Call to Worship
Pastor: He’s coming! He’s coming! The Savior of the World is coming!
People: Let us prepare our hearts to greet him!
Pastor: He comes to each one of us, healing and restoring our lives!
People: Praise be to God for God’s mighty gift to us.
Pastor: O come, Prince of Peace, bring your light to us!
People: We are ready to receive you in our lives! AMEN.
Isaiah 9:2-4, 6-7
Those who walked in darkness have seen a radiant light shining upon them.They once lived in the shadows of death, but now a glorious light has dawned! Lord, you have multiplied the nation and given them overwhelming joy! They are ecstatic in your presence and rejoice like those who bring in a great harvest and those who divide up the spoils of victory! For you have broken the chains that have bound your people and lifted off
the heavy bar across their shoulders, the rod the oppressor used against them. You have shattered all their bondage … A child has been born for us; a son has been given to us.The responsibility of complete dominion will rest on his shoulders, and his name will be: The Wonderful One! The Extraordinary Strategist! The Mighty God! The Father of Eternity! The Prince of Peace! Great and vast is his dominion. He will bring immeasurable peace and prosperity. He will rule on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom to establish and uphold it by promoting justice and righteousness from this time forward and forevermore. The marvelous passion[f] that the Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies, has for his people will ensure that it is finished!
Affirmation of Faith: The Apostle’s Creed
All: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again; He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s
praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
Sacrament of Holy Communion
Pastor: We lift up our hearts in God for the gifts of Life given for all.
People: Thanks be to God.
Pastor: 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.
People: Thanks be to God.
Pastor: 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.
People: Thanks be to God.
Pastor: 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 sshowed us faithfulness without fear, preparing a welcome
table for all.
People: Thanks be to God.
Prayer of Confession
Pastor: Gracious and Loving God, we acknowledge to you, to one another, and to ourselves that we are not what you have called us to be.
People: We have stifled our gifts and wasted our time.
Pastor: We have avoided opportunities to offer kindness but have been quick to take offense. We have pretended that we could make no contribution to peace and justice in our world and have excused ourselves from risk-taking in our own community.
People: Have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and help us to live our lives differently.
Pastor: We long for peace within and without, for harmony in our families, for the wellbeing of our neighbors, and the love for our enemies.
People: Yet we have too often not made the hard choices that love requires.
Pastor: Show us how to walk in your path of faithfulness, hope, and love. Amen.
Words of Assurance
Pastor: One fact remains that does not change: God has loved all, loves all now, and will love all always, for all time.
People: This is the good news that brings new life. Thanks be to God. Amen!
Prayer of Communion
Pastor: O God, in the loving and liberating spirit of Jesus, we gather at this welcoming table open to all, remembering how Jesus gathered people from all the walks of life, stranger and friend and enemies, gave thanks to you, offered all the bread of life and the cup of blessing and proclaimed a covenant of love for all in your name. We remember too the wonder of his life, as we remember the wonder of all of Creation given unto us and how all are One. We remember the agony of his death, and all the terrors and the tyrannies that oppress people today. And we remember the resurrection, the mystery of faith in the everlasting Spirit, the triumph over fear, as we remember all those who have given Love the ultimate trust and the
last word and who have worked to create the beloved community of renewed and abundant life. Help us to remember with this meal especially all those who are hungry, and may we treat all our meals as sacred and to be shared. Take us, bless us, so that even in and with our brokenness we may serve others.
Pastor: Jesus said I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me. And they said, Lord, when did we do this? And he said, You did this for me when you did it for the least of these.
People: Here is the bread of life, food for the spirit. Let all who hunger come and eat. Here is the fruit of the vine pressed and poured out for us. Let all who thirst now come and drink.
Pastor: We come to make peace. We come to be restored in the love of God. We come to be made new as an instrument of that love.
People: All are worthy of God’s love. All are invited into His Kingdom through personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Pastor: 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.
People: 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.