God Opens Our Hearts
Words of Welcome
God of hope,
we gather here today as those who have known both hope and despair, knowing that hope is what we need.
God of peace,
we gather together for a time of quiet in the midst of the busy-ness of the world.
God of love,
we gather together in a world where there is so much fear, seeking the power and promise of love.
God of joy,
we gather with hearts that are heavy, even as the world around us sings songs of joy and wonder.
God of light,
in this time of worship and reflection, ease the heaviness of our hearts, shine light into the shadows of our lives, renew our hope, and fill us with the peace of Christ, in whose name we pray and whose birth we await.
Hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem #64 Voices United
God Speaks to Our Hearts
The Cloud of Despair
Scripture Psalm 22:1-2; Romans 8:37-39
The Candle of Hope
The Haze of Busy-ness
Scripture Psalm 46:1-5, 10-11
The Candle of Peace
The Shadow of Fear
Scripture Isaiah 41:10, 43:1-2
The Candle of Love
The Gloom of Sorrow
Scripture Isaiah 61:1-4
The Candle of Joy
Hymn Hope is a Star #7 Voices United or A Candle is Burning #6 Voices United (verses 1-4)
The Darkness of Winter
When Blue Christmas services first started to gain traction they were often held on
the night of the solstice, the longest night of the year (and many were in fact given
names like “Longest Night Service of Into the December Darkness). It was a way
to honour not only the reality of our days in this latitude but also the darknesses of
which we have spoken today.
Isaiah wrote “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who
walked in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” There are times
when we are the people who walk in darkness. And so we come searching for the
Scripture John 1:1-9, Luke 2:8-14
The center of our circle, the center of the season, the center of our hope. Christ the
Lord is Born! The Light of the World is come!
We have come to our last candle. We have come to the point when we are
reminded of where the hope, the comfort, of the season. The angel speaks across
the centuries of faith and tradition to reach into our own hearts, quelling the fear,
touching the despair with words of hope. “Do not be afraid..for to you is born a
Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”
John reminds us that the God who comes as a child is the God who has been from
the beginning, the Word that brings hope, light and life to a world. Today we
remember the promise of the Light that can never be overcome, no matter how dark
the world may get. Can we join with the angels, even if only with part of our
being or just for a little while, and sing Glory to God for the Christmas gift?
The Light of the Christ-Child
We light this candle to remind us that though we are sometimes the people who walk in
darkness there is a light that the darkness can not overcome. We light this candle to
remind us that while there are times when we are filled with fear for the future the angel
still calls out “Fear Not” for there is Good News.
May the light and warmth of this candle be a source of comfort to us. We are not
alone. Thanks be to God!
God Moves In Our Hearts
We Light our Own Candles
We live as people of hope. We live as people whose hope lies in the light that
shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not, will not, and can not overcome it.
During these next few minutes, you are invited to come forward and light one or more of
the tea lights that are here on the table. These lights may be lights of memory for what
was or hope for what will be, or both.
Prayers for the People
Hymn: Silent Night # 67 Voices United
We have gathered today to share our shadows.
Here, in the shadow of God's healing love, we could name our griefs and sorrows and struggles.
Here we have lit candles to drive away the shadows cast by despair, busy-ness, fear, and sorrow.
We also have lit candles to remind us of what was and what could be.
Now we prepare to leave this place and return to the world. We carry with us the promise of light and warmth in the times of darkness and cold.
And may the light of the candles we lit this afternoon, shine in our hearts to remind us of the Light of the World, that can not be overcome.
Go with God: Parent, Child, and Spirit, the one who lights our path and shares our load.