December 27th Worship

Order of Service

PreludeCarol of the BellsChris Johansen, piano
OpeningShawn Mai
Gathering SongO Come All Ye Faithful
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
PrayerShawn Mai
Reading“The One and the Many”Shawn Mai
ReadingLuke 2: 1-7Mercy Wetzig
ReflectionShawn Mai
HymnYour Little Ones, Dear Lord
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingLuke 2: 8-15Mercy Wetzig
Abel Wetzig
HymnAngels We Have Heard on High
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
Readingby Richard RohrShawn Mai
ReflectionShawn Mai
ReadingJohn 1Shawn Mai
Musical Meditation“Every Star Shall Sing A Carol”Mark Hulsether
Prayers of IntercessionClaire Scriba
Lord’s PrayerShawn Mai
Closing HymnJoy to the World
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
PostludeGod Rest, Ye Merry GentlemenChuck Parsons, organ

Note: I promised full audio, but forgot to record any of it! So find audio of music and prayers below.
-Chris T.


Chris Johansen


We light this Candle on this, the brink of a new year,
Letting go of what has been,

All: Open and hopeful for what may come,

Renewed, restored, ready
To live Life fully anew.

All: May we move forward with intention.

Gathering Song – O Come All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him, born the king of angels:

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

The highest, most holy, light of light eternal,
born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;
Son of the Father now in flesh appearing!

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God in the highest:

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:


Like the wise men we come to worship.

Like the shepherds we come to see what God has done.

And like believers through the ages,

we come to give thanks that God has not held God’s self distant,

but has entered our world with God’s love.

O come let us adore Him – Christ the Lord.


Reading – The One and the Many
Scripture Reading – 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.


Every night before we go to sleep, Chuck and I always share “3 things.”  We’ve done it for years.  I started thinking about the theme that runs through many of those things.    Let me first say, there are days that it’s like slogging up the hill.  Those days that Chuck has felt lonely and isolated because of COVID or I’ve felt overwhelmed by too much going on at work, one of us forces the issue and it becomes simply a discipline.    Sometimes its not three, its one.

So, the theme.   A great meal, a particular time with one another, a connecting time with a friend, a beautiful hike, and most often on Fridays it has to do with Goerge or Sylvie.  Fridays we are child care providers.  What I notice, even on the crappy days, somehow love flows through the gratitude.   Love of food, love of nature, love of friends, love of family, love of love. 

What is love?  Is it simply a thought or random feeling? 

Might it be that unifying force?

I believe love is a transformational energy.  If this hasn’t been a year where we could easily become cynical about love and what it is, then sentimentality has won out.   

2020 has had plenty of that “tear us apart” energy.  A pandemic and nasty political climate have been layers of grief that have seemed relentless. 

Raping the earth, a climate crisis, food insecurities, poverty, homelessness, huge economic disparities, turning a blind eye to those suffering…those things that tear at the fabric of our humanity. 

Merry Chrismtas!

AND We are here today.  We are connected, albeit electronically, but connected. 

God is the connecting transformational energy that we experience as love.  The Christmas story is where we learn it comes to us in the vulnerability of a baby.  The story is a metaphor for how one bit of vulnerability blossoms into a gathering and connection of disparit people from different parts of the world and universe. 

It all starts with one. starts   One expression in vulnerability.    One infant looking back at us, on humanity with unconditional positive regard.  A look of love that is to you this day.

We have the joy of having our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren in our pandemic bubble.  Chuck and I babysit our grandchildren George and Sylvie every Friday.  Many weekends we take them to the cabin for Friday and their parents come up and join us for part or all of the weekend.

About a month ago I was getting ready to leave in my pickup and the kids were going to leave shortly after.  George followed me out the door and I turned around.  He was following me down the sidewalk and said: “I just want to see you leave.”    I was so taken with the look on his face I whipped my phone out to take a picture.  We have this look we share and the moment captured the look.  I felt seen.

In developmental psychology there is a “thing” called attachment.  Baby’s need a secure attachment that is usually created through a loving parental look.  Maybe Christmas is more about the infant looking back at us…somehow our taking in God’s unconditional positive regard.  God is less a father or a mother and simply the vulnerability of a baby.  No sense of judgement.  Just the existence of pure love looking back at each one of us. 

Hymn – Your Little Ones, Dear Lord

Your little ones, dear Lord, are we,
and come your lowly bed to see;
enlighten ev’ry soul and mind,
that we the way to you may find.

With songs we hasten you to greet,
and kiss the ground before your feet.
Oh, blessed hour, oh, sweetest night
That gave you birth, our soul’s delight.

