Wednesday, December 28, 2016

For January 8, 2017 -- John the Baptist

God of life and love, as we gather for worship this morning,
open our eyes and hearts to see signs of your grace.
God of life and love, we gather as a baptized and baptizing community,
trusting that the waters of faith have changed and cleansed us,
pledging to live as citizens of the Kingdom.
God of life and love, we gather together at the table of faith,
as we eat and drink together, reawaken in us a sense of common purpose.
God of life and love, when we leave this place today,
lead us in the path of Christ, lead us to follow his Way. Amen.

God, in Christ you proclaim that the Kingdom is here among us.
But when we look around it is sometimes hard to see signs this is true.
God, in our baptism you proclaim us to be citizens of the Kingdom.
But if we are honest we know that sometimes we are part of the brood of vipers.
God, in the words of John the Baptizer you call us to prepare.
To prepare ourselves and our lives for the kingdom.
To reset our priorities and live as people of the Way
To be cleansed and changed, to repent and change our path
To open our hearts for the coming of the Promised One.
God of grace, as a people who are not always what we could be,
we seek your grace, we pray that you would work in our hearts and souls.
Changing us from within and without,
growing the Kingdom through and around us.
God of grace, who offers us forgiveness and renewal,
we offer our thanks and praise. We pledge to follow your Way. Amen.

We have gathered, we have prayed, we have eaten.
Now we are sent back out to live and serve.
As we go into the world we pledge:
to live as changed people;
to use God’s priorities as the guide to our life;
to prepare the way for the coming of the Kingdom
God with God: who creates, who redeems, who transforms.

Call to Worship for January 2017

(uses the chorus of VU#82 A Light is Gleaming by Linnea Good)
A light is gleaming, spreading it arms throughout the night.
God’s light draws us here, God’s light guides us along The Way of life
Come share its gladness, God’s radiant love is burning bright.
We come to worship God, we come to be reshaped as God’s people.
In this place God challenges us to _______ as we join the early disciples to follow Christ
As we open our hearts for worship, we greet our neighbours with words and signs of Christ’s Peace.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Prayer 2016

God it is Christmas again.
Another year has come and gone.
Once more we join the shepherds as they flock to the stable to see the newborn baby.
Once more our eyes search the heavens for signs of angels appearing in our midst.
Or maybe the angels are standing beside us. Sharing tidings of comfort and joy.
As we stand in wonder at he Good News for all people we open ourselves to you.

God it is Christmas again.
And yet again we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child in a world where despair seems stronger than hope,
Yet again Christmas comes to shake us, to awaken the power of possibility and promise.
The local Salvation Army aims for 1200 hampers, food bank usage is up.
There are neighbours with an empty spot at the table this year.
There are neighbours who struggle with their health: physical, emotional, mental.
We search for signs of rebirth, of the time when all will live with basic needs met.
We look to the promise that in Christ we see the breaking in of your kingdom.
And until that day we live in hope.

God it is Christmas again.
For the last several week joyful songs have filled our stores, our coffee shops, our radios.
The joy of the season rings in our ears.
Sometimes Joy is hard.
Sometimes the spark of life seems to get extinguished.
This Christmas, as we tell the old story and sing the old songs.
Reawaken in us the wonder of the shepherds hearing the angel proclamation,
the wonder we see in a young child’s eyes when they see the gifts under the tree,
the joy of knowing that we are not alone, the God is with us always, in the ups and the downs of life.
Help us trust, and in that trust find joy.

God it is Christmas again.
A season of Love.
Love is the force that drives us forward.
Love is what conquers fear.
Love can lift us up, love can be the source of deep pain.
God who loves us from our beginning to long after we draw our final breath,
in this Christmas season fill our hearts with love.
In a world where we are told to be afraid, remind us of the duty to love.
And so we may share the love that shines from the manger this night.

