A Gathering in Worship Offered by the People of the Church of Christ, Union
10:30 am, First Sunday of Christmas
Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the
seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.
~ Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)
From There to Here: We Gather
Prelude Of the Father’s Love Begotten Wilbur Held
”Call to Worship
One: With breath we take in what gives life. Breathe deeply.
All: Fires of love are kindled by the smallest acts. Kindle love everywhere.
One: With hindsight we see both miracles and mistakes. Magnify the miraculous. Strive to rectify missteps.
All: Stepping from past to future, we go expectant, hopeful, fearful, and rejoicing. May the God of grace go with us all seeking love and light. Amen.
Hymn #431 Now Greet the Swiftly Changing Year Sixth Night
1 Now greet now the swiftly changing year With joy and penitence sincere. Rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embrace Another year of grace.
2 Christ’s love abundant far exceeds The volume of a whole year’s needs. Rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embrace Another year of grace.
3 With such a God to lead our way In hazard and prosperity, What need we fear in earth or space In this new year of grace?
4 “All glory be to God on high, And peace on earth!” the angels cry; Rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embrace Another year of grace.
¨ Passing the Peace
All who come to this sanctuary are welcome companions on the journey of faith. Please turn to those nearest you and greet them with words of peace.
Word and Worship
First Reading Psalm 148 Diane Bailey, Reader
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed. Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!
~ New Revised Standard Version: Updated Edition (Friendship Press, 2021)
Children’s Moment as the children return to their seats we sing:
May God’s blessings guard, protect and guide you. God bless you, God bless you. Our savior’s loving arms be ever ’round you. God bless you, God bless you.
Second Reading Luke 2:22-40
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed–and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
~ New Revised Standard Version: Updated Edition (Friendship Press, 2021)
Sermon Light at the Last Rev. Kent Gilbert
Ringing of the Peace Bell
The Union Church Peace Bell was created by Jeff Enge in honor of Union Church member Carl Eschbach (1904-1998). A twin bell hangs in Berea’s sister province in Japan and is also rung in the hope of peace for all nations.
Offertory Once He Came in Blessing Michael Burkhardt
A Chance for Generosity: www.easytithe.com/union
A community of caring relies on support. Your recurring or one-time donation will make a ministry of healing, justice, and teaching available to all in need.
¨ Use your smart phone or computer and go to www.easytithe.com/union. No registration required, but registering once makes future generosity an amount and a click.
¨ Baskets for checks or cash are located at the head of each aisle for those who wish to make an in-person donation.
¨ Give by Text. Text an amount to 859-448-3403 (Example: Text “$50.00 Offering”)
¨ Give by Mail to: 200 Prospect St., Berea, KY 40403
Your contribution is love made visible. Thank you!
Prayer Station and Reflection Questions
When is the last time you felt the “at last!” described in the story of Simeon or Anna? What was kindled in that moment? What are you seeking now? What blessing do you need as you wait. What blessing do you need as you cross the threshold of the new year? May Light and Love attend you as you pray.
At the conclusion of our Offertory and Prayer, please join in singing and return to your seats:
To God, all glorious heavenly light; To Christ, revealed in earthly night; To God the Spirit, now we raise Our joyful songs of thankful praise. Amen.
Community Prayer Diane Bailey, Reader
Lord, We are about to cross over. Every moment, we are poised on the brink of the next second, the next week, the next decade, our next era. Flowing through time, may we hold fast to all that is wise and good. Reinventing ourselves, may we choose well the lines to cross. Stepping into each new moment, grant us integrity that we may bind together all parts of our hope. Help us cross timelines and lines in the sand with hearts of fierce compassion and resolute joy in the care of all. Stepping out from the hurts of the past weeks and months and years and decades, may we cross today, and every day, into new life and new light.
With hands to work and hearts to God, may your kin-dom come and bring us all the salvation you intend.
Our Lord’s Prayer
All: Our Maker, Our Mother, and Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
From Here to There: We Depart
Hymn #153 Who Would Think That What Was Needed Scarlet Ribbons
1 Who would think that what was needed To transform and save the earth Might not be a plan or army, Proud in purpose, proved in worth? Who would think, despite derision, That a child should lead the way? God surprises earth with heaven, Coming here on Christmas Day.
2 Shepherds watch and wise men wonder, Monarchs scorn and angels sing; Such a place as none would reckon Hosts a holy helpless thing; Stable beasts and by-passed strangers Watch a baby laid in hay: God surprises earth with heaven Coming here on Christmas Day.
3 Centuries of skill and science Span the past from which we move, Yet experience questions whether, With such progress, we improve. While the human lot we ponder, Lest our hopes and humor fray, God surprises earth with heaven Coming here on Christmas Day.
We share opportunities for Beloved Community and ways to serve. Please see the listing of church & community evens, prayers, and notices in the pages following the service.
Lighting the Justice Candle to Lead us Forth
The Kentucky Council of Churches witnesses to Christian unity through relationships and actions. In covenant with one another, the Council commits itself to continue to work for the visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ, to proclaim reconciliation, justice, peace, and the integrity of creation under the leading of the Holy Spirit, to engage in common witness and ministry together. Founded in 1947, the KY Council of Churches includes members of 12 traditions. Union Church is a founding member. kycouncilofchurches.org
Postlude Good Christians, All Rejoice Wilbur Held