Friday, October 30, 2009

For the Last 4 Sundays of Ordinary TIme 2009

Creating and re-creating God, you have called us together in this place,
move among our gathering, opening our hearts and souls to your presence.
We have come here to be refreshed and renewed,
so that we can go from here as lights to the world.
In our time of worship this morning,
awaken in us a vision of what is possible in the world.
We pray in the name and memory of Jesus who taught his friends to pray together with these words…

God, you have called us to be forward-looking people of vision,
and we confess that it is tempting to look backwards to the “Golden Age”.
You challenge us to work for the creation of a new world filled with justice and hope for all,
and we confess that we let our own definitions of justice cloud our sight of your Vision.
For all those times when our blindness or short-sightedness have led us away from the path to the New World,
forgive us and challenge us to repent and turn a new direction.
…time of silent prayer…
God is ever-gracious, ever-loving, and ever-hopeful. Out of Grace God is ever-forgiving. We are indeed a forgiven people.
Thanks be to God! Amen,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Beginnings -- A Pageant Service (comments welcome)

Speaking Parts:
Betty: older woman, recently widowed and alone for Christmas (this part could easily be changed into a male role with a few re-writes)
Miriam: single mother, currently staying at a shelter

Setting: Church, day of the Annual Christmas Pageant

Welcome & Announcements (narrator)

Opening Carol: Children Run Joyfully {during this carol Betty and Miriam enter and take seats on opposite sides of the Chancel}

Betty: I do love Christmas. And this is one of my favourite Sundays of the year. Seeing all the little ones dressed up like shepherds and angels, it reminds me of when my children and grandchildren were that age. And now the great-grands are getting there too... I wish they were here this year [sighs]. Maybe I should have gone to spend December in Edmonton like Sam asked me too. But Christmas just isn't Christmas anywhere else. Of course it doesn't really feel like Christmas without John either. I miss him so much. But I need to do this first Christmas alone, I need to be alone with my memories and my tears...

Miriam: Why am I here? I just don't feel comfortable. All these people in their nice clothes and I am lucky to have found some clean jeans without holes in them. Everything has gone wrong since we moved to the shelter. Not that there was much choice I guess – it was either the shelter or sleep in the car. Still, here I am with nothing. If Julia hadn't volunteered to be Mary this year I doubt I would have come. I hate Christmas. It just reminds me how I've failed my kids. But Julia wanted me to come so here I am...

Call to Worship/Opening Prayer (narrator)
Why are we here today?
We are here because God has brought us together to tell the old story again.
It is a story of hope, a story of life.
And yet there is a shadow of fear, of uncertainty.
As we tell the story again,
may God open our eyes to what is being born to us today.
As we fill our hearts with the hope of a baby in a manger,
may God enable us to share the angel song with the world around us.
We pray in the name of the child whose birth is imminent, and who later taught his friends to pray saying...
Lord's Prayer

Carol O Come O Come Emmanuel (verses 1, 4, 7)

Miriam: God, help me make it through Christmas this year. Help me find a way to give Julia something. Help me find a way to celebrate even though my life has fallen apart. I've made so many mistakes in my life. I don't know where to go next. I don't know where I'll be welcomed. God help me find some hope in the world somewhere!

Advent Candles

Betty: God, for 55 years I had someone at my side on Christmas Eve. This year he is gone. God I love and miss him so much. This Christmas I know I need a new start. God help me re-learn how to live without him. God, with your help I know that the Christmas star can still shine brightly in my heart. Please lead me to its light. Amen.


Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38

Miriam: Now that is a good way out. I wonder if that line would have worked when I got pregnant with Julia? Maybe then my parents wouldn't have thrown me out. Still, Mary must have been just as scared as I was. Pregnant but not yet married. But she was lucky. She had people who supported her. I got trapped into a bad marriage just to stay off the street. Julia is the best thing that has happened to me, but sometimes I wish it had happened later, or that I could have offered her a better life. She deserves it.

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-7

Carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem verses 1-3 {Mary & Joseph enter}

Betty: How must that have felt? I can guess. When Sam was born we had nothing, less than nothing in fact. If John hadn't gotten that factory job I don't know what we would have done. But it really didn't matter. As soon as I saw that little boy I knew I was going to be alright. I am guessing Mary must have felt the same way. And I still feel that when I see a new baby. There is just something about babies that gives me a sense of hope.

Carol: Away in a Manger {Angel Choir enters}

Miriam: Huh! Angels choirs singing lullabies? That would have been helpful lots of times. Both for me and for Julia. I remember being so scared. And so alone of course. But at least I had a hospital, not a cowshed. Still, I bet Mary wondered what was going to happen next, what the future would be like. I know I did. I still do. How will we get out of the shelter, where do we find a new start?

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-15

Carol: Angels We Have Heard on High verses 1-3 {Shepherd Enter}

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

Carol: What Child is This? verses 1&3 {Magi Enter}

Betty: And there we go. Baby and angels, shepherds and kings. Look at them all up there. It really makes me remember so many other pageants I have seen. All those times John and I watched our family wearing those costumes. And now I've watched the first one without him. It just wasn't the same. But it is the reality now. Life will never be the same. I just have to live with it
{Stable Scene Exits}

Miriam: Oh Good! They are leaving, it must be done. But of course it is done, the story is over. Now what else is left before I can get out of here and away from this group of people who must wonder what I am doing here. (looks at bulletin) Offering! Crap! I forgot to bring anything for the offering. Not that I have anything to give of course. Still, it would be nice to share a little with others. Even just these little coins I guess...

Offering Invitation (narrator)
Carol: Little Drummer Boy {offerings and White Gifts brought forward}
Offering PrayerChristmas is a season of giving and gifts.
And God now we offer our gifts to you and your world.
May the little bits we have to offer,
be tokens of love for a world in need. Amen.

[Betty & Miriam turn and face each other]
Betty: Hello Miriam. I am glad to see you made it today. That was your daughter playing Mary wasn't it?

Miriam: Yes, Julia insisted she had to come, and that I had to come see her. I t was good, but I still don't feel comfortable here.

Betty: I know dear, but just keep trying, it will start to feel like home eventually. (pauses) Miriam, what are you doing for Christmas? I can't imagine that they can do much at the place you are staying.

Miriam: The shelter? I really don't know what they do for Christmas. And I don't know what Julia and I will do. I've been so busy trying to hold life together I haven't had time to think about Christmas.

Betty: Why don't you spend it with me. The house feels so empty these days. And Christmas should be spent with others. I was going to spend it alone with my memories but now I think this would be better. If I have to start a new life someday what better time than Christmas?

Miriam: Are you sure? I don't want to intrude...

Betty: Quite sure. You and Julia are more than welcome. You know, I have been thinking about you a lot these last few weeks. Nobody should spend Christmas alone. And nobody should have to live in a shelter. After New Years, if you want, I'll help any way I can to get you settled again.

Miriam: I'll have to think about that. But yeah, Julia and I would love to spend Christmas anywhere besides the shelter. I mean the people there are nice and its warm just isn't like home. Thanks Betty.

Betty: No no thank you dear. You have given me a Christmas I didn't think I could have this year.
[they both stand up and leave together]

Commissioning (narrator)
The old story has been told, the carols have been sung.
And we go back out into a world of birth and life and death
But now we can go with the song of hope ringing in our heart,
now we go out ready to remind the world that new beginnings are possible.
And as we go we do not go alone.
No, we walk together with all people whose hearts ring with the songs of hope.
And may God, made known in a tiny baby in a stable, go with us through all the seasons of our lives.

Carol: Go Tell It on the Mountain

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Advent Candle Liturgy 2009

Advent Candles 2009
Birth Means…
Sung response each week is MV#115 Behold, Behold, I Make All Things New

1st Sunday November 29Birth Means Tearing Down the Old
1: Happy New Year!
2: Um, aren't you about a month early?
1: Pardon?
2: For New Years. It isn't even December yet!
1: Well yeah, but today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the church year
2: Advent? What's that?
1: Advent is four weeks when we get ready for Christmas.
2: You mean shopping and wrapping and baking?
1: No I mean in the church. It's time when we stop and think about what is happening at Christmas
2: Like what?
1: Well Christmas is a time of newness, God is doing something special
2: Yeah, so?
1: Well, if God is doing something new, then we need to make room for the new thing
2: You mean give something up?
1: Maybe. Sometimes making room for new and exciting things means old things have to go away.
2: I'm not sure I like that. I hate giving things up.
1: Well I never said Christmas was always easy
2: But I thought you meant choosing what gift to buy.
1: I know. You know, one of the things we do in the church is light candles during Advent. So let's light one right now. And while we do that let's sing that song in the bulletin, it talks about being comfortable with the new things.
2: OK. [they light one purple candle and go sit down while the response is sung twice]

2nd Sunday December 3 Birth Means Re-Evaluating Priorities
1: OK, so we have the office party on Friday, and the school fundraiser Saturday afternoon, and the church pageant rehearsal on Saturday morning, and...
2: What are you doing?
1: Oh just trying to figure out when I am going to get everything done. It just seems that there is more stuff than there is time.
2: I know, December is terrible isn't it?
1: Not just December. This is what our calendar is like all year round!
2: I used to have that problem too.
1: Used to? What changed?
2: I did. I decided that we were doing too much so anytime something new started we had to make choices.
1: You mean like one thing in equals one thing out?
2: Sort of, but more than that. We decided that we had to make choices about what was really important to us. We started doing that as soon as we decided to have kids.
1: That long ago??? But why?? I mean we didn't start to feel overwhelmed until a year or two ago, when the kids started getting busy.
2: Oh it wasn't because we were busy. We decided that to be parents meant we needed to re-think what was a priority for our time and energy. We started making different choices about work and non-work activities.
1: Interesting. Anyway, speaking about priorities, what are we doing up here again?
2: Lighting candles. Tell you what, as we light them let's sing that response in the bulletin. And maybe we can think about what choices we might want to re-think this Christmas. [they light 2 purple candles and go sit down while the response is sung]

