The Songs of Christmas: Good Christian Friends Rejoice (John 3)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 8: Good Christian Friends Rejoice (14th Century Latin)
Also known as Good Christian Men Rejoice
Scripture: John 3:1-21
Theme: Born Again

This medieval folk song was originally sung in both Latin and German. It was used in celebrations outside of worship and accompanied by instruments and dancing.

Good Christian Friends Rejoice (14th Century Latin)
Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: Jesus Christ was born today.
Ox and ass before him bow, and he is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven’s door, and we are blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all to gain his everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

John 3:1-3 NKJV
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Let Christ Be Born in You from Alive Now (2003)
Let Christ be born in you!
Let hope be born,
Let love be born.

Let newness of heart be born in you!
Let gentleness be born,
Let truth be born.

Let concern for the poor be born in you!
Let generosity be born,
Let compassion be born.

Let close communion with God be born in you!
Let prayer be born,
Let action be born.

Let the faith to take up your cross and follow be born in you!
And let it lead you in the ways of our Lord,
For the sake of our Lord. Now and always. Amen.

***********
CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

************
O Come O Come Emmanuel reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Songs of Christmas: O Holy Night (Luke 1)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 2: O Holy Night by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877)
Scripture References: Luke 1:49-54 (Mary’s Song); Luke 1:68-75 (Zechariah’s Song) 
These are the notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/2/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Have you ever played the Telephone Game? A person whispers a sentence into a person’s ear, who then whispers it into another person’s ear, and so on and so on until the last person whispers it into the first person’s ear. What usually happens? It’s nothing like what the first said. As things get passed along, they get lost in translation

In our Preschool Chapel, I asked the children what Christmas is about. They responded presents, Santa, lights, reindeer, cookies… It makes sense.  This is the dominant story in our society. Radio is full of Santa Baby and Holly Jolly Christmas. TV is full of Frosty and Rudolf. This same story of sentimentality, gift giving, and you better be good, goes on for months. We start hearing it around Halloween.

zombies in manger cartoon

Our understanding of Christmas gets lost in translation. In the midst of so many other Christmas stories, how do we continue to know and share the Christian point of view of Christmas?

We read the scriptures and sing the story, but it can even happen to beloved Christmas Carols.

O Holy Night
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weaknesses no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

How O Holy Night Came to Be

  • In Roquemaure France at the end of 1843, the organ in the church of St. John the Baptist the Evangelist was renovated
  • To celebrate the event, the parish priest asked Placide Cappeau, to write a Christmas poem which would be set to music by the renowned composer, Adolphe Adam
    • Placide Cappeau was a local poet, lawyer, and wine merchant. He was a free thinker with no interest in Christianity or any other religion

Cappeau accepted the commission anyway. To prepare he read the gospels, especially the Christmas story (Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, John 1).

Did Cappeau find something secular and commercial, no
Did Cappeau find something saccharine sweet, no
Did Cappeau find something soft and sentimental, no

  • Verse 1 O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
  • Verse 2 Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, with glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
  • Verse 3 Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.

The sweet, soft and sentimental came with John Sullivan Dwight’s translation of Cappeau’s poem into English.

Cappeau read the Gospels, and this is what he found:

  • Mary the mother of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, magnifying and rejoicing in God her Savior
    • for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, (Luke 1:49-54)
  • Zechariah the father of John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaiming
    • Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:68-75)

Cappeau found the Christmas story powerful and prophetic and that’s what he wrote.

o holy night verse 1o holy night verse 2o holy night verse 3

Though he never placed his trust in Jesus, Cappeau had a chance to because he heard the real story. He saw the truth of Christmas-

  • God coming in the flesh to deliver us, rescue us, and redeem us
  • God dying and rising again to break the chains of sin, shame, prejudice, and isolation
    • Especially powerful given O Holy Night was written in the age where many were fighting to end slavery
    • Especially powerful since the song was banned for a time because Cappeau was a nonbeliever and the composer, Adolph Adam was Jewish

Don’t let Christmas get lost in translation.
Take time to read the scriptures, sing songs of faith, set up a nativity. Claim and share this story – the story of God’s truth, grace, and hope. This is why we sing and celebrate the coming of Christ. This is why we bow before him in reverence and faith

***********
CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

************
O Holy Night reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Christmas and Easter- a day and a season

manger-tomb-icon

A Christmas icon next to an Easter icon. The artist reminds us that in both stories Jesus is wrapped in bands of cloth, laid in stone (manger and tomb), visited, brought myrrh, and announced by angels.

The most beloved Christian holy-days are both days and seasons.

CHRISTMAS
We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day and for a season of 12 days leading to Epiphany when we remember the wise ones following the star and finding the infant Jesus. Their arrival reveals the truth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Christmas season include:
    • Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1, Luke 2)
    • The angels announce the birth to the shepherds (Luke 2)
    • The shepherds visit the infant Jesus and then spread the good news of the Messiah’s birth (Luke 2)
    • Jesus’ circumcision and naming (Luke 2)
    • The prophets Simeon and Anna meeting Jesus and his family in the temple (Luke 2)
    • The wise ones seeing the star and traveling to Herod and then to Jesus and his family (Matthew 2)
    • Herod murdering the children of the region in hopes of killing the newborn King of the Jews (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus escaping to Egypt (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus returning from Egypt and settling in Nazareth (Matthew 2, Luke 2)

Click here for a detailed chronology of the events between Jesus’ birth and his family settling in Nazareth.

EASTER
We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter and for a season of 50 days leading to Pentecost when we remember the first followers receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry on Jesus’ witness and work throughout the world. Again, Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Easter season include:
    • Mary, with other women, visits Jesus’ tomb. Jesus’ body is missing. She/They run to tell the disciples, two of which come to investigate and then leave.
    • Heavenly messengers announce the resurrection of Jesus to Mary and the women.
    • Mary encounters Jesus risen from the dead and runs to tell the disciples Jesus is alive.
    • Later on Easter, the Risen Christ appears to two disciples as they are traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. After realizing it’s Jesus, they return to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
    • Even later on Easter, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. He reveals his wounds and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them. Thomas isn’t present and doubts the disciples’ story.
    • The Jewish leaders make up a story to explain why Jesus’ body is missing
    • A week later, Jesus appears to the disciples again, this time with Thomas present. Thomas believes.
    • Jesus appears to Peter and other disciples as they are fishing in Galilee. Jesus restores Peter to a place of leadership amongst his followers.
    • Jesus appears to the disciples on a mountain in Galilee
    • Jesus appears to his half-brother James.
    • In Bethany, Jesus instructs the disciples to continue his witness and work to all people and to return to Jerusalem to pray for the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus ascends into heaven.
    • The disciples pray and on the 10th day the Holy Spirit comes in great displays of power at Pentecost. Peter preaches and over 3000 persons place their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
timeline of post resurrection appearances

Timeline by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell. Check out her article here.

Graham Cracker or Gingerbread Nativity

I hope this project brings a smile to your face and inspires some crafting time this blessed season. – Lisa <><

Supplies:
1 small white paper plate
1 large Christmas paper plate
1 empty paper butter box (or box of equal size)
Scissors
Clear tape
Plastic knife
White prepared frosting
Shredded wheat
Graham crackers (or gingerbread of equal size)
Animal crackers
2 small classic pretzels
1 pretzel nugget
1 peppermint candy
1 toothpick sign with “Jesus is the greatest gift”
Presents are optional

Process:

  1. Cut the butter box to the length of half a graham cracker.
  2. Tape the butter box half to the white paper plate.
  3. Put the white paper plate on the larger Christmas plate.
  4. Use the knife and frosting to attach pieces of graham cracker to the top and outside walls of the butter box. This makes construction easier than a freestanding stable.
  5. Attach the animal crackers to the graham cracker walls in the same manner.
  6. Attach the peppermint candy star to the graham cracker roof in the same manner.
  7. Place a small mound of frosting inside the bottom of the box. Carefully place the two small pretzels in the frosting at an angle forming a v shape. Hold and let dry. The pretzels form the manger for the baby, represented by the pretzel nugget.
  8. Place the shredded wheat around the structure to represent the hay.
  9. Add the sign. (and presents)

There’s usually lots of snacking, laughing and finger licking during this project so enjoy looking at it rather than eating it.

Advent and Christmas Bible Reading Plans

Live Hope, Give Hope: A Plan to Share the Goodness of Jesus at Christmas
Readings from Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, John, and Psalms
Also includes a sentence prayer and action prompts to Help, Offer, Pray, or Encourage
December 1-31, 6 days per week

Comfort and Joy: A Simple Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Readings from Matthew, Luke and Johnbible luke 2
Some of the readings are even repeated so you can go slow and go deep. Also includes a sentence prayer for each reading.
December 1-31, 5 days per week

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Advent Bible Readings from Old Testament to New
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday
This reading plan highlights the Old Testament names and prophesies concerning the Messiah which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

The Advent Door Reading Plan
Based on Jan Richardson’s book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas . Her book is structured in the style of a classic Advent calendar, with 25 scripture reflections, each with an original piece of art. This is a true Advent reading plan, with the first 18 readings focusing on the repentance and the 2nd coming of Christ.

Countdown to Christmas
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Advent Bible Readings from Old Testament to New

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible reading plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered?

I look forward to your comments. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

December 1
Genesis 3:1-20; Romans 16:17-20
“Seed of Eve”

December 2
Genesis 22:1-18; John 3:16-17
“Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice”

December 3
Genesis 49:8-10; Revelation 5:1-5
“Lion of Judah”

December 4
Numbers 24:15-19; Matthew 2:1-2; 9-10
“Star of Jacob”

December 5
Deuteronomy 18:14-22; Hebrews 3:1-6
“Prophet Like Moses”

December 6
2 Samuel 7:1-17, Matthew 1:1; Revelation 22:16
“Son of David”

December 7
Psalm 2; Luke 1:35
“Messiah: Son of God and King”

December 8
Job 19:23-27; Psalm 16; 1 Corinthians 8:6
“Resurrected Redeemer”

December 9
Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1-3; John 1:10-11
“Rejected One”

December 10
Psalm 72; Luke 4:17-19
“Deliverer of the Afflicted”

December 11
Psalm 110; Hebrews 7
“High Priest Forever”

December 12
Isaiah 9:1-7; John 14:27
“Prince of Peace”

December 13
Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:13-17; John 15:1-7
“Shoot from Jesse’s Stump”

December 14
Isaiah 42:1-10; Isaiah 49:1-7; Luke 2:22-38
“Light for the Nations”

December 15
Isaiah 50:4-11; Matthew 4:23-24
“Teacher and Comforter”

December 16
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
“Suffering Servant and Lamb of God”

December 17
Jeremiah 23:1-6; 33:14-18
“Righteous Branch”

December 18
Ezekiel 34:1-31
“The Good Shepherd”

December 19
Daniel 7:9-14; Micah 5:2-5a
“The Son of Man and Ruler from Bethlehem”

December 20
Zechariah 9:9-10; 12:10-13:1
“King on a Donkey and Pierced Firstborn”

December 21
Malachi 3:1-4; 4:1-6
“Covenant Messenger and Righteous Sun”

December 22
Luke 1:5-38
“Son of the Most High”

December 23
Luke 1:39-80
“The Tender Mercy of God”

December 24
Matthew 1:18-25; John 1:1-14
“Savior from Sin and Word Made Flesh”

December 25
Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:1-20
“The Birth of Jesus”

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Jesus, The Coming Messiah © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Order of Worship for a Blue Christmas Service (also known as a Longest Night Service)

blue-nativity

A Blue Christmas Service is offered especially for those hurting during the holidays. It’s often offered December 21, the longest night of the year. Some come because they are mourning the death of a loved one. Some are far from home. Some suffer from illness, addiction, or estrangement. Some are lonely, struggling financially, or in conflict with another. Some hurt because of the great pain, need, and violence in our nation and world. The reasons for coming are many. We gather in the midst of suffering to remember God is good. God is strong. God is near. We are not alone and we have every reason to hold on to hope.

Pre-Service Set Up
People to greet and pass out programs
Blue strips of paper in the pews
Evergreen clippings place at the prayer rail
Anointing oil for prayer helpers
Tissues at the prayer rail and in pews
A table with 4 blue pillar candles and 1 white pillar candle
A box of matches
Blue tablecloth or white with blue runner for the table

Gathering Music

Welcome
This might include a brief explanation of the purpose of the service

Opening Prayer
One or all praying
Merciful God,
In this season of rejoicing, we come to you weary and grieving
In this season of feasting, we hunger for healing and relief
In this season of light, our hearts are veiled in sorrow and shadow
Will this season ever end?

“Yes.” We hear your, “Yes.”
Those who are weary will find rest
Those who mourn will be comforted
Those who hunger will be filled
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness will not overcome it.

Lighting the Christ Candle
One person says– We welcome you O Christ, Light of the World. In the midst of our suffering, help us to worship you in spirit and in truth.

