This is a pic of one of the practices for the Christmas Eve service. I really enjoyed the music as we tried to blend in a little more of an Appalachian sound. I don't know how others felt about it, but I thought it was fantastic.
I need to finish the puzzle we started in Advent. If you look at it just right you see a stylized version of the nativity. Joseph stands tall behind the manger, while Mary leans toward her son. On the far right of the pic you see three figures bearing gifts. An angel stands behind Joseph. And two shepherds kneel from the left side of the picture.Another view:
We only have two services this Sunday. The Table is on furlough until next week. Bob Hall is the prayer guy for the 11am service (see prayer below). I'll pray in the 9:30 service. That prayer is after Bob's:
Prayers of the Church for Grandview
28 December 2008
28 December 2008
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
Loving God, You sent us the baby Jesus, the little Christ child, so soft, so meek, so mild…the Lamb of God brought to earth as a baby. We thank You for this Advent season, the time of anticipation; it is a great tradition, and it culminates in the remembrance and celebration of this great event of God in the form of man. Thank You, Father, for the Christmas Story.
Most of us feel so good during the Christmas season. We reconnect with friends and family, we exchange gifts, we take time off from work to relax. We read beautiful scripture, listen to some of the most beautiful songs and sing some of the best carols ever written. We honor You as we honor the Christ-child. But then the Christmas season is over and Advent winds down. We put away the holiday trappings and look to a new year. We make resolutions and once again face the challenge of the gospel.
Tell us, Father, is the gospel easy or is it hard? Surely, through the blood of the lamb, You have put salvation in our grasp. You offer eternal life through Jesus Christ and we accept. Thank You for the grace that allows this simple, but meaningful exchange to occur.
Accepting You seems so easy, but living the Gospel, the gospel of the lamb led to the slaughter, the savior oppressed and afflicted for our namesake, seems so very hard; the path is sure, but it is uneven… Satan seeks to undo us at every opportunity. We often fail, but we must never give up. We fight, get beat, and strengthened by You, rise and fight again. Give us the dedication, wisdom, and endurance needed to live the life, to follow Your word, to stand up.
We can’t predict the future, Lord; we don’t know what will happen today, tomorrow or next year. What we do not doubt is Your endless love. Thank You for that love and help it engender in us the strength to commit our total lives, our complete beings, our minds, bodies, and souls to share the peace that only You can bring, to work tirelessly doing good, not for ourselves and our own recognition but to glorify You, to help others hear the good news and share in the joy known only by Your people.
Bless our enemies, Father, and let them know Your love.
In the silence, we contemplate the Christ-child, recognize Your gifts, try to fathom our responsibilities and thank You for Your constant care in good times and bad:
We remember before You those who do not find this holiday season to be a pleasant time in their lives – our brothers and sisters who are in pain, in mourning, estranged from family, separated from loved ones. Comfort them, God, and let them know the peace only You can give.
And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:
Here is Aaron's prayer:
God of steadfast faithfulness, who continues to pursue, to love, and to pour out your Spirit on all flesh, accept this offering we make to you today. Our worship, our prayers, and our attendance here is a response to your grace. Your grace shines so wonderfully in the face of your Son, Jesus of Nazareth. We remember him this morning as a baby in a manger. We know he won’t stay that way. We know that we will need to grow up in our faith and our commitment, just as he modeled for us. We know that he will teach great things and inspire great sacrifice and will change the world forever.
But this morning we pause to admire the plainness and power of your plan. We admire how covert you are; how your message can be too simple for the brightest minds, too humble for the proud, too meek for the powerful, too loving for the vengeful. We admire that you included those sweet servants, Mary and Joseph. We admire that you invited the shepherds. We admire that you invite us along on this journey even though we are cracked, broken, and hurting.
Forgive us our sins, we pray. We need that forgiveness so that we can more fully participate in this project of bringing your light of righteousness and justice, grace and peace, joy and service into this world. Forgive us refusing to consider the broader implications of the message of Christmas; for forgetting that you mean to infuse all of life with your great purpose and power.
As we prepare to pack away images of the baby in the manger and store them in dark places for another year, let your message find the dark corners of our soul and take root and grow ever larger until the branches of our souls become a resting place for others.
O God, what would change in our lives if we would truly embrace the message of Jesus? We pray that you would speak to us in the silence and challenge us:
We celebrate. We rejoice. We proclaim that our God has won a great victory and that nothing is impossible for our God! Please be as present as we can stand in this service today—and enlarge our souls so that we can know you better and better.
Bless the missionaries we support. Bless all those around us who live the love of the gospel in the lives of the poor and the homeless, the rich and the powerful, and in the lives of those who suffer. Give comfort to those who grieve in this season. Give strength to the weak. Help those of us who spent too much on Christmas presents to remember the joy of simplicity and the wise stewardship of the resources you have given. Give your traveling mercies to our family members who are on their way to Pasadena. Protect those who are in harm’s way for our sake. Bless our president, the one who is leaving office and the one who is entering. Guide world leaders into the paths of righteousness, justice, and peace. And, as always, according to the example of the baby grown and hanging on a cross, bless and forgive our enemies.
We pray these things in Jesus name, even as we join our voices in the prayer he taught us: