Category Archives: Prayers

A Communion Service for Christmas Day

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Prelude

Greeting

*Carol On This Day Earth Shall Ring         

*Lighting the Christmas Candle

Lift up your heads; the day of peace is here!

God has visited us with healing!

All the ends of the earth can see it,

And the distant coastlands rejoice!     

The Christmas candle is lit.

The light of Christ!

Thanks be to God!

*Praise

[A traditional Gloria may also be sung, chanted, recited here.]

Come, let us praise our God!

Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to God’s people on earth!

We worship you, we give you thanks,

we praise you for your glory! 

Lord Jesus Christ, only-begotten Child,

you take away the world’s sin!

Have mercy on us! 

Lamb of God, you sit at God’s right hand!

Receive our prayer!

For you are the Healer and the Holy One,

the world’s hope and the heart’s desire.

You preside in love forever, with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God, the Sovereign. Amen.

 

Reading      Isaiah 52:7-10

*Carol   Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light          

Reading     Luke 2:1-20

*Carol   O Come, All Ye Faithful

Shared Reflection [or Homily]

Response

[Short sung refrain, carol, or a recited statement of faith.]

Silence

[A few moments of reflection, could be undergirded by instrumental music.]

Prayers for the Church and World

[Congregational response:  Lord, hear our prayer!]

In peace, let us pray to the Lord for the church and the world:

That the heart of the world might rejoice today

at the birth of a merciful savior, let us pray to the Lord…

That the works of justice may capture every human heart

and lead to peace, let us pray to the Lord…

For an end to war and all violence,

that all people may live in hope and safety,

so that free of fear we may build a new tomorrow, let us pray to the Lord…

For the health of the earth, and the integrity of all creation, let us pray to the Lord…

For the sick, the troubled, the sorrowing and the dying,

that they may know the comfort of God’s mercy, let us pray to the Lord…

For our enemies and for all who have done us harm,

and for all whom we have harmed, let us pray to the Lord…

For the church throughout the world, that we may love God,

God’s world, and one another; welcome and serve all people,

and show forth the mercy of our Savior, let us pray to the Lord…

And now, in the words our Savior gave us, we are bold to say:

Our Father…

*Carol Angels We Have Heard On High 

Holy Communion

*All who are able may rise.

The newborn Child be with you!

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts!

We lift them joyfully to God.

Let us give thanks to God, our God!

It is right to give God thanks and praise.

We are right to praise you, Maker of heaven and earth,

for you have always loved us.

Even when we strayed like sheep, you loved us.

You planted hope within us and sent messengers

to keep that hope alive,even in the worst of times.

At last, in the fullness of time,

in the stillest night, you sent us our healer.

Born on life’s margin, he was one of us,

full of our joy and subject to our frailty,

our brother and your delight.

He welcomed everyone who was unwelcome elsewhere.

He kept faith with you, even when it cost him his life.

You vindicated him, and he lives, our healer still.

From his fullness we all receive mercy after mercy, grace after grace.

Therefore, most wonderful God, with the Christmas angels

and the faithful of every time and place, we praise you, saying [singing]:

*Sanctus

[A traditional Sanctus may be sung, or a Gloria in excelsis Deo refrain from a popular carol may substitute.]

Holy, Holy, Holy God, Lord of heaven and earth!

The cosmos shows us your glory!

Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Child who comes in your name.

Hosanna in the highest!

Remembering

You may be seated.

[These remembrances may be interspersed with an alleluia refrain or the refrain of a familiar carol.]

Now we remember the Garden, Adam and Eve and God’s footsteps.

We remember that long ago we sinned and were left without a home.

We remember Abraham, and Sarah, Moses, the sea, the desert.

We remember the manna, and water from the rock.

We remember the prophets, the longing, the promise.

[Refrain]

We remember an angel interrupting a young woman’s day.

And we remember Joseph’s dream.

We remember a hard journey, inns with no room.

We remember poor things –a manger, a child, some straw. 

We remember the cold, the shepherds, the night.

[Refrain]

We remember midnight glory, God in human face outshining.

We remember Jesus.

He came to us then.

He is with us still – we are not alone.

[Refrain]

And when he was all grown up,

in the middle of another night when the end was near

and betrayal was in the air, he shone all the brighter with love for his friends.

He ate with them, taking bread, the staff of life.

He gave thanks to God for it, called it his body, and shared it all around.

He drank with them, too, taking a cup and blessing it,

pouring it out like life-blood for the forgiveness of sins.

He said to them: Whenever you do this, remember me.

Calling on the Holy Spirit

Send your Spirit upon these gifts, O God –

fruit of the earth and work of human hands!

May they be for us life-giving food and drink.

As we share in their goodness, give us love for each other

and make us willing servants of your justice in the world.

Sharing Bread and Cup

Meditation in Music

[During or after communion. Could be choir, piano, organ, or whatever you have!]     

*Thanksgiving

All may rise.

Let us give thanks for all we have received.