God it is Christmas again.
Again we have heard the angel proclaim the Good News.
Again we have heard about Peace on Earth, Good will to all.
But the world around us seems not to know what peace is.
Rivalry and hatred and discord seem to win the day.
Help us respond to the Good News by becoming people of peace.
Locally and globally may we push each other to build peace.
And in doing so, live out our call to be people of love and hope and joy.
God it is Christmas again.
And we join in the celebrations.
And we marvel at the baby.
And we remember the promise.
Before the marvel of this night we stand silently.
Giving thanks,
holding those who struggle in love and prayer,
letting the glory of Christmas sink into our souls
...time of silence...
Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!
Alleluia and Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Meditation for Christmas Eve 2016

Photo Credit
(Uses the poem Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
When Luke wrote his account of Jesus’ birth, he had the angels announce the birth with the words “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”. Centuries before Jesus was born the prophet Isaiah wrote “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined...For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,”. Centuries later, as the followers of Jesus told the stories of his life they remembered the words of Isaiah and saw Jesus being described. And so for generations we at Christmas time have sung the carols of peace on earth, good-will to men!.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
There is a power to the promise of peace at Christmas. Last Sunday morning I was testing the video we have just watched. Two of my daughters were watching it with me, and their considered opinion was that this had to be a fictional story. Such a thing could not happen. And I can see their logic. It goes against everything we have been taught about battlefronts. And there are stories that French soldiers in neighbouring sectors (most of the truce stories involve British troops) being shocked at what was happening. But it did. Not across the whole Western Front but in various places there are records of a very informal truce cropping up at Christmas 1914. Maybe some of them did include a quick pick-up game of football.

The promise, the possibility, the hope, of peace sticks strong in the human soul. There is a part of most of us that knows peace is the better path. Some seasons ago, Inspector Brackenreid of Station house 4 told Detective Murdoch and Constable Crabtree that one of the hardest things to do in war is to get men to intentionally shoot and kill other men. For those of us with Christian heritage, the words of Jesus about being peacemakers, about loving our neighbours and enemies, sink deep. We still want, in whole or in part, to join the song of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
But alas the world as we know it is rarely the world as we would want it to be. Longfellow wrote this poem, Christmas Bells during the US Civil War, a time when his nation was in the throes of a conflict that threatened its very survival. The Christmas Truce of 1914 was short-lived, just a few hours, and was not repeated in 1915, 1916, or 1917. Indeed the officers involved were severely reprimanded. Fraternizing with the enemy was deemed not good for morale, at the very least it was gross misconduct, if not treason. And besides, it is entirely possible that the longer the war dragged on the harder it would be to imagine behaving like that towards the men who spend the rest of the year trying to kill you.

After all these years it is still so easy to say:
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
We read the stories of the siege of Aleppo, a siege that has lasted over 4 years. Some of us remember the stories from the siege of Sarajevo or the massacre of Srebenica a generation ago. We remember the tales General Romeo Dallaire tells from Rwanda. During the week before Christmas a Russian ambassador is assassinated in Turkey and a truck crashes into a Christmas market in Berlin. Our news feeds tell us of an increase of people being attacked because of their sexuality, or their skin colour, or their religion. We are told to be afraid of Islamist terrorists just waiting to strike here in North America. It is easy to wonder if the will for peace is strong enough to counter the hate, the anger, the fear that threatens to drown out the song of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
But once again it is Christmas. Once again we listen for the song of angels. Once again we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. There is still hope. God has not given up on the world, God will not give up on the world. God is breaking into the world again this night.

As we gather at the manger to see the new-born King we are invited to share his Passion. Jesus invites us to share a passion for God’s kingdom. As we listen to the angel proclamation we are invited to see what is possible. Despite all that happens in the world the bells still ring out. The song still echoes through the air. Emmanuel, God-With-us, is in the world. This broken world, with all its fear and hatreds and violence, is also the place where God is active. Peace On Earth is more than a sentiment on a card. It is the hope that is born again this Christmas as the bells ring the carols sweet, and the words repeat, of peace on earth goodwill to men.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Prayer of Memory and Intercession (for a Blue Christmas Service)

God of hope,
You come to us in the midst of our despair and offer hope.
In hope we hold the memories of our past in our hearts.
The memories give us hope, they remind us of what was,
they keep alive the happiness of those days in our hearts.
As we remember and give thanks, keep us hoping for the new memories yet to be made.

God of peace,
In this season of preparation we join the global family praying for peace on earth, good will to all.
In this season of preparation we seek a time of rest, an oasis of calm in the midst of the activity.
Grant us the peace of mind to sit with our memories, to stay with our grief, to find the peace that heals a broken heart, and a broken world.

God of joy,
Sometimes joy is difficult.
Sometimes the hardness of the world sinks into our soul and joy is pushed out.
Help us trust in you. And as we trust,
open our eyes to see the signs of joy that stubbornly push through the icy hardness of life.
May we find joy in remembering years past, and joy in the present, and look ahead to joy in the years to come.

God of love,
Love is that force that drives the world.
Love brings tears to our eyes, be they tears of wonder, or joy, or pain, or sorrow
Love shapes our memories.
In this season of Christmas, remind us of the love that surrounds us.
Remind us that love never really lets go.

God of Christmas,
We listen for angel song.
We watch for signs of new birth.
We trust in the promise.
In this season of birth, of promise, as we carry the hopes and fears of the past and present into the future,
Remind us that we are not alone, that you are with us.
Emmanuel, we raise our memories, the bitter and the sweet, and share them with you, that you would share the heaviness they sometimes bring, that you would help us celebrate the promises and possibilities of life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

For Christmas Eve

Stop! Look! Do you see it?
See what?
That light shining in the distance. The one that seems to dance and sing on the horizon.
Yes I see it! It is so warm, What could it mean?
Something special is happening. Something new is being born!
Let us go and see!
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the new-born King

The nights are long, the days are short, the wind is cold.
We stave off the darkness and the cold with candle flames.
Flames of Hope, of Peace, of Joy, of Love (light the four outside candles)
There is one more flame to be lit.
On this night of glory we remember that God is born in our midst,
the Light of the world that no darkness or cold can extinguish
And so we light our centre candle, remembering the Babe who is the centre of our celebration, Christ who is the centre of our faith (light centre candle)
God, so often we are the people who walk in darkness.
We live in a time where darkness is deep and yet,
we have seen a great light
for unto US a child is born, unto US a son is given.
This night we join in the songs of angels and the wonder of shepherds.
Celebrating that the Prince of Peace is come!
Gloria in excelsis!
Glory to God in the Highest! Amen.

Peace on the Earth, Goodwill to all.
The angel song rings in our ears.
The baby has been born, the story is just beginning.
The promise of peace shines from the manger, calling us to live as peacemakers.
As we go out to celebrate the Christmas Season,
we share the light of the Christmas star, the light that brings hope, peace, joy, and love.
And we do so knowing that the Light shines in the darkness but the darkness can never overcome it.
Glory to God in the Highest! And on Earth, Peace.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

For December 11, 2016 -- Advent 3, the Anunciation

God of joy, in this time of waiting and preparing,
we come together to worship, to celebrate the promise of birth.
God of birth, as we hear the story of a new life to come,
remind us of the possibilities of the future,
remind us of the joy that lies in growth and change,
remind us that in Jesus you make all things new.
These things we pray in the name of the Baby whose birth gets closer and closer, Jesus, who will later teach his followers to pray saying...

God of hope, we look around the world today
and see lots of reasons to despair, help us find the hope.
God of peace, we look around the world today,
and see few signs of peace, give us the strength to be peacemakers.
God of love, we look around the world today,
and see many who need to be loved, push us to share love with each other.
God of joy, we look around the world today,
and see darkness and fear, awaken the joy of life in our hearts.
God of grace, as we wait and prepare,
open our eyes and hearts to see the world as it is,
open our eyes and hearts to see where you are active,
open our eyes and hearts to see the possibilities that surround us.
God of Advent and Christmas, as we get closer to the time of birth,
through your grace help us to move past our fear or our complacency to embrace the promise of change in a baby in a manger. Amen.

We have heard the angel come and make a surprising announcement.
A baby! When we least expect it! What a joy! What a surprise!
We have heard Mary agree to God’s surprising plan.
Now we continue to wait and watch and prepare.
We leave this time of worship and head out into the world.
Carrying with us the promise of Joy for the whole world.
Go with the God who created us, the Christ who leads us, the Spirit who fills our hearts with Joy
We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Prayer of Expectation

Whenever you hear the words: God of Peace, as we wait for the birth of the Messiah
Please respond with: We pray for peace, for justice, for new life.

