Perhaps the hardest thing to remember about Christmas is this. It celebrates the incarnation, not just the nativity. The incarnation is an on-going process of salvation, while the nativity is the once-for-all-historical event of Bethlehem. We do not really celebrate Christ’s ‘birthday,’ remembering something that happened long ago. We celebrate the stupendous fact of the incarnation, God entering our world so thoroughly that nothing has been the same since.
Sourcebook, 1996, Liturgy Training Publication
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Holy God, the world around us
prepares to celebrate your birth.
People: We celebrate the incredible power
of your ongoing incarnation.
Leader: Holy Jesus,
you entered our world as flesh and blood.
People: We gather in your presence with praise and joy.
Leader: Holy Spirit,
you came into our midst to transform all of creation.
All: We are getting ready
to celebrate our amazing redemption.
WORD FOR THE CHILDREN
Leader: Holy Mystery, you came to earth as one of us,
sharing our joys and pains,
becoming flesh in our midst,
getting us ready to bear the good news.
People: We want presents and decorations,
sentimental stories and cheap grace,
instead of allowing you to become flesh in us.
Leader: You call us to get the world ready,
to put an end to war and oppression and violence,
to bring in your reign of justice and peace.
People: We want you to stay in the past,
dressing up in robes and crowns and shepherds’ crooks,
instead of making room for you in our lives today.
Leader: You became flesh and walked among us,
teaching us how to love,
teaching us how to forgive.
All: Forgive us when we forget that the baby in the manger
is just the beginning of the story
about the holy one who lived and died,
and lives again in us as the Body of Christ.
INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS OF CONFESSION
Leader: Christ is ready in every moment,
to transform us and all of creation.
We are forgiven and loved
so that we may transform the world.
THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE
INTERCESSION AND PETITION
All: O Holy One, we come today
to claim our relationship with you.
We pray for the commitment to grow together,
sharing the gifts you give us with others
here and in the wider world.
Forgive us for the hurt we have inflicted,
and help us forgive those who have hurt us.
Give us strength and discipline
to nurture our relationship with you;
to care for every part of your creation;
to foster justice and be in solidarity with those in need;
to work to end all war, and violence, and discord;
and to respond joyfully when you call,
freely giving our selves as you have shown the way.
We open our hearts to you and your creation
in the name of Jesus, who is the Christ. Amen.
Leader 1: This is the table of the Heavenly Feast,
the joyful celebration of the people of God.
Leader 2: We gather now as one body, joined around the table.
Here we celebrate God’s presence among us
united in Christ’s spirit, broken and whole all at once;
All: Nourished and hungry, loved and loving,
sinner and forgiven; we make one circle of knowing,
believing, rejoicing, being,
as God lights and rests among us.
Leader 1: Holy Maker of all that is,
we offer gratitude for the world that you have made
and for its magnificent complexity.
People: We give you thanks for your Holy Spirit,
our comforter in the chaos,
our guide to the peace within.
Leader 2: We give you thanks for your Holy Child, Jesus,
who through his life, death, and resurrection
showed us the way to peace.
People: We give you thanks for your Holy Church,
the bearer of your message,
the fragile vessel of your peace.
BLESSING THE ELEMENTS
Leader 1: Christ invites everyone to eat the bread of life,
to drink the cup of the new covenant.
Leader 2: Jesus said, I am the bread of life.
You who come to me shall never hunger,
You who believe in me shall never thirst.
Leader 1: On the night of his arrest, Jesus took bread,
and after giving thanks to God, broke it and said,
This is my body,
broken for the healing of the world.
Whenever you eat it, do so remembering me.
Leader 2: After supper, Jesus took the cup and said,
This is the cup of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for all.
Whenever you drink it, do so remembering me.
All: O Holy One, send down your Spirit
that these gifts of bread and cup
may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Unite us with Christ forever
and bring us with the whole creation
to your eternal realm.
SHARE THE ELEMENTS
If you do not wish to receive the elements today you are welcome to join the circle and allow them to pass, or remain in your seat. We serve grape juice in our cups.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING AND DEDICATION
All: God of abundance and mercy,
we give joyful thanks
for your eternal love and healing presence
in our celebration of bread and cup.
Bless this body of Christ
that we may attend faithfully
to our call to be your servants,
with each other and throughout the world.
Leader: As God becomes flesh in our midst,
let us celebrate our commitment
to be part of the Body of Christ:
hands and feet, hearts and voices,
welcoming all who come.
As we go out into the world
daring to work for peace and justice
in ever more creative, inclusive ways,
let us greet one another with signs of peace.