|Communion Table on Christmas Eve. Picture by Aaron M. Harrington, 2013.|
We came into being through a Light that pierces through the darkest places. Tonight we remember when that Light, in pursuit of us, put on flesh and dwelt among us. Yet sometimes we still cling to the darkness around us, and so when we gather together to be with God, we must try to let go of the darkness. We must try to allow the Light of Life to pour into us again. So let us pray together:
Illumine us, O Light of the World. Shine through our darkness. We come before you tonight asking for you to push out the ugliness and pain that too often cramps our souls, asking for you to make room in our hearts for the Light. Forgive us for the fear and stubbornness that keeps us from following the way of life you have set out before us. Offer us grace upon grace again, O Holy One!
Open your ears to hear the good news: God loves us so much that God comes to us in the form of a baby wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
Glory to Our God who is full of Grace and Truth!
PASSING OF THE PEACE: Now let us share signs of that peace which we find in Christ with our neighbors!
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord Our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Almighty God, creator of heaven and Earth.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was 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, life that persisted through sin in the Garden, slavery in Egypt, the reign of crooked kings in Israel, and exile from the Land Promised to us. That life persisted in spite of the darkness of our violence toward one another, in spite of the ways we abused one another and ignored the cries of the needy. That life persisted, and the life was the light of all people. That light--- it shone in the darkness so brightly.
And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn.
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you and blessed is your son Jesus Christ. You blessed us with life, but we turned away toward darkness again and again. And again and again, you called us back to the light. You sent us a man whose name was John as a witness to testify to the light. For the true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world.
That is what we celebrate tonight as we worship together--- how You came into the world. How the Word Became flesh. You, God, became human to bring light to a world dark with the oppression of the Roman Empire, to a world so mired in sin and greed and despair that people were losing their imagination for a different one. But you in Jesus turned water into wine, you healed the sick, you fed the hungry, you washed the feet of the weary, you called out people on their judgmental behavior and urged us instead to love one another as you have loved us.
And yet we didn't accept you. We, your own friends, betrayed you. We gave you up to death on a cross. But the light shines even in the darkness of death. That light will not be overcome.
That is what we proclaim as we come around the table on this Christmas Eve. On his last night with us, Jesus sat at a table and fed us. He took bread, blessed it, broke it, and shared it with us, saying “This is my body, which is given for you.”
When supper was over he took the cup, blessed it, and shared it with us, saying, “Take, and drink. As often as you do this, remember me.”
Because when we eat and drink and receive Jesus, we gain the power to become your children.
And so, in remembrance of these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Show us your glory as we come together on this sacred night. From your fullness may each of us here receive grace upon grace. May we in receiving through bread and cup go forth from this place sharing grace upon grace with our brothers and sisters. May we be light that shines in the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome.
And now, with the confidence of the children of God, let us pray as Jesus taught us: THE LORD'S PRAYER
BREAKING THE BREAD
GIVING AND RECEIVING THE BREAD AND THE CUP
Let us pray:
Light of the World, we give you thanks for this mystery, for how your Word became and becomes flesh to live among us. We give you thanks for the grace upon grace we have received from you. Now we ask that as we light candles and sing, your grace will grow within us, overflowing to touch those around us. For each of us here will hold a flickering candle; seemingly insignificant one by one, yet magnificent when held together. Let your light pour out of this place, that all may now how your light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Amen.