comets flashing across the night, meteors crashing into moons
Dolphins playing tag in the ocean and trout resting on river bottoms,
storks nesting on chimney tops, and doves cooing in the mornings,
Children making angels in the snow, teenagers knotting in hallways,
grandparents watching favorite movies, nervous singles on a first date,
All creation joins in one song:
Praise the Lord!
God of holiness,
so that this season of goodness and giving
might last longer than
the after-Christmas sales.
Slip our hands into the gloves of humility,
Brother of the overlooked,
so we might join in your work of
feeding the hungry,
embracing the outsiders.
Teach us your patient ways,
Wisdom from on high,
so we would learn to notice
what we have in common with others,
rather than what divides us;
so we might offer kindness
in the face of bitterness and hurt.
May all we do with our hands, our hearts,
our minds, our feet, our lives be done
in the name of the One who taught us to pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
How patient You are with us, Loving Creator, and how hard we find it to put up with the foolishness of others. In humility, You became one of us, and we keep wanting everything to be about us. You model a life of meekness in service to others, and we are convinced life is all about power and success. All creation sings of Your kindness, while we hurl angry words at those we say we care about the most.
Yet, rather than becoming frustrated with us, Joy of Christmas, You continue to forgive us. Clothe us with Your love, we pray, so we might be more compassionate towards others. Touch us with Your grace, so we might become more gentle people. Fill us with that peace which longs to reside in our hearts, even as we seek to continue our journey with the Child of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
In these moments, let God’s peace dwell in your hearts. For God gives us hope, gives us peace, and gives us new life in the forgiveness of God’s grace.
We will be thankful, for in receiving God’s forgiveness, we are enabled to live as faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You bless us with an abundance of gifts, God of this holy season, not as a reward for doing good, but as a means to reach out with healing to the broken, to clothe those who shiver in winter, and to bless others with the hope which has been ours. As we offer our gifts to you, we do so in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to the One who would clothe them in garments of service.
We offer our hearts to be swaddled in compassion, kindness, and humility.
Join in singing glad songs of praise to our God.
With our lips and with our hearts, we offer thanksgiving as we exalt our God.
Originator of all that is good and beautiful,
You clothe meadows with wild flowers
and spin rings around planets,
You illuminate waves with a winter moon
as tiptoe shadows across lawns for kittens to chase.
You did not create these wonders for Yourself,
longing share them with those formed in Your image,
inviting us to follow You into these delights,
but we stayed behind, learning as much
as we could from the elders of death.
Those we call prophets, women and men of hope,
came to place Your words in our hearts,
yet we turned a deaf ear to them,
preferring the siren songs of sin.
So You sent your Child to us,
who was willing to be involved in
Your business of redemption.
With songs of praise that are always in our hearts,
with silence which walks with us each day,
we offer thanksgiving to you in these moments:
Holy, holy, holy are you, Author of all life.
Creation joins with those of every age and place in praising You.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who teaches us songs of wonder.
Hosanna in the highest!
to wrap yourself in a caregiver’s humility;
in a young boy, You planted the seeds of hope
so we might learn compassion for others;
in a young man, You placed the gift of patience
so we would discover how to put up
with those who drive us to distraction;
in brokenness on a cross, You put on love,
not staying behind in the grave,
but coming forth singing the refrain of resurrection.
As we move on from the celebration of a Birth
to learning what it means to follow Jesus into life and death,
we seek to proclaim that mystery called faith:
Dying, Christ sought to do everything in God’s name;
raised to new life, Christ gave thanks to God;
returning to us, Christ will clothe us in resurrection’s grace.
We come to Your meal once again,
praying that You pour out Your Spirit
not only upon those who have gathered this day,
but on the bread and the cup, the symbols of life for us.
As we set aside our fears and doubts
to eat of the bread which is broken,
we ask to be clothed in Your compassion,
so others might find hope in us;
to be swaddled in Your humility,
so we might serve in Your name.
We would drink from the cup
that Your grace might fill us
so we might use our hands to lift up the fallen,
our feet to walk with the lonely,
our heads to solve the problems of poverty,
our hearts to love those hated by others.
And when all time comes to an end,
no one will stay behind, but all Your children
will be gathered around Your Table of grace and live,
where we will sing canticles of hope and wonder to You,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Let us go to praise our God!
We will sing of God’s hope as we offer compassion to the hurting.
Let us go to praise the Brother of the poor!
We will offer psalms of passion as we seek to lift others to new life.
Let us go to praise the Spirit of humility.
We will join in canticles of conciliation and peace for our broken world.
(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman