The Celebration of Christmas

Our Embodied God

 

Opening

As we are present to this unimaginable good news, may it wholly permeate us.

 

Invitation

Compassionate God, open us to all the ways your love and presence come to us.

 

Reflection

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-14

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Read “Our Embodied God” a few times. Pause and reflect on a word or phrase where you are drawn.

 

Our Embodied God

Into the darkness of night, the light comes.

It expands and covers everything.

Love is born in the Christ child,

who enters our mess to be present to us:

in each of the places we find ourselves,

into our sorrow and grief,

our pain and our angst,

into our questions and our doubts,

and into our brokenness.

The joyful shouts cry out,

“Glory to God in the highest Heaven.”

They cry out to the God who sees us,

The God who hears us,

who comes embodied as one of us,

human and yet Divine.

Emmanuel, God with us,

lovingly walks beside us,

joyfully resides within us.

Glory Hallelujah to this

incarnated expression of love. Amen.

© 2021, Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Leaning Into Hope

Fourth Week of Advent

 

Opening

As the darkness deepens, the promise of light grows. Awaken us to your presence in this time and within us always.

 

Invitation

God of Hope, keep us attentive to you, leaning into you as we wait.

 

Reflection

Scripture Reading: Luke 1: 39-45

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Read “Leaning into Hope” a few times. Pause and reflect on a word or phrase where you are drawn.

 

Leaning into Hope

As the darkness extends,

we continue to wait for so much:

for peace in our world;

for an end to the virus

and a world without the necessity of masks;

for the ability to gather easily with loved ones;

for an end to racism and injustice;

for an end to all isms;

for sorrow to give birth to joy;

for our hearts to be comforted;

and our spirits lifted up;

to see more of You dear God;

lived out and expressed among your people.

Mary carried Hope within

as it was embodied in you

Elizabeth recognized it and gave expression to it.

So while we wait in Hope

we are met with the promise

that you come and meet us where we are.

While we wait in Hope

we are reminded

that sometimes you are carried and expressed

through those with skin on.

God of Hope,

may we be those people

who carry you and give expression to you

in all ways everyday.

And when we are weary from the journey,

may we like Elizabeth find ourselves

met by someone with skin on

who reflects you.

And like Mary, may we lean into you

for you too, are embodied in us.

© 2021, Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Advent Invitation

Third Week of Advent

 

Opening

As the darkness deepens, the promise of light grows. Awaken me to your presence in this time and within me always.

 

Invitation

God of Hope, keep me attentive to you, leaning into you as I wait.

 

Reflection

Scripture Reading: Luke 3:11,16

“And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”…John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Read Advent Invitation a few times. Pause and reflect on a word or phrase where you are drawn.

 

Advent Invitation

Source of Life,

This season throws us.

While the darkness deepens,

the waiting aches for more.

And yet,

It is within this aching, this grieving

that something is being born.

You invite us

to watch and wait,

to listen and follow you.

As we ask “what then shall we do?”

we wait for your answer.

We trust that as life begins

in the darkness of the womb

so your light grows in the darkness within and around us.

Therefore, we follow wherever you may lead,

even when it is hard to find our way,

for we know you lead us by the hand

towards the light that comes. Amen.

Advent Light

Second Week of Advent

Opening 

Source of Life, as I sit here I breathe deeply, aware of your presence within me. Awaken me to your presence in this time and within me always.

 

Invitation

God of Hope, I quietly pray your name as I enter this time.

 

Reflection

As we begin Advent, we may feel disconnected because of all we and the world have been through in the last year. There is so much we long for, for ourselves, our loved ones, the community, and the world. We bring all that with us to this season and to the One who holds us close. 

 

Scripture Reading

Luke 1:68,  78,79

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

    for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.By the tender mercy of our God,  the dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

 

Read Advent Light through a few times. Pause and reflect on a word or phrase where you are drawn.

 

Advent Light

There are seasons when we strain our eyes

to see the light of your presence.

There are moments 

when the darkness encircles us 

and it seems like it is all we know.

When we struggle to glimpse the light

remind us that we are not alone

in the darkness,

but to look within

where you reside.

Train our unseeing eyes

for we carry the light of 

your presence within.  

And when we struggle still,

remind us 

that your tender mercy

ushers in the dawn

carrying with it your peace.

May it seep 

into the corners of our being.

And may it radiate through us

spilling out on those around us.

Amen.

 

Advent Longing

First Week of Advent

Opening

Divine One,  as I sit here with you, quiet my swirling thoughts, as you calmed the sea. Soothe my aching heart. Help me to know the comfort of your presence at this time, as I seek you.

 

Invitation

Take a moment or two and breathe in God’s name, “Emmanuel.” Inhale “Em-ma” and exhale “nuel”  Do this for a moment or two.

 

Reflection

As we begin Advent, we may feel unconnected or disconnected because of all we and the world have been through in the last year. There is so much we long for, for ourselves, our loved ones, the community, and the world. We bring all that with us to this season and to the One who holds us close. 

 

Read Advent Longing through a few times. Pause and reflect on a word or phrase on where you are drawn.

 

Advent Longing

Loving One,

As we begin this season

We do so as those who are straining through the fog

To glimpse a light to illuminate our path.

We are weary and overwhelmed with all that has been.

We long for your presence 

To be experienced in tangible ways.

This Advent,

Awaken us to notice you within us and around us.

Enfold us in your compassionate embrace

and remind us that in you, we are home.

 

Prayer

Thank you loving God that you love and receive us as we are with all we bring. Remind us and center us in that we are so loved by you. May it fill us with hope and peace. Connect us to each other as living expressions of your love in the world around us. Amen. 

Mary Did You Know?

Mary Did You Know?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby you kiss the face of God

Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, The dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, The praises of the Lamb
Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great, I Am

Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? Oh

Source: Musixmatch Songwriters: Greene Lee Rufus / Lowry Mark Alan
Mary, Did You Know? lyrics © Greensleeves Publishing Limited, Rufus Music, Word Music, Llc

 

Christmas Joy

Christmas Joy
Today, on this Christmas morn, we celebrate our great joy with the words of this Christmas hymn by Rev. David Bjorlin. Again, you are invited to read the text slowly and prayerfully. Notice what word or phrase you are drawn to, and offer it as a prayer to God.

Light is Kindled in the Darkness
Light is kindled in the darkness
when our hope seems most absurd,
beacons through a shrouded future,
pledges of Christ’s steadfast word;
gifts of goodness yet enfold us-
all around, beneath, above-
signs of beauty still persisting,
symbols of God’s constant love.

Though the wrong appears victorious-
vi’lence, prejudice, and pride-
hope still rises from the wreckage;
joy and grief stand side by side.
We will feel both pain and promise,
terror’s sting and love’s new birth,
as we walk in light and shadow
on God’s blessed and bleeding earth.

Raise your candle in the darkness,
though the wick of faith burns low.
Feed the fire with grace and justice
and in wonder watch it grow.
As we gather flames together,
till they shine with warmth and light,
God dispels the night of hatred,
and the blaze of love burns bright.

Text written by Rev. David Bjorlin © 2017 GIA Publications, Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

Come Now, O God, When Our Love is Forsaken

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Come Now, O God, When Our Love is Forsaken
Come now, O God, when our love is forsaken.
Come, when our bedrock of faith has been shaken.
Come, when our deepest of hopes are mistaken.
Come, Emmanuel.
Come, Emmanuel.

Come, when we squander the freedom you gave us.
Come, break the systems of sin that enslave us.
Come, though we wonder if you can still save us.
Come, Emmanuel.
Come, Emmanuel.

Come, lead us out of our self-serving madness.
Come, while the world is enshrouded in sadness.
Come, turn the tears of our mourning to gladness.
Come, Emmanuel.
Come, Emmanuel.

Text written by Rev. David Bjorlin © (c) 2018, GIA Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

The Prophets Caught a Vision

Third Sunday of Advent

 

The Prophets Caught a Vision
The prophets caught a vision
too thrilling to ignore
of children leading nations
no longer armed for war,
of weapons used for planting
and wolf and lamb at play,
of wild things all conspiring,
Preparing God’s own way

The prophets sought a vision,
a dream of God’s own reign
where peace embraces justice
and joy eclipses pain.
and though such dreams seem useless
their purposes grow clear:
to free minds long held captive
and loose hearts gripped by fear.

God, grow in us a vision
beyond our common dreams
that wakes imaginations
asleep in selfish schemes.
Then rising up together,
your vision as our goal,
we work toward that great promise
a shattered world made whole.

Text written by Dr. Rev. David Bjorlin © 2020 GIA Publications, Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

 

Prepare the Way with Quietness

Prepare the way with quietness,
a stillness in the storm,
that will not speak the wounding words
that cheapen or deform.

Prepare the way with hopeful words
some mock but others crave,
that makes the empire flinch in fear
and turn the fearful brave.

Prepare the way through holding back
while others grasp or strain
for unjust wealth and untamed power
that add to human pain.

Prepare the way with fervent love
that tears down walls of hate
and reconstructs a kinder world
that justice can create.

Prepare the way until we reach
the dawn of that new day
when all our paths converge in Christ
and we have found our way.

Text written by Rev. David Bjorlin, 1984 © 2020 GIA Publications, Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101