Strike a match and light the white candle

Song
Suggestion- a soloist singing Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

Scripture Isaiah 11:1-5, The Voice Translation
One person reads the Scripture
On this humbled ground,
a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising, will sprout from Jesse’s stump
a branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit.
And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.
By the Spirit of wisdom and discernment He will shine like the dew.
By the Spirit of counsel and strength He will judge fairly and act courageously.
By the Spirit of knowledge and reverence of the Eternal One, He will take pleasure in honoring the Eternal.
He will determine fairness and equity;
He will consider more than what meets the eye,
And weigh in more than what he’s told.
So that even those who can’t afford a good defense
will nevertheless get a fair and equitable judgment.
With just a word, He will end wickedness and abolish oppression.
With nothing more than the breath of His mouth, He will destroy evil.
He will clothe himself with righteousness and truth
The impulse to right wrongs will be in his blood.

A brief message of hope is offered based on the Isaiah reading

Candle Lighting
Instrumental underscore- O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Light one of the candles following each passage from Psalms
One person reads what each candle represents
The following passage from Psalms may be read by one or all persons

This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of truth.
There is no need to hide or deny. God welcomes us as we are.

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. ~Psalm 86:1

This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of lament.
We recognize our wounds and cry out to God.
We accept God’s invitation to express every feeling and question.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. ~ Psalm 22:1-2

This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of courage.
Courage to be honest, to seek help, to comfort one another.
Courage to dare to love and dream again.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. ~ Psalm 28:7

This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of hope.
God is good. God is strong. God is near, leading us to a day without tears and pain, without sin and death. Healing and deliverance are coming; if not now, then on that day.

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. ~Psalm 65:5

Song
Suggestion- a soloist singing Cry out to Jesus by Third Day

Instructions for Prayer Time

  • You are encouraged to write your burdens and sorrows on the blue strips of paper and then place them on the table with the candles
  • Following that, make your way to the prayer rail
  • Persons are available to pray with you as you stand or kneel
  • Anointing oil is also available.
  • Please take an evergreen clipping with you as you return to your seat as a reminder of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness

Instrumental underscore following the instructions

Prayer after everyone is seated.
One person praying as they place their hand on the blue strips of paper.

Jesus, you are full of compassion, you understand our pain. Our suffering changes our experience of you and the celebration of your birth. We are caught between remembering happier times and grieving what might have been. In our loss we feel cut off- disconnected, adrift, alone.

Root us in your steadfast love. Anchor us in your faithful promises.
Hold us, and all who weep this holy season throughout the world-
those who mourn, those far from home, those looking for work,
the lonely, the addicted, the abused,
the estranged, the oppressed, the enslaved,
the poor, victims of war, the sick and dying.
Shelter and sustain us all with your healing and hope, your peace and light.

We love you, we need you, we trust you,
We ask this in your name Jesus, praying as you taught us…

Everyone prays
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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen

Song
Suggestion- The Only Real Peace I Have by Allison Speer

Affirmation of Faith for Christmas
Adapted from the poem First Coming by Madeleine L’Engle.

ONE: Christians, what do you believe?

ALL: God did not wait till the world was ready,
till nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady
and prisoners cried out for release.
God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame,
God came and God’s Light would not go out.
God came to a world which did not mesh;
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh,
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
For to share our grief, to touch our pain,
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Passing the Peace

Song Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
All singing
Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our brother,
All who live in love are thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began;
Love divine is reigning o’er us, binding all within its span.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward, in the triumph song of life.

Blessing
Following the blessing, you are welcome to stay as long as you like. Persons are available to speak with you further about your situation. You are also welcome to set an appointment with the pastor or director of congregational care. (give contact information)

***********
This prayer is printed as a gift for persons to take home.
I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings as Christ bore his for me
With Dignity
Humility
Forgiveness

I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings as Christ bore his for me
With Compassion
Truth
Perseverance

I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings as Christ bore his for me
Knowing my sufferings are not like his
and not like others
yet shared with the universal longings of all humanity
Real and Painful and Deep
No need for comparison
Only companionship

I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings as Christ bore his for me
As Christ bore his for all
All I will ever suffer
All we all will ever suffer
Will be made known
Will be made whole
Through his love and self giving

In this I believe
and trust
and follow
and hope
In this I am made new
Thanks be to God!
Hallelujah!
Amen!

For Grace to Bear Suffering © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Blue Christmas Service © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
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