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Bulletin – December 27, 2020

First Sunday of Christmas

Approach

Lighting the Christ Candle

O come, O come Emmanuel, in the glow of this candle we feel your presence. God be with us. Come into our brokenness; Come into our joy. Come into our captivity; Come into our freedom. Come into our fear; Come into our compassion. Be present with us this day as we come to be in the light of your presence. O come, Emmanuel.

Call to Worship

One:   The Christmas tree lights have been dimmed.

All:     The once wrapped gifts have been shared.

One:   But the awesome love of God still shines brightly in our hearts.

All:     Our spirits resound with the good news of Christ’s birth.

One:   God is with us!

All:     Thanks be to God! AMEN.

Hymn – “Joy is Now in Every Place”

Joy is now in every place,
Christmas lightens every face;
Now be with us, in your grace,
O hear us, bless us, holy Jesus.

May the star that shone that night,
Making your poor stable bright,
Fill our hearts with love and light,
O hear us, bless us, holy Jesus.

Through the New Year let it stay,
Leading us upon your way,
Making Christmas every day,
O hear us, bless us, holy Jesus.

Now and ever may we find
Your good news to fill our mind:
Peace and love to humankind,
O hear us, bless us, holy Jesus.

Decorations and Traditions

Holly Garland – God Promises Eternal Life

Scripture Reading:          John 3:16 NRSV

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Background to the Holly Garland

Holly is evergreen, a symbol of eternal life obtained through Christ Jesus. The berries and the thorns represent the crucifixion and death of Christ, so that we might have life. Life is filled with thorns and red berries, but God also gives us a feeling of happiness, of being alive, of being green. The Holly Garland reminds us of God’s promise of eternal life.

Song – “The Holly and the Ivy”

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown:
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom, as white as any flow’r
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, to be our dear Saviour:
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.

The Poinsettia  – God’s People Will Blossom With Life

Scripture Reading:          Isaiah 35:1-2

1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.

Background to the Poinsettia

The Poinsettia has red leaves, once again a symbol of Christ’s death, which give us life, symbolized by the green leaves. The Poinsettia, a Christmas flower, reminds us the Christ is like a flower, which will bloom in the desert—the desert may refer to the waiting of Advent and to our human situation—when God comes at Christmas. The story of the Poinsettia is that a Mexican girl was going to church on Christmas, but had no gift to bring. She knelt down and wept because of her poverty, and from her tears sprung a Poinsettia. So, the Poinsettia reminds us the God will help us to blossom with life.

Song – “Joy Shall Come”

Joy shall come even to the wilderness,
And the parched land shall then know great gladness;
As the rose, as the rose shall deserts blossom,
Deserts like a garden blossom.
For living springs shall give cool water,
In the desert streams shall flow;
For living springs shall give cool water,
In the desert streams shall flow.

The Wreath – God’s Promise of Love

Scripture Reading:          1 James 4:9-11

9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.

Background to the Wreath

The Wreath is made of evergreens, a symbol of eternal life which Christ is coming at Christmas to bring. The circle suggests the everlasting covenant God makes with us, and also the love of God which encircles us and holds us close. A circle has no beginning or end, just as God’s love for us has not beginning or end. It is much the way that we hold a baby, encircling them with our arms, encircling a baby with love, just like Mary held her infant. So the Wreath reminds us of God’s promise to always love us.

Song – “The Circle of Love”

The circle of love goes around and around.
The circle of love goes around.
Reach out, lend a hand.
Someone needs you,
And the circle of love goes around.

Look, people are searching,
Afraid of the journey alone,
Stop, reach out;
Someone needs you,
And the circle of love goes around.

The circle of love goes around and around.
The circle of love goes around.
Reach out, lend a hand.
Someone needs you,
And the circle of love goes around.

The Mistletoe – God Promises a Peaceful Ruler

Scripture Reading:          Zechariah 9:9-10

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 He[a] will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth

Background to the Mistletoe

Mistletoe has no roots and no seeds. How it spreads is a mystery—like the mystery of God’s love and God’s presence with us in a baby. Where the Mistletoe hung, was a place to meet in peace, to exchange the gift of peace, a kiss of peace (not merely the romantic variety).

Song – “Christmas Peace”

Lord, be born in our hearts this day,
Christ-child spirit bring peace we pray,
Make the strife in the world to cease,
Bring us Lord, Christmas peace.
Christmas peace, Christmas peace,
Bring us Lord, Christmas peace.

Lord, the world cries for unity
Bind our hearts in community,
From all hatred our souls release,
Bring us Lord, Christmas peace.
Christmas peace, Christmas peace,
Bring us Lord, Christmas peace.

The Christmas Tree – God Promises to Beautify His Church

Scripture Reading:          Isaiah 60:13-15

13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify where my feet rest.

14 The descendants of those who oppressed you shall come bending low to you,

and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age.

Background to the Christmas Tree

The psalmist like Isaiah, also speak of being planted like a tree by the waters. It reminds us of waiting, of being patient for God’s coming. It reminds us to be steadfast. How many of us have seen those trees that cling to the side of a cliff, the only thing that is holding them in the face of the elements is their roots. Some of the ancient peoples of Europe worshipped at sacred trees. Christian missionaries encouraged them to keep their devotions using the trees, but to change their focus as they were called to see the evergreen of the tree of God’s promise of eternal life. They are called to see the steadfast strength of God in the strong roots of the tree and finally to see that a tree takes time to grow and to have patience for God’s kingdom to come. So in this way the Christmas Tree became a new Christian tradition.

Song – “O Christmas Tree”

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
With faithful leaves unchanging;
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
With faithful leaves unchanging;

Not only green in summer’s heat,
But also winter’s snow and sleet,
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
With faithful leaves unchanging.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your leaves will teach me, also,
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your leaves will teach me, also,

That hope and love and faithfulness
Are precious things I can possess.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your leaves will teach me, also.

Benediction

I would like to end with a poem by Howard Thurman called “The Work of Christmas:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the people,
To make music in the heart.

Amen.

Categories: General News, Sunday Bulletin and Announcements