Worship Order for
voice 1 - (John 1:1-5 from the back)
(Acolyte processes and lights
the Christ candle only just as 1:5 is read)
voice 2 - (John 1:6-9 from the left side)
voice 3 - (John 1:10-13 from the right side)
voice 4 - (John 1:14 from the front)
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of
Peace, come and rule over us. Transform us into servants of God, who
with willing hearts will seek to transform the world by
demonstrating the graceful love of Jesus that came to us in his
Bob W. Dell,
Codorus (Loganville, PA) Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085, "The Living Word
Isaiah 9:2-7 - Hymnal #827
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness -
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
And the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
And all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
"Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
New Revised Standard Version,
verse 6 from Revised Standard Version
morning leading up to this date, a candle has been lit on our
Advent wreath. Various families from our congregation have
participated in this, each sharing a few words about hope, then
peace, then joy, and finally love. Tonight, we will re-light these
candles, one at a time. This time, however, the source of each
flame will be the Christ candle in the center. This, we believe,
is "the light of all people," as John once wrote.
Furthermore, This "light shines in the darkness, and the
darkness did not overcome it." That is why we are here,
is it not?
A Word of Hope
... On Wednesday I visited a brother in jail, a plate of glass
between us. We talked by phone. His reasons for being there are
not as important as the hope which grows within him. God has been
doing awesome things in his life. He is sharing the good news he
has discovered, which may bear fruit later on in new faces among
us. As our children just sang, "Will you be Ready" for
this if and when it happens?
brotherís release date is just around the corner. He has
willingly accepted his punishment, and his freedom is coming, a
time filled with responsibility and expectation. I have seen the
hope grow on his face, week by week. Our hope in Christ is like
On Thursday I
stopped by to see a dear sister. The night before she was moved to
a different nursing home. "Just for a month," she was
told, and then she can return to the place where feels at home.
The reasons behind this move are not as important, however, as the
hope she carries. Unlike some, she has a guarantee she will
return, and that helps her face these first uncomfortable days in
a new place. I "hope" to see "hope" growing
within her as we count down the time.
Our hope in
Christ is a light which cannot be extinguished. Even when we leave
this sanctuary tonight and blow out all the candles, hope remains.
Let it shine! Glory to God!
Christ candle comes the flame of peace. We confess that sometimes
this flame seems more like a flicker, all-too easily blown out.
But, you know, when we turn to the Christmas story as we have
received it, we donít exactly see a bonfire there, either. In
the Bible, the birth of the Prince of Peace is a very tenuous
event. Luke recalls a newlywed couple away from the comforts of
home, traveling at a time when a pregnant woman should not, forced
to do so by the powers-that-be. If youíre a person who imagines
everything that can go wrong in life, here is a prime example.
When we view our world through this story, we wonder if there is
room anywhere for Godís peace - or will the light fade because
no doors will open?
gospel tells of the manipulations of a king who was threatened by
the birth of this Prince of Peace. Yes, Magi followed a star, but
... does anyone else really see this light? We still ask that
question today as we look at our world. The innocent continue to
die, a tale as old as time itself; and we wonder, where is this
The rest of
the story, though, reminds us that doors do open (even if itís
not the best of accommodations), that people do see and respond
(even if they are out in some field far from power). The rest of
the story reveals that God provides a way, and keeps the light
from going out. Angels whisper and danger is avoided. They sing
and people come to the light.
There is more
to the story today, as well. The peace of Christ is a light which
cannot be extinguished. It will remain lit all around us, long
after we turn out the lights and leave this place. Shalom! Godís
peace be with you. Let it shine! Glory to God!
A Word of
children in worship because they manage to shake us out of our
solemn seriousness and nudge us toward joy. The younger they are,
the more they donít know any better than to laugh at something
thatís silly, or ask "why?" and thus turn us in
directions we might not see. A service like this is a prime
example. Yes, these are sacred moments, filled with tradition and
respectful silence. But if you think the stable in which Jesus was
born was as quiet as a sanctuary, or as sanitary as a hospital,
youíve missed the joy.
sing of "cattle lowing," enough so that "the baby
awakes." Can you hear the barn sounds of cows, donkeys,
sheep, pigs, chickens and whatever else was kept there? Did I
mention the accompanying smells? The Frankincense has yet to
arrive, you know. What a crazy place, and yet it is full of joy. A
mother has just given birth, a time of pain which erupts into
sheer happiness, a wifeís cry changing to laughter and thus
calming a nervous husband who has never done this before.
straggly bunch of shepherds wander in, a strange and yet very
fitting sight, adding their own odors. I mean, who knows when they
last had a bath. They are as wide-eyed as any child wanting to
hold a candle on Christmas Eve, and probably just as fidgety. Yet,
the "good news of great joy" they had earlier heard out
in the field still resounds in their ears, and there is probably a
silly grin on each face. Can you see it? If not, turn to the child
The joy of
Christ within us, the real happiness with which God blesses us,
doesnít disappear, even when someone says, "sshhh! be
quiet!" This light canít be blown out. It shines deep
within us. Let it shine! Glory to God!
With apology to the apostle Paul, let me share a Christmas
version of the Love chapter from 1 Corinthians:
If the words we share this evening are impressive and
inspiring, but we are missing out on what real love in all about,
we are no better than the wrapping paper on our gifts - pretty but
And if we can envision how much someone is going to appreciate
what weíve bought for them, and we just "know" exactly
what it is they want or need, and if our faith that God will give
whatever we ask has proven true, but weíre forgetting about love
- well, our gift-wrapped boxes are really empty.
If, on the other hand, we gave lots of money - or maybe even
most of our possessions to the Salvation Army, and became
full-time bell-ringers in front of Target just to Ďmake a
statementí (getting arrested for doing so), but have left love
behind in the closet, what have we have gained? Nothing.
Though the following has also been said many times, many ways,
itís true: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or
boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in
wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love
never ends. Donít ever forget that. Remember it long after
Christmas has past.
As for what we think is going to happen, it comes and goes; as
for the good stuff we say, the words - like all others - go in one
ear and out the other; as for all our wisdom, well - the Library
of Congress is full of many, many books. Catch my drift?
You see, what we know is only partial. Hey, havenít you ever
given a gift that bombed? Furthermore, none of us can really see
very far ahead, even if weíve been around the block more than a
few times. God is the One, though, who pulls it all off - not us.
When we were younger, the things we said, how we thought and
reasoned, well, letís just say, we had a lot of maturing to do.
Though being a kid is great, growing up is important. Even so,
none of us sees perfectly, no matter how grown up weíve become.
Some day, weíll see the One who knows us fully and loves us
deeply (God, that is) face to face. Weíve been given a glimpse
in Jesus. Godís love lies at the center of everything. This
flame will never go out. Let it shine. Glory to God!
the light shine in you