Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Eve - B

Texts:  Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Greeting
L:    The people walking in darkness
        have seen a great light;
P:    on those living in the shadows of death
        a light has dawned.
L:    Jesus Christ is our Life and Light.
        In Christ's name, welcome!
        In Christ's grace, let us worhsip God!

Call to Worship
L:    Let us go, just as we are, to see what has happened.
        let us go with the shepherds:
P:    let us go and find the One
        of whom the angels sang.
L:    Let us go with those who are wise:
P:    let us go and find the One
        who brings God's truth to us.
L:    Let us go with the poor in spirit, and in flesh;
        let us go with those who are humbled by life:
P:    Let us find the Glory of God
        born in a stable, and placed in a feeding trough.
L:    Let us go with our friends and family,
        let us go with our neighbors and with strangers,
        let us go with all the children of God:
P:    let us go to find the One who comes
        to lead us home to God's kingdom.
L:    O come, let us go to the Babe of Bethlehem;
        O come, let us adore him!
P:    Christ our Lord!

Call to Reconciliation
We begin with such great hopes, such great dreams.
We are going to be better, to treat others more fairly,
to love more deeply.  But we come to the manger
once again, knowing our failings, and aware of our
brokenness.  Let us confess to the One who comes,
that our lives might be made new.

Unison Prayer of Confession
God who comes to us:
forgive us . . .
    when our shadowed lives dim your Light;
    when the tinsel of Christmas means more
        to us than your truth;
    when our hearts of stone resist the pain
        and brokenness around us;
    when we care more about what is under
        the tree, than the damamge we do
        to your creation and to your children.

Have mercy on us, Healing God,
so we might
    tear down the walls we have built
        to keep your love away;
so we could
    seek your justice for our sisters and brothers;
so our hearts
    would become cradles for your Son,
    our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

        Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon (based on Is. 62:10-12)
L:    Go, go through the city, preparing for the people;
        repair, repair all the roads, filling in the holes,
        raising a banner for all to see.
        God has spoken to all people,
        saying to sons and daughters:
            'See, your Savior comes;
            to make good on my promises,
            to bring redemption to all people.'
P:    And we will be called God's Beloved,
        the Redeemed of the Lord;
        God will seek us out to live
        in the New Jerusalem,
        where no one is left behind.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:    May God be with you.
P:    May God be also with you.
L:    People of God, open your hearts,
P:    We open our hearts to God.
L:    Let us give thanks to the Living God.
P:    It is right to give thanks to the One
            who offers abundant life.

This is the night your heart bursts open with Joy,
this is the evening Grace pours out of heaven,
this is the moment when you come
to make all things new,
ever-creating God.
You shaped light out of the shadows of chaos,
and molded your children from the earth,
looking in the mirror as you formed us,
breathing your Spirit into our empty lungs.
Made for life with you
in the Garden you designed for us,
we ran away into the wilds of the world,
believing we were wiser than you,
that we could make our own way.
Yet your love never failed us,
your compassion was never taken from us,
you would not abandon us in our foolishness.
You brought us out of slavery
into that land of promise and hope.
You sent your prophets to speak to us
of your disappointment in us,
and to remind us of your dreams for us.
Your love for us was so passionate,
that you sent your only Son
to become one of us
that we might be one with you again.

So on this night when heaven reaches down
to caress creation with healing,
we join the angel choirs who sang your glory,
and with your people in every time and place,
caroling the good news which is ours:

P:   Holy, holy, holy are you, God-who-is-with-us.
      All creation joins the angels in singing your good news.
      Hosanna in the highest!

     Bless is the One who comes in unexpected ways.
     Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is who you are, God of Christmas,
and blessings come in Jesus Christ, your Child of Grace.
Finding no warm welcome at his birth,
he knew the cold shoulder of friends at his death;
born in the rude confines of a barn,
he knew the suffering of your children;
sent to be your Word made flesh,
he calls us to follow him into your Kingdom;
proclaimed by the prophet as our Prince of Peace,
he died in the quagmire of human violence.
By his death and resurrection,
you have given new life to all creation.
So, as we gather on this holiest of nights,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

P:    Christ was born, so he might die for us;
       Christ was raised, so we might be swaddled
          in the resurrection;
       Christ comes again, in unexpected ways.

Pour out your Spirit upon us,
Wonderful Counselor,
and on the gifts you have given us.
We lift the broken bread,
praying we would be made whole,
at peace with one another,
and reconciled to you.
As we drink from the vineyard of grace,
we believe that our salvation has come,
and we are one with Christ,
our flesh filled with his spirit of sacrifice,
our spirits refreshed by his compassionate heart.
As your joy flows into us,
may we become a river
carrying your justice to the poor;
as your hope sings in our hearts,
may we carry your righteousness to all who suffer.
And as we taste the promise
of the feast you prepare for us in your kingdom,
may we live for you and serve your children,
as we have been served by the Child of Christmas,
Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior.
Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman