The Prelude included "Go Tell It On The Mountain."
Call to Worship
[One] Arise, shine, people of God, for your light has come, and the glory of God has risen upon you.
[All] Though darkness covers the earth and dark night the nations, on us God shines and over us God's glory will appear.
[One] You will see it, and be radiant with joy, and your heart will thrill with gladness. Open your eyes and look around!
[All] Though darkness covers the earth and dark night the nations, on us God shines and over us God's glory appears!
(Isaiah 60:15, adapted)
The opening, I was thinking of that Vacation Bible School type song "Rise and shine and give God the glory glory," and then the "Open your eyes and look around" I thought of Catie Curtis' "get up on the roof and look around." My brain is a weird place.
Opening Prayer (unison)
Sovereign God of all nations, we have seen the star of your glory rising in splendor. The radiance of the incarnate Word breaks into the night that covers the earth and signals the dawn of justice and peace. May your Wisdom's brightness illumine our world and invite all peoples to walk as one in your light. Amen.
Hymn #164: "Arise, Your Light Is Come"
The up and down of the notes felt weird to me, and I felt like none of us singing were in tune with each other.
Choral Call to Prayer -- I had real difficulty discerning words, but Googling snippets, I think it was "As with Gladness Men of Old."
Prayer of Confession (unison)
God of light, we admit our retreat into the shadows of sin and safety. We acknowledge our self-absorption and willful ignorance of other people and other places. We acknowledge our habits of self-protection and our unwillingness to risk knowing anything beyond what confirms our prejudices. We acknowledge that we care little for the expansive and all-embracing word of the gospel. We acknowledge that we prefer to live behind the closed doors of home rather than be disturbed by visitors from afar.
Forgive us, we pray. Amen.
Words of Assurance
Passing of the Peace
Time With Our Young People
Karl basically rehashed the story of the Magi and then invited Corinne to help him move the Magi figurines to the stable (there's a big Nativity display on the stage behind the pulpit and stuff).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
Anthem -- something about the Magi going to Bethlehem
Sermon: "Reaching for the Stars"
I was unimpressed. He talked about lofty goals the church is setting for itself for this coming year, and mostly it was financial stuff (increasing the amount of money we spend on local mission giving, continuing renovations to the building -- including making it more handicapped-accessible) and I was just meh.
Affirmation of Faith
Jesus announced the coming of God's kingdomHymn 165: "Love Came Down at Christmas"
and its hidden presence in the midst of the world's kingdoms.
He taught his disciples to seek God's kingdom first.
We believe Christ gives us and demands of us
lives in pilgrimage toward God's kingdom.
Like Christ we may enjoy on our journey
all that sustains life and makes it pleasant and beautiful.
No more than Christ are we spared
the darkness, ambiguity, and threat of life in the world.
We are in the world, but not of the world.
Our confidence and hope for ourselves and other people
do not rest in the powers and achievements of this world,
but in the coming and hidden presence of God's kingdom.
Christ calls each of us to a life appropriate to that kingdom:
to serve as he has served us;
to take up our cross,
risking the consequences of faithful discipleship;
to walk by faith, not by sight,
to hope for what we have not seen.
The title of this was familiar to me, but I don't think I'd ever heard the actual hymn. It was easier to sing than the previous one, but still had some of the same difficulties (I felt).
Prayers of the People and The Prayer of Christ
Offering and Prayer of Dedication
Sacrament of Holy Communion
We did the circle at the front of the church again, but this time people had thought ahead enough that Karl explained in advance we would stay up there for the prayer (printed in a bulletin insert, as was the whole Communion liturgy) and then go back to our seats for the closing hymn.
The final hymn was vss. 1, 3, and 5 of "Jesus Calls Us, o'er the Tumult," which I kinda liked.
Jesus calls us over the tumultThe post-Benediction Response hymn was verse 1 of "Joy to the World!"
Of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me!”
Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, “Christian, love Me more!”
Jesus calls us! By Thy mercies,
Savior may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.