Sunday, December 25, 2016

First Sunday after Christmas - A

Texts:  Isaiah 63:7-9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2:10-18; Matthew 2:13-23

Call to Worship
All creation, all people: praise the Lord!
stars shooting across the sky,
sing glad songs to our God!
Snow clouds approaching, birds sitting on a branch:
praise the Lord!
Sleeping cats and barking dogs,
sing new choruses of praise!
Rich and poor, leaders and followers:
praise the Lord!
Old and young, families and singles,
we will lift our joy to our God!

Prayer of the Day
On that not so silent night,
you came to us, Mothering God,
     like a night nurse
     on the pediatric floor,
     to gather us in your arms
     and swaddle us in your hope.

On that not so silent night,
you came to us, Child of humanity,
     to be cradled with the lost,
     to share a stable with outsiders,
     to confront the bullies who
          threaten our children.

On that not so silent night,
you came to us, Spirit of joy,
     to lift us up and carry us to salvation,
     to help us persist in praising God,
     to share our lives with us.

Be with us in all the nights and days to come,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as you taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We know all that God has done for us, as well as all we could have done for others.  Let us confess to God our failures and foibles, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We could proclaim your name, God of this holy season, but we spend too much time talking about celebrities.  We could tell others about all your gracious deeds, but are comparing notes about the exploits of our favorite athletes.  We could let your Word guide our lives, but instead we do what the politicians think is best.
   Why?  Because we forget who we are called to be.  But you remember, Faithful God.  You
remember that we put our trust in others, not you; you remember how we chase after idols,
not follow you; you remember to save us in our distress, which is why you sent Jesus to
us, our Lord, our Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In the silence, in the dreams, in the wonder, in the words, God comes to save us and have mercy on us.
It is fitting that we offer our thanks and praise to the One who forgives us.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
As we offer our gifts to you, Holy One, may they join all creation in blessing and serving your people.  Called to be your people, may we notice those who are forgotten and offer our lives and hearts to them.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Christmas be with you!
And also with you!
Put your trust in the One who has come.
We offer our hearts willingly to our God.
Join all creation in praising God.
We join in the chorus of glad songs to God.

In that not so silent
moment, you spoke to creation,
God of our dreams and hopes,
     and birds warbled in the morning,
     thunder rumbled over the waters,
     cows lowed in the meadows.
For us, those shaped in your image,
were these gifts imagined and formed,
     but we took up after death,
     getting up to follow sin.
Prophets came to praise your name,
and to bring us back to you,
     but we thought they were
     trying to trick us.
Then you sent Jesus, Pioneer of salvation,
to proclaim your name to us.

With those who are shy and silent,
with those who persist in glorifying you,
we offer our thanksgiving songs:

Holy, holy, holy are you, ever-loving God.
All creation praises your name.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who put his trust in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

In the silence of the night,
your holiness became human, our God,
and you blessed us with Jesus, Child of grace.
When he could have stayed with you,
     he came to offer us help.
When he could have remained in Nazareth,
     he got up to bring us the good news.
When he could have played it safe,
     he shared his flesh and blood on the cross,
     so we might have life through the resurrection.

As we celebrate the gift of his life,
as we remember his death and rising to new life,
we proclaim that mystery called faith:

Christ died, putting his trust in you;
Christ rose, taking on the resurrection life;
Christ will come, to carry us home to you.

Into these moments of silence
and sacrament, send your Spirit
upon those gathered in this place,
and on the gifts of the Bread and Cup.
As we eat of the Bread,
send us out to serve
     the hungry and the homeless,
     the lost and forgotten,
     the broken and battered -
all whose hopes have disappeared.
As we drink from the Cup,
may we see the
     lonely and forsaken,
     the hurting and ridiculed,
     the oppressed and imprisoned -
all whose dreams have become nightmares.

And when we are gathered to your side,
we will proclaim your glory to
our sisters and brothers around the Table,
our praises being offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Praising God is not enough.
And so we will go to offer practical help to our sisters and brothers.
Joyful noises do not feed those around us.
And so we will go with Jesus to the food pantries and shelters,
to care for those forgotten by our society.
Songs of thanksgiving do not replace service.
And so we will go to share the peace of the Spirit
with a broken, yet hopeful world.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman