Call to Worship:
One: On this darkest of nights,
Many: We come, waiting, with the hope of the prophets.
One: On this most silent night,
Many: We come, wondering, with the earth-changing peace of young Mary.
One: On this night of carols and candlelight,
Many: We come, running, with the joy of the shepherds.
One: On this holiest of nights
Many: We come we come, open, to receive the love of the Christ child.
One: On this healing night
Many: We come to share the wide and wild love of the Christ child. Amen.
Lighting of the First Candle: Kindling Hope
One: Christmas comes to us as the sky grows dark and the world is cold.
The Christmas child comes to us as the world grows dark and our hearts grow cold.
Tonight amid darkness and cold,
Many: We light this candle, We kindle Your hope.
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-5
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”
Into The Darkest Hour, by Madeleine L’Engle
One: It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.
One: It was a time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.
One: And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Many: Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.
Lighting of the Second Candle: Kindling Peace
One: Christmas comes to us as the world is worried and weary with wars and rumors of wars, with disagreements between neighbors and family, with hearts suffering with unrest, with calendars filled with busyness and a deep. deep. desire for rest.
The Christmas child comes to us as we world longs for peace and our hearts grow weary.
Tonight as the world struggles to know peace amid brokenness,
Many: We light this candle, We kindle Your peace.
Scripture: Isaiah 11:6-9
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.”
Poem: St Francis’ Prayer
One: Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Many: O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen.
Lighting of the Third Candle: Kindling Joy
One: Christmas comes as the nights grow long and the skies grey and heavy with clouds.
The Christmas child comes as many of us are tired and longing for the abandon of joyful child-like play.
Tonight as grief, sorrow, and despair seem to cover the hearts of many of us, many of our neighbors, and many around the world – like the sky filled with so many relentless Cascadian winter rain clouds,
Many: We light this candle. We kindle your joy.
Scripture: Luke 1:46-56
And Mary sang:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of God’s servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.
God’s mercy is for those who fear God, from generation to generation.
God has shown strength with God’s arm;
God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
God has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise God made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.”
First Coming, by Madeleine L’Engle
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
Many: We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
Lighting of the Fourth Candle: Kindling Love
One: Christmas comes as the world is clamoring with division, consumerism, and thoughts of self.
The Christmas child comes to and through a young woman who sought the good of her people and the world over her own.
The Christmas child comes to us as we struggle to know, to give, to understand love.
Tonight as our world and our neighborhood longs for but so often does not understand love,
MANY: We light this candle. We kindle Your love.
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
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!”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Lighting of the Christ Candle: Celebration
And now we will light a very special candle.
Many many years ago on Christmas a very special child was born. We just heard his story. Do you remember what his name was?
Jesus came to us on Christmas. And when Jesus grew up and became an adult he said and did many wonderful things. He led people toward God’s ways of liberating love and justice for all people and all things. And the people were so amazed, they just had to ask him: “Who are you?”
He told them, “I am the light.”
Jesus is a special light in our world. Jesus’ light holds all the special things we’ve talked about tonight: Jesus is hope. Jesus is peace. Jesus is joy. Jesus is love.
Let’s enjoy the light.
Do you know what is really amazing about this light, it can spread. It can live in all of us. Through us, it can go to new places and bring new light.
Let’s enjoy the light by spreading the light. I’ll light my candle from it. Then you light your candle from it. Then each one of us will light our candles from this one candle that represents this special baby named Jesus who brings us light.
And every time we get together to talk about Jesus throughout the next year, we will light this candle again. To remind us that Jesus is with us. That Jesus shines through us. That Jesus brings us hope, peace, joy, and love.
Let’s watch as this light fills the room like Jesus’ love fills the world through each of us as Jesus lives in us.
The Good News tonight is this: God is with you, with us, with all of our siblings and this vulnerable planet.
The Good News tonight is this: God is for you, for us, for all of our siblings and this vulnerable planet.
The Good News tonight is this: God is in you, in us, in all of our siblings and this vulnerable planet.
And so, may Jesus the Christ be born in us this night, in our hearts, our minds, our lives.
May the light of Jesus the Christ be kindled in us, and spread through and around us as your welcoming Kin-dom of liberating love and justice brings light to every life. And may we all be filled with holy joy today and always.