Christmas Day

Hark! the messenger angels sing.
It is finished! Love has come!

Our spirits soar, O mighty God,
at the magnitude and majesty:

there you are among us, the Infant Savior — and
here you are among us, the Wonderful Mystery!

We are bursting with the news: Love is here!
Peace is here! Justice and judgment are here!

How sweet, how delicious, how very
indescribable — you are sublime!

Receive our joy and make of it wonder.

Receive our gratitude and make of it humility.

Receive our adoration and make of it compassion.

Make of us, O Jesus, vessels of praise
and testimonies of the miraculous

so that no one doubts and no one
does not know the breadth of your love.

Glory, glory, glory to you in our hearts!
Glory, glory, glory to you in heaven & earth!

Glory and good news for all people!
Good news and great relief for those most in need.

Hark! the messenger angels sing.
It is finished! Love has come!

Amen! Your love is complete!
Amen! Our work of love is renewed

and our life in love is saved.
Glory, pure glory to God in the highest!

Your love is forever and ever.
Amen and amen.

Woodwork by David Van Epps

Woodwork by David Van Epps

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Advent Candle Liturgies: Isaiah

I’m ready for Advent — Christmas too, but Advent especially. I find that the season’s wild imagination and perilous possibilities confront my pessimism, my complacency, my worry, and they challenge: “Well then? If you perceive the world’s discontent, why not embrace a vision for and live boldly into God’s fulfillment?”

Listening for that vision, conveying its provocative call through Advent candle liturgies feels particularly cathartic for this election week in the US. Perhaps reading the liturgies will encourage you too. These are written as Calls to Worship before lighting Advent candles. Feel welcome to use and adapt these liturgies for your own context, with written attribution (in a bulletin, e.g.) to this website.

Advent 1 (November 27): Call to Worship on Isaiah 2:1-5

ONE: One day we will arrive. One day our hearts will catch sight of the mountain of the LORD.
ALL: LORD, we want to go there! O God, we long to be in your presence and walk in your ways.
ONE: Let’s go! All together, let’s make that journey to the mountain of God.
ALL: Sisters and brothers, friends and strangers, let us travel together. Surely we will get there.
ONE: Let the dream of that holy mountain give you courage and strength as we go.
ALL: What a vision: weapons of war turned into tools of harvest, and lessons of peace taught to all people.
ONE: Let us journey together in the light of the LORD!
[first Advent candle is lit]


Advent 2 (December 4): Call to Worship on Isaiah 11:1-10

ONE: Friends, I dreamt that a new shoot was growing from the stump we thought was long dead.
ALL: We dreamt too — of cows and bears grazing next to one another in the field.
ONE: In my dream there was a toddler laughing in wonder and without fear at the world around her.
ALL: In our dreams, the wolf and the lamb found shelter together in a barn; the leopard and the goat curled up next to one another in the hay.
ONE: Did you dream too of generosity and compassion clothing all people like a soft robe?
ALL: Yes, and all people recognized the evils of poverty and worked together for restoration.
ONE: Let us not shy away from our dreams but seek God through them.
[first and second Advent candles are lit]

Advent 3 (December 11): Call to Worship on Isaiah 35:1-10

ONE: Be strong! Do not fear!
ALL: The wilderness will become a place of joy. The desert will become a field for harvest.
ONE: Be strong! Do not fear!
ALL: The drought will break with a spring of water. The weeds and wild shrubs will become a highway for all God’s children.
ONE: Do not let your head or your heart or your body hold you back!
ALL: The highway will not be a place of fear but of fellowship. All will sing and dance with joy, and none will be lost.
ONE: God is coming. Do not fear!
[first three Advent candles are lit]

Advent 4 (December 18): Call to Worship on Isaiah 7:10-16

ONE: Come. The days are long, the nights are longer. If you are tired, seek a sign of the LORD God.
ALL: Can a sign make it all better?
ONE: Come. Here are honey and bread for comfort.
ALL: Waiting for God’s fulfillment can be discouraging.
ONE: Come. Here is the promise of Immanuel, God With Us.
ALL: Pay attention to the signs.
ONE: God knows we need a sign. Be prepared and welcome the signs.
[all four Advent candles are lit]

Christmas (December 25): Call to Worship on Isaiah 9:2-7

ONE: A child has been born for us!
ALL: Now we walk in God’s light, because the heavens have opened and joy has come!
ONE: The Prince of Peace has come to us!
ALL: Now the wars cease and the warriors may go home.
ONE: From this time onward, justice is established!
ALL: Now our burdens are eased, now the harvest has ripened, now righteousness is established!
ONE: The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this!
[all Advent candles and the Christmas candles are lit]

Midnight on New Year’s

Would that I could escape this second, stretch out from the bubble that is this hour, and touch the hem of your robe there where you wade on the horizon, there where you watch the world go by out-of-sequence, there where you midwife death into birth and mourning into dancing, there where the soft shadows of yesterday’s dawn dance across your holy face with the blazing lights of tomorrow’s sunset. Would that I could be with you beyond time, without panic that joy is something to be lost, without fear that love is only a flower that fades, without despair that healing is beyond the reach of these days. Would that I could — but o! most Eternal God — if I cannot, then hide me in the hem of your robe until I see clearly the limits of the clock and the frailty of my faith.

on Ecclesiastes 3:11b


Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child
bye bye we say this day.
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child
bye bye along your way.

O brothers, all, see how death falls;
let anger be displayed,
and to this child wrapped in a shawl
sing you lully lullay.

Dear sisters, too, might we undo
the violence and dismay
for peace and love to yet break through?
Bye bye lully lullay.

Herod in rage across the age
steals life as though from prey;
his love of pow’r becomes a plague
and God he thus betrays.

Woe to the child and woe to we;
raise our lament today.
May Christ preserve our spirits free,
bye bye lully lullay.

Based on the Coventry Carol and Matthew 2:16. The Coventry Carol came from a series of medieval plays that brought bible stories to life — in this case, the story of the Slaughter of the Innocents. In the play, mothers of the children murdered at Herod’s command sang a last lullaby to their children.