Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Blue Christmas Prayer Service

Due to snowy weather, we had to miss the candlelit Blue Christmas Service at CHPC this year. Though it doesn’t make up for the beauty of community in a glowing sanctuary with contemplative music, here is a prayer service you may use at home. For many, the Christmas season may bring memories of loss as well as love, grief as well as joy. As a community, whether together or far apart, we affirm God’s presence in the midst of all our experiences and emotions, especially in this season of hope.

Opening Words                                                                        from 2 Corinthians 1:4-5
God consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.

First Reading: Psalm 23
1             The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2                         He makes me lie down in green pastures;
            he leads me beside still waters;
3                         he restores my soul.
            He leads me in right paths
                        for his name’s sake.
4             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.
5              You prepare a table before me
                        in the presence of my enemies;
            you anoint my head with oil;
                        my cup overflows.
6             Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
                        all the days of my life,
            and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
                        my whole life long.

Covenant God, we come to you this day with a deepening anticipation for your birth among us. We pray for all who are in need: for the sick, the destitute, and the dying; for strangers in our land, for those who feel invisible; for those who sleep without shelter tonight, for the cold and vulnerable; for those lacking enough food to sustain them; for those who are overworked and for those who have no work. Hear us, O God, for your mercy is great. O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Second Reading: Psalm 130
1             Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
2                         Lord, hear my voice!
            Let your ears be attentive
                        to the voice of my supplications!
3              If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
                        Lord, who could stand?
4             But there is forgiveness with you,
                        so that you may be revered.
5             I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
                        and in his word I hope;
6             my soul waits for the Lord
                        more than those who watch for the morning,
                        more than those who watch for the morning.
7                O Israel, hope in the LORD!
                        For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
                        and with him is great power to redeem.
8             It is he who will redeem Israel
                        from all its iniquities.

God our hope, you come to us in the depths of our darkest despair. You hear our prayers before we name them. In this season that we celebrate your incarnation, give us new light to guide us. Grant a sense of your constant presence with us, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Third Reading: Psalm 121

1             I lift up my eyes to the hills—
                        from where will my help come?
2             My help comes from the LORD,
                        who made heaven and earth.
3             He will not let your foot be moved;
                        he who keeps you will not slumber.
4             He who keeps Israel
                        will neither slumber nor sleep.
5             The LORD is your keeper;
                        the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6             The sun shall not strike you by day,
                        nor the moon by night.
7                The LORD will keep you from all evil;
                        he will keep your life.
8             The LORD will keep
                        your going out and your coming in
                        from this time on and forevermore.

God our refuge, you are strength greater than the mountains; you pay attention to our needs and stay with us through the night. Teach us to hold confidently to your grace, so that in times of fear we may know you are near. Amen.


Fourth Reading: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1             Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
                        you who lead Joseph like a flock!
            You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2                         before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
            Stir up your might,
                        and come to save us!
3                Restore us, O God;
                        let your face shine, that we may be saved.
4                O LORD God of hosts,
                        how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5             You have fed them with the bread of tears,
                        and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6             You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
                        our enemies laugh among themselves.
7                Restore us, O God of hosts;
                        let your face shine, that we may be saved.
8                You brought a vine out of Egypt;
                        you drove out the nations and planted it.
9             You cleared the ground for it;
                        it took deep root and filled the land.
17             But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
                        the one whom you made strong for yourself.
18             Then we will never turn back from you;
                        give us life, and we will call on your name.
19                Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;
                        let your face shine, that we may be saved.

God our redeemer, we pray because we know you are faithful. In times of trouble, set us in places of safety. When we grow weary, feed us with your living word. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Fifth Reading: Romans 8:31-39
31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?  33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.  35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  36 As it is written,
            “For your sake we are being killed all day long;
                        we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God our steadfast companion, we give you thanks that nothing can separate us from your love in Jesus Christ. Send your Spirit to all who grieve, to all who are sick, and to all who feel alone this season. May we remember that we belong to you, in Jesus Christ, Amen.


Sixth Reading: Revelation 22:1-5
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him;  4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

God our light, shine like a candle in the darkness, lighting the way for all who feel abandoned, forgotten, or hopeless. Mark our lives with your love, through Jesus Christ, Amen.


Closing Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
We thank you, God our maker, for the reminder that you have named us by your grace. Bring us closer, O God, to your vision for all of humanity. Be the goal of our pilgrimage and our rest by the way, a companion in heartbreak and joy. Hear us now as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us: (the Lord’s Prayer)

Benediction and Blessing                                                            
The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all the peoples shall see it together.
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace through the Holy Spirit,
In the name of Christ, our Savior, Amen.

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