Spoiler alert: if you are attending worship with us at Ann Street, don't read this! You will have to come worship with us to get coffee or hot cocoa and Christmas cookies!
A Contemporary Service Love Feast
Ann Street UMC
December 23, 2007
Invitation to the Love Feast:
In the earliest days of the Church, Christians gathered to share meals, putting together their resources so that all might feast at the table and share Communion together. Over time, the celebration of Communion became the community meal. In the 16th century, a group of Christians called Moravians resurrected the practice of sharing food together in worship, sharing a simple meal together with songs and prayers as a reminder of God’s goodness and their fellowship.
Tonight, we meet to celebrate Christ’s coming, his relationship with us, and our relationships with one another as the Body of Christ. We will share our own songs, our own prayers, and our own feast, and leave with candlelight, reminding us of the Light of Christ that has come into the world to illuminate our darkness.
Song: “Here I Am to Worship”
Almighty God, you created us as your people, and promise that you always love us. You sent Christ into the world to live with us, to be one of us, to eat and drink and laugh and pray and love as we do, so that we might know the truth of your promise in Emmanuel: God with us.
As Christmas approaches and we rejoice in Jesus’ coming 2000 years ago, help us remember the holy mystery of his sacrificial love: Jesus was born, and lived and taught among us. Jesus died, and was resurrected, so that we too may be resurrected into eternal life. Jesus is coming again, and no darkness of this world can hide the light of your love for all people.
Let your light shine in us and through us, so that we may know your love ourselves and be agents of your love to others, sharing the grace and mercy that you so freely give, and living in gratitude for the gift of Jesus Christ, and all the ways you reach out to draw us to you. Amen.
Lighting of the Advent Candles (with appropriate text/words)abbreviated Isaiah; have all repeat one verse, themes of candles: Peace, Hope, Joy, ??
Song: UMH 211, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” v.5-7 with antiphons
Our Savior, you give sight to the blind and set the prisoners free. Release us from our captivity and show us new life with you.
Come, and set us free into everlasting life with you.
O Come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home.
The captives from their prison free,
And conquer deaths deep misery.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
You are the true God, who spoke light into darkness, and saw that it was good. Bring light into our darkened lives.
Come, and shine your light on us.
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.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O Jesus, you are the Redeemer of all people, your creation. By your Spirit, help us to find peace and unity from our divided hearts and lands.
Come, and deliver us whom you created and love.
O come, Desire of nations bind
All peoples in one heart and mind.
From dust thou brought us to life;
Deliver us from earthly strife.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Bible Lesson: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
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.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, 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 onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Invitation to Table Fellowship:
The traditional Love Feast is a time to share prayers and testimonies of God’s presence. As we eat and drink and celebrate together, enjoy time to talk with your table-mates. You may want to share a favorite Christmas story or memory, or to remember a time when you felt close to God. (possibly make up some cards with discussion starters for each table)
Blessing: UMH 602 “Be Present at Our Table Lord”
In introducing, make connection between Moravian practice and John Wesley: this is a way for us to feel connected beyond ourselves, to those who have gone before us in the faith.
Serve coffee and cookies while worship team sings; then allow 10-15 minutes for conversation around tables. Worship team will come down to share table fellowship.
Song: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”
As we transition from table talk to singing and lessons, this prayer will allow time for people to share joys and concerns.
Scripture: Luke 2:1-7
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Song: Ben sings “O Holy Night”
Scripture: Luke 2: 8-20
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Song: Ben sings “Welcome to Our World”
Song: UMH 218 “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”
Scripture: John 1:1-5, 10-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Brief Meditation and/or Prayer: may reflect on any/all of the scripture passages, or even one of the hymns
Song: #251 “Joy to the World”
Dismissal with Blessing
copyright 2007, Rev. Anne Walker Sims