God, you invite into this time of preparation, of waiting, of hoping.
We talk about the Prince of Peace, but we live in a world of violence.
Every day our news feeds have stories of threats and attacks,
bombs in the Middle East, active shooters on university campuses,
promises to register those who are different than us.
We need a dose of peace in our world today.
God of Peace, as we wait for the birth of the Messiah
We pray for peace, for justice, for new life.

God, you invite us to live as citizens of the Kingdom.
You invite us to a place and time where justice is the rule,
where there is good news for the poor and liberty for the oppressed.
But that is not the world where we live.
The gap between the rich and the poor gets wider and wider.
The powerful find new ways to enslave the oppressed.
The weeping of the broken-hearted grows louder and louder.
We look forward to the year of your favour,
the promised justice that brings Shalom.
God of Peace, as we wait for the birth of the Messiah
We pray for peace, for justice, for new life.

God, in the busy-ness of shopping and baking and decorating,
you ask us to pause,
to listen for angels bearing surprising news,
to look around and see the wonders hiding in plain sight,
to remember what it is we are preparing for, what we wait for.
In the middle of a hectic season, we look for a respite, a time of calm.
God of Peace, as we wait for the birth of the Messiah
We pray for peace, for justice, for new life.

God who is love.
In this season of preparation we pause to join with hearts around the world singing songs of praise,
sharing the wonders of life, shouting thanksgivings for the blessings of life
...time of silence...
God who is love.
In this season of preparation we pause to join with hearts around the world singing songs of lament,
sharing the struggles of life, shedding tears for the bitterness of life
...time of silence...
God who is active in the world, God who is changing the world,
we place our lives in you hands as we serve and wait and watch.
God of Peace, as we wait for the birth of the Messiah
We pray for peace, for justice, for new life.
So be it. Amen.

For December 4, 2016 -- Advent 2, Isaiah 61

God of peace, who promises to change the world, you bring
good news to the poor,
freedom to the captives,
healing to the broken-hearted.
God of peace, as we gather for worship.
Open our hearts to receive your peace.
God of peace, as we sing and pray,
open our eyes to see where peace and justice need to be planted.
God of peace, when we go out from this time of worship,
allow us to carry your promise of justice and peace wherever we go.
This we pray in the name of Jesus, whose birth we prepare for, whose passion for the Kingdom we share.

The world around us is a place in need.
Some need healing, some need freeing, we all need Good News.
We go out to serve and share,
to offer the promise that the Year of God’s Favour is coming
to offer the hope for God’s Shalom
to carry the Peace of Christ into a world of strife.
As you go out to live and serve, know that God is with you
know that the Peace of Christ flows around and through you
know that the Holy Spirit imbues all that we do and are.
Go in Peace, in Love, in Hope.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

For November 27, 2016 -- 1st Sunday of Advent

God of hope, in a world of despair,
we open ourselves to your presence.
God who saves, in a world of threat,
we pray for protection of those who are the most vulnerable.
God of presence, in our time together,
reveal yourself to us, remind us that hope and the Kingdom will yet prevail over despair and oppression.
We pray in the name of the baby who birth we await,
Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Saviour,
who taught his friends to pray saying...

God, we live in a world with many voices telling us how to live.
And if we are honest, sometimes following a different path is hard.
God who calls us to follow the Way of love and life,
we know that sometimes we take the path of “go along” because it is easier.
God who calls us to be bold, to see visions, to proclaim your word of hope,
give us the grace and courage we need.
God of grace, pour your grace upon us.
On our fear and on our courage, on our hope and on our despair.
...time of silence...
Lions come in many shapes and sizes, and live in many types of dens. God may lead us into the valley of fear. But God is there with us, ready to lead us from fear to courage, from hope to despair. Through God’s grace:
We are not alone! Thanks be to God! Amen.

People of Hope! Go into the world!
We go to share God’s vision of Hope and promise with the world
People of Hope! Go into the world!
We go remembering that God is with us, that we are not alone.
People of Hope! Go into the world!
We go knowing that the Hope of the World will soon be born
We go to prepare for His birth.
Jesus, the one who saves.
And as we wait,
we WILL have hope.

Monday, November 14, 2016

CAll To Worship for the Advent Season

EAch week the blank spots will be filled with weekly-appropriate words.

May the Peace of Christ be with you
And also with you.
In this season of watching and waiting,
we hear God calling us together to sing, to pray, to listen.
As we prepare for the birth of the child who brings ____

Sunday, November 13, 2016

For November 20, 2016 -- Reign of Christ Sunday, JEremiah and the New Covenant

God of love, we gather for worship,
with hearts waiting to be filled with your love.
God of the covenant, you write the rule of life in our hearts and souls,
and we admit that there are times when we don’t read so well.
God of grace, when we acknowledge that we sometimes fail to keep the covenant,
remind us that you are faithful,
remind us that you are merciful,
remind us that we are forgiven, that we are worthy of the covenant,.
God of transformation, in our time of worship this morning,
remind us of the law of love,
help us remember to look deep inside out soul and see what you have written there,
embolden us to live as people of the Kingdom’s covenant.
God of life, as we go out from here this morning,
lead us into the world to live and serve, to be agents of the love you have written on our hearts.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who proclaims the Kingdom, who calls us to pray together saying...

Go to the world!
We go as citizens of God’s Kingdom.
Go to the world!
We go to proclaim the promised Reign of Christ.
Go to the world!
We go as those who have the rule of life written in our hearts and souls
We go as transformed people, living the law of love wherever we go
Go with God, who Creates, Redeems and Sustains.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

For January 1, 2017 -- New Year's Day

Wipe the sleep from your eyes, a New Year is here!
We open the year with praise and prayer.
Come, gather together to worship the One who gives us life.
We open the year with thanksgiving and hope.Come, now is the time to worship...

Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, Light shining in the darkness
These candles reminds us of the light that shines from the mangerAs we see them shine we greet each other with the Peace of the Christ Child.

God of the seasons’ turning, as we turn the calendar page,
we gather to worship.
In our time together this Christmas season,
keep alive the hope of the angel song,
help us hear the possibility of peace in the child’s cries
reveal to us the joy of new beginnings,
push as to live out the love of the Babe in the manger.

And as the New Year breaks forth,
lead us into the future with hope and promise.
We pray in the name of the baby who is just 8 days old, who later will teach his friends to pray saying...

PRAYER FOR THE TURNING OF THE YEAR (using words from Sunrise,Sunset)
Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flow the days
It is hard to believe another year has passed.God we look back on the year that was,
and we know there have been triumphs and defeats
there have been times of laughter and times of tears.
As we look to the year that is just beginning,
we wonder what it will bring.
What hopes will be fulfilled? What dreams will come true.Sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years.
And yet you, God, are with us with each beat of time’s wings.
One season following another.
Laden with happiness and tears.
Gracious God, in the time to come,
walk with us, strengthen us, empower us to live your love each and every day. Amen.

Monday, November 7, 2016

For November 13, 2016 -- The Call of Isaiah

God of grace and God of glory,
we gather here to open our hearts, minds, and souls to your presence.
God whose presence fills us with awe,
we sing and pray and listen, experiencing your awe-some presence.
As we worship together this morning,
remind us that we are worthy and able to be your servants.
When we leave this place this morning,
may it be with hearts that are ready to say “Here I am Lord, send me”
We pray in the name of Jesus, who reminds us that we are loved and accepted just as we are and who taught his friends to pray saying...

God you reveal yourself in our midst,
and we tremble in fear and awe, sensing our own unworthiness.
God you ask who is willing to be sent out to the world,
and we stare at the ground, hoping we won’t be chosen.
Then God, you look deep into our souls,
seeing the pain and the fear and the possibilities.
God of grace,
clean us, take away our sense of unworthiness, steady our fearful souls
God of grace,
empower us, prepare us, and send us out ready to serve.
...time of silent prayer...
God is gracious and merciful. When we all too aware of our inadequacies and feel unworthy God sends messages of forgiveness and strength. God makes us worthy and able to live and serve.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

As we go out to a world of need God continues to ask “Whom shall I send?”
Here I am. Send me.
God leads us out into the world to live and serve.
We commit to share the love and hope of God in word and deed.
God with God, the One who has called you, made known as Parent, as Christ, as Spirit.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God.