We thank you, O God,

for making yourself known to us in the human life of Jesus.

Keep us always in the joy of this Christmas Day,

like Mary and Joseph, like angels and shepherds –

servants of your love and bearers of your grace.

Glory be to you in the church and in all creation,

now and forever. Amen.

*Carol                                              Joy to the World!

*Benediction

Beloved, do not be afraid! Today a Child is born to us.

God is alive among us, closer to us than our own hearts.

God will never leave us or lose us.

Unfailing love will always save us,

and the blessing of God is forever upon us,

Creator, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.

Thanks be to God! Amen.

*A Sign of Christmas Joy, and Sending

Now offer each other a sign of Christmas joy, and go in peace!

Odds and Ends of Advent/Christmas Liturgy

Messina

I. Words to Introduce A Carol

Leader: Advent is waiting and preparing.

It is desire and hope.

It is also a question.

A question Mary asks.

A question you have asked.

A question everyone asks, sooner or later.

How can this be? What does it mean?

Scripture tells us that for Mary,

Advent was a long pondering.

She spent the time

between angel and manger

turning things over in her heart.

Advent is a wondering,

perhaps a contradiction,

certainly a mystery.

How can this be? What does it mean?

Advent is also a morning.

It begins to dawn on us,

which is why we light candles.

In Advent there is light, increasing light,

such beautiful light;

but that doesn’t mean anything is clear.

Carol [solo or choir] I Wonder As I Wander

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4320471_f248–Tricia Mason

II. Words to Introduce A Carol

Leader: Some babies are born into bleak midwinters

when water is stone.

Others are born in spring

with soft blankets under their chins.

Some children are born to own their lives.

They are never dressed in hand-me-downs.

Others draw their first breath in a borrowed crib

and their last in a borrowed tomb.

This is way things are. What can you do?

What can you do?

Carol  In The Bleak Midwinter

**********

grotto-candles-cc-christopher-chan

–Candles in the Grotto of the Nativity, Bethlehem, photo Christopher Chen

III. A Candle-Lighting Liturgy for Advent 3 Gaudete

Reading  Isaiah 35:1-10

Reader 1: A reading from the prophet Isaiah.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.

Reader 2: Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.” 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

Reader 1: For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

Reader 2: A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 9No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

Reader 1: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Candle Lighting

Leader:  In silence and shadow, we wait.

In mystery, we live.

In unknowing, we look for wisdom,

for a ray of darkness.

At night, our hearts are awake:

Love is not far away.

And in the fullness of time,

when everything is still,

the One we wait for comes.

[Light Candle(s) here]

Leader:  Let us pray.

All:  Joy of every longing heart,

you draw the sound of singing

from speechless fear and unrelenting pain;

from the gulf of estrangement

come laughter and song.

By the light of this candle, show us again

the glory of your mercy full and free—

death routed and in flight,

a cradle rocking newborn Life,

all creation dancing home,

ringed  ‘round by herald angels

playing music in the air.

Hymn  My Soul Sings Out with Joyful Praise

[or another setting of the Magnificat]

Advent Prayer

theotokos-quebec-artist1

You give us Advent, Lord,

and we are grateful and glad

to abide in your time,

unhurried and urgent,

full life in due season.

You give us Advent, Lord,

and we are grateful and glad

to watch by your light—

revealing and veiling,

old promise in new flesh.

You give us Advent, Lord,

and we are grateful and glad

to ponder your love—

sweet cure and affliction,

hard labor for earth’s joy.

You give us Advent, Lord,

and we are grateful and glad

to receive your hope—

familiar and foreign,

and child-shaped on straw.

Advent Confessions [Cf. Isaiah 11; Luke 3:1-6; Luke 1:26-38]

God of the root and the trunk,

Lord of the seed, the shoot, the flowering branch,

we cannot break these hard shells.

We are buried too deep to be softened by rain.

We do not imagine the light above ground.

We do not dream of fresh things; we sigh and fret about the old.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of repentance.

Give us what we need to hope.

God of the holy mountain,

Lord of the house where righteousness dwells,

Judge of living and dead,

we are not like you who knows the heart;

we judge by what our eyes see.

We do not consider the poor,

nor decide for the meek.

We do not inquire after you. We have forgotten your name.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear fruits of repentance.

Give us what we need to be wise.

God of the lion, the wolf and the lamb,

Lord of the leopard, the kid, the child,

we do not lie down together.

We step warily near the serpent’s hole.

We are afraid of everyone;

we make them afraid of us.

We watch for each other with swords in our hands.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of repentance.

Give us what we need to make peace.

God of the threshing floor, the fork and the fire,

Lord of wild honey, of locusts and wild places,

God of the axe and the crowd,

we do not line up at the river.

We do not go in.

We do not bend our knee; we tie no one’s sandal.

We level no mountains, raise no valleys.

We are a crooked road, a stony path, a haughty crowd.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of repentance.

Give us what we need to decrease.

