Monday, December 22, 2014

A Blue Christmas worship service

Welcome to Barboursville First United Methodist Church.
Several area pastors decided they wanted to offer the community a “Blue Christmas” worship service, acknowledging that the holidays are not always happy, and that many of us bear the griefs of life, sometimes painfully, sometimes alone.
Some of us have lost loved ones. Some have lost jobs or health.
Some struggle with addictions to substances, behaviors, or beliefs. Again.
Tonight we want to offer a time to name those griefs,
and to symbolically give them to the Lord.

After all, Jesus came into our world so that we might have life, to the full.
So that he might bear our griefs.
So that we might know hope and redemption and peace.

We just experienced the shortest day and the longest night of the year.
We know what it feels like to be in darkness.
Others have called it “the dark night of the soul,”
or “the winter of our discontent.”
This time of year can bring back memories of past pain and sorrow.
It highlights and heightens new experiences of suffering.
For many this time of year, that we call the holiday season,
is no holiday at all.
It is filled with difficult times, humps to get over, gatherings to endure, varieties of pressures and a flood of memories
that darken and dampen the days.
This service will allow for some time to recognize that
this season is not a joy for everyone.
When others are going “merrily along” many of us would rather
the season just go away.

In this service, we will be given a chance to sing and to pray.
We will be invited to offer up the pain, the loneliness,
the sad and dark memories,
and the anxiety and fear to the one whose birth we eagerly await…
...Jesus Christ.
We pray that you will find hope and peace in this service
and comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

Upon entering, you will receive a star. We invite you to write something of your grief on the star – a name, a date, a circumstance, even just a word – and hold it during the service. There will be a time to come forward and hang your star on the tree, and we pray it will be a time of blessing for you.

If you would like to receive anointing with oil after the service, please speak to one of the pastors. And we hope you’ll return to one of our communities for a Christmas Eve service. If you’re looking for a worship community to call home, we’d be happy to help.

Pastor Carl Ames, Christ the King Lutheran Church
Pastor Kerry Bart, First UMC Barboursville
Pastor Julia Bolling, Dillon Chapel UMC
Pastor Patrick Ryan, Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church

Call to Worship
Today we come looking for the Christ Child.
We come, bringing our hurts, our worries, our fears.
We come seeking relief from pain. With the psalmist of old we say,
“O Lord, you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.
Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low.”

A Word from the Scriptures: Isaiah 9:2
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. For the yoke that was weighing upon them, and the burden upon their shoulders, thou hast broken in pieces O God, our Renewer.

Opening Prayer
God of Mercy, hear our prayer in this Advent Season for ourselves and our families who live with the painful memories of loss. We ask for strength for today, courage for tomorrow and peace for the past. We ask these things in the name of your Christ who shares our life in joy and sorrow, death and new birth, despair and promise. Amen.

Opening Hymn: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus     196

A Responsive Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 121     p.844

An Advent Liturgy of Remembering
This first candle we light to remember those whom we have loved and lost. We pause to remember their name, their face, their voice, the memory that binds them to us in this season.
May God’s eternal love surround them.
This second candle we light is to redeem the pain of loss: the loss of relationships, the loss of jobs, the loss of health or wellness. We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God, asking that from God’s hands we receive the gift of peace.
Refresh, restore, and renew us, O God, and lead us into your future.
This third candle we light is to remember ourselves this month: The disbelief, the anger, the down times, the poignancy of reminiscing, the hugs and handshakes of family and friends, all those who have stood with us. We give thanks for all the support we have known.
Let us remember that dawn defeats darkness.
This fourth candle is lit to remember our faith and the gift of hope which the Christmas story offers to us. We remember that God gives us life and promises a place and time of no more pain and suffering.
Let us remember the one who shows the way, who brings the truth and who bears the light.

Hymn: There is a Balm in Gilead   375

Prayers of the People
In the spirit of this season let us now confidently ask God for all the things we need;
For ourselves as we participate in whatever way we can this Christmas.
God, hear our prayer,
And in your mercy, answer.
For our families and friends,
that they may continue to help and support us,
God, hear our prayer,
And in your mercy, answer.
For the person we have loved that has died.
For all the losses that we know,
That all may be redeemed by your Easter promises.
God, hear our prayer,
And in your mercy, answer.
For all our family and friends,
that they may know Hope and Peace and Joy and Love in you,
God, hear our prayer,
And in your mercy, answer.
For the peace proclaimed by the Christmas angels,
to come throughout the whole world.
God, hear our prayer,
And in your mercy, answer.
God of great compassion and love,
Listen to the prayers of these your people.
Grant to all, especially the bereaved and troubled ones this Christmas,
the blessings we ask in the name of Christ who taught us to pray together, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

A Reading from the Gospel: John 1:1-14
God’s light comes into the world, unquenchable by darkness

A Word from Ann Weems (from her book Kneeling in Bethlehem)
Into this silent night
As we make our weary journey
We know not where;
Just when the night becomes its darkest
And we cannot see our path;
Just then is when the angels rush in,
Their hands full of stars.

Worshipers are invited to bring their griefs forward,
hang them on the tree,
light a candle, and receive a new hope.
Musical offering: Heal Us, Hands of Jesus (Hymn 262)

A Word from Ann Weems (from her book Kneeling in Bethlehem)
The Christmas Spirit is that hope
Which tenaciously clings to the hearts of the faithful
And announces
In the face of any Herod the world can produce
And all the inn doors slammed in our faces
And all the dark nights of our souls
That with God all things still are possible
That even now
Unto us a Child is born!

Closing Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel    211

Benediction: An Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields;
And until we meet again,

May you be held in the warmth of God’s hand. Amen.

This service was crafted by CA, KB, and JB, utilizing several resources we found online. Feel free to use it and adapt it as you see fit.

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