What is Sacred, Christmas Prayer

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God I approach this Christmas season

with some trepidation,

and a lot of fear and trembling.

Because I don’t know if I really

understood before,

what was really sacred,

before now.

All the pomp and circumstance of Christmas

lies by the wayside now, like crumpled wrapping paper.

After all, we are not here to impress anybody.

What is left, is the Christ Candle,

burning the conviction into our hearts,

that life is sacred,

precisely because it is all so

unique and beautiful and brief.

The fact that a young girl, a shepherd and a magi

could each magnify God

in their own,

and yet important way

makes me want to cry

silent tears

at the magnitude of the meaning of Christmas

So here we are…

Fill us up,

with what Christmas

means for each of this year

Reminding us

that God sent a baby

in a manger

for each and every one of us

and God values us–

enough to send

babies and angels

and teachers and doctors and nurses

and vaccines and masks

and phone calls and cards

and candles and stars

and every other symbol that we need to remind us

that we are beloved.

And that we are here to fill the world with love

any way we can,

because that is the Christmas miracle

turning emptiness into something else.

Let us Go, and be comforted by the Love of God.

May God Bless you

and Keep you

in Belovedness–

wrapped in the miracle

that God is here.

Amen.

Always, forever,

God is even now. Here.

Alleluia.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

More Advent/Christmas Resource

Christmas Eve Readings

First Lesson Luke 1:26-31, 2:1-5 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

Second Lesson John 3:16-17 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Third Lesson Luke 2:5-7 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Fourth Lesson Luke 2:16-20 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’

Fifth Lesson Luke 2:16-20 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 Sixth Lesson Matthew 2: 1-3,7-12 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men* from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,* and have come to pay him homage.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him. Then Herod secretly called for the wise men* and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,* until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped,* they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Seventh Lesson Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

Eighth Lesson Luke 1:46-55 46 And Mary said,‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Comfort My People, A Prayer for Celebrating Christmas This Year

We don’t know how we are going to get through this season,

They sat through my office and said,

And their pain sat visceral in the room.

And I nodded along and prayed that they could find places

where their grief could be invited along with them and given a place at the table.

God, this is a prayer that Christmas can be more of a season of comfort

for those who need it.

I sat in the cards shop the other day,

and could not find one card

that expressed the comfort that I wanted to say during this season

of pandemic-Christmas tide. And I think, God

of what it exactly it was that the shepherds,

and the (actually unnumbered) Magi

and John the Baptist and Mary were looking for on that dark night.

The tidings were Good News of Great Joy yes,

but also, I think, it was comfort that they hungered for

Wasn’t that the fulfillment proclaimed in the Magnificat?

Wasn’t that the first title given to Jesus in Isaiah?

Not mighty* or everlasting father! No!

The first thing named for the Savior to come Counselor! Comforter, and a Wonderful one at that.

Because Lord knows this advent we are black with mourning and grief.

There is no comfort candle on the advent wreath (at least not traditionally)

But that’s who you are, Holy Spirit, Comforter.

And Lord knows we need comfort!

God, may we let this season be one not just of Joy or Hope–

if we aren’t feeling those things, let that be ok.

Help us to make this, for those who need it,

be a season of Comfort.

Help us to create a Season of Comfort, for the lonely, the lost, the grieving, I pray.

Comfort your people. Please God, because you know, we sure do need it.

And maybe next year, we will add a comfort candle to the wreath–

Til then, comfort your people we pray.

Amen.

Feel Free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Thanks to @byAndriaIrwin for the inspirational tweet

*note that the Hebrew word for this actually translates as God of many mounds, which means God of many worships spots (powerful/accessible) and God of many breasts/nourishing places. We have later shorthanded it as mighty.

Christmas Blessing

With Credit to @blackgirlinmain Shay Stewart Bouley on Twitter who congulated those cooking their first Christmas dinner–with full empathy for how nerve wracking it is– her tweet inspired this.

A blessings on all those who had to cook, who aren’t usually responsible for Christmas dinner–blessings for those who did tacos or takeout or didn’t cook at all and just rustled up whatever was around.

A blessing for whom the Christmas rituals were too short this year, missing people and missing traditions, and a blessings for whom they were too long because the holiday is such a struggle.

A blessing for those for whom Christmas is the end of a very long and very tiring season and they are awaiting a little bit of a break or a restart, and a blessing for this for whom Christmas means no break at all, and often means double work and double stress and little grace or gratitude from those around you.

A blessing on those who have experienced a loss, for whom Christmas hits hard and lonely, a blessing for those who are dealing with infertility when everyone is screaming about babies being born.

A blessing for the families who don’t have the money to do Christmas, for the families that are too busy worrying about a roof over their head or food to eat to feel blessed in any way.

A blessing for the sick and those caring for them. In this time of trial, may there be compassion and moments, however brief, of respite.

A blessing for those who aren’t sure if they want to celebrate Christmas, for whom it’s complicated or carries too much baggage or carries too many to do lists or litmus tests of faith.

A blessing for those for whom this is their “first” Christmas of any kind, good or bad, because transition is tough and we need these blessings.

A blessing on those who are tired, alone, trapped, in danger. A blessing for victims of abuse, victims of state brutality, those who are imprisoned and those who are stuck in violent or unsafe situations, a blessing for those in the midst of war in what should be a season to pursue peace.

A blessing for those who are searching for hope: through family or friends or social media, a blessing because the search can be long and hard and you can get lost upon the way and talk to the wrong people as the magi can tell you.

A blessing for those whom I’ve forgotten, those who are at the corners of my mind, but somehow skipped over. I lift you up to God, because God knows your heart. God knows the blessings you need, so I pray that God gives you the blessings you need.

Christmas Blessings be with you all.
Amen.

Yearning For Christ

God you know between the last minute shopping for rosin (yes for a violin) and milk and eggs.

Between the accounting for presents, preparing for communion and making sure every single thing is in the car that we need for Christmas Eve (please God please) that all of this is my very human yearning for Christ.

We mix and clean and shop and sometimes forget to rest (oops) because this is some of the things we know to do to prepare for people coming.

And as we pray tonight, and then try to sing safely the carols in the car, I think of how worship is never beautiful or perfect, but it is always yearning for Christ.

And as I try to remember all of the things and take care of all of the people, let that stand as a yearning for Christ too. The scratchy zooms, the struggling uploads, the handwritten promissory notes for gifts, the wrapping, the decorating, the house that will never be free of crumbs this year.

Lord I’m praying: Let all that I have done and all that I have left undone. Let every word and thought and deed, yearn for Christ. Let it show every time I love my neighbor as myself, Let all of the imperfections in my heart bespeak my need and love and yearning for Jesus Christ.

Stretch my heart towards Jesus, I pray, because it’s the Christmas thing to do!

Amen.

More 800 Yearning Synonyms. Similar words for Yearning.
Image

Bulletin Christmas Eve: Short, No singing

Hey folks we are doing Christmas Eve where we light a bunch of Candles and then doing carol singing in our cars afterwards. Feel free to adapt or use.

Welcome
Psalm 62:5-8For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honour;
 my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
Selah

Second Reading Luke 2:1-4
Light Candles

Third Reading Luke 2:5-7
Light Advent Wreath

Reflection Roger Held

Sermon “Christmas Disasters” Pastor Katy

Holy Communion
Invitation from Christ
The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts
We lift our hearts to the lord
Give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give our thanks and praise….(prayer continues)

Jesus, you are here. In the manger and the elements, and the Holy Spirit. We confess we do not know how to fully imbibe your presence. So we pray that we can practice taking you in as we experience communion: we pray that it binds us together, that the taste on our tongue tastes like grace, and we pray that you send your Holy Spirit to bless us as we do. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer (unison)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Bread & Cup
Prayer after Communion

Luke 2:8-14 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, ‘Fear not; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’

Matthew 2:8-12
Light Candles

Luke 2:15-20
Offering

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being
.
What has come into being in him was life, & the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

Light Candles

Shannon A Thompson

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