Compassion for the poor

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because God has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

— Luke 4. 18-19

The radical message in scripture is not only that God has an intense care for the poor and powerless, but that the reason for this is that God is among them. God does not use power by domination, coercion and control; God is the quiet power within and beneath that raises up, gives life and resurrects. The God revealed in the crucified and risen Christ is a God who is poor and vulnerable, whose power is the power of no power. God is not Pilate and Herod; God is Christ. God is at the bottom of the heap, not the top. God is among the poor and lonely, the rejected, the powerless.

Our care for the poor does not come from guilt, or a sense of requirement, but mindfulness that God comes to us in poverty. We encounter God by serving and honoring those who are poor, and especially in experiencing our own poverty. “Compassion” literally means to “feel with.” Our care for the poor is not pity for people less fortunate than us, but sharing life with people who are just like us. For we have nothing with which to pay for our lives; we are utterly dependent on God’s grace, not our own abilities; we are captive to our own fears and desires, bound up in oppressive and exploitative social and political systems, and blind to the truth; we lack courage, trust and generosity; we are powerless to control the world. If we imagine ourselves standing in Judgment, we know we are poor. And God is compassionate and merciful, for God is among the poor.

So in our poverty we extend Gods’s compassion for all who suffer. You don’t have to accomplish great things. Just hold the poor in your heart, and act in compassion. Let this question guide you: Is my life good news to the poor? Does my living proclaim freedom to people who are bound up? Do I help people see, do I shed light in someone’s darkness? Do my thoughts and actions honor and serve those who are poor and powerless, abused or exploited, rejected or forgotten? Pray that by God’s grace in you, the way that you think, pray and act may give others hope and freedom.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © 2010
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

I am a man

In the Sanitation Workers’ Strike of 1968 in Memphis, the African American demonstrators carried placards that read simply, “I am a man.” It seems obvious— but it was news to the city: that they were human beings worthy of respect. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that we celebrate today is the heart of both social justice and contemplative presence: the commitment to see others as people rather than as symbols or roles or projections of our own feelings.

Today you will encounter people who may be far away, or very different from you, your political opposite, or someone with a history of annoying or offending you. You will be temped to judge, categorize, or dehumanize them. Resist the temptation. Stay present. See them. Allow them to be real, whole people. Beneath their strangeness, politics, or annoying behavior, there is a heart with hurts and hopes, equal to yours and close to you. You are one in the Beloved. Love them. Even if they are your enemy, love them. More than all the political and economic reform in the world, seeing people as people and loving your enemies is the one thing that will actually change everything.

_______________________________

Copyright (c) 2010
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Outsiders

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Jesus said, “There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. — Luke 4. 27-30

When Jesus preached his message of the universal inclusiveness of God’s love—that God would heal a pagan foreigner—those who wanted “insiders” and “outsiders” were threatened. So those who moments before had approved of Jesus as one of their own quickly made him into an outsider.

We all need to feel that we Belong and that the Universe approves of us. And it’s natural (original, actually: original sin) to believe that there’s a reason for that, not just God’s grace. It’s hard not to suppose there’s something about us that makes us more worthy than others. Of course someone who seems less worthy messes up our system and threatens our security. So we compare. We don’t just judge and oppose those who threaten our sense of belonging and approval, we also want to get them out of our way: to eliminate them. Slamming the door on someone, cutting off a relationship, executing someone, genocide—they all come from the same spirit.

We all have a different set of people that we want to drive out of town: gays or gay-bashers, terrorists or corrupt CEOs, the people who annoy or offend us. But the impulse is the same. As we resist evil and injustice the real challenge is to stay in relationship with the people we want to eliminate. To bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us. This doesn’t mean staying in an abusive relationship. But it does mean staying in the human family, and letting others, even the demon-possessed, stay here, too. There is always Christ in the ones we want to reject. And he always slips through the midst of us and goes on his way.

As Jesus points out, it’s the outsiders God blesses first.

Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve

_______________________________ Copyright (c) 2010 Steve Garnaas-Holmes unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Baptism

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
— Luke 3.21-22

Out of the desert, the chapped land, the scrub and scumble,
you come to a calm river, deep and green,
where the Beloved invites you in. You enter the water,
and you are immersed in this Presence
that holds every inch of your body.
You and the Beloved are inside each other.
A voice says, “I love you. I am with you. You are mine.”

You rise from the water, but it clings to you.
You drip with it all day long, soaked in the presence,
immersed in the promise: “I love you. I am with you.
You are mine.”

This is all you need to know, all you need to believe.
When you are in danger, or alone,
when another is in danger, or alone, let this guide you.
All doctrine, all goodness, all justice, all righteousness
flow from this fountain, flow to this sea.

When you drink, or bathe, when you cross the river,
when you weep or walk through rain, remember.
Even now as you read this, you are suspended
in deep, green, life-giving water. Held. Blessed.
A dove lights on your shoulder.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright (c) 2010
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight (at)hotmail.com

Sunday After Christmas – December 26, 2021

Lectionary Texts


In 1 Samuel 2.18-20, Samuel is a young boy who lives and serves in the temple. His mother comes every year to bring him a robe. Eli, the priest, blesses the family.

Psalm 148 calls all Creation to praise God, who has raised up a source of salvation for us. Every tree and mountain and even the sea creatures get involved—and all sorts of people, too!

Colossians 3.12-17 teaches us how to live as God’s Beloved Ones: with kindness,
compassion, gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, and above all, love.

