Thursday, December 28, 2017

Opening PRayer for January 8, 2017 -- John 1:35-51

Source of Life, we come to celebrate your presence.
Here we tell the stories, here we pray, here we share the feast.
As we listen for your voice, as we share the meal of faith, as we seek to share your love,
move within and among us, breathe your transforming Spirit into our souls.
And when our worship draws to a close,
send us out to share the life and love you have given us with the world around us.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, who invites us to come and see, Amen

Call TO Worship for Epihany 2018

May the Peace of Christ be with you
And also with you.
We gather in this season of Epiphany to celebrate how God is made known in the world.
We pay attention to what Jesus says and does, looking to see God active in the world.
God calls us to share the stories of faith with each other, so that we would see where God is.
Open to God’s presence in our midst, we greet each other with words and signs of Peace.

Christ Candle for Epiphany 2018

In the Beginning was the the Word was life and the life was light to all.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not overcome it
As the true Light, the Light of God, shines in our hearts we center ourselves for worship

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Christmas Prayer (2017)

God of Christmas, we gather together and we sing of hope.
But the world around us challenges our hope, the world around us leads us to despair.
Our news media seems to delight in telling us all the things that are going badly in the world.
The more cynical among us suggest that at best things will be as they always have been.
Bring us hope this Christmas.
Open our eyes to see the possibilities that surround us,
open our ears to hear the Good News in the stories that don’t get told,
open our minds to understand that the wold can indeed be changed,
open our mouths to share our hope for the future with all those we meet.
God made known in a baby, we pray for hope.

God of Christmas, we gather together and we sing of peace,
Peace seems such a nice idea, but far from reality.
Mass shootings, nuclear tests, political rhetoric, and more remind us of peace by its absence.
And yet we believe in the angel promise...
we long for the vision cast by Isaiah
where the wolf will lie down with the lamb and they shall not hurt or destroy on all the holy mountain...
This Christmas, we pray, move in our hearts and in the world around us;
make peace based in justice a reality in our lives.
Bring on the Reign of peace, peace founded on all having what they need for abundant live rather than on “might makes right”,
so that next time we gather to celebrate Christmas the world is a more peaceful place.
God made known in a baby, we pray for peace.

God of Christmas, we gather together and we sing of love,
In the stories of faith you command us to live as people of love:
loving God, loving our neighbour, loving ourselves.
Sometimes we act out of fear instead of love,
sometimes our love is mis-aimed and narrowed.
As we hear again the story of the birth of Love incarnate,
may our actions be loving towards all we meet, tonight and all year round.
God made known in a baby, we pray for love.

God of Christmas, we gather together and we sing of joy,
Or at least we want to, or we think we are supposed to.
For some of us joy comes easy this Christmas season.
For others joy is difficult, or distant, or just plain absent.
We give thanks that you enter our lives both in the times of joy,
and in the times of sorrow or anxiety or fear.
In this season we pray not for happiness
but for the deep joy that comes from trusting that we are not alone.
We seek the joy that comes with the assurance that you support and strengthen us every day.
God made known in a baby, we pray for joy.

God of Christmas, we gather together and we sing of birth,
We have heard the story again,
we have joined the shepherds in their fear, their wonder, and their joy.
Once again Emmanuel, God-With-Us lies sleeping in the manger.
Birth changes us, all of us.
As our eyes of faith gaze on the manger you look back at us.
As we look at the babe sleeping there, ask us about how we will help him grow,
and how he will challenge us and make us grow.
May the birth of Christ this year move us to embrace transformation.
May we be changed this Christmas as we live into being citizens of the Kingdom of God,
the Kingdom which is launched by the coming of Christ.
God of Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ and we join in the adoration of shepherds.
In response to the Good News of the birth of The Child we sing with the angels:
“Glory to God in the Highest”

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Eve Reflection (or at least a draft)

(This reflection uses lyrics from When a Child is born and A Spaceman Came Traveling)

A Child is Born
2017 Christmas Eve Reflection

A ray of hope flickers in the sky
A shiny star lights up way up high
All across the land dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

Carl Sandburg once said: “A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on...A baby, whether it does anything to you, represents life.” From that I understand that the birth of a child is a cause for hope.

We could use a solid dose of hope in the world these days. We are, as have been many other people over the centuries since Isaiah first uttered the words, the people walk in darkness, the people who live in a time of deep darkness. This past year the news has been full of stories about heightening tensions on the Korean peninsula, about the #MeToo movement, about mass shootings in churches and at country music festivals, about First Nations issues across Canada. While things are changing, here in Alberta we are still living with the results of an oil price crash. The world is full of darkness.

Can we see the ray of hope flickering in the sky? Can we see the dawn coming? Can we see the great light that Isaiah promises to those who live and walk in deep darkness?

