COCU7B. Christmas 2B

Note: COCU coding relates to a way of indexing lectionary material. The full list is here.

Jeremiah 31: 7-14
A prophecy of restoration and salvation in which god promises to gather a faithful remnant from the ends of earth and bring them to Zion where they will enjoy peace, abundance, laughter and salvation.
Psalm 147:12-20
A call for the people of Israel to praise God for God’s blessing, for the peace and security God has provided, for the commands and statutes God has given to God’s people, and for the fact that God has not done these things for any other nation.
Ephesians 1:3-14
God is to be blessed because of God’s great blessing and grace in Christ in which God has adopted us as God’s children, has forgiven us, poured out wisdom on us, revealed God’s plan to us, and given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment on our eternal inheritance.
John 1:10-18
The prologue of John’s Gospel in which he declares that the divine, Creator Word has become flesh, shining the light of life into the world, and enabling all who receive him to become children of God.
(All summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

John’s Prologue – video (Source: The Work of the People)

Call to worship
A new year has dawned; the old is past and gone. This is a time for beginnings, a time to encounter God anew. God of the future who is always ahead of us, we are here to thank you, God of the present here in our midst, we are here to trust you, God of life beyond us within us, 
we are here to praise you, and to rejoice in your glorious love.

For more, click on the link…..

Words that might follow the lighting of the Christ candle
The darkness loves to parade itself, God,
to draw our attention and steal our energy,
with fearful threats
and dire prophecies of doom;
and we all too easily give it just what it seeks.
But, if we can just drag our gaze away
we discover that there is another reality;
that your light shines undimmed,
that your care is undiminished,
that your strength and protection
are unfailing.
And so, even in the midst of pain, suffering, evil
even when it seems your light is almost out,
we choose to remain under the shadow of your wings;
to trust in your salvation,
to speak your words,
and to dispel the darkness
by lighting the flame of faith again in our hearts. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayer of Approach
Hovering Spirit,
because of You there was a beginning. Heavenly Dove,
because of You there is a continuing. Untameable Wind,
because of You there will be a completing.
From the emptiness before the birth of time
to the fullness of the new earth and heaven,
Holy Spirit, You breathe and blow,
dancing to our Creator’s tune,
in step with our Saviour’s purposes.
Fill our expectant hearts
as we stand on this threshold of a new year.
We have been here so many times;
and we have never been here before.
Source, Saviour, Spring of life,
refreshing and replenishing God,
all that pours from You is good and wise and true.
Soak us with the delight of Your surprising nearness
and let us splash in puddles of joy.
God in Community,
how privileged we are to be Your people, chosen and known and loved by You,
here and now this morning
and in all our days gone by and still to come. Amen
(Source:Joanna Love, Resource Worker for the Wild Goose Resource Group)

Call to worship (based on Psalm 147: 12-20)
Called by God to give thanks for God goodness, in response, we gather as one.
We glorify the Lord here in our own sacred space,
and in our wider community life.

Called by God to sing, worship and praise the Lord our God, so we gather as one.
We glorify the Lord who has honoured God’s faithful people throughout countless generations, with words of warning and hope, and of encouragement and blessing.
Called by God to celebrate the mercies of God and all who share in the experiences
of being in God’s presence, so we gather as God’s people here in this time and place.
We glorify the Lord in the security of our homes; in the blessedness of our worship; and in communities wherever peace and harmony prevail! Let us all praise the Lord! Amen. (Joan Stott)

Prayer of adoration
You have blessed us, O God, with your Word,
Creative and life-giving,
Spoken through the ages,
In Christ, made flesh, born as one of us,
In our hearts known as truth;
We praise you, O God, for we are truly blessed.
You have blessed us, O God, with your Grace,
Abundant and undeserved,
Birthing us again,
Making us your children,
Giving us a place in your family;
We praise you, O God, for we are truly blessed.
You have blessed us, O God, with your Love,
Indiscriminate and unfailing,
Freeing us from the grips of law,
Revealing your glory,
Leading us to life;
We praise you, O God, for we are truly blessed.
In you, Incarnate God, we are saved, liberated, restored,
In you we find who we are created to be,
In you we ourselves become little incarnations
Manifesting your Word, your Grace and your Life.
For these all these gracious blessings – one after the other,
we give you thanks and praise, God of Grace and Glory! Amen.

Prayer of Confession
God of Presence and Light,
We like to imagine that we are bold and strong,
that there is nothing that can frighten us
But, we are not strangers to trembling,
Our doubt leaves us feeling alone and afraid,
and our hiding brings much rejection to You and to others.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us.
Our self-centredness leaves us feeling deprived and poor,
and our grabbing results in great need.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us.
Our sort-sightedness leaves us uncertain and insecure
and our lack of listening divides and separates.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us.
A time for quiet reflection
Somewhere inside of us we do believe,
we do trust and we do love;
The simple gifts of worship and love that we offer now are tokens of this faith;
signs of our thanksgiving
and of our longing to be more bold in following You.
May our gifts and our lives be Your instruments
of healing and comfort;
For the sake of all in our world who grieve, all who despair,
and all who live in want and hatred.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayer of Confession
Dear God,
why do we sometimes make You so small?
Why do we behave as if You are as petty as we can be?
Why do we lapse into vengeance as the answer to wrongdoing? Your ways are not our ways.
Teach us again Your answer to sin and suffering.
You don’t get mad; You get merciful.
You don’t punish; You pardon.
So don’t let us for another moment
go over our speech of self-recrimination
or insult Your grace with our grovelling,
because You are not listening.
Let us put down what we need carry no longer,
and loosen our hold on the hurts we have received.
You know well our woundedness;
You understand and accept our regret.
Come close and tend to our pain and heal us,
for we long to be whole.
Extend Your love to those we are finding hard to love, and set us free to love again.
In Jesus’ name we ask it, Amen.
(Source:Joanna Love, Resource Worker for the Wild Goose Resource Group)

The Work of Christmas 
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.
(Source: Howard Thurman)

Prayers for the coming year
We pray for this coming year and what it might mean for us as a nation. We pray that people in places of power administer their responsibilities correctly, remembering the weak before any others. We pray they listen and take note of the issue they should address and respond to the cries of help in our society.
We pray, as your church, for our neighbouring families who have struggled over Christmas, trapped in debt, strained relationships that have broken up families, children neglected, elderly isolated. We ask for wisdom to know how to share the security of your love so others can discover the reassurance you bring that our lives are important to you.
We reflect on our own situation not for selfish reasons but to have a better idea of what it means to make a difference to other’s lives.
Whether in our workplace or in the home, or out with our friends help us to hear the cry for help whether from a work colleague, our nearest and dearest or friend. We ask for the insight and energy to respond and be there for them in their time of need. Let them know that in us, through your strength, they can find a safe space to share and that their voice is heard and we are ready.
In the name you gave us to pray, Jesus. Amen.
(by Rev. Dr. Alister W. Bull, Church of Scotland, ‘Starters For Sunday’, 2015)

Lord our God, faithful and kind, You have always been our help.
With and without our asking, with and without our recognition,
You are the wind in our sails,
the compass for our walking,
the firelight for our resting.
It is Your pleasure to help, and for this we thank You.
You never neglect us.
Even when we blame or berate You;
even when we are too despairing to ask or too weary to find words;
it is Your pleasure to help,
and for this we thank You.
So we seek Your help again.
Bring deep rest to those exhausted and spent.
Bring deep solace to those bearing loss upon loss.
Bring deep purpose to those plodding on in unceremonious conscientiousness.
Bring deep release to those glad to see the back of 2020.
Bring deep wisdom to those leading and governing.
Bring to us all deep trust in what is possible in partnership with You.
For it is Your pleasure to help,
and for this we thank You, Gracious God. Amen
(Source:Joanna Love, Resource Worker for the Wild Goose Resource Group)

Words of Mission and Blessing  
The candles are extinguished. 

Who will keep the light burning in our day? Who will take the light into the world? Who will carry the light into a new year? Who will carry the light – if we do not? The New Year stretches before us with few certainties, some probabilities, and many possibilities for those who seize the moment with Christ Jesus. We are invited to use the particular gifts we do have, in the particular situation where we are set, to do the best we can in the cause of Christ’s love. The certainties we do have, which can never be torn away, are − τhe grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
God’s peace be with you. And also with you.
The sign of the peace is exchanged

Blessing/Closing Prayer
Lead us on,
to learn willingly,
to love well
to live in trust.
Surround us with hope, shield us from harm,
set us on our way rejoicing. Let all God’s people say Amen
(Source:Joanna Love, Resource Worker for the Wild Goose Resource Group)

This is a day of new beginnings by Brian Wren
This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember, and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that’s gone.

For by the life and death of Jesus,
love’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference
as faith and hope are born again.

Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring,
step from the past, and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.

Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

Alternate stanza 4, at communion:
In faith we’ll gather round the table
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

Hymn : Love now ascending (Holy, Holy, Holy)
Holy, holy, holy, love now ascending
Early in the morning our song shall rise to you.
Holy, holy, holy, joy that has no ending
Giving, forgiving, breathing life anew.

Holy, holy, holy, love without a limit
Care that binds creation in sacred unity,
Holy, holy, holy, birthing every minute,
Christ, Love’s revealer, sets our spirits free.

Holy, holy, holy, infinite compassion,
Makes a place for every soul in God’s eternal reign,
Holy, holy, holy, truth beyond religion,
Love that endures should nothing else remain.

Holy, holy, holy, raise your voice in singing,
Join the cosmic chorus in praise of Love divine,
Holy, holy, holy, God beyond all naming,
Echoes our song in harmony sublime.
(Words:J Burklo; tune: #TiS 132)

O Christ the same, through all our story’s pages
O Christ the same through all our story’s pages,
Our loves and hopes, our failures and our fears;
Eternal Lord, the King of all the ages,
Unchanging still, amid the passing years:
O living Word, the source of all creation,
Who spread the skies, and set the stars ablaze,
O Christ the same, who wrought man’s whole salvation,
We bring our thanks for all our yesterdays.

O Christ the same, the friend of sinners, sharing
Our inmost thoughts, the secrets none can hide,
Still as of old upon your body bearing
The marks of love, in triumph glorified:
O Son of Man, who stooped for us from heaven,
O Prince of life, in all your saving power,
O Christ the same, to whom our hearts are given,
We bring our thanks for this the present hour.

O Christ the same, secure within whose keeping
Our lives and loves, our days and years remain,
Our work and rest, our waking and our sleeping,
Our calm and storm, our pleasure and our pain:
O Lord of love, for all our joys and sorrows,
For all our hopes, when earth shall fade and flee,
O Christ the same, for all our brief tomorrows,
We bring our thanks for all that is to be.
(Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith; Tune: Londonderry Air) (see Hymnary information)

Before the world began (John Bell) – a thoughtful setting of John 1:1-13
(could be used as music for reflection)

Before the world began one Word was there;
grounded in God he was, rooted in care;
by him all things were made;
in him was love displayed;
through him God spoke and said, ‘I am for you.’

Life found in him its source; death found its end;
light found in him its course, darkness its friend,
for neither death nor doubt
nor darkness can put out
the glow of God, the shout: ‘I am for you.’

The Word was in the world which from him came;
unrecognized he was, unknown by name;
one with all humankind,
with the unloved aligned,
convincing sight and mind: ‘I am for you.’

All who received the Word by God were blessed;
sisters and brothers they of earth’s fond guest.
So did the Word of Grace
proclaim in time and space
and with a human face, ‘I am for you.’


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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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