3rd Sunday December 13Birth Means New Beginnings (Pageant)
1: You know what? Some days I wish I could just start again.
2: You mean with a clean slate?
1: Yeah. Just erase the bad decisions I made and start from scratch.
2: Well you sort of can.
1: NO, no you can't, I've tried. But everything keeps coming back to haunt me.
2: Well it can be hard but a new start is possible. We can choose to try a new way of living. We can in fact get re-born to a new life.
1: You mean get born again? Nope, that type of church isn't for me.
2: Yes I do mean born again, and no I don't mean that type of church.
1: What else can born again mean?
2: Well I think that when we are born we have a clean slate. So if we choose to live in a different way, to not make the same mistakes again it is like being born again. We just get to take the wisdom with us.
1: And make all new mistakes right?
2: Probably.
1: Well I guess it is worth a try.
2: Yep, you don't know until you try. And this is a great time of year to do it.
1: Why?
2: Well it's Christmas. We are talking about a baby being born anyway, what better time to think about New Beginnings?
1: And with New Year's only a week afterward it could be like a New Year's resolution
2: Good idea.
1: Tell you what. While I light these three candles and we sing the response, why don't we all look forward to new beginnings in the future? [they light all three purple candles and then sit down]

4th Sunday December 20Birth Means Future Promises
1: You know what I like most about Christmas?
2: What?
1: There is just such a feeling of hope and promise, almost like anything is possible.
2: I know what you mean. But I don't just feel that at Christmas. I feel the same whenever I see a newborn baby.
1: Me too!
2: I remember hearing once that a new baby is God's way of telling us that life should go on. Even with all the terrible things we hear about it is easy to have hope for the future when you are holding a new baby.
1: So many possibilities. You know, I guess that is why I feel that way at Christmas. After all Christmas is about a new baby.
2: A special baby. If any baby is God saying that there is hope for the world, the Christmas baby must be that and more!
1: I think the Christmas baby isn't only God saying there is hope. I think the Christmas story is God promising to help make that hope a reality.
2: So what do you hope for this Christmas? What promises do you want to see come true? Let's think about those while singing the response in the bulletin [they light all four candles and then sit down]

Christmas EveBirth Means Celebration
1: Merry Christmas!!
2: I know, isn't it great! Christmas is my favourite time of year.
1: Me too. I love the bright lights and the decorations and the singing of carols and the presents and the food...
2: It's all good. I love it all. It's almost like a month long party.
1: And why not? Christmas has a story that is a real reason to celebrate.
2: Really? I never thought about that. Most of the parties I go to never talk about a story, we are too busy having fun.
1: Well think about it. When people have a baby what do they usually do?
2: I guess they are happy, they might get together with friends and family and celebrate. Assuming they aren't too sleep deprived that is.
1: Right. And the Christmas story is about a baby being born.
2: Right...OH! I get it. We celebrate the birth of a baby so that is why we celebrate at Christmas!
1: And what better reason to celebrate. After all any baby gives us hope for the future, a baby is God's clue that life has to go on.
2: And a new born baby is full of promise about what might happen in the future. So yeah, it is a good thing to celebrate. Say if this is a birthday party does that mean these are like birthday candles?
1: Maybe a little bit. But they are also signs of light and hope in the middle of a darker world. As we light them let's all think about our hopes for the future and all those things we have to celebrate this year. [they light all five candles and return to their seats]

Monday, October 5, 2009

For Thanksgiving (and the rest of October)

Gift-giver, it is the time of year to gather in the produce of the earth.
And so we give thanks for the gifts of food.
It is the time of year when we admire the bright colours of the season.
And so we pause to give thanks for the beauty of the earth.
In our time of worship this morning,
Move within and among us, awakening us to Your presence, moving our hearts to respond to your grace.

Gracious Creator, you have given us so much,
but too often we take those gifts for granted, or as something to which we are entitled.
You call us to live in caring community,
but too often we place our wants and needs first, with those of others a distant second.
You call us to share Your gifts with the world around us,
but we are worried that there may not be enough, and our worrying gets in the way of our sharing.
For all the times when we mistreat and misuse Your gifts, for all the times we assume that we get what we have by ourselves,
forgive us and lead us back to the path of wisdom.
…time of silent prayer…
God is a gracious giver. God is gracious in forgiveness. God calls us to new patterns and new life.
We are a forgiven people! Thanks be to God! Amen

As our time our worship concludes, our time of service begins.
We return to our living and working amidst a world of need
As you go from this place, carry with you the knowledge that you are recipients of God’s gifts.
As we go, we vow to share those gifts with the world around us.
And may God walk with you as you travel life’s road. Amen.