It is Christmas, and a child is born. And the birth of a child means life. And the birth of a child means hope. The birth of this child means Good News, which shall be for all people. Hope comes to pass, when a child is born.

A silent wish sails the seven seas
The winds of change whisper in the trees
And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn
This comes to pass when a child is born

Every child that is born has the potential to change the world. Every child that is born does change the world for some number of people. Birth means change. Just ask any parent.

Several years ago the United Church issued an ad campaign. This was one of the magazine ads. Probably my favourite one. [put ad on screen] If you can’t read the hospital bracelet it reads “WARNING: some re-assembly of priorities and beliefs may be required”. Birth means change.

Over the centuries many a young woman who found herself pregnant at the wrong time has gone off to visit family, often as an excuse to get out of town for a while. Before Jesus was born Mary did just that. She went to visit her older cousin Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. Luke tells us that during that visit Mary proclaimed that the child she was carrying would turn the world upside down. He would bring down the powerful and raise up the lowly. He would fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away.

Some re-assembly of priorities and beliefs may be required.

Tonight we tell the story of a child being born. And since birth brings change, since every child born has the potential to change the world tonight we pen ourselves to the possibility of change. In that change the walls of the world as we know them may be tossed and torn, they may crumble to reveal some new structure. This comes to pass, when a child is born.

A rosy hue settles all around
You've got the feel you're on solid ground
For a spell or two, no-one seems forlorn
This comes to pass when a child is born

WE gather in the glow of starlight and the triumphant chords of angel song. WE know that things are changing. And yet there is confidence. There is the feeling that we are on a firm foundation. Because the birth we celebrate this night is the Word made Flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-Us. We hear the angel declare “peace on earth goodwill to all” and even for a brief moment we believe it might be true.

Decades ago Chris DeBurgh released a song called “A Spaceman Came Traveling”. It really is a Christmas song, though an odd sort of Christmas song. It talks of a birth and a visitor from beyond this world. And the visitor says: “I bring a message for mankind to hear," And suddenly the sweetest music filled the air... And it went La La...Peace and goodwill to all men, and love for the child...”

De Burgh goes on to say:
This lovely music went trembling through the ground,
And many were wakened on hearing that sound,
And travellers on the road, the village they found,
By the light of that ship in the sky, which shone all round...

Luke tells us that when the shepherds heard the angel message they went to see the baby that they had been told about. Then they went around town telling everybody these wonderful tidings of Good News, which shall be for all people. As he tells the rest of the story over 2 books Luke will show us how the peace and goodwill pronounced on Christmas night will travel around Galilee and Judea and then from Jerusalem to the rest of the Roman empire. When we embrace the promise God offers in a baby in a manger then there is no reason for anyone to be forlorn.

Peace and good will to all. This come to pass when a Child is born.

From a historical perspective the birth of Jesus of Nazareth happened a long time ago in a land far away... Angel song and adoring shepherds make for a nice story. But we don’t live in the story. We live in the present in a land close at hand.

What about this year. What about this year with our darkness? Where is the birth for this year? Well, on of my favourite Advent hymns says: “Tomorrow Christ is coming as yesterday he came. A child is born this moment we do not know his name...Our God becomes incarnate in every human birth, created in God’s image we must make peace on earth, God will fulfill Love’s purpose”

WE celebrate Christmas because we believe that the child in the manger, Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, is still with us today. We celebrate Christ’s birth because we know that God is still active in the world. And so we have hope. And so we have a challenge.

For unto us a child is born. For unto us a son is given (somehow whenever I read those words a part of my brain starts playing the chorus from Handel’s Messiah). And the child will change the world. Tonight somewhere a child is being born.

In the middle of the song When a Child is born a speaking voice says:
the world is waiting,
Waiting for one child
Black, white, yellow, no-one knows
But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter,
Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone's neighbour
And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten, forever

In Chris De Burgh’s song the traveler leaves. But as he does that he gives hope:
This song will begin once again, to a baby's cry..."
And it goes La La... Peace and goodwill to all men, and
Love for the child...
Oh the whole world is waiting, waiting to hear the song again,
There are thousands standing on the edge of the world,
And a star is moving somewhere, the time is nearly here,
This song will begin once again, to a baby's cry...
Each Christmas we await, we listen for the song to begin again. Each Christmas the promise of peace and goodwill is made again. Each Christmas, each time we hear the announcement that the Messiah is born, the full Kingdom of God comes closer.

Every child that is born can change the world. Every one of us was once that child that was born, with the chance to help change the world. This Christmas I challenge all of us to work for peace, to change the world, to join in the song, for the sake of the child that is born tonight, and tomorrow, and next month and...

It's all a dream, an illusion now
It must come true, sometime soon somehow
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

This comes to pass, because The Child is born. Glory to God in the highest. And on Earth; Peace, Goodwill towards all.