Gathering God’s People
Acknowledgement of First Peoples
From river to ocean, from campfire to hearth,
May the First People who have cared for this Land be blessed.
From breath to song, from step to dance,
May those who follow Your Songlines guide us on the journey of living honourably in this place.
From greeting to Amen, from silence to chorus,
Call to Worship
(Abingdon Worship Annual 2009
God has done great things for us!
God’s love is heralded in the promise of Christ.
Holy is God’s name!
God’s promises are fulfilled in the coming of Christ. God’s mercy extends from generation to generation. God’s salvation is offered in the gift of Christ
Hymn TIS 272: “Come, thou long-expected Jesus ...”
Referring to the prophecy of Jesus birth, and the fulfillment of that promise, John prayed:
Make us bold enough to proclaim with faith— the coming of your kingdom, the coming of your justice, the coming of your peace. May we sing out the good news of your salvation, trusting in fulfillment of your promises. All this we pray in the name of the one who comes. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
Loving God, even in the midst of this season of goodwill, there is much to confess.
In spite of holiday cheer, stress and anxiety rule our lives. We miss the reason for the season, focusing instead on Christmas parties, long to-do lists, and trying to get the shopping done.
We fail to think about your reordered world— a world where the lowly are lifted up and the hungry are filled with good things.
Help us adjust our Christmas priorities, that we might join with you, O God, in preparing a world that welcomes the one who brings us peace.
Declaration of Forgiveness
The ancient promises of God are fulfilled. God does not forget us. God’s mercy extends from generation to generation. Let our souls rejoice in God!
Thanks be to God!
Let us share together signs of the peace of God—the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that overcomes all divisions.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you
(We then exchanged the sign of peace with each other.)
Offering Dear God, …Knowing that your promises (of Jesus’s birth) will be fulfilled, we pledge our lives to you in anticipation of the coming of the one who brings us peace. Amen.
Hymn CAOHN: “When God Almighty came to earth”
The Service of the Word
The First Reading: Micah 5:2-5a A prophecy: And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.
The Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-55 The meeting between Mary and Elizabeth and Mary’s prayer of astonishment at the future the birth of her child would bring.
Preaching of the Word
Here I will share with you, the most pertinent words of the sermon:
On this morning, we also hear these beloved segments of scripture and our hearts thrill within us. Like Elizabeth, when she saw her cousin Mary, our hearts dance within us.
There is darkness around us. In this darkness, it is a physical relief to enter the church and to feel again anticipation, one of the most cherished human experiences. It is a relief to be able to with our entire senses wait for the light that is to come. To wait like a people who are suffering from insomnia who long for the night to end so that they can see the light of day and stop feeling the anxiety of their sleeplessness.
Micah tells us of the care and tenderness of the good shepherd. The writer of Hebrews assures us that the old order has passed, that God is not satisfied with burnt or sin offerings, but only with hearts that are obedient to God's will.
However, the most tender and courageous images come from Luke's Gospel. Two women meet on a hill…It is the humble who are being raised. It is those who feel awe before God their maker, that are shown mercy. The powerful are brought down. The lowly are lifted up. And the hungry are fed…So now, we who hear these words 2000 years later discover that they make good sense to us also. They remind us of what matters to God, what God requires of us.
Hymn 161: Tell out, my soul the greatness of the Lord!
Music to lead us to intercessory prayer where Ruth prayed for God’s will to be done in all areas of human life, that burdens might be lifted and the darkness and evil that ruins lives will be vanquished. We followed with the Lord’s Prayer.
Go with the love of God, who extends mercy from generation to generation. Go with the illumination of the Holy Spirit, who prepares us for the coming of our Lord. Go with the peace of the Christ child, who comes to partner with us to bring the kingdom that will never end. Amen.
Hymn 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
A prayer of good wishes to each other