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.
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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

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Prayer

Lord God, this is the first year I’ve been able to write Christmas cards to the Congregation.

You know that I just don’t have the mental acuity to do it usually, too many details.

And God, you know that sometimes I lose the details. Especially in Advent and Christmas.

Usually my mind is boggled with Pageants and Parites and Decorations and Huge Lists of traditions, so I lose track.

I wonder if Mary and Joseph felt that way. If in planning their trip to Bethlehem, they weren’t able to think everything through.

Or if they ended up staying longer than they thought they would, and she reached the “fullness of her time.” then.

Or God, I wonder if baby Jesus came early! Anxious to be a part of the world he came at 8 months!

I remember being pregnant, God. I would not be surprised if Jesus coming was a surprise or not, because even with a scheduled C-section, birth continues to be a surprise.

I often think that Mary and Joseph might not have been the type to write Chrsitmas cards most years too.

Each and every card was a prayer, like this one, I put my whole heart into the card

I listed

Safety and Protection, calling upon the angels to come down

I encouraged comfort: and tried to say both comfort in cozy PJ’s with tea, and comfort like the warm hug one needs when the stress or hurt or anxiety overwhelms

and I prayed for some measure of joy.

And God, I resisted the temptation to just write “tidings of comfort and joy” and assume everyone knew what that meant.

I confess, I don’t know what that means. When we say have a merry, little Christmas, what do we mean by this?

Can any Christmas be Little? Is Christmas really about being merry?
Or is joy more serious than that!

Did the shepherds dance and the magi sing? Did Joseph cry in wonder? How fierce did Mary feel when she was giving birth?

God I’m still praying for some measure of joy.

Whatever that means

I’m praying for safety and protection, and all the kinds of comfort, and some measure of joy.

I’m praying it over and over again. Holy Spirit grant this to us all, I pray.

Amen.

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

If you use my prayers, please consider supporting my journey to pursue a Phd in Creative Writing in Ministry! gf.me/u/y8n94m

Christmas Story

John 1:1-5

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life,* and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Luke 1:26-30, 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. 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

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.

Luke 1:46-56

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.’

56 And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

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.

Luke 2:8-12

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 

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.

Matthew 2:1-12

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; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

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.’ 9When 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. 11On 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.

Luke 2:13-14

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

John 3:16-17

16 ‘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.17 ‘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.

#ChristmasEve Liturgy, Lessons and Carols

Highlights: Includes Joseph emphasizing Emmanuel, Includes Mary’s Magnificat (recently decided that this should be essential for Christmas Eve as it tells why Jesus is coming), dovetails Myrrh/Communion also, ends with the Shepherds rejoicing/Joy to the World & Mary’s pondering/Silent Night

TR006799
USA, California, Los Angeles skyline, sunset

*Highly rec passing out some kind of manger stickers for kids to participate/follow along with during the worship

Prelude                “ O Holy Night”

FIRST LESSON                                                               Luke 1:26-35, 38                                 CAROL                     “It Came Midnight Clear”

WELCOME              

SECOND LESSON                                                   Matthew 1:18-23                                    CAROL “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Prayer of Confession (Unison) Merciful God, we confess that we find your good news frightening and unsettling, especially when we consider its demands as well as its promises. Forgive us, melt us, mold us, remake us. Give us the courage to lay ourselves open to the wonder and healing of your coming. Be born again into our world, be born again into our hearts and lives. Hear now our silent and personal confessions as we prepare ourselves for your nativity. (Silent Confession)  Amen —–based on a prayer written by Rev. Lee Ann Higgins 

Assurance of Forgiveness: Christ has come, love incarnate, salvation of the world! Know the Good news, Jesus Christ will be born this very night, and it is in him we are each, and every one of us, forgiven Thanks be to God.

THIRD LESSON Luke 1: 46-55                                                                                      Contemplative Music: “Away in the Manger” 

FOURTH LESSON Luke 2:1-7                                                                                                Lighting of the Christ Candle: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love & Christ

 All Children are invited forward to assist with the lighting (Note I let the children light the candles each week, basically youngest to oldest, we have about 12 kids and usually end up impromptu-ly including them all)

Anthem

FIFTH LESSON                                                               Luke 2:8-12                   CAROL                                          “The First Nowell” v. 1-2

SIXTH LESSON             Luke 2:13-14                                                                       CAROL                       “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

Offering                                              

FOURTH LESSON Matthew 2:1-12                                                                                    CAROL “We Three Kings of Orient Are” v. 1-4

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)

….and praying as his son taught us to pray……..The Lord’s Prayer (unison)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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 glory and power forever. Amen.

Bread & Cup: Communion will be taken by intinction, where congregants come forward and dip the bread in the cup. If you need assistance, the pastor will come to serve you individually.]

SIXTH LESSON Luke 2:15-18, 20                                                                     CAROL                                                         “Joy to the World”

SIXTH LESSON Luke 2:19                                                                                     CAROL                                                         “Silent Night”