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 placed 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
Strike a match and light the white candle

One voice 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.

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

Scripture Isaiah 11:1-5, The Voice Translation
One voice
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 blue candle
One voice- 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.

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

Light one blue candle
One voice: 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.

One or All voices
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

Light one blue candle
One voice: 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.

One or All voices
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

Light one blue candle
One voice: 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.

One or All voices:
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…

All praying
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 Voice: Christians, what do you believe?

All Voices: 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.

Announce before the 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)

Blessing

***********
This prayer is printed as a gift for persons to take home along with a piece of evergreen.
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
Enduring

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.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Two Prayers Based on John 5-6

Summer in the Scriptures John (3)

Based on John 5:1-18
The Man at the Pool and Jesus

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”- John 5:6

Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well?”

Do I? Do I really?

I’ve been this way so long
It’s what people expect of me
It’s what I expect of me

I know this life
I’m getting by
Is it good? No
Is it whole? No

But I know this life
It’s my normal
Can I imagine another way?

Others seem to get there
but not me
I have no help
I have no one
I can’t… I can’t… I can’t…

Jesus, you see me
The me that I really am
At your word I trust and stand
At your word I am well

Summer in the Scriptures John (4)

I AM
I AM WHO I AM
The name of God given to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14)

I AM
The name so often used by Jesus
“I AM the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
“I AM the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
“I AM the gate.” (John 10:7,9)
“I AM the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
“I AM the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
“I AM the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
“I AM the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5)

I AM
The name of the Victorious Christ
I AM the Alpha and the Omega
Who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty
The Beginning and the End
The First and the Last (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13)

I AM reveals who I am
Loves who I am
Empowers who I am
Reminds me who I am
I am a child of God

Finish the sentence
I am no longer…

I am a …

I AM, Your naming and claiming are stronger than anything we face during these disrupting days⁠

Your naming and claiming are for us and for all.⁠

Your naming and claiming are forever and for always. ⁠

Glory to your Holy Name.⁠

_______________

For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <

Made Well © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
I AM © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Midweek Devotion- Psalm 127

Scripture: Psalm 127:1-2, NRSV

You’re encouraged to use the following process as you read scripture.
We use this process together on Wednesdays at 8:00AM EST. https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMCSarasota 

Scripture: Psalm 127:1-2, NRSV

Breath Prayers Based on the Hymn, My Hope is Built
IN: My hope is built on nothing less
OUT: than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

IN: On Christ the solid rock we stand
OUT:

IN: My anchor holds within the gale
OUT:

STILLNESS: Spend 5-20 minutes in silence looking to God and listening for God.

ATTENTION: Read or listen to the Scripture. What word, phrase, or verse captures your attention? Underline it or copy it onto a piece of paper.

CONNECTION: What connections do you see to other scriptures? To your own experience or current situation? Or, to the character or promises of God?

ACTION: What is God inviting you to trust, say, or do? How will your life be different because of this scripture?

PRAY: Talk to God about what you just experienced or anything else on your heart.

Rev. Lisa Degrenia
Trinity Sarasota
http://www.itrinity.org
941-924-7756
trinity@iTrinity.org

Recorded 7/15/2020

Bind Us Together
CCLI Song # 1228
Bob Gillman © 1977
Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 686715

PUBLIC DOMAIN SONG:
My Hope is Built
Text by Edward Mote
Music by William B. Bradbury
_______________________________________
Midweek Devotion- Psalm 127 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Midweek Devotion- Psalm 147

Scripture: Psalm 147:1-11, NRSV

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Text: Robert Robinson, 1735-1790
Music: Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second
Public Domain
1. Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Breath Prayer:
IN- Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
OUT- Bind my wandering heart to Thee

You’re encouraged to use the following process as you read scripture. We use this process together on Wednesdays at 8:00AM EST.
https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMCSarasota 

STILLNESS: Spend 5-20 minutes in silence looking to God and listening for God.

ATTENTION: Read or listen to the Scripture. What word, phrase, or verse captures your attention? Underline it or copy it onto a piece of paper.

CONNECTION: What connections do you see to other scriptures? To your own experience or current situation? Or, to the character or promises of God?

ACTION: What is God inviting you to trust, say, or do? How will your life be different because of this scripture?

PRAY: Talk to God about what you just experienced or anything else on your heart.

Recorded 6/24/2020

Bind Us Together
CCLI Song # 1228
Bob Gillman © 1977 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 686715

Midweek Devotion- Psalm 147 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Earth Day: God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain (Psalm 148)

Song_of_the_Silent_Snow_by_Martina Carnesciali

Song of the Silent Snow by Martina Carnesciali

Psalm 148:7-8 NRSV
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

One winter, while we were living in North Carolina, it snowed. I sat for a long time in silence at our bedroom window watching the soft flakes float to the ground. It was fascinating to me. I grew up in Florida and had only seen snow a couple of times in my life. The perfect peace of that experience birthed the snow verse of this hymn. As I began to think about other natural experiences, the other verses came to be.

Today, we’ll be experiencing severe thunderstorms where I live. I’m thankful. We desperately need rain. It’s also the week of the 50th anniversary of earth day. It’s also a time of unprecedented change due to coronavirus. As I look at this text 20 years after writing it, I’m struck by how it continues to speak to my world.

How does this text connect to your experience? – Lisa <><

God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Meter 77.77
Suggested tune: THE CALL (United Methodist Hymnal #164)

God who brings the cleansing rain
saturate our thirsty bones
with the milk of mercy sweet
with the blood that brings us home

God who rules the fiery sun
kindle now our brittle hearts
set ablaze our tender lives
forge our ways till sin departs

God who rides the winds of change
anchor us against its wrath
set our face toward holy ends
fix our walk upon your path

God who sends the silent snows
quiet us against your breast
cover us with hope-filled wings
whisper soft your word of rest

God who steps into our time
Take away this needless fear
Turn our lives to songs of praise
Play us for your world to hear

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God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain © 2010 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form. Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to music.