 God of Mary, whom you disturbed,

God of her life upturned,

God of the fruit of her womb, Jesus,

who mothered our lives with his mercy,

we are not startled by angels;

we guard against interruptions.

We do not turn the prism of our hearts,

pondering the whys.

We do not open our hands: we expect so little.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of repentance.

Give us what we need to desire.

Give us what we need to dare.

Yes and Amen

 

Spirit of comfort and demand, of callings and questions, stirring, coaxing, leading:

Spell out in us today the strong little word that makes the difference. Give us your yes, and make it our own.

And if the yes you give us cools or fades from sight, find it with your all-seeing light in the recesses of our hearts, warm it up by your ardent breath, and put it back on our lips where it belongs.

Even as we kick and scream, doubt and wonder, ponder, brood and bargain, make us say it, live it, become it.

Crown us with it, and impel us to offer it and share it, rejoicing in the full life you are making for all by the liberating power of one small word. In other words, Amen.

When God’s Peace Descends Like Showers

Tune: HOLY MANNA

When God’s peace descends like showers, soaking into thirsty ground,

Then the Spirit stirs our gladness, and we dance to sweetest sound;

then the desert greens and blossoms, then we drink from new-made springs;

then our hearts believe the promise, and the hope inside us sings.

When God’s peace is kindly given heart to heart by word and sign,

then the Spirit takes our sorrow, turns its water into wine;

turns good wine to joy unending, crowning all our human days,

‘till we sing to God in heaven, lost in wonder, love and praise.

When the peace of God is flowing fathoms deep and oceans wide,

then the Spirit calls her children face to face and side by side;

then the key of love unlocks us, chains are broken, hatreds end,

then we walk in freedom’s garden, lamb and lion, foe and friend.

O May My Life Be Bread: A Morning Offering

O may the Sower’s seed

fall in a ready place:

the open heart your furrowed field,

a clearing tilled by grace.

O may the promised rain

find buried grain down deep

and raise up singing shoots of wheat

where hope was fast asleep.

O may good workers come

to gather in the gold

and set a table in the world

with joy a hundredfold.

O may my life be bread

love-kneaded and increased

to feed the guests dear Love invites

to revel at the  Feast.

Rain: A Prayer of Thanks

There is too much to be thankful for.

The goodness of so many years

should be clearer; each face and word,

each discovery and delight delineated,

so that all may be praised accordingly,

with emotions appropriate to each thing.

But this much accumulated grace

is indistinct, it can’t be sorted.

It is like trying to pinpoint precisely why

sharp air in autumn pleases me,

or why, in the wee hours, hard rain

on the roof brings me acquiescing

to the fact of death.

There is too much to be thankful for.

Therefore let this accusation,

that you are too much for me,

stand for now in the place of praise.

Three Creeds

I

We believe in the God of Life, whose breath is in us

and whose mercy encircles the creation.

We believe in Jesus Christ, who loved us indestructibly

and who shared our pain.

He is with us now as he promised, even to the end of the age.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, who welcomes us

into the household of faith, gives us gifts in abundance,

enlivens our hearts with joy, and urges us into the world

to testify without fear to God’s justice and grace.

Hoping against hope for the promised realm of peace,

we love one another while we live,

we honor every creature God has made,

we stand against the power of sin and death,

and we bless the earth and all that fills it.

Glory, thanks and praise be yours,

O Living God, now and forever!

Amen.

II

We believe in the wideness of God’s mercy,

wider than the sea.

We believe that no one falls outside God’s care.

We believe that in Jesus Christ,

God embraced the human condition,

our shame and our glory.

Everyone is kin to us in him.

We believe that the Holy Spirit never rests,

but works in the world to gather every creature

and seat us together at the banquet of love.

We believe we are called to a ministry of grace,

a way of hospitality.

We believe that God’s mercy is ours, and ours to share.

We believe. Lord, help our unbelief.

Amen.

III

We believe that the day is coming

when God’s grace will change the human heart,

and we will live as one with every living thing.

We believe that the day is coming

when Christ’s compassion will fill the earth,

and no one will do harm, be hurt, or feel alone.

We believe that the day is coming

when the Spirit’s freedom will unbind our souls,

and we will live generous lives for each other

with a joy no circumstance can alter.

We believe this day is coming,

and we wait and work for it with steadfast hope,

for God has promised it, and God is faithful.

Amen!

Come, Lord Jesus!

Praise for the Incarnation

 

The Divine One became human so that human beings might become divine.” — Athanasius

You dress wildflowers in every hue,

they are lovelier than Solomon.

Birds of the air do not need barns,

you feed them every day.

No sparrow tumbles from the sky unnoticed,

you mark her place in your heart.

Every creature is the love of your life,

but you wrote human names

on your open palm,

you chose our flesh to live in,

you cast your lot with us.

We gave you our deepest wounds,

you gave us your shining.

For the mystery of earth-dust divinized

by your eternal choosing,

we thank you.

For the willing body of our Christ,

we sing astonished praise.