to remember those whom we have loved an lost. We pause to remember their name, their face, their voice, the memory that binds them to us in this season. (Pause while the first candle is lit) All: May God's eternal love surround them. One: This second candle we light is to redeem the pain of loss; the loss of relationships, the loss of jobs, the loss of health. (Pause while the second candle is lit.) We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God, asking that from God's hands we receive the gift of peace. All: Refresh, restore, renew us O God, and lead us into your future. One: This third candle we light is to remember ourselves this Christmas time. We pause and remember these past weeks and month; the disbelief, the anger, the down times, the poignancy of reminiscing, the hugs and handshakes of family and friends, all those who stood with us. (Pause while the third candle is lit.) We five thanks for all the support we have known. All: Let us remember that dawn defeats darkness. One: This fourth candle is lit to remember out faith and the gift of hope which the Christmas story offers to us. (Pause while the fourth candle is lit.) We remember that god who shares out life promises us a place and time of no more pain and suffering. All: Let us remember the one who shoes the way, who brings the truth and who bears the light. Prayers of the People One: In the spirit of this season let us now confidently ask God for all the things we need; For ourselves as we participate in whatever way we can this Christmas. God hear our Prayer.... All: And in your mercy answer. One: For our families and friends that they may continue to help and support us. God, hear our prayer.... All: And in your mercy answer. One: For the person we have loved that has died. For all the losses that we know, that all may be redeemed by you Easter promise. God, hear our prayer. All: And in your mercy answer. One: For all our family and friends that they may know love and peace and happiness in you. God, hear our prayer. All: And in your mercy answer. One: For the peace proclaimed by the Christmas angels, to come throughout the whole world. God, hear our prayer.... All: And in your mercy answer. One: God of great compassion and love, listen to the prayers of these you people. Grant to all, especially the bereaved and troubled ones this Christmas, the blessing we ask in the name of Christ who taught us to pray together saying: Our father, who art in heaven..... Hymn: Sing together-"Silent Night" or "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" Benediction: The Irish Blessing (in unison) May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at you back, May the sun shine warm upon you face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields; and until we meet again, May you be held in the warmth of God's hand. Amen.Return to A Holy Christmas or Return to Sermons & Sermon - Lectionary Resources
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