Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Lessons and Carols and Communion and Candles Liturgy

                         Christmas Candlelight Service

Lessons and Carols and Communion

The Welcome Table

 Free Universalist Christian Missional Community

5920 N. Owasso Ave. Turley, OK  74126



INVOCATION
from "Christmas Beatitudes" by David Rhys Williams

On this blessed day let us worship at the altar of joy, for to miss the joy of Christmas is to miss its holiest secret. Let us enter into the spiritual delights which are the natural heritage of child-like hearts.
3 Let us withdraw from the cold and barren world of prosaic fact if only for a season.
That we may warm ourselves by the fireside of fancy, and take counsel of the wisdom of poetry and legend.
Blessed are they who have vision enough to behold a guiding star in the dark mystery which girdles the earth;
Blessed are they who have imagination enough to detect
the music of celestial voices in the midnight hours of life.
Blessed are they who have faith enough to contemplate a world of peace and justice in the midst of present wrongs and strife.
Blessed are they who have greatness enough to become at times as a little child.
Blessed are they who have zest enough to take delight in simple things;
Blessed are they who have wisdom enough to know that the kingdom of heaven is very close at hand, and that all may enter in who have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand.


"O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL"

O Come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant
O Come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem,
Come and behold him, Born the King of angels
O Come, let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Sing choirs of angels, Sing in exultation,
O Sing, all ye citizens, of heaven above
Glory to God, In the highest
O Come let us adore him, O come, let us adore him
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.





LIGHTING THE ADVENT & CHRIST CANDLE
In Advent season each week we have pointed the way to Christmas. Peace, Joy, Love, and Hope, these are the touchstones in our journey preparing our hearts for this holy night when we begin again in the spirit of the Child. And so we come to Christmas once again, as have those before us through the centuries, the mighty cloud of witnesses who have lighted our way with their lives of faith, hope and unconditional love.
May the lights we burn tonight warm us with memories of their inspiration and their aspirations.
In miracle and mystery, Jesus was born, light shining in the darkness. In miracle and mystery, all are born, new lights of life full of hope.

May our lives be the Light of this Good News.
Peace and joy and hope and love---which never come easy and are easily lost—all come together in the liberating spirit of God.
May God’s light heal our lives and world.

And may this light, on this special night of birth, remind us that to be in the spirit of Christmas we must be where peace needs to be born,
Where joy needs to be sung,
Where hope needs to be found,
And where love needs to be shared.

We light these candles once again in this Season which reminds us how to live most fully all our days.

We light these candles to proclaim the coming of the light of God into the world.
With the coming of this light let there be peace. Blessed are the peacemakers. With the coming of this light let there be joy. Blessed are those who mourn and who suffer in this special time, that their hearts be lifted. With the coming of this light let there be love. Such great love helps us to love God and one another, especially our enemies. With the coming of this light let there be hope, that goodness will prevail in our lives and world, that oppression will end, that what unites us is stronger than what divides us, that we will find our way in the light of God and fear not.

With the coming of this light let there be born once again the simple transforming freedom the Christ Child brings to the world, through which the light of God shines in all, that we may be God’s people every day, and care for one another and for all of God’s Creation, with our hearts, minds, souls, and our hands.

We light these candles to proclaim the coming of the light of God into the world.

      
PRAYER
O God, who hast brought us again to the glad season when we remember the birth of Jesus, grant that his spirit may be born anew in us. Open our ears that we may hear the angel songs, open our lips that we may sing with hearts uplifted, Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward all. Amen. (King's Chapel Book of Common Prayer)


FIRST LESSON: Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.3All went to their own towns to be registered.4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.



"AWAY IN A MANGER"

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.


The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle, till morning is nigh


SECOND LESSON: Luke 2: 8-12

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”



"THE FIRST NOWELL"

The first Nowell, the angels did say,
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Born is the king of Israel.


Third Lesson: Luke 2: 13-20

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

"ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH"

Angels we have heard on high sweetly singing o'er the plains
and the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strain
Gloria, In excelsis Deo; Gloria, In Excelsis Deo.

Shepherds why this jubilee? Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see? What glad tidings did you hear?
Gloria, In Excelsis Deo; Gloria, In Excelsis Deo.

Come to Bethlehem and see, Him whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee, Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria, In Excelsis Deo. Gloria, In Excelsis Deo.


PRAYER OF PEACE AND JUSTICE
"The Work of Christmas" by Howard Thurman

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the Kings and Princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flocks,

The work of Christmas begins.

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry

To release the prisoner,

To teach the nations,

To bring Christ to all,

To make music in the heart.




PASTORAL PRAYERS

After each prayer is mentioned, say in unison: O Light that shines in our darkness:  come and free us with your love.



"IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR"
It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, good-will to all, From heaven's all gracious King.
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.


But with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long
Beneath the angel strain have rolled Two thousand years of wrong
And man, at war with man, hears not, The love song which they bring
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.


READING

“Emmanuel” by Frederick Buechner



Christmas is not just Mr. Pickwick dancing a reel with the old lady at Dingley Dell or Scrooge waking up the next morning a changed man. It is not just the spirit of giving abroad in the land with a white beard and reindeer. It is not just the most famous birthday of them all and not just the annual reaffirmation of Peace on Earth that it is often reduced to so that people of many faiths or no faith can exchange Christmas cards without a qualm.

On the contrary, if you do not hear in the message of Christmas something that must strike some as blasphemy and others as sheer fantasy, the chances are you have not heard the message for what it is. Emmanuel is the message in a nutshell. Emmanuel, which is Hebrew for "God with us." That's where the problem lies.

The claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place "the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity" came to be with us himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts himself at our mercy. Year after year the ancient tale of what happened is told raw, preposterous, holy and year after year the world in some measure stops to listen.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. A dream as old as time. If it is true, it is the chief of all truths. If it is not true, it is of all truths the one that people would most have be true if they could make it so.

Maybe it is that longing to have it be true that is at the bottom even of the whole vast Christmas industry the tons of cards and presents and fancy food, the plastic figures kneeling on the floodlit lawns of poorly attended churches. The world speaks of holy things in the only language it knows, which is a worldly language.

Emmanuel. We all must decide for ourselves whether it is true. Certainly the grounds on which to dismiss it are not hard to find. Christmas is commercialism. It is a pain in the neck. It is sentimentality.

It is wishful thinking. The shepherds. The star. The three wise men. Make believe.

Yet it is never as easy to get rid of as all this makes it sound. To dismiss Christmas is for most of us to dismiss part of ourselves. It is to dismiss one of the most fragile yet enduring visions of our own childhood and of the child that continues to exist in all of us. The sense of mystery and wonderment. The sense that on this one day each year two plus two adds up not to four but to a million.

What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us.

Emmanuel. Emmanuel.





"O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM"

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.


COMMUNION RESPONSE
We lift up our hearts in God for the gifts of Life given for all.
Thanks be to God.

As Christmas reminds us of how the Divine came into the world in one so small, young, and fragile, so the Gifts of Life Abundant are in the ordinary made extraordinary, in the bread of the earth and the juice of the grape becoming food of the Spirit, incarnations of the Sacred.
Thanks be to God.
As Christmas calls us to be mindful of all those in need, all without a room, all with grief and fear, and to work for a world more just, so may this token of our daily bread, and this token of our cup of forgiveness which quenches the thirst of the soul, call us to go feed others.
Thanks be to God.
As Christmas offers us peace and light in times of darkness, may the sacred offering of this small meal, one to another, inspire us to acts of lovingkindness, all in the Spirit of the One born upon this night who showed us faithfulness without fear, preparing a welcome table for all.
Thanks be to God.
 

And so we join together in saying the prayer Jesus taught to those who would follow in his radically inclusive hospitable and justice-seeking way of the Spirit. Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever, and ever. Amen.


 
BREAD OF LIFE, CUP OF HOPE

All are worthy and all are welcome in this free and open communion. We follow the practice of intinction, or dipping of the bread into the cup before eating.

May we remember that in our times of hunger and brokenness, of sadness even in holiday season, that God provides wholeness and abundant gifts of Creation all around us, among us, and within us all, more than enough to share with others. There is always enough of what all need if we all share and take no more than we need. That is the way it is in God’s inn, God’s welcome table, open to all regardless of who they are, what they believed, especially for those who are suffering, and oppressed. Come let us celebrate at the table the birth of the one who would make table gatherings in the midst of strangers and enemies, in the abandoned places of the Empire, reminding all there of God‘s healing presence.


SHARING CANDLELIGHT FROM THE CHRIST CANDLE
"SILENT NIGHT"
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at thy birth, Jesus Lord at thy birth.

BENEDICTION

This is a Day which God has made.

 Let us rejoice and be glad therein (Psalm 118).

And let us treat it as the gift it is--with surprise, delight, care, and attention, and look for ways to share this holy day and all Life’s gifts with others.

For what does the Eternal ask from us?

To live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6).

Go now in peace, and may the peace of God go with you all the days of your life.

Go now in joy, finding the deepest spirit in the simplest of things.

Go now in love, dedicated to making it visible as justice for all.

 Go now in hope, the spirit of the Christ Child bringing light into your life and world. 

No comments: