Isiah 9.2-7: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light… for a child has been born for us,… the Prince of Peace.”
Psalm 96: “Sing to God a new song!” God has done great things, and will judge the world with righteousness.
Hebrews 1.1-4: “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days God has spoken to us by a Son, the reflection of God’s glory.”
Luke 2.1-20. The nativity story we all (think) we know: Bethlehem, the baby, the manger, the shepherds, the angels… and Mary pondering all these things in her heart.
I recommend avoiding the cute message that “one magic night this magic thing happened,” and reflect on the eternal nature of the Incarnation. This was not “one special night.” This is all the time. God is with us always, even in the most ordinary situations (shepherds, just doing their jobs…) and even situations of difficulty, pain and uncertainty (a newborn infant is just about the most vulnerable creature to be in this world). God is among us. God’s presence is most easily seen not in the rich and powerful, but in the poor and simple. (Shepherds were lower class folks.)
Call to Worship
Leader: In the darkness, stars shine.
All: In the cold of winter, a warmth rises.
In the silence, angels approach.
In the mystery of this night, your people gather, O God.
Your Word is made flesh, and we come in humble awe.
Your grace unfolds among us, and we come to witness,
to worship, and to wonder. Alleluia!
Blessed God, we praise you on this holy night for the mystery of your Incarnation. We bless you for the birth of Jesus, and for the gift of your salvation. We thank you that you dwell with us in love.
In the name of the infant Jesus we pray for all children, and their families. We pray for peace. We pray for those for whom Christ came: those who suffer, those who are lost or lonely, the sick, the powerless and the rejected, those who struggle in life; and those who do not know you. Blessed are the poor, and those who mourn. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who are persecuted: for among them is Emmanuel.
Holy Spirit, make of our hearts an open manger, that Christ may be born in us anew and live in us always. By your grace help us to receive the gifts of this holy season, to share them with all the world, and to live always in the light of Jesus’ presence. Amen.
(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)
O God, turn out the lights in our busy lives,
that in the darkness your stars may shine.
Silence the chatter of our minds,
that we may hear the angels sing.
Bring us to our knees,
that we may see the holy child.
Make hearts open mangers
for your Christ to be born in us.
You who are always with us, come to us again;
make your Word flesh in us.
Prayer of Dedication / Sending
God of light and healing, we thank you for the blessed mystery that you give yourself to us. You have come to dwell with us, and within us. Blessed, transformed, and sustained by your presence, we go into the world in your name to bring good news to the poor, to set the captives free, and to proclaim your grace. Send us in the power of your Spirit, with the blessing and the company of your Son, our Chief, Jesus Christ, who is present among us, now and to eternal life. Amen.
(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)
Drawn by Your Light (Tune: Away in a Manger)
In darkness we gather, God, drawn by your light,
your glorious presence that blesses the night,
the light and the deep peace that Jesus imparts,
the Spirit’s bright radiance that burns in our hearts.
The light of Creation that made the first dawn,
the pillar of fire that led Israel on,
the star that led magi to where Jesus was
now draws us to worship with alleluias.
Your light shines so even the darkness is blessed
this night as we wait for the coming of Christ.
God, shine your light warmly in us by your grace,
that we may bear healing and justice and peace.