prayer of illumination for Christmastide

submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York

God of light,
you have revealed your very self to us in your son Jesus Christ,
your one Word made flesh, who lived among us, full of grace and truth.
Open us to your revelation once again,
that in the words of your holy scripture
we might know your presence and follow in your light always.

Amen.

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a communion prayer for Christmas Eve

submitted by Rev. Andy James, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York

(This communion prayer immediately follows the singing of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and so alludes to some of its phrases.)

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Lord, we greet you this happy night,
for you have been at work in our world throughout all time.

You made all things and called them good.

You claimed your people Israel,
freed them from the bondage of Egypt,
and journeyed with them through the wilderness to the promised land.

You sent prophets to call your people back to you.

Then in the fullness of time you sent your Son Jesus,
Immanuel, born the King of Angels,
your Word in flesh appearing.

He was one of us and lived with us,
giving up all his glory for our sake to make us whole.

And yet you raised him up again
to overcome the power of death and live a new life.

Still we wait for the day when we too will share the fullness of life in him and with him.

And so with the faithful of all the ages, we sing the praise and glory of your name:

(all sing “He Came Down,” Cameroon/WGRG The Iona Community)

And so, O God, come among us tonight.

Show us your presence in this bread and this cup,
and make this bread we break and this cup we bless the body and blood of Christ.

By the power of your Holy Spirit,
unite us with Christ and all who share this feast,
just as you send us out to be his presence in and for your world.

Give us courage to be your people,
to show your justice, grace, mercy, peace, and love,
and to be a part of your transformation of our world
until the day when the baby whose birth we celebrate tonight
comes again in peace
and we sing your praise and glory forever.

Amen.

Who wants to look ahead this week?

No one wants to look ahead right now–and many of us aren’t really capable of looking much farther ahead than Saturday or Sunday. But we’re still here, working away, writing and dreaming and hoping and planning. So let’s keep this Christmas party going! What are you still working on? Where is your Christmas Eve sermon going? Are you singing any unusual carols? What are some of your congregation’s Christmas Eve traditions? For example: At Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, right before we sing Silent Night with our candles, someone reads a poem. For several years it’s been Ann Weems’ poem Unexpected from her book Kneeling in Bethlehem, but this year the reader asked for something new, so we’ll be hearing Hush by Lucinda Hynett. It was originally published in Alive Now in 2004.

Sssh.
Can you hear it?
An expectant silence,
a hushed anticipation,
as if the very galaxy
is holding its breath.
There are some truths
even the stars know,
like darkness,
like loneliness
and how the night
can be a living thing.
And how once, long ago,
the night waited in wonder
along with the darkness
and the loneliness,
for the sound of a baby’s cry,
for the miraculous
to come down
to the earth mundane.

The Weekend is Coming: working toward Christmas Eve and Day

It’s Winter Church Extravaganza Weekend…with Christmas Eve on Saturday this year, many of us will be worshipping several times this weekend. So…what liturgical brilliance are you hoping to break out on this big weekend? Do you forego prayers of confession, or substitute new affirmations of faith, or have a fantastic Christmas Call to Worship? Do you have a Christmas prayer of dedication that you really enjoy? Do you celebrate communion on Christmas Eve and/or Day, and if so do you write new communion liturgy or go with the tried-and-true book?

Perhaps you’ve already finished the liturgy for Christmas and the bulletin is printed (maybe your office staff goes on vacation, or you work ahead). Perhaps you won’t finish the bulletin until 3pm Saturday. Either way–share your resources, your ideas, your liturgical seeds and needs, and let’s work together to make this a creative and beautiful Christmas weekend.

Looking Ahead: Christmas is on Sunday!

Many of us don’t regularly have Christmas Day worship, after the marathon of Christmas Eve. Some of us have worship on Christmas no matter what day it’s on. But this year, December 25 falls on Sunday, which means most of us have to plan some kind of worship service. So: what are you thinking about? We’ve heard of churches where you come in your pajamas, where you bring one unopened present to open during the service, where you simply sing Christmas carols by request…what ideas do you have? What thoughts are swirling around? What do you “usually” do? Are you going to write liturgy for Christmas Day, and if so, what’s the focus? Let’s brainstorm and write and plan together!

Looking Ahead: Christmas Eve

What’s your liturgical MO for Christmas Eve? Are you going to do the same thing you did last year? Plan something new? Steal Borrow something from a friend? Hang out here and write something new with your LiturgyLink friends?

Here’s a place to brainstorm about Christmas Eve–one of those days where everything needs to be familiar and comforting and at the same time challenging and fresh. Throw in a big crowd….no pressure, of course!

So, what’s cooking (liturgically) for Christmas Eve?

(Or, if you just can’t focus on that right now because you’re busy cooking (literally) for Thanksgiving, that’s okay too–what are you cooking? Share a virtual feast as we think ahead!)