and on sand-strewn beaches,
God’s people gather in joy
to celebrate a birth.
With hopes littering our hearts
like wrapping paper under a tree,
We offer our thanks and praise
for the gift of grace swaddled in love.
With eyes wide open like little children,
with hearts full of wonder and laughter,
We join our lives with Mary and Joseph,
with the shepherds who ran to tell the good news.
streaking our bleary eyes
with bright shafts
of beauty and goodness.
written by the shepherds,
the tunes composed by children
who could not sleep.
Hope was fixing breakfast
for us while we slept,
toasting the Bread and
slathering it with jam,
pouring us a cuppa
We rejoice and give thanks
God in Community, Holy in One,
our Grace, our Joy, our Hope,
even as we pray as your Child taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
On this morning of love and joy, of laughter and families, we must remember and confess how we dampen the spirits of others, speak hurtful words to those we love, turn our backs on those in need. Join me, as we pray together saying,
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
we heard the songs of the angels,
yet we easily tune-out the cries of the needy;
we feel the breath of our children on our faces,
yet remain untouched by your Spirit of peace;
we are surrounded by gifts as precious as those
brought by the Wise Ones,
yet have trouble sharing with those
who are from other countries, other faiths.
Forgive us, Grace swaddled in mystery.
We believe in Christmas,
help us to believe in you even more;
we hunger for happiness,
feed us on your peace;
we long for community and acceptance,
surround us with our brothers and sisters
we find in all those, of every age and every place,
who follow and serve alongside our Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this day. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
Born that day was grace – for the broken and bereft;
born that day was hope – for the vulnerable and forgotten;
born that day was love – for all of us!
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! We will go to tell others of all we have seen, heard, experienced, and know. Amen.
And also bless you!
Now, may the children of God open their hearts.
We offer them to the One who loves us each and every morning.
Now, may we join in the songs of the angels.
We join our voices with those of every time and place.
In the silenced night of chaos,
creation rejoiced with the carols of wonders
you had composed, God of surprises:
as joy sparkled in the sky,
as rivers swarmed with fish,
as turtles plodded through meadows.
The Word gently gathered up earth’s dust
and the Spirit breathed life into those
shaped in your image, so we might
be at peace and be with you in joy.
But we were tempted by sin’s decorations
and death’s commercials of life without you.
Time and again, you sent folks to call us home.
Miriam and Micah, Ruth and Habakkuk
spoke of your hopes for of us,
yet we found rebellion the better
road to take in our journey through the years.
Finally, you chose to offer yourself
in that Child born into poverty,
that little One who would strengthen all.
With those who gathered on that first morning,
with all who have celebrated with songs and service,
we sing carols of praise to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all turned away by the world.
Creation joins the angels in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who clears the Way for us to walk.
Hosanna in the highest!
In the silence of the night, God of holiness,
your Child crept in among us,
so small no one would notice,
so poor no one would care.
But those who are forgotten by the world,
like shepherds and the disabled,
come to worship, and to tell us the good news.
Those who have no money to their name,
gift us with their hopes and love,
even as he did so long ago.
Those children who are overlooked by culture,
sing to us of the One given to us,
so we might find our way home;
of the One who gives himself to death,
so resurrection love might destroy sin’s power,
and we might be swaddled in grace.
On this morning when we celebrate his birth,
in the days to come when we follow him to Jerusalem,
we sing carols of that mystery we call faith:
Christ was born, so we might have life;
Christ died, so we might have forgiveness;
Christ was raised, so we might have resurrection;
Christ will be born again, to gather us together with him.
In the silence of these holy moments,
pour out your Spirit upon
those gathered on this morning
and on the gifts of the Feast of Joy.
As we are welcomed here,
may we remember and include
all rejected by the world.
As we are fed by the bread,
may we be strengthened
to go and bring tangible hope
to all who are famished by despair.
As we drink from grace’s cup,
nourish us, so we may go
to overflow with love and peace
for everyone we meet in every season.
And when all history and time ends in silence,
and we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
around the feast of the lamb,
we will join the angels in singing carols to your forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Let us go,
to join the angels in singing
of God’s glory and grace.
Let us go to share the good news,
that Jesus, the brother
of the vulnerable and forgotten
is in our midst still.
Let us go to offer
peace and goodwill to everyone,
joining the Spirit in telling
of all we have seen and heard.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman