COCU Index Year B 2017-18

Year B

Advent general resources
Advent and Christmas Music

Summer season (southern hemisphere)/
winter season (northern hemisphere)

COCU3B, Advent 3B, 17th December 2017

Blue Christmas

COCU4B, Advent 4B, 24th December 2017
(also Christmas Eve – Year A, Year B, Year C)
COCU5B, Christmas Day, 25th December 2017
(Christmas Day music)
COCU6B, Christmas 1B, 31st December 2017 (Christmas 1A)
(New Years Day, 1st January 2018)
COCU9B, Epiphany 1B, 7th January 2018
COCU10B, Epiphany 2B, 14th January 2018
COCU11B, Epiphany 3B, 21st January 2018
Australia Day
COCU12B, Epiphany 4B, 28th January 2018

Year B COCU Index (link is to a NZ resource)

Citation index (Vanderbilt Library) in canonical order

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Christmas Trees tradition and blessing

The use of the Christmas tree is relatively modern. Its origins are found in the medieval mystery plays which depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light or candle which symbolized Christ, the Light of the world. We see the evergreen tree as a reminder also of God’s everlasting love for us.

According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and remains in place until the solemnity of Epiphany. Whether the tree is in a home or in the church we like the tradition of a tree blessing after the tree is decorated and before the tree is illuminated. Here are two suggestions:

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives
be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree
come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

God of all creation,
we thank you for this tree,
which brings beauty
and memories
and the promise of life to our home.
May Your blessings be upon all that gather
around this tree,
and who keep the Christmas festival by its lights.
We wait for the coming of Christ,
the days of everlasting justice and peace.
You are our God, living and loving,
forever and ever. Amen

(Source: Jenny Gallo, Carrot Top Studio)

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Blue Christmas


All throughout these months,
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.
It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory,
by touch,
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.
So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you,
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you,
even though you cannot
see it coming.
You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.
This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away,
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.
So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.
This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.
(Source: Jan Richardson, The Cure for Sorrow)
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Advent – general resources

Christmas Bowl 2017
Christmas Bowl resources, including songs, prayers and Advent Candle litanies are now available online.

Call to worship
God is here
And we are here to worship God.
In our darkness:
You are the God of Light.
In our despair:
You are the God of hope.
In our sadness:
You are the God of joy.
In our turmoil:
You are the God of peace.
In our heartache:
You are the God of love.
We worship you now:
God of everyone! Thanks be to God!
(Source: John Maynard)

Advent Prayer
God of hope,
who brought love
into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.

God of hope,
who brought peace
into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.

God of hope,
who brought joy
into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.

God of hope,
the rock we stand upon,
be the centre,
the focus of our lives always,
and particularly this Advent time.
(Source: John Birch, Faith and worship)

This world is God’s good creation; yet all is not well. We are a broken people. As the year descends into darkness and winter approaches, we feel in our bones the coldness and need of the human family. Evil abounds. Cruelty is policy. Injustice reigns. Racism, greed and sexual violence crowd the news. Hope flickers among dark shadows. We cry to God with Isaiah, “O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” (Isa. 64.1).
But in our longing we do not just gaze at the sky. We get ourselves ready. We don’t just wish; we prepare. We trust God is at work in the midst of the mess with a transforming, life-giving power. Like Mary, we say Yes to that power unfolding within and among us. We become the change we want to see in the world. We become people of peace and gentleness, of love and courage. We become candles shining confidently in the darkness.
The Advent season is a time not just to ramp up to Christmas, but to open up to God. It’s a time to let God’s light spark in us, to let God’s Presence deepen in us. It’s a time of stillness, a time of prayer, a time of opening.
As we wait in the darkness, God’s light dawns in us, and we become people of joy. We are ready for new life. We are ready for Christ to walk into our living rooms. We are ready to bear Christ into the world. We become God’s love, enfleshed, vibrant, and powerful. Though we may fear people’s resistance, we are not the only ones who are crying, “O that you would come!” We bear love and grace and justice into a world that awaits us with hope. Welcome, Advent.
(Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
Click on the link for more resources……

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COCU4B.Advent 4B.24th December 2017

Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.

2 Samuel 7: 1-11, 16
God, through the prophet Nathan, declares God’s promise to David that he will establish his kingdom forever, will give him peace from his enemies, and will establish a nation for God’s people.
Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26
A celebration of God’s choosing of David, and strengthening him to serve God as king.
Romans 16: 25-27
Paul celebrates the God who has fulfilled prophecy and has made known the Good News about Jesus so that Gentiles might believe.
Luke 1: 26-38
The angel Gabriel visits Mary and declares that she will give birth to God’s son. He also tells her about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and Mary accepts her calling.
(RCL Readings summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

General Advent resources here.

David MacGregor, Together to Celebrate, Christmas Eve


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COCU3B.Advent 3B.17th December 2017

Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.

Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11
God’s Spirit is on God’s servant to proclaim freedom, healing and liberation. God’s loves justice, and God’s servant is filled with joy, like a bridegroom dressed in his suit, for God will reward God’s people and make a covenant with them.
Psalm 126
Joy at God’s restoration of God’s people to Jerusalem, and a plea for God to prosper God’s people, with hope for the joy that will come.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
An exhortation to live with joy, prayer and integrity until Christ returns.
John 1:6-8, 19-28
John, the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the voice in the wilderness, promises that he is not the Messiah, but that the Messiah is right there and about to appear.
(RCL readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

General Advent resources here.

Opening liturgy
Come, let us use our voices to praise the Lord.
Our mouths will shout forth praise.
Let us use our minds to ponder the wondrous deeds of God.
We will call to mind God’s mighty acts.
With all of our strength and being, let us worship the Lord of love.
We will worship from our depths. Our souls exult in God!
(Source: Life in Liturgy)

Rev David MacGregor, Together to Celebrate, Advent 3B

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COCU2B.Advent 2B.10th December 2017

Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.

Isaiah 40:1-11
A word of comfort for God’s people, because a herald is announcing the coming of God to his people who are as fragile as grass. Yet God comes as a gentle Shepherd to feed and nurture his flock.
Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
Thanksgiving that God has forgiven and restored God’s people, so God’s people should not return to their wicked ways, but rather should listen to what God says, for God’s salvation is near, and God’s blessings are poured out.
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Peter encourages the believers to live godly lives as they await the passing away of the heavens and the earth and the coming of the new heaven and earth. God is not slow to keep God’s promise to do these things, but, in mercy, delays so that people may be saved.
Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptiser comes, as a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the voice in the wilderness, and prepares people for the coming of a greater One after him, teaching that, although he baptises with water, the Coming One will baptise with the Holy Spirit.
(RCL reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

General Advent resources here.

Hopelessness and temptations.
Worry and anxiety.
Evil in many forms pervades our world.
Darkness disorients.
We light a bulb and it sizzles and fades out.
The light of hope is shattered into many pieces.
Sometimes it seems that darkness has the upper hand.
Light only lasts for a moment before hatred and hurt win.
Comfort your people O God!
We cry out to you!
Creating Spirit, point us toward your unfolding realm of light and love that flows steadily and persistently through the ages toward the time of wholeness. Reignite your image within us that we may manifest your shalom, justice, and extravagant love in each moment.
Restore and revive us during this hour. Use us beyond this time and place to be your hands in the world. Amen.
(Source: Tim Graves, Liturgy Bits)

Wash us with water,
John the baptiser.

Call us to follow,
John the proclaimer.

Show us the way,
John the prophet.

Make us ready for Jesus,
John, kinsman of the Christ.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

Rev David MacGregor, Together to Celebrate, Advent 2B

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COCU 6B.Christmas 1B

Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.

Isaiah 61: 10-62:3 (the good news of deliverance)
God will show all nations God’s justice, and Zion will be saved and will blaze with God’s glory.
Psalm 148 (A call for the universe to praise God)
A psalm calling all creation and all people to praise God, for God’s greatness, and for strengthening God’s people.
Galatians 4:4-7 (No longer a slave but an heir)
At the right time God sent God’s son to become human, born of a woman, and now God has given us God’s Spirit by which we can know intimacy with God as with a parent.
Luke 2: 22-40 (Jesus is presented in the temple)
Mary and Joseph go to the temple to dedicate Jesus, and Simeon prophecies that this boy is the awaited Christ, and that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul. Then the widow Anna comes along and begins to praise God and tell others about the boy.

First Thoughts on the Old Testament Readings of the RCL

Bill Loader’s First Thoughts on the New Testament readings here.

WCC prayers (Week 52: 21-27 December)
Let us pray with the people of Ghana, Nigeria: “O Lord, we beseech thee to deliver us from fear of the unknown future: from fear of failure, poverty, bereavement, loneliness, sickness, pain, age and death. Help us by thy grace to love and fear thee only. Fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in thee; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. AMEN.” (From ‘With All God’s People’, WCC Geneva)

Here’s a great story related to prayers for Nigeria (2014): More than 200 Muslim youth volunteers are part of those protecting Christians from any attack during church services to celebrate this year’s Christmas, says Pastor Yohanna Buru. According to him, the feat is the first of its kind after the series of crises that rocked the state in recent past. Buru said the essence of that was to protect the Christian worshippers as part of effort to strengthen peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in the state. He noted the initiative was an indication that peace has come to stay in the state, saying the measure will strengthen a lasting peace between the two religions. He also prayed God to continue to bring about peace in the country the country, praying that other citizens would emulate the gesture. He urged Nigerians to learn to live in peace with one another irrespective of ethnic or religious differences.

We invoke you, Spirit of Unity, transform our divisions and reshape our vision.
All of creation, all living beings, cry in the midst of injustice and brokenness.
Spirit of Unity, reconcile your people.
We invoke you, Spirit of Unity, heal the wounds of our history,
remove from us all that sustains our present divisions.
Unstop our ears to hear your call for unity.
(From: ‘In God’s Hands’, WCC Geneva). See other WCC prayer resources here.

For more, click on the link……
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COCU1B.Advent 1B.3rd December 2017

Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.

See general Advent resources here.

Isaiah 64:1-9:
A prayer for God to come and display God’s might as in the past. Also, a confession that, while God welcomes those who do good, God’s people have not done good, and have failed to confess. Finally a plea for God’s forgiveness.
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
A plea for God to reveal God’s glory and come to God’s people to turn them back to God, to make God’s face smile on God’s people, and to save them.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
God has given us every spiritual gift, and will sustain us and strengthen us, as we await the return of Christ.
Mark 13:24-37
Jesus speaks about the signs of his coming – darkened sun and moon and fallen stars – and encourages his followers to watch the signs and be alert. Then he tells a story about a man who goes on a long trip, leaving his servants with work to do, and telling the gatekeeper to keep watch for his return. In the same way we are to keep watch for we don’t know when the Master will return.
(RCL readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Lighting of the Advent candle:  The Candle of Hope
Emmanuel, God with us, we pray that you send your light into our hearts at this time.  Live in us and help us live in you so that our work and worship may be filled with your transforming hope.  We remember the work of the Christmas Bowl in helping people in the poverty, homelessness, and terror of their lives.   May our words and actions today rebuild lives and offer hope; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Christmas Bowl)

Prayer of Invocation
We call out to you, “Be the God we dream!”
You respond by being the God you are.

We discuss you and define you and expect of you.
But you unravel our expectations and definitions.

We seek to limit and control putting you in a box of our making.
You turn our boxes upside down.

We seek now.
You bid us wait.

We seek obvious salvation.
You send a child.

We seek clear-cut and easy answers.

You give us hope.
Upside down divinity,
give us the strength to resist a culture
of greed, of haves, and have-nots.
Turn our eyes away from the gold statues,
our idols of selfishness and fear.
Help us to let go of our expectations of you
so that we might be ready to welcome
the child who is on the way. Amen.
(Source: Tim Graves, Liturgy Bits)

The sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken —Mark 13.24-25

It sounds terrible and threatening,
but it’s nothing new, is it,
this ancient vision of climate change
and power struggles.
Jesus says look at the tree:
you can see summer is coming—
but in this case you don’t know when,
like someone coming home
at an odd hour unannounced.

We’ve painted this picture
with a touch of dread and panic, haven’t we?
The end is coming and heads are going to roll.
But it’s spring, not winter.
It’s the homeowner, not a thief.

The end is already upon us, always has been:
our own self-destructiveness.
The interruption is not the calamity:
that’s already in place.
The interruption is the Beloved,
who comes into our dissolution,
intervenes in our collective suicide,
re-directs our plunge toward oblivion,
and most shocking of all,
tenderly accompanies us
even through the worst of our withdrawal.

It’s not the end; it’s the clay being reshaped
by hands with a vision
for who we can be
before we are fired in the kiln
into durable vessels.

Give up your misgiving.
You’ve been given every gift to await the coming.
Welcome the it.
Watch for every moment
the unseen hands
lay themselves upon you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Advent 1: Waiting
To wait
to endure
to be vulnerable
to accept
to be of good courage
to go on
day after day after day;
to be heavy with hope
to carry the weight of the future
to anticipate with joy
to withdraw with fear
until the pain overcomes,
the waters break
and the light of the world
is crowned.
Then the travail is over,
joy has overcome.
Lord of heaven and earth,
crowned with blood at your birth,
delivered with pain,
bring new hope to birth
in your waiting world,
bring fresh joy
to those who weep.
Be present
in all our dyings and birthings.
God of steadfast love,
never leave us hopeless.
(Source: Kate McIlhagga, The Green Heart of the Snowdrop, Iona Community)

David MacGregor, Together to Celebrate, Advent 1B


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Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.

Isaiah 52:7-10
The joy of seeing the messenger of good news, who announces peace and the reign of God, and of knowing God’s protection and care.
Psalm 98
A song of celebration of the God who comes to save God’s people, and who comes to judge the earth in righteousness and justice.
Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12)
God has spoken to us through God’s Son, who is the likeness of God’s being, who has
been appointed as ruler over all things because of his love of goodness, and whose rule is just and eternal.
John 1:1-14
The eternal Word who created the world has come into the world as light shining in darkness and has given life – as children of God – to all who believed in him and received him.
(RCL reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Michael Frost debunks the myths of Christmas
Keeping historically inaccurate and culturally anachronistic religious displays in shopping malls isn’t a victory for the gospel at all.
No A-Frame Stable
Jesus wasn’t born in a little stable constructed of twigs and peat moss. Most likely, he was born in the home of Joseph’s relatives in the section of the house where animals were brought in at night. Mary was probably attended to by the female members of Joseph’s extended family, strangers to her, but nurturing and experienced in the matter of childbirth. Rather than two lone parents in an isolated stable, the holy family were probably surrounded by fussing women and awkward men.
No animals and no donkey
Sure, there’s that line in Away in a Manger that goes “the cattle were lowing” but none of the gospels mention any animals. If Jesus was born in the part of the house where animals were housed at night, they would obviously have been shooed out for his birth. But more concerning for nativity lovers is the news that there’s no reference to a donkey either. Say what? No cute donkey? It has been conjectured that Mary and Joseph must made their journey to Bethlehem on a donkey because it was cheaper than traveling in a caravan, the far more common and much safer option. But the Bible is silent on how exactly they got to Bethlehem.
No Star
I know, this is hard for some of you. But the magi don’t arrive in Bethlehem until a year or two after Jesus birth, so the star doesn’t appear until they begin their strange journey from the east.
No Three Wise Kings
While we’re on the magi, they would have to be the most bizarre characters in the gospels. But who were they? Why did they come? What were they doing? They were eastern holy men, astrologers who divined the stars (although that was frowned upon by the Jews), who consorted with Herod (and later betrayed him), and who arrived in time to present the toddler Jesus with exotic gifts. But there’s no reason to believe there were only three of them. There’s nothing to suggest they were kings. Their names were not Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar. And there’s no basis for dressing them in silk robes and strange turbans.
No angel on the roof
Well, there were angels, just not at the actual birth of Christ. The gospels recount that a host of angels appeared to shepherds on the hills outside Bethlehem. But there’s no mention that they schlepped into town with the terrified shepherds. So, those depictions of one or a handful of androgynous beings fluttering around the stable roof – yeah, that didn’t happen. What did happen was way more amazing. Luke’s gospel says “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared, praising God. The Greek word for “host” is stratia which alludes to the stars in the sky. How many does that make? It’s impossible to know but it could be suggesting the night sky was filled with angels! That’s mind-boggling.
No silent white-skinned, blue-eyed baby boy
You know the line, “the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes”? Yeah, again, unlikely. He could have screamed his lungs out like a banshee for all we know. And we can be pretty sure he wasn’t the porcelain-skinned cherub in those shopping mall nativity scenes either. All of which leads me to my original question: which Christ are you trying to keep in Christmas exactly? If it’s the eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus from Talladega Nights (“don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent”) you’re not fighting a war on Christmas. You’re championing tradition and the symbols of the ancient European nativity.
Jesus came to free us from enslavement to the things of this world. Those things include the commercialism and excess so celebrated in malls, themselves great temples to materialism. For his followers, Jesus is our king, our rescuer, our friend and our hope. Why do we so vehemently defend our right to set up shrines to him that in no way resemble the actual facts of his birth?

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Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.

Isaiah 62:6-12:
Psalm 97:
Titus 3:4-7:
Luke 2: (1-7), 8-20:

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