Oh, draw us wholly to you, Lord,
and to us your grace accord;
true faith and love to us impart,
that we may hold you in our heart.

Until at last we too proclaim,
with all your saints, your glorious name;
in paradise our songs renew,
and praise you as the angels do.

Reading – Luke 2: 8-15

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, 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, praising God and saying,

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

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.”

Hymn – Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply,
echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria in excelsis Deo;
gloria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
which inspire your heavenly song?

Come to Bethlehem and see
him whose birth the angels sing;
come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Readings & Reflection

It’s starts with one and blossoms into a gathering and connection of disparit people from different parts of the world and universe.  Glory to God in the highest heaven.  Peace and good will to all people.

It is the power of that love coming together for good that changes the world.  It reminds me of the Jewish creation story.  Once there was one unified light that shown through all the universe and creation.  One day there was a terrible accident and that light was shattered into millions of pieces…each piece landing in every piece of creation throughout all of history.  Takun Olam is the Jewish notion that the work of humanity is to bring together all of those shards of light back into that one unified light.  It happens when one vulnerable love connects with another and pretty soon brings back together a portion of that light.

I saw it this summer when Mike Miles gathered together all the people who love this land around here and want to save it from corporate hog farming.  I caught it on facebook as I was in the cities.  What touched me was seeing Mike chatting up our conservative Republican neighbors who showed up to protest as well.  We love these neighbors and we sit on either side of a political divide.  To see Mike, in all of his loving liberalness loving up our beloved Trumpian neighbors, it was a moment of recognizing love transcending any political beliefs.

When we are one voice and we join with a chorus of others, in the name of love…love of neighbor, love of creation, or love of an infant Jesus…the world is transformed.  When one voice becomes many community transforms the world.  It is what drives us all back together each week to love.  Love one another and love, love.

Last fall in early October I was up at the lake house in the middle of the week.  It was a Wednesday night, so there would have been choir at church, but there is this pandemic.  I had gotten an email several days earlier announcing that Christmas in Christ Chapel at Gustavus would be happening virtually this year and not in person.  My years in Gustavus Choir were some of the most meaningful of my college experience.  Christmas in Christ Chapel was and continues to be a highlight of my Christmas season..  Each Christmas in Christ Chapel has ended the same way for the last 50 years.

The email I read was inviting Gustavus choir alum to tape themselves singing the last two verses of “O Come All Ye Faithful” as we sang it every year for Chrismtas in Christ Chapel.  Verse three in parts and verse four with the descant.  

With my lone voice in the living room I decided to give it a try.  They sent us the key to record it in.   It felt odd in October, all by myself, to sing a Christmas hymn, expecially singing base on a verse.  I did several takes.  I finally felt good enough about it to send it.   One acapella aging voice…what does one voice become when mixed with decades of others.  I found that out this past week.    Well, it happens to be about a great musical mixture, creative ears, love of music, and a spirit of community.  Somehow it came together.  The notion of one coming together and becoming a force for good hit me in the experience of taking my weak solitary voice on a cold October Wednesday night and putting it together with others. 

See the video here (note: the video will automatically start about an hour in, though you can start from the beginning if you’d like to watch the entirety of the event):

Musical Meditation

Mark Hulsether

Note: Video and Mark’s thoughts on the piece can be found at his blog, by clicking here:

Every star shall sing a carol
Every rock on every shore
Greet the dawn of new beginnings
Sing of hope for all who mourn

Glory to god, peace on earth; Hear the angels’ song.

When the powers that rule creation
Had a cradle on this earth
Holy was the human body,
Holy was the human birth

Who can tell what other bodies
God may hallow for a home?
Here today we welcome Jesus
Brother of our blood and bone

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Blessed are the ones who cry
Blessed those who thirst for justice
Soon their tears will turn to joy

Wolf will no more kill the rabbit
No more homeless in our streets
We will beat our swords to plowshares
Till the soil and plant good seed

Glory to god, peace on earth; Hear the angels’ song.

Babylon the great is fallen
Mighty tree bearing bitter fruit
Now the riders are approaching
Now the axe is laid to the roots

Glory to god, peace on earth; Hear the angels’ song.

Every star and every planet
Every creature great and small
Sing with us the angel chorus
Sing of hope and grace for all

Glory to god, peace on earth; Hear the angels’ song.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen

Closing Hymn – Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her king;
let ev’ry heart prepare him room
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sin and sorrow grow
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders, wonders of his love.


Chuck Parsons