December 29, 2019

December 29, 2019

Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving

Christmas 1

Isaiah 63:7-9

 Psalm 148

 Hebrews 2:10-18

 Matthew 2:13-23

 Call to Worship  (from Isaiah 63:7-9)
One: Praise God!
God has done great things for us, and sent a Savior!
God’s presence is made known in Jesus, whose love redeems us.
So we sing our praise, rejoicing in the One who lifts us up.

Opening Prayer

God, your mercy flows like a never-ending stream!  We’ve come today to remember and recall all you have done.  We’ve come today to rejoice in all you are doing.  Thank you for sending Jesus to a world adrift.  Thank you for your Spirit, who continues to share your love and act out your grace.  Thank you for the year which has been and the new year to come.  Wrap us in your grace, love and mercy as we ring out the old and ring in the NEW.  AMEN

Moment for Stewardship  (from Matthew 2:13-23)

The season of Advent and the season of Christmas rarely focus on Joseph.  We hear a lot about Mary and focus our main energy and attention on the “babe of Bethlehem”.  We celebrate Jesus’ birth with children’s pageants and music (how many times have we sung “Away in a Manger” this season?).

But Joseph is the one in Matthew’s telling of the birth story who becomes the steward of Jesus’ life.  An angel appeared to him in chapter 1, when Mary found she was pregnant and not yet married.  An angel appeared to Joseph not once but TWICE in chapter 2:  first to send the family to Egypt, as refugees.  Then, much like in the story of Joseph, the angel appears to send the family back to Israel.

Joseph is the ultimate steward:  watching out, caring for, managing the lives of those entrusted to him.  Gratefully, he received instructions from God’s messengers (the angels).  Yet he was the one to bring the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem, lead them to Egypt, and discern where to return when Herod had died.

Today, we’re stewards of all God has entrusted to us. It’s our task to watch out, care for and manage the resources in our hands.  When we share our time, our talent and our treasure, we open doors to share God’s love with a world yearning for safety and security.

What will you share on this last Sunday of the year?  Your generous gifts will help this congregation ________________  (name what can happen:  “finish the year in the black”, “complete our endowment for 2019”, “pay off our debt”).

Joining Joseph as stewards, let us share our morning offering.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

As we offer our gifts to you, Holy One, may we, and this offering, join all creation in blessing and serving your people.  Gladly responding to the call to be followers of Jesus, may we now choose once more to be true stewards.  Let us gladly offer our treasure, our talent and our time to share Good News of your love with a word thirsting for the gospel.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Invitation to Communion 

Just days after we’ve celebrated the birth of Jesus, we come face-to-face with the cruelties and challenges of life.  In Matthew’s gospel we hear how the new little family could not stay in Bethlehem.  They fled to Egypt, running from the danger of Herod.

Once more, scripture tells us of death which destroys, but life which overcomes.  [This story has parallels in the First Testament stories of Joseph, Moses, and Jacob (Israel).]

In Matthew 2, Jesus survives, but all the children in and around Bethlehem, 2 years and younger, are condemned — killed by order of a threatened monarch.

In Matthew 27, it’s Jesus who is finally killed, as Pilate washed his hands and turned Jesus over to be crucified.

And in both settings, death itself is not the end of the story.  Rather, it’s LIFE which emerges.

So at this table, we celebrate the gifts of bread and juice, symbols of Jesus’ body and blood.  His life lives on through the power of God’s Spirit at work, continuing to nourish us as followers.  With these elements, may your own life be energized, that your words and actions might continue to preach “Good News” of God’s LIFE for the world.

Come, for the feast is before us, and all are welcome at this table.