Where refugees seek deliverance that never comes,
And the heart consumes itself, as if it would live,
Where little children age before their time,
And life wears down the edges of the mind,
Where the old man sits with mind grown cold,
While bones and sinew, blood and cell, go slowly down to death,
Where fear companions each day’s life,
And Perfect Love seems long delayed,
CHRISTMAS IS WAITING TO BE BORN:
In you, in me, in all mankind.
Howard Thurman, “Christmas Is Waiting to be Born”
in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations (1973, re-issued 1985), p 23
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Holy, eternal source of light and life and love,
you call us to be your people,
to come into your holy presence.
People: And so we come.
Leader: God of deliverance,
you call us to learn your ways
and carry your good news
into a future we do not understand.
People: And so we come together.
Leader: We gather as one small part of your family of faith,
waiting for Christmas to be born
in us and in all creation.
All: O Holy One, help us to glimpse your perfect love,
even as we wait.
WORD FOR THE CHILDREN
Leader: Holy One, the relentlessness of life wears us out.
Voice 1: Our senses become dull,
overwhelmed by the cries of your children
living in shelters or on the street.
Voice 2: Our hearts and minds shut down,
unable to bear the pain of refugees,
longing for deliverance that never comes.
Leader: We long for your perfect love
and fear that you will never come.
All: Forgive us when we forget
that you are waiting to be born in us.
INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS OF CONFESSION
Leader: The Holy One forgives us with perfect love,
even when we resist love’s birth in us.
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: Perfect Loving God,
we give you thanks for the many places
where we see your love
even in our broken world.
People: We give you thanks for Jesus
who brought healing and hope
where there was only pain and suffering.
Leader 2: We give you thanks for your Holy Spirit,
who challenges and sustains us
as we seek to offer healing and hope
in our time and in this place.
All: We give you thanks for you Holy Church
that holds us close as we wait once more
for Christmas to be born.
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.
The wafers are gluten-free.
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: Knowing that Perfect Love casts out all fear,
and now, pregnant with the hope
that Christmas continues to wait to be born
in all of us,
let us greet one another with signs of peace.