I did both readings (from the NRSV, natch).
I announced that I would be reading the Isaiah text with feminine language for the divine, because I really don't want all this masculine language.
When I did the Hebrews reading, I just swapped in "Christ('s)" for "he" and "his" -- and once I said "the divine name" because I honestly wasn't quite sure of the referent for "his name."
After I got home last night, I emailed Jeff and Laura Ruth to tell them I was sorry I wasn't able to make it to the re/New service because I was at CWM Bible study. Today, I got replies:
'sall right with me, except that I missed you. Oh, wait, I get to see you tonight! And Wednesday! I'm a lucky sister.and
Me too Elizabeth. ...I missed you, but am glad you made the CWM Bible Study. That sounds great.In my response to Laura Ruth, I told her that I didn't think I would make it to the Longest Night service because I was having dinner with marketsquare. However, he was meeting a friend for ice cream after our dinner, so I made it to the second half of the service.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
When Laura Ruth communed me, she grinned at me and said something like, "Elizabeth, this is the bread of life given for you tonight, that you might have life abundant." Which I think is what she was saying to everyone. And Tiffany offered me the Cup of hope.
There were healing stations (afterward), and I was seriously considering going to one, but then I realized I would have to pick between my clergy.
A Service of Healing for the Shadow Side of the Season
It's so delicate, the light
And there's so little of it. The dark
Just delicate needles, the light,
In an endless night.
And it has such a long way to go.
Through such desolate space.
So let's be gentle with it.
So it will come again in the morning.
In the time of sorrowing, God is there:
there in the embrace of loved ones,
there in words spoken with compassion,
there in the quiet places of the heart, in recalled, treasured memories.
Yes, God is there -- and God is here.
Come, gracious God.
Come in quiet hope.
Come in gentle assurance.
Come in tender mercy.
Come with healing to make us whole.
Creator God, lover of the universe, we come to you in this quiet place seeking your reassurance and your hope.
We come in the midst of noise, listening for your gentle heartbeat.
To those who are chilled by grief and pain, bring the warmth of your love.
To those who are overwhelmed by feelings that exhaust and stifle, bring the colling breeze of your love.
To those who are caught in the glare of expectations,m bring the comforting darkness of your love.
To those who find themselves in shadows of anxiety, bring the morning dawn of your love.
Breath courage into our day.
Whisper strength into our dreams.
We ask these things in the name of your child, Jesus, who was born into a chaotic world of birth, death, and rebirth -- just like today. Amen.
Litany of Good News and Bad News from the Psalmist (from Psalms 22 and 23)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
God is my shepherd, I shall not want.
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but find no rest.
God makes me lie down in green pastures; leads me beside still waters.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me, your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
I am a worm, and not human. Scorned by others, and despised by the people. All who see me mock at me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of God my whole life long.
Lighting Candles in the Darkness
The first candle we light to remember those whom we have loved and lost. We pause to remember their names, their faces, their voices, the memories that bind them to us in this season.
May God's eternal love surround them.
This second candle we light to redeem the pain of loss: the loss of relationships, the loss of jobs, the loss of health, the loss of hopes and dreams. We pause to gather up the pain of the past. We offer it to God, asking that from God's hand we receive the gift of peace.
Refresh, restore, renew us, O God, and lead us into your future.
This third candle we light to think about ourselves this holiday season. We pause and remember these past weeks and months: the disbelief, the anger, the encroaching depression. The poignancy of reminiscing. The hot feuds, or cold distance. The relationships broken and forgiveness withheld. The debt mounting, drowning us. We give thanks for trust and friendship where we find it, for room to breathe and the breath of wisdom,. We ask for healing to rush in to the places that are still broken.
Let us remember that dawn defeats darkness.
This fourth candle is lit to give light to the flicker of our faith. Here we struggle to believe that the God who shares our life promises us a place and time where there will be no more pain and suffering.
We remember we were once called the Light of the World.
Come forward, as you are moved, to light a candle for any person or situation needing the light of God to shine into the darkness.