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.

The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me- Prayers based on Isaiah 61 and Luke 4

holy-spirit-outpouring-deborah-brown

Holy Spirit Outpouring by Deborah Brown

Prayer: Long-awaited Messiah
Long-awaited Messiah
Lord of Hope
Have mercy

Long-awaited Messiah
Defender of Compassion
Have mercy

Long-awaited Messiah
Provider, Protector, Liberator
Have mercy

Release us from
the chains of this moment, born of imprisoned years
the distractions and false calls of those who cannot help

Release us from
the blindness to our complicity, frailty, and poverty
the apathy keeping us from seeing, speaking and caring

Release us from
the weight of needs stealing our courage to try
the slowness of change chipping away at our enduring

Have mercy on us
Finish your good and generous work

Prayer: Comfort Us
Comfort us
Comfort us who mourn
When one suffers, we all suffer
You suffer

Hear our lament
for the ways we hurt one another and in turn hurt you
Our words weapons instead of life

Hear our wails
for all shattered by sin and fear and shame

Hear our groans
for all bent low beneath watching and waiting for another in pain
or their own

Hear our tears for all captive to
their poverty
their addiction
their loneliness
their otherness

Hear our grieving
for the powerful misusing their influence
The Forgotten… forgotten

Comfort us
Comfort us who mourn
Comfort us in your coming
Your freeing
Your healing

In your deliverance, there is a crown for our ashes
The oil of gladness pouring across tender brows till it pools in our clavicles

In the nakedness of our need you clothe us
Garments of Salvation
Robes of Righteousness
Jewels of our Belovedness
You dress us in your Victory
Wrapping us in your Joy and Delight
Swaddling us in your Promises made real

***********
Long-awaited Messiah © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Comfort Us © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Two Prayers Based on John 16-17

Summer in the Scriptures John (14)John 16:20 reminded me of Elijah in the cave. (1 Kings 19) I circle back to this story again and again for its honesty and compassion. Jesus fills his table talk with the disciples with the same honesty and compassion. We can trust God again and again to meet us in our pain with understanding and remind of what is true and what is to come.

John 16:20
Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.”

When the pain is deep, I cannot see
Everything closes in like the dark, damp walls of a cave
All is stone and I am alone

But you do not leave me in the shadows.
You are with me,
Calling me out of the cave
Speaking in smallness and stillness
Speaking hope into my hopelessness
Reminding me of all the possibilities

Thank you, Faithful One
My Light and Life
Who opens the crypt of my broken heart
Who draws me forth from my too soon tomb
Who leaves no one in the dark

Summer in the Scriptures John (15)

John 17:15, 18
Jesus prayed, “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one… As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

The world is full of evil
The world is full of need
The world is full of people
who do not understand your love and saving power
and those who do

Psalm 28:7a
The Lord is my strength and my shield
In him my heart trusts…

Jesus, Son and Savior
We follow you out into the world
Recognizing the sacrifice and danger
Recognizing you are greater

Psalm 28:7a
The Lord is my strength and my shield
In him my heart trusts…

We claim your promises of protection and leadership
Watch over us as we love our neighbors and enemies
Defend us as we build up the poor and discouraged
Guard us as we shield the vulnerable and oppressed
Pray for us as we block those who would prey upon others

Psalm 28:7a
The Lord is my strength and my shield
In him my heart trusts…

May your Glory shine in every eye
May your Kingdom come in every heart
Amen
______________

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 <

Prayer for Pain © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer for Protection © 2000 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.

Two Prayers Based on Luke 22-23

summer in the scriptures luke (4)

Prayer based on Luke 22:39-46
Jesus prays in Gethsemane

This night is so heavy
So dangerous
So far beyond control

And we’re so heartbroken
So disappointed
So tired

Our sorrow draws us to sleep
We try to pray
One eye open
But we don’t last long

We’ve been hopeful, only to fall again
Nothing works
Nothing changes
We’ve tried and failed and tried and failed and tried…

So we sleep our sorrow-full sleep

You sorrow, too
But in your sorrow you keep watch
You question and comply with God’s call
You wrestle in prayer
And go back in for another round and another

Pray for us
Awaken us
Help us choose the same

Tell me, Dear Tree
A Lenten prayer/poem of sacrifice
Based on Luke 23, The Crucifixion of Christ

If you want to sing this, the meter is 86.86 double (CMD)
Suggested tune: KINGSFOLD (United Methodist Hymnal #179)

Tell me dear tree on which my Lord,
My blessed Lord did hang,
How could you hold the spotless Lamb,
Be party with the gang?
That cheerless day, that shadowy hour,
My blessed Savior died,
To free my soul for heavenly things,
O tree, you must have cried.

Yes all your fibers must have screamed
For you one time did live
A green and growing tree, alive,
But your whole self did give
To be the instrument of death,
To be the very tree
To be the place for Christ to die
Upon dark Calvary

Wait! Do I hear a shout of joy
From somewhere deep within?
Your duty done; the battle won
So all the world might win.
How beautiful your love for Him.
He sewed it long ago
You bore the weight. You took the stain,
And now the world must know

The tree of death felt every wound,
Felt all the pain and loss.
She loved her maker through it all,
Was glad to be His cross.
Teach me dear tree on which my Lord,
My precious Lord did die
To treasure grueling duties done
So Christ is lifted high

_______________

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 <

Gethsemane Prayer © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Tell Me, Dear Tree © 2009 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 3

There is a Balm in Gilead
African American Spiritual
Public Domain

Chorus
There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead,
To heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again. (Chorus)

Don’t ever feel discouraged,
‘Cause Jesus is your friend,
And if you lack for knowledge,
He’ll not refuse to lend. (Chorus)

If you cannot preach like Peter,
If you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all. (Chorus)

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 3, NRSV

Breath Prayers
IN: I cry aloud to the Lord
OUT: and he answers me from his holy hill

IN: I lie down and sleep
OUT: I wake again, for the Lord sustains me OR for the Lord sustains me

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.

Contact Information:
941-924-7756
trinity@iTrinity.org

Recorded 7/1/2020

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

Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together in love.

There is only one God, there is only one King,
There is only one Body, that is why we sing:

_______________________________________
Midweek Devotion- Psalm 3 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia