Longest Night 2014

It is the longest night, a time when some of us are in the ecstasy of Advent, and some of us are blue, and some are in moments of each.

Longest Night Service
From Tuesday- December 21, 2010, revised for 2014

First United Methodist Church of West Allis

Call to Worship: Isaiah 26: 1b-6

We have a strong city, Salvation City, built and fortified with salvation.
Throw wide the gates so good and true people can enter.
People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole,
steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
Those who lived high and mighty he knocked off their high horse.
He used the city built on the hill as fill for the marshes.
All the exploited and outcast peoples build their lives on the reclaimed land.                             (The Message)

Opening Prayer:
With responses from Isaiah 40:31 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16

One: Sometimes we are so depressed we think we may need
psychiatric intervention.
All: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They
will soar on wings like eagles.
One: But sometimes we see only black and blue thoughts. The deeper
we get into the holiday season, the sadder we get.
All: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They
will soar on wings like eagles.
One: Even when we are called to live a life of joy, sometimes we see
circumstances that are dark and gloomy.
All: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They
will soar on wings like eagles.
One: Sometimes we feel so alone.
All: Rejoice always!
One: Sometimes we feel our health failing and our bodies growing old,
and we feel we have nothing anymore!
All: Rejoice always!
One: Sometimes we are so deep in grief, grief is all we see. We are so
tired of pretending to be joyful! We feel like we have to pretend
to be Christmas-y!
All: Rejoice always!
One: Sometimes we know we will get over this hump, but we need the
prayers of many others. We need the gentle hugs and the
attentive ears of our brothers and sisters.
All: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They
will soar on wings like eagles.
Lord, teach us to remember to pray for others. May we be so
bound up in love with those for whom we pray that we may
feel their needs as acutely as our own and intercede for them
with sensitivity, with understanding and with imagination.
We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen. (byJohn Calvin)


Scripture Lessons:
Psalm 103: A David Psalm

O my soul, bless GOD. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless GOD, don’t forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell—saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud. Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, but a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow his covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.

God has set his throne in heaven; he rules over us all. He’s the King! So bless God, you angels, ready and able to fly at his bidding, quick to hear and do what he says. Bless God, all you armies of angels, alert to respond to whatever he wills. Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are— everything and everyone made by God. And you, O my soul, bless God! (The Message)

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(The Message)

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(The Message)
1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (The Message)

Matthew 10:29-31
What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (New Living Translation)

Response:
One: This is the illuminating Word of God.
All: For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from
my youth.

 

Lighting the Advent Candles
One: We light the candle of Hope as we await the coming of
Jesus, who is our source of hope. (first candle is lit)
All: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of hope, in our times of
emptiness and Darkness.
One: We light the candle of Peace, knowing that Jesus is the
Prince of Peace. (second candle is lit)
All: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of peace in our times of
uncertainty and fear.
One: We light the candle of Joy, knowing that our comfort and help come from God. (third candle is lit)
All: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of joy in our times of
sadness and Grief.
One: We light the candle of Love, knowing that God is love
revealed to us in Jesus Christ. (fourth candle is lit)
All: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of love in our times of
loneliness.
One: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God.
All: The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of
grace and truth.
One: In him was life, and that life was the light of all. We know that
Jesus is our hope, our peace, our joy and the source of love.

Lighting our own Candles

We light our own candles as we sing
Hymn: “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” Hymnal No. 211

The Christmas Story: Luke 2: 1-20   New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Birth of Jesus

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.

The Shepherds and the Angels

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. 10 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: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[b] praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”[c]

15 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.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Benediction:
One: Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can
overwhelm. Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening, and the day is
almost over. Let your light scatter the darkness and shine on your
people. Renew our Hope. Alleluia!
All: and Amen.

“Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel”

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About Tom Bolton

I'm a Husband and Dad, an Enterprise Systems Manager at the City of Milwaukee, and a Disciple and Lay Servant at First United Methodist of West Allis. I love working beside young people. As I study the Bible, sometimes I feel moved to work through my understanding by writing poetry. I also am going through a process to discern my calling, and to learn more about Christian Leadership. Sometimes I just feel like writing about something that grabs my attention too.
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