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The Longest Night

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The Longest Night
December 21, 2017
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All things were made by God, and without God nothing came to be.
What came to be through God was life, and this life was the light of the world.
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
GATHERING HYMN “Because He Lives” #195, v. 1 & 3
spoken as a responsive prayer
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
In you, our ancestors trusted. They trusted and you delivered them.
It was you who brought me from the womb,
you who kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
Since my mother bore me, you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
God does not despise the affliction of the afflicted. God does not hide from me.
When I cry to God, God hears me. Thanks be to God.
selected verses
We light this first candle to remember those whom we have loved and lost.
We embrace and give thanks for the memories that bind them to us
in this season of expectation when all Creation waits for the Light.
We remember them with love. May God’s eternal love surround them.
Sing: O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
selected verses
We light this second candle to remember the pain of loss:
loss of relationships, loss of trust, loss of jobs, loss of health, loss of faith,
the loss of joy.
We acknowledge and embrace the pain of the past, O God, and we offer it to you,
asking that into our wounded hearts and open hands
you will place the gift of peace.
We remember that through you all things are possible.
Refresh, restore, renew us, O God, and lead us into your future.
Sing: O come, thou Wisdom from on high, and order all things far and nigh; to us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
selected verses
We light this third candle to remember ourselves in this Christmas season.
We pause to reflect on the past weeks, months, and for some of us years,
that have been heavy with our burdens.
We accept and lay before you the ways we feel we have fallen short,
and the times we have spent blaming ourselves and you for our suffering.
We remember that though we at times may have turned away from the Light,
the Light has not failed.
Sing: O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by thy justice here; disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
selected verses
We light this fourth candle in faith.
We remember that the God who brought light into being
came to share this life with us.
We remember the One who shares our burdens, lightens our darkness,
and journeys with us into all our tomorrows.
Sing: O come, Desire of nations bind all peoples in one heart and mind. From dust thou brought us forth to life; deliver us from earthly strife.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
HYMN “Emmanuel, Emmanuel” #204
THE GOOD NEWS “Living Above the Pain”
Almighty God, thank you for your constant love and for the blessings of this day.
Help us to remember you and to listen for your voice
in the words of family, friends, and strangers.
Kindle our hearts and awaken hope,
that we may know you as you reveal yourself in the world and in our lives.
Let the light of your Holy Spirit shine like these candles in the darkness,
lighting the way for all who feel despairing, lost, or forgotten;
in the name of Jesus our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
During this hymn, you may come forward to light a candle in memory and hope.
HYMN “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” #206, v. 1 & 3.
Go forth in the assurance that you do not walk alone. Your pain is real, but so is the grace, love and support God is offering you. Receive the gifts of God tonight, to insure a brighter tomorrow.
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