Both Prelude pieces were familiar to me.
There were very few people in attendance, so in the Welcome, Gusti (pastor Karl was with his family in New Mexico) joked about "faithful remnant" and "where two or three are gathered."
Call to Worship
[One] "Do not fear," says our God, "for I am with you."
[All] "Do not be afraid, for I am your God."
[One] "I will strengthen you," says our God. "I will help you."
[All] ""I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."
God of community, whose call is more insistent than ties of family or blood: may we so respect and love those whose lives are linked with ours that we do not fail in loyalty to you, but make choices according to your will, though Jesus Christ, Amen.
[The Opening Prayer is taken from Janet Morley, "Christmas 2 Lectionary Collect," All Desires Known, p. 6]
Hymn "Blessed Be the Tie That Binds" (which I felt kinda like should be a pre-prayer hymn -- "We share each other's woes, Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.")
The Choral Call to Prayer was "You Are Mine," which I love. *hearts Isaiah*
I will come to you in the silence
I will lift you from all your fear
You will hear My voice
I claim you as My choice
Be still, and know I am near
I am hope for all who are hopeless
I am eyes for all who long to see
In the shadows of the night,
I will be your light
Come and rest in Me
Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine
Prayer of Confession (unison)
Gentle me, Holy One, into an unclenched moment, a deep breath, a letting go of heavy expectancies, of shriveling anxieties, of dead certainties, that, softened by the silence, surrounded by the light, and open to the mystery, I may be found by wholeness, upheld by the unfathomable, entranced by the simple, and filled with the joy that is you.
[The Prayer of Confession is taken from Ted Loder, "Guide Me into an Unclenched Moment," Guerillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle, p. 17]
Words of Assurance
Passing of the Peace of Christ
Time With Our Young People
The only child in attendance was I think Ellen's son. Gusti asked him if he'd gotten any really good Christmas presents, and he said a remote-controlled car. She was impressed and said she'd gotten a bowl -- which don't get her wrong was a very nice bowl and she quite likes it. "You wish you'd gotten a bowl? Well now we're even."
She said that one gift she got quite some time ago but which she still has (and which she brought in to show) is an afghan her grandmother made for her. She said her grandmother is no longer with us but she can wrap up in blanket and know she loves her even though she's not here. She also said that her grandmother always encouraged her to be a better person, so the blanket reminds her of that as well.
Scripture Reading Hebrews 2:10-18
I was struck by the bits about "made holy through suffering" and "high priest of atonement," since those aren't ideas I tend to think my liberal churches are very fond of.
Anthem "Good Christian men, rejoice" (though it may have been made gender neutral, I could only hear bits and got the title from Googling snippets I'd written down)
Scripture Reading Matthew 28:8-10, 16-20
I was struck by the part about "all authority on heaven and earth is given to Jesus Christ" because that goes against the Jehovah's Witnesses (who look at the temptation in the desert where Satan says that all governments belong to him, and also because I've been thinking about Luther's emphasis on obedience to secular governments and the New Testament support for that.
Sermon "God With Us, For a Reason"
Gusti talked about how Jesus told the women to tell the disciples to go to Galilee because that's where he would be, and how wouldn't it be great if we could take a trip out to the Berkshires, spend some time with Jesus, some healing and compassion (being me, of course, I was thinking that while that's nice and all, I would totally be like, "Answers!"). She said that of course that's not what it was like for the disciples, that they were in mourning and various sorts of emotional distress. She said, "I wonder about that hiking trip to Galilee." She said she wondered how long the women pestered them before they agreed to go, how long Jesus waited, what they talked about on the way, what checkpoints they passed.
She said one might be wondering why the Sunday after Christmas, right after celebrating Christ's coming into the world, we jumped to the end of Matthew.* She talked about the disciples' encounter with Jesus and said this isn't the end of the story, it's the beginning. I remembered Ari talking about JCS and saying, "I was like, okay, when this film is over I will go read John 20. Which I did, as that's how the story
*In looking at the bulletin before service, I was thinking it was weird and kind of annoying that we didn't have any Christmas hymns since we are in The Twelve Days of Christmas. And I was recalling Tallessyn (CWM) before Advent this year saying that while the Sunday right before Christmas is technically still part of Advent, it often gets celebrated as Christmas Sunday, and other stuff I've heard about the theology of not singing Christmas carols during Advent (since you are waiting, Christ has not come yet).
Hymn: "Lord, You Give the Great Commission"
Prayers of the People & The Prayer of Christ
Focus on Mission
Salome asked us various questions, including, "In what way did you make a positive impact on someone's life throughout the year?" and "How do we experience peace and justice in our own lives?"
Prayer of Dedication (unison)
Eternal God, a thousand years in your sight are like a watch in the night. You have led us in days past; guide us now and always, that our hearts may turn to choose your will, and new resolves and be strengthened. We dedicate these gifts to you and seek your guidance in using them wisely.
[The Prayer of Dedication is taken from PC(USA) Supplemental Liturgiccal Resource 7, "The Christmas Cycle," The Liturgical Year, p. 81]
Hymn: "Standing at the Future's Threshold" (vss. 1 & 2)
Response: "Standing at the Future's Threshold" (v. 5)
We finished at like 11:40 which is at least ten minutes earlier than usual. I hung around downstairs hoping more interesting people would come downstairs 'cause I felt like I should socialize but was really not feeling it. Robert(?) talked to me some, but he always kind of annoys me. But then I ended up chatting with Gusti and then with Ellen, so that worked out well.