Sunday, December 23, 2012

1st Sunday after Christmas - C

Texts: 1st Samuel 2:18-20; Psalm 148; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52

Call to Worship
L: Praise God! Praise the Lord, all creation!
P: Stars glittering with grace, humpback whales singing of hope:
all praise our God!
L: Praise God! Praise the Lord, all you people!
P: 12-year-olds, and 80 plus, wise and those learning to walk:
all praise our God!
L: Praise God! Praise the Lord, in every moment, in every place!
P: In church, or relaxing at home; in a class and at the doctor's office:
we will praise our God!

Prayer of the Day
Wonder of wonders,
God of creation:
you choose us
to be your people,
continuing to clothe
us in holiness,
even when we drag
the garment through
the mud of our lives;
you call us 'Beloved',
even while
we speak words about others
that would make
the Evil One blush.

Wonder of wonders,
Humble Jesus:
you ask questions
about our so-called wisdom,
revealing how foolish we are;
you wear your heart
on your sleeve
as you reach out
to embrace us
with your compassion.

Wonder of wonders,
Spirit of the old and the new:
every year
you take the old, stained clothes
of our silly lives,
and dress us in
kindness, humility,
patience, and meekness,
that we might be grow
in your love and grace.

May everything we do,
and everything we say,
be in your name,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We like to think we are wise beyond our years, but when we look at our lives
as God's people, we discover we still act too often like little children.
Let us confess how we always want our way, rather than following God's.

Unison Prayer of Confession
You set boundaries for us, Holy God, yet we continue to cross over them
into sin. Believing we are wiser than you, we are amazed that you would
question our actions and lives. Offering us the warm sweater of love, we
would rather slip our lives into the sleeves of bitterness and anger.
Challenging us to carry one another's burdens, we complain about how heave
and uncomfortable they are.
Forgive us, Searching God, and clothe us with your gifts of compassion,
humility, patience, and hope. Then, dressed as your grateful people, may we
go forth to live as sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ, our Lord and

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: The good news is simple: God loves us so much, we are forgiven and
granted new life.
P: Praise God! As forgiven people, we will go to forgive others, and share
God's grace with them. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the Babe who grew up be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: Followers of the Child, lift your hearts to God.
P: Searchers and questioners, those comfortable with the answers,
we all offer our hearts to God.
L: Let us join with all creation in praising God!
P: Our glad songs echo through the mountains and valleys,
the rivers and trees.

All creation sings your praises,
God of stunning imagination:
ice-laden trees bowing in wonder,
cattle and sheep lowing a carol of joy,
stars glittering in the bright, brittle night.
You created us in your image:
young men and women alike,
old and young together have life from you.
But we choose to wander from you,
following sin and death
into the temples of temptation.
Your prophets came to minister to us,
their searching eyes, their longing words
calling us back to you;
but we refused to listen.
So, you came searching for us,
sending Jesus among us,
that the peace of Christ
might rule in our hearts.

So, with all God's chosen ones,
the holy and the hungry,
the peaceful and the persistent,
we join our voices in praise to you:

P: Holy, holy, holy, Lord of wonder and glory.
All creation praises you with song.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who came to astonish us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Creator of peace and beauty,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Joyous Love.
He came, to listen to our hearts,
so we might see your broken one;
he came, asking those questions
which reveal our true longings.
Clothed in compassion and humility,
he was stripped, beaten, crucified, buried.
He went down into death,
so we might have life,
so we could be swaddled
in God's bands of grace and peace.

As we remember the wonder of his birth,
as we celebrate the astonishing surprise of resurrection,
we praise that mystery we call faith:

P: Christ was born, so we might grow in love;
Christ died, so we might grow in life;
Christ will come, so we might be with God forever.

Here in this place
with family and friends,
beside strangers and neighbors,
we gather at your banquet,
God whose glory is above earth and heaven.
As your Spirit enlivens the Bread,
as we break and share it,
may your Spirit flow into us,
strengthening and growing our resolve
to feed the hungry,
to heal your creation,
to shelter the homeless,
to live humble, gentle lives.
And when time has grown into your eternity,
when we gather with our sisters and brothers
in that perfect harmony found only in you,
we will praise your name, which alone is exalted:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman