Sounds of Home – Slide

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the January 19th edition of Sounds of Home!

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light.
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near,
when my life is almost gone,
hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand lest I fall.
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When the darkness appears and the night draws near,
and the day is past and gone,
at the river I stand, guide my feet, hold my hand.
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

Text: Thomas A. Dorsey
Music: George N. Allen, adapt. Thomas A. Dorsey
ELW #773


Like to lend your voice?
Our upcoming theme is “trip”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit –  or would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together, 
we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, 
please make an audio recording and email it to Molly
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Submission deadline is Monday, January 25th.

January 17th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeBrother James’ AirChris Johansen, piano
Confession & ForgivenessPastor Linda
Gathering SongLight Dawns on a Weary World
#726
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Pastor Linda
Psalm 40vs. 1-13Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
ScriptureLuke 4Pastor Linda
SermonPastor Linda
HymnWhen Our Song Says Peace
#709
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayers of IntercessionPastor Linda
Peace
Lord’s Prayer
Benediction
Pastor Linda
Closing HymnO Christ the Same
#760 (tune: WOV #778)
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
DismissalPastor Linda
PostludeBrethren, We Have MetChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

P: God of goodness and mercy, help us as we open our hearts and confess our sin. 

Silence for reflection and self-examination.

 God of justice,

C: we confess that in the pursuit of our own dreams and desires,
we have not always been civil, not always humane, not always right.
Guided by your Spirit, what we would like to do is change the world –
make it more possible for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves –
a simple gift You intend for all.

Help us to be your witnesses, so that we can, with your help, change the world.
Enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to welcome the stranger, migrant and immigrant, and to love our enemy as a friend.
Amen.

~ adapted from a quote from Dorothy Day


Gathering Song – Light Dawns on a Weary World

1.
Light dawns on a weary world
When eyes begin to see
all people’s dignity.
Light dawn on a weary world:
The promised day to justice comes.

[Refrain]
The trees shall clap their hands;
The dry lands, gush with spring;
The hills and mountains
shall break forth with singing!
We shall go out with joy,
And be led forth in peace,
As all the world in wonder echoes shalom.

2.
Love grows in a weary world
When hungry hearts find bread
And children’s dreams are fed.
Love grows in a weary world;
The promised feast of plenty comes.
[Refrain]

3.
Hope blooms in a weary world
When creatures, once forlorn,
find wilderness reborn.
Hope blooms in a weary world:
The promised green of Eden comes.
[Refrain]


Greeting

    The grace and loving-kindness of our Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.

         And also with you.

Prayer of the Day

Let my soul be greening with the living light.
Let my heart awaken morning from the night.
Let the Spirit guide me to the present true and whole.
Viriditas, viriditas, the greening of my soul.
Grant to us, Gracious One, greening, hope, light shining in the darkness.
Grant, Lord, that darkness shall not overcome it, for in that light, there is you,
the Christ – for me, for all.   
Amen                              

adapted from Hildegard of Bingen

      


Psalm 40: 1-13

1 I waited patiently up-|on the Lord
who stooped to me and | heard my cry.

2 The Lord lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the | miry clay,
and set my feet upon a high cliff, making my | footing sure.

3 The Lord put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise | to our God;
many shall see, and stand in awe, and put their trust | in the Lord.

4 Happy are they who trust | in the Lord!
They do not turn to enemies or to those who | follow lies.

5 Great are the wonders you have done, O Lord my God! In your plans for us, none can be com-|pared with you!
Oh, that I could make them known and tell them! But they are more than | I can count.

6 Sacrifice and offering you do | not desire;
you have opened my ears: burnt-offering and sin-offering you have | not required.

7 And so I said, “Here I | am; I come.
In the scroll of the book it is writ-|ten of me:

8 ‘I love to do your will, | O my God;
your law is | deep within me.’ “

9 I proclaimed righteousness in the | great assembly;
I have not restrained my lips, O | Lord, you know.

10 I have not hidden your righteousness in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and | your deliverance;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and truth from the | great assembly.

11 You are the Lord; do not withhold your compas-|sion from me;
may your steadfast love and your truth continually | keep me safe.

12 For troubles without number have crowded upon me; my sins have overtaken me, and I | cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head, and | my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to de-|liver me;
O Lord, make | haste to help me.


Scripture Reading – Luke 4

Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him
spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was
praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on
the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to
let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in
the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!’

And you will say, “Do here in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’”

And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.


Sermon

“He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The year of the Lord’s favor described in Isaiah’s scroll refers to the ancient law of Leviticus. It was a Sabbath of Sabbaths: “Every 50 years you shall proclaim liberty and release throughout the land to all its inhabitants,” states the law. Slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven, and the mercies of God would be manifest.

This mythical law of Jubilee was designed to transform society and undo the damage that human greed causes: it was to free people who have been enslaved because of debt, who have lost their grazing land and homes because of tribal squabbles and bad dealings; in it they are restored – released from their burdens. Both land and people have a sabbath year of rest and restoration.

There isn’t any evidence that the year of Jubilee was ever put into actual practice. In Jesus’ day it stood alongside the promises of the prophets in the narrative of God’s intention for equality and justice, for salvation for all flesh.   But Jesus finishes reading, sits, and announces that today — in their presence — this ancient law and the promise of the prophet is fulfilled. Jesus’ incredibly short sermon will be the theme of his whole ministry. He has come to bring good news to those who are so poor that they have nothing; good news to those whose lives are defined by bad news; good news to those who are captive and burdened by illness, demons, or the strict laws of purity and righteousness; good news to those at the very bottom of the heap where good news is desperately needed.

Jesus’ concern for those who suffer the crushing effects of poverty rings throughout Luke’s Gospel. He blesses the poor and pronounces woe on the rich (6:20–26); he tells a young ruler to sell all he has and give the proceeds to the poor (18:18–26); the salvation that comes to Zacchaeus’ house “today” inspires Zaccheaus to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times as much as he took from people through fraud (19:1–10); and when, from prison, John the Baptist sends messengers to find out if Jesus is the real deal, the one who is to come, Jesus says, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk….the poor have good news brought to them” (7:18–23). Jesus does not separate economics from spirituality. The body matters. Matter matters. The condition of life for the bodies of living people matters. Jesus speaks of, and is, a salvation embracing spirit, soul, and body of this life. Realized eschatology. There is a reversal in store for the poor and oppressed, and for the privileged and wealthy, and in him, in the embodiment of God’s word, the year of the Lord’s favor has come.

             “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

            ….And then he said …  “The truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, yet Elijah was sent to none of the Israelites, but to a penniless Gentile widow in Sidon, the land of our enemies.  There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but God sent him to heal none of them, but rather to Naaman, a commander of the hated Syrian army.”

            When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.

So, that seems kind of abrupt … Why this sudden reversal on the part of his townies? What is there in this short sermon in Nazareth that changed their attitude so dramatically? In what way did he offend?

Isaiah’s quote echoes Mary’s song, that in Jesus’ birth, God is casting down the mighty and lifting the lowly. The people of Nazareth in Galilee thought this was going to be good news for them. They had for centuries been trampled by the great powers of the world passing through. Residents of Galilee were considered inferior even by other Jews. Galilee was surrounded by Gentile nations, and in the way of things, intermarried with different ethnic groups. Therefore, Galilee was not pure… they were considered uneducated and of no account. You might remember Nathaniel saying, “Can anything good come from Galilee?” That from a future disciple.

The home town crowd would have been very proud to have a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.

But Jesus crossed the isle. He pointed out that in their own scriptures, God worked to benefit their enemies. In lifting the lowly, in leveling the rift of old animosities, they felt their own status lowered. The reversal is working against them if those further down the Totem pole are raised to be their equal.

There is something very true to human nature in the reaction that welcomes God’s new world order as long as they see themselves as the downtrodden beloved of God, but who can’t extend that jubilee beyond their borders. The hard thing about the God we know in Jesus is that whenever we draw a line between who’s in and who’s out, we will find Jesus with those we’ve pushed out. Reversals don’t favor insiders. That’s the problem with immigration, and the civil rights movement, women’s equality, religious pluralism, national health care. Equality upsets the balance that benefits the insiders.

The problem in this story is the wideness of God’s mercy.  In telling the stories of Elijah and Elisha’s merciful acts to non-Israelites, Jesus announces salvation not only to Galilee, not just to Israel, but beyond them to all people, chosen or not, local or not, ritually, religiously worthy or not. The very graciousness of the words, the spread of God’s salvation, becomes offensive to them. It irks the hometown-ers who want to claim Jesus’ message for themselves.  He grew up here, after all, why would he say God bestows equal favor on those hated Samariatans, or the Sarophenechian dogs, or tax collectors, lepers, and sinners, for that matter? The people of Nazareth call God’s justice into question.

The Jews of Jesus’ hometown read scripture as promises for them through God’s exclusive covenant, a promise of deliverance from their oppressors. But Jesus announces that this is not their deliverance. It is Gods deliverance that is, in fact, for all people who are oppressed and poor regardless of nationality, gender, race, or status.  Jesus greatly broadens the list of who counts. And that was offensive.

It still is. We, too, seem to have problems discerning the place of mercy, generosity and inclusion in justice. We’re good at judgment. We’ve got exclusion down to an art form, splintering off into ever more specific, distinct affiliations. Our society has become a study in pointillism.  

As Christians we like Jesus’ message because we recognize that we are the ones being brought into a new covenant. But most Christians – too many Christians, I would say, want the door to close behind us. If Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, then that’s God’s exclusive salvation club, right? We are God’s new chosen people, based on proper belief in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Selection becomes even more pointed depending on what must be professed and believed in order to qualify as a true Christian. God is left with a very small wingspan.

And if that is the argument, aren’t we are reenacting the morning in Nazareth? Is exclusion really true to the nature of the God we proclaim? Jesus consistently attends to the sinners and outcasts, to the political enemies of Israel, to the nobodies and untouchables.

It is true to human nature, though, to see ourselves in the role of whichever group is being spoken well of. It’s a hard sell to suggest that we are the problem, the oppressors, the privileged insiders whose lifestyle and worldview is unsustainable.  There’s an economy of greed and inclusion, an accounting mentality, that is wired in to our survival instincts and is offended – or perhaps frightened – by generosity and equality and justice.

Still, Jesus did bring good news of great joy. Salvation, redemption – these churchy words that I think mean inclusion and acceptance are available for all people. That is the good news. Free will has more to do with the limitations of the offer, than God’s will.

Normally, I try to stress the communal nature of God’s salvation and downplay our personal, sentimental, individualized acquisition of God through Jesus as our personal Lord and savior. But my aversion to that is due to the baggage the words carry, not to the concept of a personal relationship with God or Jesus.

 So, how about ending exclusion with a God chosen “you.” If we are all individuals, then there’s no comfort in numbers, no general admission, no exclusive groups. In a chosen “you”  there is the I and Thou relationship that Martin Buber wrote of with God. There is no longer “us and them” … but only “you.” A community of chosen “you’s.” (Not female sheep, but maybe like sheep – since all have gone astray).

And like all the chosen “you’s” of scripture, God hopes and expects things of you. We hear about a lot of individuals in scripture. We know of a great many people by name. But a pattern emerges when you look at those individuals. One is named, known, chosen for the sake of many. Sarah, Abraham were chosen and blessed to be a blessing to others. Moses, chosen to bring his people from slavery to freedom. Esher, Ruth, David: each is chosen for the benefit of many. Israel was chosen to be a light among the nations – not so that Israel would have exclusive rights to God, but so that others would see the light of God shining through them and be drawn toward the light and therefore to God. Jesus, himself, born not to rule as God’s king on earth, but as a “son born to you, a child given you,” to bring all people, all the separate, chosen, belov-ed “you’s” into the fellowship, justice and service of God’s holy, whole-of-many, embrace.

In leaving the categories of “us” and “them” behind, in reaching beyond it, perhaps the reversal God intends is one of full inclusion, equality borne in love. The wealthy, strong, and powerful are brought down (or perhaps, in the irresistible light of love, step down?) from their faulty and false love of self. The poor are noticed and lifted and systems change, and somehow we all meet in the middle, the valleys raised and the mountains made low.       

Because they were not open to the prospect of others sharing in God’s bounty equally to themselves, the people who heard Jesus preach that Sabbath morning were not able to receive it. It wasn’t the result of God’s doing, it was the natural consequence of their own free will. They refused to be one of many “you’s”, preferring the “I” that creates the “them”.

It is always a challenge to leave the categories of salvation up to God – especially if we take to heart Luke’s conviction that it is now, here, as well as in the fullness of time. But if God includes and invites and shows mercy in all directions and is not finally about judgment and exclusion … then really, we have nothing to worry about or fear and plenty to celebrate.

So let’s be about that, instead.  


Hymn – When Our Song Says Peace

1.
When our song says peace and the world says war,
we will sing despite the world.
We will trust the song, for we sing of God,
who breaks the spear and sword
and stills the storm of war.

2.
When our song says free and the world says bound,
we will sing despite the world.
We will trust the song, for we sing of God,
who opens prison doors
and sets the captives free.

3.
When our song says home and the world says lost,
we will sing despite the world.
We will trust the song, for we sing of God,
who brings us home at last,
and gives a song to all.


Prayers of Intercession

Peace

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

Benediction


Hymn – O Christ the Same

1 O Christ the same, through all our story’s pages–
our loves and hopes, our failures and our fears;
eternal Lord, the King of all the ages,
unchanging still, amid the passing years:
O living Word, the source of all creation,
who spread the skies, and set the stars ablaze;
O Christ the same, who wrought our whole salvation,
we bring our thanks for all our yesterdays.

2 O Christ the same, the friend of sinners, sharing
our inmost thoughts, the secrets none can hide;
still as of old upon your body bearing
the marks of love, in triumph glorified:
O Son of Man, who stooped for us from heaven,
O Prince of life, in all your saving power,
O Christ the same, to whom our hearts are given,
we bring our thanks for this the present hour.

3 O Christ the same, secure within whose keeping
our lives and loves, our days and years remain,
our work and rest, our waking and our sleeping,
our calm and storm, our pleasure and our pain:
O Lord of love, for all our joys and sorrows,
for all our hopes, when earth shall fade and flee,
O Christ the same, beyond our brief tomorrows,
we bring our thanks for all that is to be.


Dismissal

Go with the strength you have.
Go simply, lightly, gently
Go in search of Love.
And may the Spirit of God go with you.  Amen


Postlude

Chris Johansen

Sounds of Home – Twelve Again

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the January 12th edition of Sounds of Home!

Evening Star

Evening star up yonder,
Teach me like you to wander
Willing and obediently
The path that God ordained for me!
Evening Star up yonder!

Teach me, gentle flowers,
To wait for springtime showers,
In this winter world to grow,
Green and strong beneath the snow!
Teach me, gentle flowers!

Teach me, lonely heather,
Where songbirds nest together,
Though my life should seem unblest,
To keep a song within my breast!
Teach me, lonely heather!

Mighty ocean, teach me,
To do the task that needs me,
And reflect, as days depart,
Heaven’s peace within my heart!
Mighty ocean, teach me!

Shady lanes, refreshing,
Teach me to be a blessing
To some weary soul each day,
Friends or foes who pass my way!
Shady lanes, refreshing!

Evening sun, descending,
Teach me, when life is ending,
Night shall pass and I, like you,
Shall rise again, where life if new!
Teach me, sun descending!

Text: Chr. Richardt; trans. by S.D. Rodholm
Music: Carl Mortensen


Like to lend your voice?

Our upcoming theme is “slide”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit –  or would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together, 
we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, 
please make an audio recording and email it to Molly
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Submission deadline is Monday, January 18th.

January 10th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeWe Three KingsChris Johansen, piano
Confession & ForgivenessPastor Linda
Gathering SongAs With Gladness, Men of Old
#302
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Pastor Linda
Psalm 145vs. 1-10Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
ScriptureLuke 3Pastor Linda
SermonPastor Linda
HymnCome, Beloved of the Maker
#306
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayers of IntercessionNikki Strandskov
Peace
Lord’s Prayer
Benediction
Pastor Linda
Closing HymnO Day Full of Grace
#S-18
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
DismissalPastor Linda
Postludeby MozartChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


“We too have a star to guide us, which forever will provide us with the light to find our Lord. And this star as bright as day, which will never lead astray with its message so appealing, is the Word of God, revealing Christ to us as Lord and King, Christ to us as Lord and King.”

~ from Splendid are the Heavens High, v 6 and 7


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

P: God of goodness and mercy, help us as we open our hearts and confess our sin. 

Silence for reflection and self-examination.

 God of grace and truth,

C: in Christ Jesus you come among us as light shining in the darkness. Standing in this new year, we are offered possibilities, yet continue to carry the fears and doubts that have held us captive. We celebrate the gift of Jesus, but forget that he was a gift of love to all the world, every tribe and tongue; at times, in our selfishness, we cannot hear God’s call and become quiet when our voices are most needed. Help us to do what’s right in the days to come. Surround us and renew us by your grace so that we may live in the fullness of your love, trusting in the compassion of the Lord of life.

P: In the mercy of almighty God, in the Word made flesh among us, in the child of Mary born to set us free, – in him, our sin is forgiven.    Amen


Gathering Song – As With Gladness, Men of Old

1.
As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore be led by thee.

2.
As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to thy lowly bed,
there to bend the knee before
thee, whom heav’n and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek thy mercy seat.

3. As they offered gifts most rare
at thy cradle, rude and bare,
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to thee, our heavenly King.

4. Holy Jesus, ev’ry day
keep us in the narrow way;
and when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.

5.
In the heav’nly county bright
need they no created light;
thou its light, its joy, its crown,
thou its sun which goes not down;
there forever may we sing
alleluias to our king.


Greeting

    The grace and loving-kindness of our Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.

         And also with you.

Prayer of the Day

Eternal God and Father,

we thirst for your love, we long for your presence, we yearn for your peace.  Come, Lord, restore us that we may live in your mercy.  Amen.

      


Psalm 145: 1-10

1 I will exalt you, my | God and king,
and bless your name forev-|er and ever.

2 Every day | will I bless you
and praise your name forev-|er and ever.

3 Great is the Lord and greatly | to be praised!
There is no end | to your greatness.

4 One generation shall praise your works | to another
and shall de-|clare your power.

5 I will speak of the glorious splendor | of your majesty
and all your | marvelous works.

6 They shall tell of the might of your | wondrous acts,
and I will re-|count your greatness.

7 They shall publish the remembrance of | your great goodness;
they shall sing joyfully | of your righteousness.

8 The Lord is gracious and full | of compassion,
slow to anger and abounding in | steadfast love.

9 Lord, you are | good to all,
and your compassion is over | all your works.

10 All your works shall praise | you, O Lord,
and your faithful | ones shall bless you.


Scripture Reading – Luke 3

1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

10 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ 13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ 14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved;* with you I am well pleased.’ 23 Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, 24son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi … [this goes on for quite a while, then] … son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.


Sermon

The first two chapters of Luke provide us with a colorful, gilded Renaissance-era Illumination of God’s entry into our lives, of God taking up residence in the world. The Nativity is what it would look like. ‘Heaven cannot hold him’ and the angels and heavenly hosts of the first two chapters portray that celebration, the in-breaking glory of the kingdom of God in earthly life – a visitation of Joy, with a capital J.   Chapter 2 ends with these words: “Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”

We turn the page and it suddenly becomes a very grown up world. We are brought up to date with the political realities of the day – in this case, the reality of Roman occupation. Luke begins with a roll call of the important and powerful, naming the hierarchy of rule. The Roman Emperor Tiberias, who sits over all; Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea; then the regional rulers – sons of Herod the Great – Herod Antipas and Philip who are Jewish, aristocratic, collaborators with Rome: feared, powerful, not well loved.

From there, Luke goes on to name the religious power-structure: the high priests, Annas and Caiaphas. They might be on the list because the high-priesthood was subject to annual re-appointment by the Roman authority (and so Annas and Caiaphas are just another cog of the political wheel). Or it might be that Luke sees them as a religious parallel to the political hierarchy and hegemony: Annas was high priest for nine years, followed by his five sons and then his son-in-law, Joseph Caiaphas. They represent one more form of control and oppression, and another layer in the conflict that is to come.

During the reign of these formidable rulers, “the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.”  The redemptive work of which Mary sang in the Magnificat is underway; the claims to authority that Tiberius or Herod or the high priests make are not ultimate. God “is bringing down the powerful from their thrones, and lifting up the lowly.” John has been commissioned to prepare the way not for Caesar or any earthly lord, but for the one who turns the world upside down – the one who brings peace, justice, and pardon. The one whose upside-down power is love.

We should not miss how peculiar this is. We know the story, and because of that might miss how unexpected it is. The word of God doesn’t find voice among those with power or influence. That would seem to be a much more efficient way to spread and activate this good news, wouldn’t it?  Let Gabriel have a private word with Herod. Turn his heart. Start this revelation with one who is positioned to bring others along, in the manner of Constantine 300 years later. The conversion of kings is how much of Europe came to Christianity.

But, no, instead, the word of God comes to the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness – someone no one has any reason to know. The word of God comes to John sloshing along the banks of the Jordan river as it cuts a path through the desert.

Very odd… but in keeping with this God whose ways are not our ways. God chooses the mustard seed approach. Because as loud and blustery as John may have been, lacking more effective social media, the attraction was by word of mouth. You still had to take yourself out to the wilderness and within shouting range to hear him. A small start, indeed.

John commands repentance to escape the wrath to come. He uses imagery of an ax laid at the root of a tree, a winnowing fork and a fire ready to burn the chaff and those felled trees that did not produce good fruit in unquenchable flames.  John’s teaching is not user friendly – but neither is it revolutionary. He was preaching nothing more than what the law required – if you see someone naked, clothe them; hungry, feed them. You shall not slander or covet, steal or kill. These laws concerning kind and just treatment of the neighbor were well known.

But,  knowing isn’t doing.

We know that aligning our behaviors with our values and beliefs is not as easy as one might think it should be. There are always other factors to consider, costs involved, inconvenience, options. 

Repentance of the kind John is talking about, metanoia, means a change of mind and heart, an inner transformation – a change that bears visible fruit – actual change – not spiritualization, approval of the concept, or accounting methods that make the command more manageable and compensatory. There’s no sliding scale in John’s message. His baptism is understood as an assault on the status quo, a call to embrace the behaviors of God’s purpose.

John’s rhetoric and the fire and judgment motifs gets the people wondering and worrying and asking, “What then should we do?”

I have watched the events in Washington this week with John the Baptist in mind. Large crowds following a charismatic preacher, a counter-cultural message of warnings and judgement and fear. And the people asked, “What then should we do?” The similarities seem striking.

I don’t know what it is about us as humans, but I do think we are all susceptible to this dynamic: we are all credulous, exploitable, willing to narrow our perspective, apply filters so that we are exposed only to experiences or news that supports our world view. We begin to trust the filters more than the breadth of information. From the book of Acts onward, Christians have struggled with filters. How much of the world, it’s richness and pluralisms are we to let in or are we to limit our perspectives? In the world, but not of the world? The danger in filters, of course, is when we assign them God, as well.

Physiologically, we are wired for this. We can only attend meaningfully to so much information. Our brains help us focus on essential things by numbing us to the background noise. You probably are not noticing the presence of your clothing at this moment. Yet every hair follicle is sending information about it to your brain. So maybe it’s in our wiring to attend to the disrupter of our status quo. And when there is a convergence of need and disruption we become ready to act.

That seems to be what John the Baptist is hoping for; to incite these crowds to act on their fears of judgment with genuine repentance, with real change that will align their behavior with service to God’s kingdom embodying mercy, justice, humility.

He compares them to a brood of vipers – if you spend a moment picturing a writhing nest of snakes you can probably feel visceral effects of John’s criticism. To be born of poisonous snakes is to share in their character or nature. The crowds who found their way into the wilderness to hear John didn’t see themselves that way any more than we do. But we have begun to see the poisonous, hostile environment we inhabit and support and create. Those who are privileged and empowered can’t continue indefinitely along pathways of racial, economic and environmental exploitation without consequences. For Luke, those consequences are introduced in Mary’s magnificat. John echoes them in the wilderness, Jesus will take up the song in his sermon in Nazareth next week. The big difference between John the Baptist’s throng and most of history’s cult-like movements is that he was calling them to radical change away from what they already believed; radical change out of their comfort zones and away from self-service or self-gratification – away from ‘self’ as the primary focus of concern. He wanted them to be transformed to alignment with God in preparation for the coming of Christ. He wanted them to help turn the tables.

We want the world to turn, if it favors us; we think that it should turn for the sake of the poor and oppressed, for innocent victims of war, abuse, violence, intolerance… but we tend to want change without repercussions requiring change from us. The poor and dispossessed, the hungry, the lowly ones can find sustenance and comfort somewhere if they are deserving. We don’t need to suffer for their sake. Right?   We make these rationalizations because change is hard, and we like being comfortable, and what’s wrong with being comfortable, and surely there are others who need to change more than we do, so we’ll let it begin with them first, and see how it goes.

There’s a reason both the word of God and Jesus are sent out into the wilderness. It is a place of stark contrasts and starker conditions. It is a place of desolation and testing, but also a place of God, of vision quests and theophanies; an unexpected place of hope and new beginnings. The gospel begins in a desert landscape, because the wilderness clears the air of expectations and business as usual; it equalizes all who would survive. The wilderness brings all of life to immediacy and urgency – and that is where God would have us dwell.

The wilderness landscape is vast, expansive, open – always changing and yet changeless, familiar to the people who know it, yet feared and held in awe even by those who know it. One needs guidance – stars, or cairns, or altars set up to mark the way. John is a voice in the wilderness, “Prepare the way – like the people of ancient Israel in Egypt, join an exodus out of slavery; like the Babylonian exiles, leave that which holds you captive, and head home into the wilderness. Come into the wilderness and meet your maker. Come into the wilderness and be changed; come into the wilderness free and freed from your burdens; loosen the cords of security, declutter your priorities, clarify your vision; face your demons in open space.

Come into the wilderness and come to rely – not only on God, but on our common humanity and the essential connections between us…leave your places of position and religion and control and predictability and self assurance. Come into the wilderness … do not take life for granted, come into the wilderness… for in its disorienting and dangerous terrain we are more likely to discover what it is we seek… Come into the wilderness … for that is where you are called to Be.


Hymn – Come, Beloved of the Maker

1.
Come, beloved of the Maker,
come, behold the Firstborn One;
see revealed creation’s splendor
crowned in glory like the sun.

2.
See the Morningstar now beckon
to those bound to doubt and night;
“Follow me,” Christ calls in welcome,
“come from darkness into light.”

3.
Follow to the birth of newness;
follow to the life of peace;
follow to the hill of anguish;
follow to the garden bliss.

4.
There we too will burn and brighten,
God’s resplendent work begun;
glory will ascend and heighten,
crowning us with glorious sun.

5.
Christ, bright image of the Maker,
God, whose glory none may pass,
Spirit, sun of love and splendor,
bear us into light at last.


Prayers of Intercession

Peace

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

Benediction


Hymn – O Day Full of Grace

1.
O day, full of grace, which we behold,
Now gently to view ascending;
Thou over the earth thy reign unfold,
Good cheer to all mortals lending,
That children of light in every clime
May prove that the night is ending.

2.
How blest was that gracious midnight hour,
When God in our flesh was given;
Then flushed the dawn with light and power,
That spread o’er the darkened heaven;
Then rose o’er the world that Sun divine
Which gloom from our hearts hath driven.

3.
Yea, were every tree endowed with speech,
And every leaflet singing,
They never with praise His worth could reach,
Though earth with their praise were ringing.
Who fully could praise the Light of life,
Who light to our souls is bringing?

4.
As birds in the morning sing God’s praise,
His fatherly love we cherish,
For giving to us this day of grace,
For life that shall never perish.
His Church He hath kept these thousand years
And hungering souls did nourish.

5.
With joy we depart for our fatherland,
Where God our Father is dwelling,
Where ready for us His mansions stand,
Where heaven with praise is swelling;
And there we shall walk in endless light,
With blest ones His praise forth telling.


Dismissal

Go with the strength you have.
Go simply, lightly, gently
Go in search of Love.
And may the Spirit of God go with you.  Amen


Postlude

Chris Johansen

Sounds of Home – Twelve

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the January 4th edition of Sounds of Home!

The Crabfish

There was a little man and he had a little wife
and he loved her as much as he loved his life.

Refrain:
Mash a row dow dow dow diddle all the day,
Mash a row dow dow dow diddle all the day.

One hour in the night, his wife grew sick,
and all that she wanted was a little crab fish…

Then her husband arose and put on his clothes,
and down to the seaside he followed his nose...

“O fisherman. O fisherman, can you tell me,
have you a little crabfish you could sell to me?

“O yes, O yes. I have one, two, and three,
and the best of them I will sell to thee”…

So he caught him and bought him and put him in a dish,
and he said, “Oh wife, put your nose to this“…

Then his wife just to smell him popped up from her clothes,
and the crawfish popped up and grabbed her by the nose…

“Oh help, dear husband; come hither, do you hear?”
But the crabfish had already grabbed him by the ear…

And so my friends, if for a crawfish you thirst;
please try to remember to cook him first...

folk song


Our January 12th theme is “slide”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit –  or would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together, 
we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, 
please make an audio recording and email it to Molly
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Submission deadline is Monday, January 11th.

January 3rd Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeAway In A MangerChris Johansen, piano
Confession & ForgivenessPastor Linda
Gathering SongOnce In Royal David’s City
#269
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Pastor Linda
Part II
ScriptureLuke 2: 21-40Pastor Linda
SermonPastor Linda
HymnGood Christian Friends, Rejoice
#288
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayers of IntercessionPastor Linda
Communion
Lord’s Prayer
Prayer
Pastor Linda
BenedictionPastor Linda
Closing HymnLove Has Come
#292
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
DismissalPastor Linda
PostludeRise Up, Shepherd and FollowChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

P: God of goodness and mercy, help us as we open our hearts and confess our sin. 

Silence for reflection and self-examination.

 God of grace and truth,

C: in Christ Jesus you come among us as light shining in the darkness. Standing in this new year, we are offered possibilities, yet continue to carry the fears and doubts that have held us captive. We celebrate the gift of Jesus, but forget that he was a gift of love to all the world, every tribe and tongue; at times, in our selfishness, we cannot hear God’s call and become quiet when our voices are most needed. Help us to do what’s right in the days to come. Surround us and renew us by your grace so that we may live in the fullness of your love, trusting in the compassion of the Lord of life.

P: In the mercy of almighty God, in the Word made flesh among us, in the child of Mary born to set us free, – in him, our sin is forgiven.    Amen


Gathering Song – Once In Royal David’s City

1.
Once in royal David’s city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little child.

2.
He came down to earth from heaven
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall;
with the poor and meek and lowly,
lived on earth our Savior holy.

3.
And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love;
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heav’n above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

4.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing by,
we shall see him; but in heaven,
set at God’s right hand on high;
there his children gather round,
bright like stars, with glory crowned.


Greeting

    The grace and loving-kindness of our Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.

         And also with you.

Prayer of the Day

O God the Three, be the God of me,
Come, my Lord, my light, my way;
Come my lantern, night and day;
Come, my healer, make me whole;
Come, my Savior, protect my soul;
Come, my King, enter my heart;
Come, Prince of Peace, and never depart.  
Amen          

~ adapted from a Celtic prayer


Scripture Reading – Luke 2: 21-40

21 After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel Gabriel before he was conceived in the womb.

23When 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.”

25Now 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.”

33And 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.”

36There 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.39When 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.


Sermon

Luke is a very good story teller. Very organized.

He begins by drawing his original reader in, to connect the most excellent Theophilus to Hebrew scripture, traditions, piety – to the things Theophilus knows, and to things that he doesn’t know, in order to convince him of the truth of this claim – that Jesus is the son of God and that through him, salvation has been given now, to all people, through grace. Once and for all.

It is still a worthwhile message to tell.

This second chapter of Luke contains the entire nativity story.

It begins with Joseph and Mary journeying from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, and ends with their return. Enclosed is the fulfillment of the law.

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” So, despite being great with child, Mary and Jospeh traveled because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David. Bethlehem was the city of David. Therefore, Joseph had to go there to be registered for the census. While there, the time came for Mary to give birth. And eight days later, in accordance with the law of Moses, they took Jesus to the temple to be circumcised.  Circumcision marked Jesus’ inclusion into the covenant community. His name was conferred – the name given – not by Joseph, but by the angel Gabriel. Jesus, Yeshua, meaning, “to deliver, or save; to rescue.”

Now, 33 days later, they are back at the temple to fulfill what the law of the Lord prescribes. Two additional acts are required of devout parents: the consecration of the ‘firstling’ and the purification of the mother. As a reminder of the Jewish exodus experience, all firstborn sons were to be dedicated to God. Firstborns could be redeemed (bought back) from priestly service by paying 5 silver shekels. I was curious, and searched for the price of redeeming a firstborn female. According to midrash, “The Torah did not grant to women any holiness of the firstborn for any matter.”

After giving birth, a mother was ceremonially unclean. Leviticus 12 lays out the three-step purification procedure required: at the birth of a male, there is a seven day period of impurity, followed by 33 days of ṭahara (or purification). This time of isolation and impurity is doubled for a female child.

After the 40 or 80 days, she was to offer a lamb and a pigeon or turtledove. If she could not afford a lamb, she could offer instead two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons. This is what Mary and Joseph offered.

It is beautifully ironic that Mary could not afford a lamb – she who bore the Lamb of God, and that Luke did not mention the 5 shekels of silver which would have redeemed Jesus, freeing him from devoting his life to God’s service.

In all of these things, Mary and Joseph prove their obedience to the demands of human and religious law. They are free to return home and begin life as a family.

But Luke wants us to know that the Law – human and spiritual –  is not the only thing to be fulfilled.

Mary and Joseph meet two people in the Temple who recognize their tiny son.

Details about Simeon and Anna are given so that we know they are reliable witnesses; they are the elders, imbued with the knowledge of God; they are prophetic characters who greet this baby with great joy, but also with the fore-knowledge of who he is. Unlike the shepherds, these two do not need to be told – they’ve been anticipating this moment, faithfully waiting – echoing Gabriel’s message to Mary and the shepherds about who Jesus is and what he will be.

The moment is choreographed by the Holy Spirit.

Anna, we are told – was old, widowed, a spirit person, a prophetess – who seemingly lived in the temple – never leaving it, praying and fasting night and day. Simeon, though, lived in Jerusalem. He came to the temple that day, at that time, to that location in the temple, precisely to find this child.

‘The temple’ was the locus of God’s presence in the world. ‘The temple’ houses the holy of holies, the closest contact with divinity that the Jewish people experienced or expected – only there, only through their high priest, and only one day a year on the day of atonement for the people’s sin.

‘The temple’ was built on temple mount, which (in talmud tradition) was the first bit of dry land of creation and from which the rest of the world expanded into its present form. It is here that God gathered the dust to create the first human. It is here where tradition says Abraham demonstrated his devotion to God by taking his son Isaac to be sacrificed. It is here that King David had the vision of angels ascending a golden ladder into the sky. ‘The temple’ is the meeting place between divine and human – a thin spot in Celtic tradition. And it is here – in this story – in this most holy of Jewish locations, that God brings the word of salvation to all people, Gentile and Jew, free and slave, male and female. It is here that God uses the faithfulness of ordinary people – Joseph and Mary – to fulfill the promise of redemption for all.

To this place, in this moment, God’s Spirit draws Simeon to find the baby he has been expecting. To the place of holy encounter. And, holding this newborn, Simeon thanks God and knows his prophetic vocation is fulfilled. With Jesus’ conception, birth, and now, presentation – in the recognition of who Jesus is and what he is to do, by old Simeon and Anna, who represent the best of expectant Israel, salvation has come. The promises of God, have already been fulfilled. (1.)

I want to let that settle for a moment.

At 40 days old, according to Luke, Jesus has already fulfilled the promise of salvation, of redemption, ransom, for the all the people of the world, for all time, in all places.

What was it the angel said to the shepherds? “Do not be afraid, for behold I announce good news to you of great joy which will be to all the people. Because was born to you today a savior who is Christ the Lord in the the city of David.” 

I feel obligated to remind you that Luke is the only gospel that tells this nativity story. That in Mark, for example, we first see Jesus as an adult. “And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan River by John.”

We get there soon enough in Luke, too, sort of. There’s one more quick story about a 12 year old Jesus, and then chapter 3 begins with John out in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And then John is arrested and imprisoned. And only then we read, “When all of the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized, too, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”   It’s a different order. There is no conversation or observed meeting of Jesus and John together. No disciples getting their first glimpse.

But, more to my point, that’s the last we hear from God. Chaper 4 talks about Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit, led by the Spirit, and Jesus himself reads from the scroll of Isaiah where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has appointed me to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

That’s what Gabriel told Mary, what Mary sang in her Magnificat, what Simeon and Anna sang and recognized. In the living Jesus, salvation has already come.

I’m not going to say that the resurrection was unnecessary. I have no idea. But – to me – it seems that Luke is clearly saying that Jesus was enough. In his birth, in his being, he was God’s good news (the gospel) of great joy and was filled with the Holy Spirit. And accomplished – even as a baby – the redemption of the world. Because redemption is not fulfilled by human or religious law, by correct belief or pious acts. God’s love incarnate in Jesus creates redemption. A child of divine love for all the earth and her creatures. I may be wrong, but I do believe that.

As we read on from here, we will recognize that the mystery and majesty have changed, dimmed. Where did the angels go? And why? Why are they so prominent – even named – Gabriel, we feel like we know him… he and the heavenly host fill these opening chapters of Luke’s gospel and then play no part in the rest of it what-so-ever. Why don’t they appear from time to time? Why do they not swoop down in their fearsome, blinding glory and put an exclamation point on some of Jesus’ most difficult teachings?  Or rescue him when he is most in need?  Psalm 91 offers the narrative: 11 For God will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”  Who would this apply to if not to Jesus?

Why does the spirit of God not inform and enlighten other principle players in this passion play?      

I spent bit of time fussing about it this week, and it might be whimsical, but theology often is – so here’s what I’ve come up with.

In these opening chapters of Luke, there is a sensory overload of God’s presence brooding over the earth like the spirit brooded over the primordial soup of creation in the opening verses of Genesis. Because there is a new creation here, a new upending order.

God is restless, nesting, like a pregnant mother, freewheeling in the universe, sparking up stars, whispering even to blades of grass, (the Talmud tells us) “grow, grow,” sinking into small dark places like Mary’s womb and bringing light and life. The angelic messengers, the spirit of God, swirl around the town of Nazareth, startle the sheep-filled hills outside the little town of Bethlehem, herald God’s presence around the ancient temple mount. Whispering the news of a birth, of a beginning, of great joy to the earth, searching the faithful young and old and those ready to hear, igniting old memories and wistfully held dreams; God is readying the scene. Preparing, expecting.

And then there is the birth and a manger glows, and God is greatly pleased and quieted and time passes. And one day, Jesus walks down into the Jordan River to be baptized and the moment has come, and God imparts the fullness of his grace – completely – in Jesus. Just in Jesus. God is just there in Jesus. This is the scariest, riskiest time of heaven and earth – these three years when God is all in all, and all in Jesus. No wonder the disciples and pharisees are clueless. The voice from heaven is silent because the voice of God is Jesus’ voice, the light of God is Jesus’ life, Jesus and God are one in the same. God isn’t freewheeling in the cosmos, sparking up stars to guide and enlighten, God is Jesus. Incognito. Living. Observing how this will all come to pass. And so Luke’s songs end, and the skies over Bethlehem darken, and the shepherds and townspeople and powers and principalities are true to their own nature, and the narrative changes. We know about people: that people are willful and ignorant, often corrupt, generally self-serving, easily led astray, quite temporal beings – of the moment. We know this to be self-evident. They/we couldn’t seem to see God because, unlike Simeon and Anna, they didn’t expect to.

I know this is not proper theology, but I kind of like the idea of heaven being empty of God. Briefly. That during Jesus’ lifetime, the Christ, the Creator, the Spirit were all incarnate. Tremendously vulnerable. If so, it makes sense that the song of the angels is spent. I picture Gabriel biting his fingernails and hovering, worried, anxious, but constrained; waiting until those alleluias could ring out again through the heavens and earthly realm.

In the continuing ministry of Jesus, as when he lay in the animal’s manger, and in old Simeon and Anna’s devoted gaze, Luke’s gospel has eyes only for him, ears only for him, because Luke would move heaven and earth, invoke heaven and earth, for us to understand that Jesus is the Son of God and that through him, salvation has been given, to all people, through the abundance of God’s love. Once and for all.

______________

1. The Gospel of Luke, Joel B. Green. “The manifestation of Jesus to Simeon” pg 143    


Hymn – Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

1.
Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ is born today;
ox and ass before him bow,
and he is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

2.
Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
now ye hear of endless bliss:
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven’s door,
and we are blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this!
Christ was born for this!

3.
Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
now ye need not fear the grave;
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all
to gain the everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!


Prayers of Intercession

Let us, God’s People, Pray

Jesus, the Joy of Simeon who knows Your arrival is a cataclysmic event!  Keep us always surprised and joyful at your sudden arrivals in our hearts and minds and let our lives radiate the exhilaration of being in Your Presence.
 O God who abides with us
Response: We put our trust in You

Jesus, Joy of Anna, we present ourselves to you as pilgrims on Your Way.  Refine and purify our hearts and souls so that we may find favor as servant messengers of your presence, your faithfulness and your love.
O God who abides with us
Response: We put our trust in You

Jesus, Joy of Simeon, attend to those who present themselves in the world’s temples of government.  Fill their hearts with Your wisdom, justice, and mercy and diverge them from paths of greed and inhumanity. We pray especially for peace in Georgia as voters go back to the polls, and peace throughout the  nation during the transference of power.
O God who abides with us
Response: We put our trust in You

Jesus, Joy of Anna, we ask Your Healing for all who are seriously ill, frightened, or exhausted, and for those who tend to their needs  

We pray especially for:  Cordelia Strandskov, Dorothy Kass (Barb’s mom), Vivian Johnson (Brenda’s mom), Bob Clifton, Ken DeVries, Tom Cuttill (Mike M’s bro-in-law);

We also remember all those we don’t get to see each week during this dumb time apart – especially Donna and Hartvig, Danny and Marilene, Mary Adams, Donna Pedersen, Milda and Darrel, Norman, Tom and Joyce;  parents and grandparents subbing in as teachers – especially Nikki and Henrik; teachers working so hard to connect and teach; caregivers of elderly and homebound; families changing configurations for financial stability; those serving in the military (Luke, Matt, Phillip, Alec – known to us) …. And we remember those who fall between categories, into the cracks, who struggle with addictions, identity, mental health, loneliness. Be present with all these, your beloved, and send us into their lives.

O God who abides with us
Response: We put our trust in You

Jesus, Joy of Simeon, open our eyes to Your Place of peace in the desert of sorrow, as the ones whose loss we mourn are set free in peace to a new life. We pray especially for: Judy (Dodge) Cummings, her children and family

O God who abides with us
Response: We put our trust in You

Jesus, Joy of Anna, Grant continuous discernment, wisdom, and prophetic understanding to Pastor Linda and the West Denmark community who worship together while apart.  Help us all be merciful and faithful followers of the incarnation, of you with us. 
O God who abides with us
Response: We put our trust in You

On this first Sunday of the new year, we rejoice with Simeon and Anna, Mary and Joseph, and prepare ourselves for the many risings and fallings yet to come in our own lives.  We  re-dedicate ourselves to You on this day and ask Your blessings for strength, integrity, and faithfulness.  Amen.

Communion

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

Prayer

In the mystery of Christ’s incarnation, you shine light into the darkness, provide water that brings new life, and give bread that nourishes your people and frees us from our fear. Help us be incarnate witnesses of Jesus’ birth and resurrection and empower us to show your glory to all the world.  Amen.


Benediction


Hymn – Love Has Come

1.
Love has come, a light in the darkness!
Love shines forth in the Bethlehem skies.
See, all heaven has come to proclaim it;
hear how their song of joy arises:
Love! Love! Born unto you, a Savior!
Love! Love! Glory to God on high!

2.
Love is born! Come share in the wonder.
Love is God now asleep in the hay.
See the glow in the eyes of His mother.
What is the name her heart is saying?
Love! Love! Love is the name she whispers.
Love! Love! Jesus, Immanuel.

3.
Love has come and never will leave us!
Love is life everlasting and free.
Love is Jesus within and among us.
Love is the peace our hearts are seeking.
Love! Love! Love is the gift of Christmas.
Love! Love! Praise to You, God on high!


Dismissal

Go with the strength you have.
Go simply, lightly, gently
Go in search of Love.
And may the Spirit of God go with you.  Amen


Postlude

Chris Johansen

Sounds of Home – Christmas Cheer

Tuesdays at 2pm

This week’s Sounds of Home episode is the “West Denmark Christmas Cheer Share Show”! As the show includes many videos and photos as well as audio, the program will be shared as a link sent out via email, instead of on our public webpage. Check your inbox around 5pm today for a link to the video!

If you did not receive a link, or have trouble viewing the video, please contact Chris Tou at tou.chr@gmail.com

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Our January 5th theme is “twelve”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit –  or would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together, 
we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, 
please make an audio recording and email it to Molly
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Submission deadline is Monday, January 4th.

December 27th Worship

Order of Service

PreludeCarol of the BellsChris Johansen, piano
OpeningShawn Mai
Gathering SongO Come All Ye Faithful
#283
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
#286
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingLuke 2: 8-15Mercy Wetzig
Abel Wetzig
HymnAngels We Have Heard on High
#289
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
#267
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.


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Opening

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

1.
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:

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

2.
The highest, most holy, light of light eternal,
born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;
Son of the Father now in flesh appearing!
[Refrain]

3.
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God in the highest:
[Refrain]

4.
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:
[Refrain]


Prayer

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.

Amen.

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.

Reflection

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

1.
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.

2.
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.

3.
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.

4.
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

1.
Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply,
echoing their joyous strains.

Refrain:
Gloria in excelsis Deo;
gloria in excelsis Deo.

2.
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
which inspire your heavenly song?
[Refrain]

3.
Come to Bethlehem and see
him whose birth the angels sing;
come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
[Refrain]


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:
https://marksbloggingexperiment.com/2020/12/27/12-songs-for-christmas-every-star-shall-sing-a-carol-new-millennium-peace-version/


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

1.
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.

2.
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.

3.
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.

4.
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.


Postlude

Chuck Parsons

Christmas Eve Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeWexford CarolChris Johansen, piano
Call to WorshipPastor Linda
ReadingThe Shortest Day by Susan CooperChris Johansen
Gathering SongPeople, Look East
#248
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
HymnIt Came Upon a Midnight Clear
#282
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Christmas Litany
HymnOf the Father’s Love Begotten
#295
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingJohn 1: 1-5Chris Johansen
ReadingBirth from Crossings by Susan Palo CherwienPastor Linda
Readingby Gertrude Mueller NelsonShawn Mai
HymnIn the Bleak Midwinter
#294
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingJohn 1: 14-18Pastor Linda
Readingfrom The Road to Daybreak by Henri NouwenShawn Mai
HymnO Little Town of Bethlehem
#279
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingMicah 5: 2-5Shawn Mai
ReadingsHenrik Strandskov
Nikki Strandskov
HymnTwas in the Moon of Wintertime
#284
Harry Johansen
Paul Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingPastor Linda
HymnThe Bells of Christmas
#298
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
ReadingLuke 2: 1-20Henrik Strandskov
Nikki Strandskov
Musical “offering”Dejlig er den himmel blåThe National Danish Girls Choir
Philip Faber, conductor
Prayers
Lord’s Prayer
Pastor Linda
HymnOn Christmas Night
#274
Harry Johansen
Paul Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Closing Litany
Blessing
Closing HymnSilent Night
#281
Jim Miles

Note: The audio cuts off the first part of Linda’s introduction to the service. The text of the introduction appears below.


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Call to Worship

The undeniable hardship of this winter is a reminder that for much of human history, particularly in colder climates, winter was a season simply to be survived. Winter is a primal time of death and loss, and a time for grief. It reminds us that darkness, not only light, is part of the recurring rhythm of what it means to be human.

In a year that has stripped life to bare fundamentals, the natural world has become our shared story. Natural rhythms of seasons offer the reminder that the world moves on even if our sense of time has blurred. The dormancy of winter provides a beautiful way of assuring us that we have lived through long nights before. It is at the point that the nights are longest and darkest that we actually turn a corner.

Medieval Persian writings suggested that if one can not afford a feast in their season of darkness, it is enough to bring a flower.

Look for the smallest bit of beauty around you. At a time like this, when it seems like the mega-narratives, institutions, and systems are all broken or falling apart, we return our gaze to the small, beautiful details of this Christmas story of birth in the midst of turmoil and displacement. Dormancy is not death. Dormancy, isolation, solitude – these words describe winter – they might describe your life in COVID-19. But the solstice is past. The shortest day came, and now we begin to climb back into the light. Winter’s darkness, our experiences of dormancy and darkness and death cannot overcome it.



Reading – The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
Hymn – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

1.
It came upon the midnight clear,
that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth
to touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to all,
from heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
to hear the angels sing.

2.
Still through the cloven skies they come
with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heav’nly music floats
o’er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hov’ring wing,
and ever o’er its babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.

3.
And you, beneath life’s crushing load,
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow;
look now, for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing;
oh, rest beside the weary road
and hear the angels sing!

4.
For lo! The days are hast’ning on,
by prophets seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold,
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and all the world give back the song
which now the angels sing.


Christmas Litany

P:  When we offer a glass of water to a thirsty person, we are in Christmas,

C: When we clothe a naked person with a gown of love, we are in Christmas,

P:   When we wipe the tears from weeping eyes, we are in Christmas,

C: When we cushion a hopeless heart with love, we are in Christmas,

ALL: When I kiss a friend without hypocrisy,

When the spirit of revenge dies in me,

When hardness is gone from my heart,

When my soul melts in the Being of God, I am in Christmas.

P:  On the night of Christmas …   

ALL: Hatred will vanish

P: On the night of Christmas …

ALL: The Earth blooms

P:  On the night of Christmas …   

ALL: War is buried

P:  On the night of Christmas …   

ALL: Love is born

Adapted from Laylat al-Milad (On the Eve of Christmas) a traditional carol sung by Arab Christians at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church of Bethlehem, Palestine.


Hymn – Of the Father’s Love Begotten

1.
Of the Father’s love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore.

2.
Oh, that birth forever blessed,
when the Virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bore the Savior of our race,
and the babe, the world’s Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore.

3.
This is he whom seers in old time
chanted of with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long-expected;
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.

4.
Let the heights of heav’n’ adore him;
angel hosts, his praises sing;
pow’rs, dominions, bow before him
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
ev’ry voice in concert ring
evermore and evermore.

5.
Christ, to thee, with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and unwearied praises be:
honor, glory, and dominion,
and eternal victory
evermore and evermore! Amen.


Reading – John 1:1-5
Reading – from Crossings by Susan Palo Cherwien
Reading – by Gertrude Mueller Nelson


Hymn – In the Bleak Midwinter

1.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

2.
Heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heav’n and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign;
in the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God almighty, Jesus Christ.

3.
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him – give my heart.


Reading – John 1: 14-18
Reading – from The Road to Daybreak by Henri Nouwen


Hymn – O Little Town of Bethlehem

1.
O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by;
yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

2.
For Christ is born of Mary,
and, gathered all above
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the king,
and peace to all on earth!

3.
How silently, how silently
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming;
but, in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.

4.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
oh, come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel!


Reading – Micah 5:2-5
Two Readings


Hymn – Twas in the Moon of Wintertime


Reading


Hymn – The Bells of Christmas

1.
The bells of Christmas chime once more;
the heav’nly guest is at the door.
He comes to earthly dwellings still
with new year gifts of peace, good will.

2.
This world, though wide and far outspread,
could scarcely find for you a bed.
Your cradle was a manger stall,
no pearl nor silk nor kingly hall.

3.
Now let us go with quiet mind,
the swaddled babe with shepherds find,
to gaze on him who gladdens them,
the loveliest flow’r of Jesse’s stem.

4.
Oh, join with me, in gladness sing,
to keep our Christmas with our king,
until our song, from loving souls,
like rushing mighty water rolls!

5.
O patriarchs’ Joy, O prophets’ Song,
O Dayspring bright, awaited long,
O Son of Man, incarnate Word,
great David’s Son, great David’s Lord:!

6.
Come, Jesus, glorious heav’nly guest,
and keep your Christmas in our breast;
then David’s harp-string, hushed so long,
shall swell our jubilee of song.


Reading – Luke 2: 1-20
Musical “Offering”


Prayers
Lord’s Prayer


Hymn – On Christmas Night

1.
On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring.
On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring:
news of great joy, news of great mirth,
news of our merciful king’s birth.

2.
Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our redeemer made us glad?
Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our redeemer made us glad,
when from our sin he set us free,
all for to gain our liberty?

3.
When sin departs before his face,
then life and health come in its place.
When sin departs before his face,
then life and health come in its place.
Angels rejoice with us and sing,
all for to see the new-born King.

4.
All out of darkness we have light,
which made the angels sing this night.
All out of darkness we have light,
which made the angels sing this night:
“Glory to God in highest heav’n;
peace on earth, and goodwill. Amen.”


Closing Litany

P:  When we offer a glass of water to a thirsty person, we are in Christmas,

Women: Lo, in the silent night a child to God is born

And all is brought again that ere was lost or lorn.

Men: Could but thy soul, O man, become a silent night!

God would be born in thee and set all things aright.

~15th Century


Blessing


Hymn – Silent Night

1.
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.

2.
Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
glories stream from heaven afar,
heav’nly hosts sing, alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

3.
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from your holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord, at your birth,
Jesus, Lord, at your birth.


Postlude

Chris Johansen


Sounds of Home – Prepare

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the December 22nd edition of Sounds of Home!

Let it Snow

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
but the fire is so delightful.
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

It doesn’t show signs of stopping
and I brought some corn for popping;
the lights are turned way down low,
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,
how I’ll hate going out in the storm!
But if you’ll really hold me tight,
all the way home I’ll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
and my dear, we’re still goodbye-ing.
But as long as you love me so,
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Text: Sammy Cahn
Music: Jule Styne; arr. Dan Coates


Like to lend your voice?
Our upcoming program will be the WD Christmas Cheer Share Show
an audio/visual Christmas Card that will be sent out via email.

Remember, submissions don’t have to be grand, artful or profound. (Of course, some of them will be all three.)  We just want to see your faces, the two of you around the table, the four of you singing, the twenty of you dancing around your tree. Whatever you come up with and share will be, by its very nature, wonderful. Submissions (photographs, audio and video recordings) should be sent to Chris T. at his email address:  tou.chr@gmail.com by 5:00pm on Sunday 12/27. 


Our January 5th theme is “twelve”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit –  or would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together, 
we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, 
please make an audio recording and email it to Molly
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Submission deadline is Monday, January 4th.