In Luke 2.41-52 When Jesus’ family goes to Jerusalem to worship in the temple, they accidentally leave him behind. They find him talking with the teachers, who are amazed at his understanding.

Call to Worship

1. From Psalm 148, paraphrased
Leader: Praise our God! Praise God to the top of the sky!
       All: Praise God all the angels, sun and moon and shining stars!
Praise God, sea monsters and the ocean deep, fire and hail, snow and smoke!
        mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedars!
Bees and cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
       Powerful ones, rulers and all people!
       
Men: Praise God! Women: Praise God Young: Praise God! Old: Praise God!
Leader: Praise God, whose glory fills the world.
       For God’s wonders, we give God our joyful praise!

2.
Leader: Behold! I bring you good news of great joy for all people,
for to you is born a savior who is Christ the Lord!
       All: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
       who has visited and redeemed the people.
He is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Life-Giver, Prince of Peace.
       Hosanna in the highest!
He is named Jesus, for he shall save us from our sins.
He is called Emmanuel, God with us.
       Glory to God in the highest,
       and peace on earth among al!


3.
Leader: Gentle God, we rejoice in awe and wonder:
for your mystery unfolds before us.
All: You have sent a Savior to be with us,
       Emmanuel, your Presence, among us.
A child is born, to give light to those who live in darkness.
       Glory to God in the highest,
       and on earth peace among all, and God’s favor and good will.
In the presence of angels, we sing your praise.
       Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and renew in us the mystery of life. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Creator God, in the birth of Christ you have given yourself to the world.
All: Bless us that we may receive you with faith.
Living Christ, you dwell among us, sharing our human struggles and delights.
       Be born in our hearts, save us from our sin, and lead us in the way of life.
Holy Spirit, by your grace Mary conceived and bore a son. Work in us also, and restore within us the image and likeness of our Creator.
       We open our hearts to you now. Bless us, that we may be transformed
       into the Body of Christ, and bring your love into the world. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, you have come among us in Jesus. Open our eyes to see you. Open our ears to listen for you. Open our hearts, and come to us. By your birth in us, give us new birth. May your Word be made flesh. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, in the birth of Christ you have given us light in our darkness and companionship on our way. As the young Jesus questioned and listened in the temple, we open our hearts to your Word. Speak to us, and shape us by your Word. Amen.

3.
Loving God, as a child Jesus sought you in the temple, talking with the elders. We seek you, too. We come seeking, though others may think we are lost. We come with our experience and our questions, though others may dismiss them. Bless us now that we may speak with clarity and listen with courage, that your Word may shape us, for the sake of the whole world. Amen.

4.
Eternal God, in the birth of Jesus you have come to us in grace. You have made a place among us to accompany us, to save us, to re-create us in your image. Grant that, being born in our hearts, Christ may give us life by the power of your Spirit, so that we may always live according to your delight. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Loving God, we confess the ways we have wandered from your care.
We are sorry, and we ask your forgiveness.
We have not always listened to your guidance.
Forgive us, heal us, and speak your wisdom to us.
Bless us that through our faith
we may continually be in your house.
Loving God, redeem us, and give us life. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

         We give our hearts to God, Creator of all that is and all that is to come, Source of Life and eternal Presence, who is our temple and our home.
         We follow Jesus, who lived among us as a child, learning and growing, exploring and wondering, questioning and making mistakes. As a teacher and healer he continued to question and wonder, to challenge, and to upset those in authority by his allegiance to the truth. He was crucified, but was raised from the dead, and still lives to guide and to question, to teach and to heal and to feed our souls.
         We live by the Holy Spirit, who is our wisdom and our law, who guides us in the ways of peace, who helps us grow as young Jesus did, and who gives us the gift of trust in God’s unfailing grace. By the power of that Spirit we devote our lives of justice and beauty and the way of love, for the sake of the mending of the world. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Jesus in the temple, what are you seeking?
Grant us your curiosity.
Young boy among elders, confident in your truth,
grant us your trust.
You were not lost; you were exploring.
Are you among us as well?
Give us faith to speak without fear,
and to listen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you that you have given yourself to us. O Radiant One, with our eyes we have seen your salvation, and feasted on your grace. Emmanuel, God With Us, fill us with the curiosity of the young Jesus, to seek you wherever we may find you. May your Word take flesh in us, that we may be your holy people, revealing the glory of your love. Send us into the world, to be your light, by the grace of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click titles to view songs.)

Holy Child
Lyrics: Holy child, holy child,
grant one blessing from above.
Holy child, holy child,
grant the joy of giving you my love.

If the Gospel text you choose is Luke 2.22-40,
Anna and Simeon’s song.

Christmas Eve – Lessons and Carols

Service of Lessons and Carols: Suggested Readings

[The readings of the traditional service developed at King’s College in the 1930’s relied heavily on atonement theology; the emphasis here is more on healing, reconciliation and justice.]

(Optional) Isaiah 64: 1-9 – We long for God to come to us in our brokenness

Isaiah 11: 1-3a, 4a, 6-9 – The reign of the prince of peace and justice

(Optional) Micah 5.2, 4-5a — From Bethlehem shall come a ruler, one of peace.

Luke 1: 26-38 – The Annunciation

Matthew 1: 18-23 – An Angel speaks to Joseph in a dream

Isaiah 9: 2-7 or 2, 6-7 – A child is born, who shall have authority

Luke 2: 1-7 – Luke tells of the birth of Jesus

Luke 2: 8-20 – The shepherds go to the manger

from John 1:1-14 (1-5, 9-14, 16, 18) John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation

John Reading:
In the beginning was the Word;
the Word was in God’s presence and the Word was God.
The Word was in the beginning with God.
Through the Word all things came into being,
and nothing that has come into being came into being apart from the Word.
What came into being in the Word was life,
and that life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
The Word came into the world—
the Word through which the world came into being—
yet the world did not recognize the living Word.
The living Word came to its own people, but they did not accept the Word.
But all who received the Word, who gave their hearts to that grace,
were enabled to become children of God,
children born not of natural descent,
nor human desire or will or effort, but born of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the favor and delight parents give an only child, full of grace, full of truth.
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
No one has ever seen God.
It is the Only Begotten, who is close to God’s heart, who has revealed God.

The light shines in the darkness. And the darkness cannot overcome it.

Prayer

         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 grace. 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, and those who do not know you We pray for the sick, the powerless and the rejected, those who struggle in life, and all who are oppressed. 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.


Closing Prayer

Gracious God, we thank you for that you have given yourself to us. You have come to dwell with us, within us and among us. By your presence with us, grant us your peace. Send us into the world 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, in the blessing and the company of your Son, the Beloved, Jesus Christ, who is present among us, now and to eternal life. Amen.

Blue Christmas

For some, Christmas is a mixed blessing, evoking grief over the death of loved ones, or other sorrows. A Blue Christmas service is a serve of hope and healing that is more quiet and reflective than exuberant. It may speak not only to those who bear personal sorrows but also those who lament injustice and broken relationships in their communities or the world. If you offer a Blue Christmas service it’s helpful to have present not only those who are “blue” themselves, but those who would support them. You may want to have people on hand who are trained in listening (like Stephen Ministers), or prepared for healing, praying or other ministries.


Some Suggested Scriptures

(Italicized scriptures are included in various year’s lectionary readings.)
Isaiah 12.2-6 (Year C, week 3) —You will draw water from the wells of salvation
Isaiah 35.1-10 (A: 3) —The desert shall blossom. Renewal, return of exiles.
Isaiah 40.1-11 (B:2) — Comfort my people; the people fade like grass
      but God’s Word is forever; God will carry the sheep in their arms
Isaiah 61.1-11 (B 2)— The Spirit of God is upon me to bind up the brokenhearted
Zephaniah 3.14-20 ( C:3) — God will rejoice over you
Psalm 13 —A lament: I bear pain in my soul
Psalm 122 (A:1) — Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
Psalm 126 — May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy
Romans 5.1-5 —Suffering leads to hope…
Philippians 4.4-7 (C:3)— Rejoice always… be gentle… peace will guard your hearts
Hebrews 4.14-16 — Christ sympathizes with us:
      he’s been through what we’ve been through
Revelation 21.1-4 (The new heaven and new earth)
Luke 1.39-45 ( B:4) Mary visits Elizabeth
Luke 1.47-55 (A:3, C:4) The Magnificat. You have remembered me
      in my low estate)
Luke 1.68-79, especially 76-79 (C:2) Part of Zechariah’s song:
      light for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.)

Opening Prayer

Gracious God, Creator of all, you who make the snow of winter and the darkness of night, the day is yours, and also the night; summer and winter are yours.
      The darkness is yours, and in it we seek your blessing.
Christ, Companion of all who sit in darkness, you came to us on that night long ago, and warmed our night with your presence.
      In the darkness of this night we wait for your coming again.
Holy Spirit, we open our hearts to your light, and our lives to your presence.
      O Come, O come! God, be with us, dwell in our hearts,
      and let your dawn break upon us, and on all who dwell in darkness. Amen.

Listening Prayer

1.
Gentle God, from the beginning you promised to be our God, and to be with us always. In Christ you come to share our darkness, to bless our days and our nights, our joy and our sorrow, our living and our dying. Come, O gentle Savior, be with us, show us the way, and embrace us with your Spirit. Amen.

2.
Creator God, from the beginning of time, when only chaos and darkness existed, you have been with us. In the fullness of time, you sent your light into the world as Christ, to bless our days and our nights, our joys and our sorrows, our living and our dying. Come now, enter into our hearts, anoint us with your Spirit, and comfort us with your healing love. Amen.

Bidding Prayer

Loving God, we thank you for the many blessings you have given us. We remember with grateful hearts our loved ones, and all who have blessed us through our years.
     God of grace, we give you thanks.
We hold in your light what is no longer ours: loves and dreams that have passed, friends and hopes that have died. We hold in your light our struggles, our darkness, our emptiness.
     God of grace, be with us in the night.
O come to us, God, and walk with us. Grant us your consolation, strength and renewal. Enter into the rough stable of our lives so that here, by your presence, there is healing, and hope, and joy.
    God of grace, grant us light.
Gentle God, for all who suffer we ask your blessing. For all who are lonely we ask your presence. For all who struggle we ask your Spirit. Come to us, receive our wounds, dwell with us, and strengthen us by your spirit.
     God of grace, grant us your peace.
God of mercy, we mourn the world’s injustice, and pray in hope. Bless those who suffer oppression. Bless those who work for justice. Bless us, that with hope and courage we may shine with your light even in the darkest night.
     God of grace, grant us your hope.
Spirit of healing, fill us with your grace that we may shine with your light in the darkness, that we may bear your healing to others, that we may be living signs of your coming.
    God of grace, grant us your peace. Amen.

A Litany of Remembrance

Leader: As we near the longest night of the year, we light this advent candle of hope. We pray for all those who suffer—mentally, physically, emotionally, and ask your blessing upon them. Open our eyes to those who are lonely, afraid, and forgotten, that we might be to them a comforting and hopeful presence.
All: As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to those in need of hope.
       Response— O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, verse 1

As we light this advent candle of love, we remember with grateful hearts all those who have blessed our lives with love. We pray for our loved ones who are no longer here with us. We remember their names, their voices, their lives. God, may your eternal light surround them.
As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to those in need of love.
       Response— O Come, Come, Emmanuel, verse 2

As we remember that dawn defeats darkness, God, we light this advent candle of joy. As we experience times of loss—the loss of our health, our jobs, our relationships, our hopes and dreams, God promises to be with us and to lead us into a deeper joy.
As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to those in need of joy.
       Response— O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, verse 3

Though we live in times of conflict and division, we light this advent candle of peace. In a world of unspeakable violence, you came to us as a baby—vulnerable, precious, and pure, offering to us the gift of your love. May your peace, which surpasses all human understanding, fill our hearts, and heal our world.
As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to a world in need of peace.
       Response— O Come, O Come, Emmanuel ,verse 4
Silence

Psalm Meditation

(Psalm 85, paraphrased)

Leader: God of life, the land has blossomed with your favor.
You have restored your people;
you have forgiven us,
all of our brokenness a thing of the past.
In our suffering there was your grace,
your fierce protection.
     All: We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

Restore us again, O God of our salvation.
Heal our fear of you.
How long will we go on distrusting of you,
keeping our distance for generations?
Awaken us from our bad dreams
and renew our joy.
Show us your steadfast love,
and grant us whole and vibrant life.
     We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

We listen for your voice,
for you speak peace.
We turn to you in our hearts.
Even in the darkness, unseen, you are near.
     We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
justice and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up like green plants;
solidarity with one another
will spread over us like the sky.
God will give what is good,
and the earth bloom with joy.
Compassion will walk through the world
and make a way for God to enter.
     We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

Suggested songs

(Available on the music page. Click on titles to view songs, or hear audio samples.)

Come Again, Poor Jesus
(Tune: In the Bleak Midwinter)

When our souls are wintry, when our hearts are cold,
come to us, dear Jesus, as you did of old.
When our hearts, unsheltered, feel the winds above,
come to us and warm us with your gentle love.

In the dark we wander, searching for our way,
waiting, lost, and longing for the light of day.
Dawn upon your children; fold us in your grace.
Child, be born among us. Show to us your face.

Shepherds on the hillside, poor, without a friend,
kept their watch in silence, vigil without end.
But then in the darkness, angels brought the word:
“God has not forgotten, and your prayers are heard.”

To the simple, poor ones, Jesus came that night.
Come again, poor Jesus. Bless us with your light.
Lamb of God, be with us in our joy and pain,
and companion us, Love, to new life again.


Come, Gentle Jesus
(Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

Come, gentle Jesus. Come, to be here with us.
Come, be the light in our darkest night.
Show where we’ve gone astray; come, be our blessed Day.
Come, change us with your healing light.

Come, mighty Jesus. Come, and work your will in us.
Bring forth our gold with refining fire.
Make our hearts pure and clear; come, set us free from fear,
to sing your praise with heaven’s choir.

Come, blessed Jesus. Come and live your life in us.
Let us be your manger here.
Come, be born in us, flowing with love through us.
Oh, savior of the world, draw near!


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.

Savior, In this Holy Darkness
(Tune: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence)

Savior, in our longing darkness,
waiting in our deepest night,
come and grace our hunger and yearnings;
for we live by hope, not sight.
Christ, we long for you. Come bless us.
Help us all to walk in the light.

Savior, in our lonely darkness
come to us who inwardly mourn.
Raise the love that lies a captive;
mend the cloth that has been torn.
Come to us, O God, with holy love:
wake us with the light of morn.

Savior, in our wounded darkness,
shadowed by our evil ways,
fear and anger and injustice,
violence that shutters our praise,
come, O Christ, and heal our broken lives
with love’s gentle, dawning rays.

Savior, in this deepening darkness,
how we long to see your face!
Yet you move, unseen among us
with your mercy and your grace.
Give us eyes of faith to see you,
hidden in each time and place.

Savior, in this holy darkness,
no one sees the flight of the dove.
No one hears the song of the angels.
Yet there shines a lone star above.
Grant this joy, to know your presence here.
Come and fill our hearts with your love.
____________


Advent 4 – December 19, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Micah 5.2-5 promises that after a time of suffering a ruler for Israel will come from Bethlehem and feed the people, and reign in peace.

Luke 1.46-55 is Mary’s song of praise, called the Magnificat (from the first word of the Latin version). She praises God for blessing her despite her low social position, and describes God’s justice and mercy: God overturns the social stratification of rich and poor, powerful and oppressed. Like Micah Mary anticipates that the poor will be fed and cared for.

Hebrews 10.5-10 quotes Psalm 40: God does not desire that we pay for our sins, but that we do God’s will. Psalm 40 reads, “you have prepared ears for me,” suggesting listening and obedience. But the author of Hebrews changes it to “you have prepared a body:” Christ embodies Gods love. As Mary prepares for the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation draws near.

In Luke 1.39-45 after Gabriel’s announcement to Mary she goes to see Elizabeth, who is six months pregnant. When Mary comes, the child in Elizabeth’s womb (who will become John the Baptist) leaps for joy. Elizabeth affirms Mary’s faith and her gifts.

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1.
READING (from Micah 5.2-5)
Now you, O Bethlehem, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. God’s chosen one shall stand and feed God’s flock in the strength of God, in the majesty of the name of the Holy One our God. And the people shall live secure, for their ruler shall be great to the ends of the earth, the one of peace.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of love, you promise our salvation, coming from among us.
      All: Grace stirs within us. Love lives among us.
Christ is near. We waken to the light of your presence.
      We rise in the dawning of the mystery of love made flesh.

2.
              READING [Luke 1.26-38 (The Annunciation)]
              RESPONSE
Leader: The Advent candle shines with light,
        All: the same light that shines in us, the light of your love.
On the darkest day of the year, the longest night, your light shines into the world.
        And it shines in our hearts. Bring to life your holy presence in us
        as we worship now and as we live each moment.
        Christ, be born in us, now and always. Amen.

3.
READING (John 1.1-5, 9)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, without whom not one thing came into being. What has come into being in the Word was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which enlightens everyone, is coming into the world.
RESPONSE
Leader: These candles we light shine with the light that comes into the world.
       All: Your presence and your love shine upon us.
Like a child to be born, your light awaits, the light of life.
      Your presence and your love shine within us.
May we await your coming in hope and joy,
and prepare for your life among us in love.
      Your presence and your love shine out from us.
May your love grow in us, shine upon the world,
and bring life to all people.
      Come, O Christ, and shine in us with your grace!

4.
READING (Luke 1.26-38, the Annunciation)
Leader: God of grace, as we light these candles, we remember your promise.
      All: Your light shines within us.
You have chosen us to bear your love into the world.
      Your presence grows within us.
We await the coming of Christ.
      Your Spirit moves within us.
We prepare for your coming in joy and simplicity.
     Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

5.
Leader: Now you, O Bethlehem of Ephratha, who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth from me one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
      All: You have promised a ruler, O God,
     to feed your flock and guide us to live in peace.
      May your peace come to all the earth.
O God, you have scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
You have brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
You have filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty..
      As we light these Advent candles, O God,
      kindle in us your spirit of justice.
      As we prepare for your coming may your love grow in our hearts,
      that by our faithful living
      we may bring peace to all the world. Amen.


6.
We praise you, O God, for this victory wreath
that marks our days of preparation for Christ’s advent.
      As we light these candles on the wreath,
      awaken our hearts to your light growing about us
     and within us, as our Savior draws near.
Enlighten us with your grace,
and prepare our hearts to welcome you with joy.
      Kindle within us the gift of love through Christ the Beloved,
     whose coming is certain and whose day draws near. Amen
.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, you promise your presence, and you pledge to us your mercy and grace. Open our eyes to see the dawning of your light within us and among us. Open our hearts to your Word, that we might trust in what you have spoken to us. Speak to us again, that we may live in the light of your coming. Amen.

2.
God of love, your presence grows within us. Open our hearts to receive, to honor and to nourish the holy child, that Christ may be born in us by your grace. Amen.

3.
Holy One, Promise of Life, Mystery of light, your grace comes to us; your Word grows within us. In the stillness of the morning we open our hearts to you, to receive your Word, to embrace your love, that your grace may be conceived in us and among us. May it be for us according to your Word. Amen.

4.
God of love, as your Word came to Mary long ago, it comes to us nows. You are present for us, and we have only to listen with our hearts to know your desire for us. We want to be open to your Word. We want to hear your promises. May it be for us according to your Word. Amen.

5.
Gracious God, your angel spoke to Mary long ago, calling her your Beloved, and showing her your blessing that grew within her. Speak to us now; call us as your Beloved, and help us see the blessing that grows within us. Grant us open hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
God, we confess our sin, and what diminishes life in us.
And we confess the life within us yet to be born,
the holy presence yet to be affirmed,
the divine presence in us that leaps with joy.
Forgive our sin, heal our fear,
and bring to life the light within.
Give us the courage of Mary and Elizabeth
to believe you will fulfill what you have spoken.
Amen.

2.
God of love, you who are born in us, we thank you.
And we confess the times
we leave no room in the inn of our hearts
for you to be born in us.
Forgive our being closed off to your gift of Life;
grant us open minds and spacious hearts,
that your love may find new life in our lives.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

God of life,
something in us leaps for joy
when we sense you near.
Blessed are we, and blessed is the fruit of our hearts
when we listen.
In the silence, and in the Word, speak to us.
Come to us.
Be born in us.

Eucharistic Prayer

Beloved, God is with you.
     And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
     We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Faithful One, our God.
     It is good to give God thanks and praise.
How blessed we are that our life-giver and savior has come to us!
      Our hearts within us leap for joy at the sound of your voice.
We praise you, God, for you birth us in love.
     You promise yourself to us, and you are faithfully present.
You defeat the forces of oppression, set us free,
and call us to join you in building a world of mercy and justice.      
      You leave the rich wanting and feed the hungry with good things.
      Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise.
            
                   [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ:i
      in him you were incarnate among us and live with us always.
He taught and healed, he embodied forgiveness and reconciliation;
      he recognized the divine in each of us and called it to life.
                  […The Blessing and Covenant…]

Whenever we break this bread and share this cup we remember his incarnation,
his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
       Remembering your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
       we offer ourselves, with praise and thanksgiving,
       as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
       as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith.
                    [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Holy One Jesus Christ.
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may trust what you have spoken to us,
       and conceive in our souls
       and bring forth your love made flesh,
      that by the grace of your Spirit in us
      may we be for the world the Body of Christ.

                              [Amen]
_____________________

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In your Spirit you live within us; your presence accompanies us; your love flows from us. May Christ be born in us in this holy season and all the days of our lives, by your grace, to your eternal glory. Amen

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click on titles to view songs)

All Songs with “Advent” tag, especially:
Blessed Child of Bethlehem
Magnificat


Advent 3 – December 12, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Zephaniah 3. 14-20 speaks joy to people who are in exile: God is among you, God delights in you, and God will free you from your oppressors and bring you home.

Isaiah 12.2-6 rejoices in God’s saving grace. We will draw from the wells of our salvation, and proclaim God’s goodness to the world.

In Philippians 4. 4-7 Paul encourages us to be joyful, gentle, thankful and prayerful, and rooted in the peace of God.

In Luke 3. 7-18 John the Baptist tells people to prepare for One Who Is Coming, and to repent: to put an end to injustice and exploitation, and to share with the poor.

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [Philippians 4.4-7]
READING: Rejoice in God always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Beloved is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    RESPONSE
Leader: Kindle your joy in us, O God.
       All: By the grace of your nearness, instill your gentleness in us.
Heal our worries, lift our hopes, and hear our prayers.
       Receive our thanksgiving, and our silent supplications.
Friends, in the light of the One who is coming,
may the peace that passes all understanding
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

2.
Reader: Reads Philippians 4.4-7
Leader: We pray that this Advent candle may shine in our hearts with joy.
         All: Even in the darkness we shine with joy, for the Light is coming.
Even in the cold our hearts are warm with joy, for you are with us.
          Even amidst evil and cruelty we bear joy and not despair into the world.
         God, we open our hearts to your grace. Fill us with the light of your joy.


3. [Philippians 4.4-7]
Reader: Loving God, we light this candle as a prayer of hope in your coming.
         All: Kindle your spirit in us, that we may always be prayerful.
We light this candle as an invitation to the Prince of Peace.
         Kindle your grace in us, that we may always be gentle.
We light this candle in joy for your coming among us.
         Kindle your love in us, that we may always be joyful.
         Come, O Sovereign of Joy, and rejoice with us!


4.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader: We light a candle of joy in this wreath of life,
as a sign of God’s joy in us, and our hope in God.
      All: With joy and hope we await the coming of Christ.
The prophet calls us to repentance as we prepare.
      We gladly repent, that like this candle
      we may be baptized with the Holy Sprit, and with fire.


5.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader:, As you look upon us, God, kindle in us the light of your love.
      All: As we await the coming of Christ open our hearts to your joy.
Grant us a spirit of repentance, that we may prepare in faith and confidence.
      As we await the coming of the light,
      kindle in us the courage to be transformed by hope and joy
.
      We worship with gladness in the light of your coming.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love and abundance, you come to us so that your joy may be in us, and our joy may be full. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may know your delight and rejoice in your presence and your grace. Speak your Word to us and bless us that we may always be joyful, gentle and prayerful, in the spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious and ever-present God, we await the coming of your Anointed One, and we worship in the company of the One who is always with us. We await your Word, and yet your Word is within us. We long for your Realm of Grace, and yet even now it is hidden among us. Open our hearts to your Word, to your grace, to your Presence. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, John the Baptist calls us to repentance in preparation for the coming of your Messiah. As the people came to hear him, so we come now to hear your Word. Bless us with open hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
The grace of God is with you.
      And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
      Gracious God,
      We confess the the dead and fruitless branches in our lives,
      shriveled by the wintery storms of our fears and desires.
      Prune the branches of our hearts,
      that we may bear fruit in your Spirit.
      Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
      and be born in us again,
      that by your grace we may bear your light.
      O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.
SILENT PRAYERTHE WORD OF GRACE

2.
[Pastor:]
Dearly Beloved, the ax lying at the root of the trees
is not for punishment, but pruning.
Therefore, trusting in God’s tender mercy, we examine ourselves,
that we may see ourselves clearly through the eyes of love.
Grateful for your goodness, we reflect on those parts of our lives
that bear good fruit, and we give thanks.
Silent reflection…
Trusting in your mercy, we reflect on the dead branches of our lives,
the barren or hurtful parts, the parts that do not bear good fruit,
and we seek your grace.
Silent reflection…
O God, prune the branches of our hearts according to your grace,
that we may flourish in doing your will.
Draw from the well of our salvation and water the trees of our souls,
that we may faithfully bear fruit,
and delight in your love, in the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reading

[Isaiah 12. 2-6]
Leader: Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid.
      All: For God, the Holy One, is my strength and my might;
       God has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day:
       Give thanks to the Holy One, call on God’s name
       make known God’s deeds among the nations;
       proclaim that God’s name is exalted.
Sing praises to God, for God has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
       Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion
       for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Surely God is our salvation.
      We will trust and not be afraid.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
      With joy we come to the well.
      Thirsting for your grace, we lower our prayers
      into the deep, clear waters of your Word.

Sing for joy, for God is in your midst.
      We come with joy to the well.

Eucharistic Prayer

May God be with you.
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to the Beloved.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

Gracious God, we rejoice, for you are in our midst.
     You rejoice over us with gladness and renew us in your love.
By your Covenant you have taken us as your own.
     You set us free and ask us to put the axe to the roots
     of all oppression and injustice.

You have prepared the way for us in Jesus, your Christ.
     Therefore at his invitation we come to this feast
     to draw water from the well of our salvation,
     singing your praise with all Creation.

              [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved and taught, who fed the hungry and healed the broken.
      His gentleness was known to everyone,
      and he granted to us a peace that surpasses understanding.

For his prophetic love he was crucified,
but you raised him from the dead,
and he comes among us and invites us to this feast of joy.
           [The Blessing and Covenant•]

As long was we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
      Remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
      we offer ourselves in joy, in union with his offering for us,
proclaiming the mystery of our faith.

            [ Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
      that we may be the Body of Christ for the world,
      fearless in repentance, and courageous in justice.
      Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire,
      that we may bear fruit, the fruit of your love and joy in us,
      for the sake of the healing of the world.

             [Amen]
__________________

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending or after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have filled us with the joy of your love, the taste of your delight in us. Send us into the world to share your joy, to serve you in love for one another, and to wait for your coming in gentleness, confidence, patience and joy, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Even as we await your coming, you have fed us with your presence. Send us into the world, confident to live in your promised Realm until it is fulfilled, as signs of your coming, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

3. (Benediction- Philippians 4.)
Beloved, rejoice in the Beloved always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Available in the Music Store. Click titles to view songs)

All songs with “Advent” Tag, especially
Drink from the Wells (Isaiah)
Prepare Your Way In Me (Luke)

Advent 2 – December 5, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Today we hear of a messenger who prepares us for God’s coming. In Malachi 3. 1-4 God sends a messenger to prepare us for God to come among us. But it will not all be easy. God is coming to purify us.

Luke 1. 68-79
is Zechariah’s song at the birth of John the Baptist, rejoicing that God has fulfilled the Covenant to save us from all that we fear and all that diminishes life, and establish a new realm of peace. The second part of the song is addressed to John—and us: “Prepare a way for God by showing people forgiveness. The dawn of God’s grace is coming, to save those who live in the shadow of death, and to guide us in the way of peace.”

In Philippians 1.3-11 Paul prays that God will continue a process that God has already begun in us: that our love will increasingly overflow so that we may be pure on the day of the Chosen One’s coming.

Luke 3.1-6 says John the Baptist is like Isaiah’s “voice crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of God!’” The message in Isaiah was a word of hope to people who were in exile: a broad, smooth road through the wilderness, on which God would come to bring them home!

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [from Malachi 3.1-4]
Reading: “See, I will send my messenger,
who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the One you are seeking will come to the temple;
the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”
says God Almighty.
But who can endure the day of that coming?
Who can stand when the Messenger appears?
For God’s chosen will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap,
and will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
and will purify the people and refine them like gold and silver.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of love, purify us in the refining fire of your Spirit.
       All: Set us free from all that does not help us serve you.
       Remove from us all that is not love.
       By your Spirit living in us, help us prepare a way for your coming.

       Alleluia! Come, O Jesus, come!

2. [Philippians 1.6, 9-11]
Reading: I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
+
CANDLE SONG The Promises of God (2 Peter 1.19)

RESPONSE
Leader: Holy One, light of our peace, this Advent candle shines to prepare your way.
       All: Prepare a way to come to us; redeem us in our darkness.
Prepare your way around us, that the crooked be made straight.
       Prepare your way within us, that our rough places be made smooth.
       God of grace and love, may all flesh see your salvation. Alleluia!


3.
READING: [Luke 1.78-79]
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of mercy, your light dawns upon us.
       All: We open our hearts in joy.
Your grace gives light in our darkness.
       We rise from the shadow of death.
You lead us into a new day.
      Guide us into the way of peace.


4.
Leader: God of promise, God of Mystery,
you have sent a messenger to awaken us.
      All: May the promise of your dawn awaken our hearts and minds.
      May the light of your promise guide our steps and lead us toward you.
      May the joy of your coming sustain us and uplift us.
God of Love, God of Presence,
you have given us a message for the world.
      May the light of your coming shine within us.
      May your Spirit, alive in us, make us signs of your coming.
      O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and dawn within and among us now.


5.
Leader: We light this candle as an act of hope.
All: In the darkness and gloom the light of your coming rises.
Even in the mysterious darkness,
the light of your healing moves along roads and rivers and nerves,
deep within silent places.
In the darkness you are here.
Come, O Light, and make us whole.
Dear Child, prophet of the most high, grant us healing and forgiveness.
By your tender mercy, may your dawn from on high break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
As we prepare our homes for the holidays let us also prepare our hearts. Let every decoration, card and cookie be an act of readiness for your coming. God of love, help us prepare a room for Christ to be born in us this holy season. Speak the Word to us that will make room in our hearts for love. Amen.

2.
God of love, your prophet cries to prepare a way for you. In the wilderness of our hearts, in the rough places of our society, prepare your way with your life-changing Word. Speak to us, and make the crooked straight, for the sake of your mercy. Amen.

3.
God of life, the prophet cries that a way be made for the coming of the Holy One. Make a way into our hearts. Speak to us and re-create us. We throw open the windows of our souls, that we may hear you, that the light of your dawning may flood our hearts. O come, thou Dayspring, enlighten us, who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

4.
Holy One, you send your prophets among us to speak to us. You send messengers to awaken us, to alert us, to attract us to your light. In Scripture now you speak to us, and call us to new lives. Help us to listen and hear, to receive and be transformed. This is the news we have been waiting for. Speak to us; we want to hear. Amen.

5.
Stir up our hearts, O God, and prepare us for your coming. May the mountains and valleys of our hearts be leveled out, the rough places be made smooth by the healing power of your Word in us. Speak your Word, and we shall be healed. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
       And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
       Gracious God,
       we confess the darkness and cold in our lives.
       We have not lived at peace with you, with our neighbors,
       or even with our own souls.
       Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
       and grant us your peace.
       Be born in us again,
       that by your grace we may live in your light.
       O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.



Reading


CANTICLE (Luke 1. 68-79)

Sung Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us as God’s own people, and redeemed us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.
So God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of those who hate us.
       Thus God has shown the mercy
        that God promised to our ancestors.
God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
the promise God made to Abraham:
        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.
              
Response

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
Response

Listening Prayer

(Suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, confession, or invitation to prayer)

God, we are in exile
from peace, from justice,
from our hope, from our true selves.
Prepare a way for our return.
Bring to completion what you have begun in us.
Prepare your way into us;
enter our hearts, and refine them,
that our love may overflow.
Guide our feet into the way of peace.

Eucharistic Prayer

Note: Even though it’s Advent people are eager to jump ahead and sing Christmas Carols. I’ve addressed this with Advent songs to familiar carol tunes: Advent Table Songs (invitation to communion) four whole Eucharistic Prayers and 24 sets of Eucharistic Responses (Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen).

1.
Beloved, God is with you.
       And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Faithful One, our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you, God, for in the beginning in the darkness and void,
you brought forth light. You prepared Creation for us.
      With the light of love, in the image of love, you created us.
In the darkness and chaos of our brokenness you have sent us a savior
who has set us free from all that diminishes life.
      You judge the forces of oppression and set all your beloved free.
      You level the ridges and fill in the canyons,
      and make a way smooth for your people.
You prepare for us a way toward justice,
and walk with us on that path, and guide our feet in the way of peace.
      We long for such peace in our lives.
      So at your invitation we come to this table you have prepared for us
      to feast in celebration of our freedom, and to sing your praise:
                  [Sanctus]

Blessed is the one who comes in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, who embodied your love.
      He made room for the poor and outcast,
      and held a sacred space for those who were broken.
He died and rose again,
and promised to prepare a place for us.       
      In his love he showed us how to live, and prepared a way for us to follow.               [The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
      Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
      we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
      as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
      as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
               [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
      that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
In this meal prepare in us a place for your love,
that we may go before you, proclaiming forgiveness,
and bearing your light to those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death.      
       In this meal, may your mercy dawn upon us,
      and lead us in the way of peace.
                         [Amen]

                         _______________

2.
May God be with you.
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to the Beloved.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you, God, for you create us in the image of your love.
      You make Covenant with us to be our God,
      and to set us free from oppression.
You guide us in creating a new realm of justice and mercy.
      You give us Jesus: to proclaim our forgiveness,
      to change our hearts, to guide our feet in the way of peace,
      to give us your Spirit, to heal your world.
Therefore with all creation we sing your praise.            
                       [Sanctus]

We thank you for the gift of Jesus, your Christ, who came among us in your love.
      He loved and healed, he taught with prophetic power.
He was crucified, but you raised him from the dead.
      He lives among us, refining our hearts,
      that our love may overflow..

         […The Blessing and Covenant…]

With gratitude we remember your mighty acts in Jesus Christ.
      In praise and thanksgiving we offer ourselves
      as a living and holy sacrifice,
      in union with Christ’s gift for us.
We proclaim with joy the mystery at the heart of our faith.
                [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, that we may be the Body of Christ,
      refined by the fire of your grace, overflowing with your love,
      and joining you in smoothing out the rough places in this world.
      By your Spirit in us, prepare the way of justice and peace.
                            [Amen]
                         _______________
3.
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us and redeemed us.
       God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
       that we would be saved from our enemies,
       and from the hand of those who hate us.
Thus God has shown the mercy
that God promised to our ancestors.
       God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
       the promise God made to Abraham.
        Therefore with one voice we sing God’s praise.
                       [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in God’s name,
and blessed is Jesus, who enfleshed God’s Covenant with us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.

        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.


                     [The Blessing sand Covenant]

Remembering your mighty acts in Jesus,
we offer ourselves as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith:
                     [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts,
that they may be for us the Body of Christ.
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may be the Body of Christ for the world.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
[Amen]
              ————————————

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have visited and redeemed us, according to your promise in Christ. You have saved us from all that would diminish our lives, so that we may serve you without fear, in holiness, in your presence, all our days. Send us into the world now to go before you to prepare your ways. By your tender mercy, may your dawn break upon us and within us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.

2.
Leader: We bless you, God, for you have visited and redeemed your people.
     You have raised up a savior for us,
     and saved us from all that diminishes life,
     so that we may serve you in holiness without fear.

And you, children, will be called the prophets of the Most High;
for you will go before our God
to prepare the ways of the Promised One,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
     By the tender mercy of our God,
     the dawn from on high will break upon us,
     to give light to those who sit in darkness
      and in the shadow of death,
      to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Benediction

[Luke 1.78-79]
Leader: By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
All: to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click titles to view songs)

All songs with “Advent” tag, especially:

Benedictus (Song of Zechariah)
          [Luke 1.68-79, to the tune of Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us]
Blessed Be Our God
[Luke 1.68-79, original song]
Prepare Your Way in Me [Luke 3.1-6]
The Promises of God
[1 Peter 1.19]