Call To Worship
[One] What do I want for Christmas?
I want to kneel in Bethlehem,
the air thick with alleluias,
the angels singing
that God is born among us.
[All] In the light of the Star,
I want to see them come,
the wise ones and the humble.
[One] I want to see them come
bearing whatever they treasure
to lay at the feet
of him who gives his life.
What do I want for Christmas?
[All] To see in that stable
the whole world kneeling in thanks
for a promise kept:
[One] For in his nativity
[All] we find ours.
("What Do I Want for Christmas?", Ann Weems)
I got a little choked up at the "the whole world kneeling in thanks for a promise kept: new life" bit.
Mysterious God, you come to us this season softly as a mother's sigh, as startling as the cry of a newborn child. Come into our hearts, we pray, that we may be cradled in your love and stirred by your glory. Amen.
(United Church of Canada)
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" (vss. 1 and 3)
I still like this hymn a lot.
Ellen's family did the Lighting of the Christ Candle. The Scripture reading was I think Luke 2:6-7. The commentary was hard for me to follow thematically -- something about the Marys of the world, but also something about each new birth being valuable (which felt more appropriate a focus for the Christ Candle) and something about "child king, infant redeemer ... he is born and nothing will ever be the same."
[Solo] "I Wonder As I Wander"
I was a little bit jarred by this since the very second line is about Jesus' death, but at the same time I recalled how I'm always jarred that we have Communion at UCN Christmas Eve service and how I do approve of the combination since, as I am forever saying, Jesus' birth wouldn't mean much without his Resurrection (and one can't rise from the dead without first dying).
"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"
Which I still find difficult to sing, though I'm getting better. Apparently we sing the lower set of notes on the top bar (at least that's the sense I got from trying to listen to the choir), which feels counter-intuitive to me.
Luke 1:26-38 [This was the one I was given to read. I wasn't super-enthused, but as the service went on I was retroactively grateful, 'cause I wasn't really into much of the readings at all.]
[Choir] A hymn based on Isaiah 35 which they sang on Sunday -- "the ears of the deaf shall hear ... the water shall break forth in the wilderness and the desert shall set forth a stream"
"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear"
"cloven" seems such a strange choice of word -- admittedly because it makes me think of Kakistos
"weary world" makes me think of Annakovsky's fic.
[Choir] Some song I didn't know -- "Holy child, holy child . . . hallelujah . . . child of light born to night"
[out of order, I'm not sure why] "The Word, For Our Sake..." by Julia Esquivel
"Angels We Have Heard on High"
Singing this, it occurred to me that I'm so familiar with it (whereas "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" I only first heard this Advent) that I can sing it without looking at the music (including knowing exactly how many o's are in the "Gloria" of the chorus) but that actually looking at the music it does a double-thing like "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." Huh.
Gusti talked about how at Christmastime our joys are perhaps a bit more joyful and our sorrows a bit more sorrowful and said that we pray the same prayers we do all the time, but "we pray them, knowing we are living in the incarnational moment." She read from some poem from Shine On, Star of Bethlehem, with silences interspersed to allow us time for silent reflection. Bits I jotted down: "pray for lonely people who are hidden in the darkness" and "not every night is silent, but every night is holy."
"Silent Night, Holy Night" (Please share the light of Christ by lighting the candle of the person next to you.)
I'm That Girl who wants to carry her lighted candle all the way home, so I'd put my jacket and bag on before we began the hymn (which also means there are spots of white candle wax on my new purple bag).
The sanctuary lights got turned off during the singing of the hymn, which I approved of.
After the hymn was the Benediction, and no one moved to leave during the postlude. After it was over, people began to head out to the narthex. I talked to Gusti briefly, and then various people with children kept coming out and just kind of staying, so I headed out. As soon as I opened the door a wind blew out my candle, so I could have let it close and gone to look for Mike to say hi to him since I'm quite fond of him, but I felt weird doing that (even though it's not like people had nothing better to do than watch what I was doing) and besides I wanted to get back to my apartment and get stuff taken care of before I headed out to Norwood. (Though the service was only about 45 minutes, so I was less in danger of being pressed for time than I thought I might be.)