Order of Worship: Service of Light
December 20, 2020 at 5:30 PM

Join us at 5:30 PM this evening for our Livestream Service of Light where we will remind each other that we are people of the light. Christ is our Light in the darkness, and we will offer our prayers for those who need to experience God’s healing and wholeness.  

Welcome

Prelude

Opening Sentences
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
O Lord, you search out my path and my lying down,
  and are acquainted with all my ways.
Come, those who search for comfort and light this night,
  For with God, night is as bright as the day.

Lighting of Candle at Home
We invite you to light a candle in your worship space at home. As you light your candle, remember that we are a people of the light. Jesus is the light of the world. God sent Jesus to lighten our darkness. 

Prayer:
God of love and understanding,
we gather this evening to acknowledge
both the joy of the season
and the pain that many experience
in the midst of the world’s celebration.
Help us to know that you are present with us
in all of our moods and feelings and seasons.
Grant us a taste of the hope, peace, joy, and love
that you promise to all of your people
through the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ,
the Light of the World. Amen. 

Scripture Reading: Psalm 139:1-18

Reflection

Lighting of Candles
We light this first candle to remember the people in our lives who died this past year, whose presence we ache for, whose spirit we are missing, whose absence we grieve.
God of light, Lighten our darkness.

This light represents the wide range of losses we and others in our lives are grieving right now- broken relationships, the loss of health, jobs, faith that used to be certain, and dreams that were shattered.
God of light, Lighten our darkness.

We light this candle for our weary souls, for the burdens we are carrying, for our heavy hearts.
God of light, Lighten our darkness.

We light this candle as a symbol of our desire for hope and peace in this season, to remember that despite the darkness, light and love can seep in. 
God of light, Lighten our darkness.

Offering of our Lives and Prayers to God
We invite you to take a few moments to reflect on your own life and the lives of those you love. Then write down names, situations, or whatever is on your heart and place your prayers under your lit candle as a sign of lifting them into the healing light of Christ.

Offer this silent prayer once you have written your prayers and lifted them into God’s light.
Holy One, healer of the world, shed your light upon this world.
Holy One, healer of brokenness, make us bold to share your light with others.
Holy One, healer of the world, we offer our prayers:

(Share prayers for yourself, others, and/or our world.)

Holy One, healer of all, lead us and those we love to wholeness
and make us shine with your light of healing love. Amen.

Musical Meditation                                                   

Litany of Affirmation (“First Coming” by Madeleine L’Engle)
God did not wait till the world was ready,
till...nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
God came, and God’s Light would not go out.

God 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.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain.
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Invitation to Additional Reflection

Benediction

Postlude                
Additional Reflection
What emotions are you feeling?
     Grief, Fear, Anger, Hurt, Doubt, Shame…
What do you long for right now?
     Forgiveness, Peace, Healing, Love, Compassion

Reflect on these questions in silent prayer or by writing them down. God often speaks through our writing. It causes us to finish sentences and thoughts that we might not finish if we are simply thinking about them. Writing can be healing and insightful.

What do you need to release?
Reflect of things in your life past, present, or what you thought would be.
Write down what you feel God calling you to release. Once you have written it on paper, crush the paper into a ball and throw it way. Release it to God. How do you feel? Do you now have more room to embrace what God is calling you to embrace?

What unexpected gifts surround you this Advent season?
Reflect on the blessings of traveling in the dark.
A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark

Go slow
if you can.
Slower.
More slowly still.
Friendly dark
or fearsome,
this is no place
to break your neck
by rushing,
by running,
by crashing into
what you cannot see.

Then again,
it is true:
different darks
have different tasks,
and if you
have arrived here unawares,
if you have come
in peril
or in pain,
this might be no place
you should dawdle.

I do not know
what these shadows
ask of you,
what they might hold
that means you good
or ill.
It is not for me
to reckon
whether you should linger
or you should leave.

But this is what
I can ask for you:

That in the darkness
there be a blessing.
That in the shadows
there be a welcome.
That in the night
you be encompassed
by the Love that knows
your name.

—Jan Richardson