WORSHIP @ HOME
For the 12 Days of Christmas, we are giving our Worship Team a much-needed sabbath rest. You can do the following service on your own at home, or you can join us in our Zoom Room at https://usc.zoom.us/my/lumin on Sundays December 26 and January 2 at 10am with your church family. Church Council will take the lead in facilitating these at-home Zoom gatherings. We will gather again at St. Mark’s on Epiphany Sunday, January 9, 2022 at 10am. A blessed Christmas season to you and yours!
Sunday, January 2 + The Second Sunday of Christmas
Gathering: The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.
Almighty God, you have filled all the earth with the light of your incarnate Word.
By your grace empower us to reflect your light in all that we do,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Word: God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, & song.
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14
The Lord proclaims:
Sing joyfully for the people of Jacob; shout for the leading nation.
Raise your voices with praise and call out:
“The Lord has saved his people, the remaining few in Israel!”
I’m going to bring them back from the north;
I will gather them from the ends of the earth.
Among them will be the blind and the disabled, expectant mothers and those in labor;
a great throng will return here.
With tears of joy they will come; while they pray, I will bring them back.
I will lead them by quiet streams and on smooth paths so they don’t stumble.
I will be Israel’s father, Ephraim will be my oldest child.
Listen to the Lord’s word, you nations, and announce it to the distant islands:
The one who scattered Israel will gather them
and keep them safe, as a shepherd his flock.
The Lord will rescue the people of Jacob
and deliver them from the power of those stronger than they are.
They will come shouting for joy on the hills of Zion,
jubilant over the Lord’s gifts: grain, wine, oil, flocks, and herds.
Their lives will be like a lush garden; they will grieve no more.
Then the young women will dance for joy; the young and old men will join in.
I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy;
I will comfort them.
I will lavish the priests with abundance and shower my people with my gifts,
declares the Lord.
Gospel Reading: John 1:10-18
The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light,
but the world didn’t recognize the light.
The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him.
But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children,
born not from blood nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
The Word became flesh and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace;
as the Law was given through Moses,
so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known.
Reflection Questions (from the ELCA’s “Sundays and Seasons” worship resource):
The Message’s translation of John 1:14 is stunning: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” What does this look like in your neighborhood today? Where do you see God’s presence in January 2022?
The murder of seventeen-year-old high school student Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 was a prophetic summons. After his murderer’s acquittal on July 13, 2013, a voice rang out over all the of US saying: “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:7) because #BlackLivesMatter! Tragic stories from the north (Philando Castile), south (Sandra Bland), east (Freddy Gray), and west (Stephon Clark) raised the cry “aloud on the height of Zion… radiant over the goodness of the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:12). Since then, millions the world over have joined the chorus. When have you or your congregation answered such a call?
Prayers of the People
Joining our voices with the heavenly host and Christians throughout time and space, let us pray for the church, the world, and all in need.
You make yourself known in the gift of language in diverse forms. Draw our attention to those who communicate through sign, braille, and technology. Make our church a place where all methods of communication are celebrated. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Creating God, the sun greets us anew each morning. Thank you for waking us up today to witness and share your abundance. Awaken us always to your wisdom and deepen our care for your natural world. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Emmanuel, in your name we are assured that you are with us. Train nations and peoples to honor and respect one another, especially those whose names and identities have been mistreated, neglected, or oppressed. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
You adopt us as your beloved ones. Accompany parents and children navigating the adoption process, especially those in the foster system. Sustain those struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss. Tenderly embrace all in need. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
You journey with us through change. Guide those assuming new roles in this congregation or making transitions in their families, workplaces, or communities. As the seasons and the calendar change, equip us for unexpected challenges. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
We give you thanks for all who modeled lives of loving service. Lead us in your grace until, with all your saints, we enter the fullness of your glory. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
For what else do the people of God pray this morning?
Here you may offer your own intercessions.
Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Rejoicing in your Word made flesh among us, we commend these prayers to you, confident of your grace and love made known to us in Jesus Christ, our Savior, and we pray the prayer you taught us to pray:
who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Invitation to the Offering
There are many things we choose in our lives. We choose what kind of car we want, where we want to live, the career path we prefer. We choose decaf or caffeinated, am or pm, today or tomorrow. We choose to read the book or see the movie, we choose dogs or cats, and we choose where we want to give our time, our energy, and our money. So today we are invited to choose this place, this community, this family of faith. Today we are invited to choose generosity, trusting that God can take whatever we give and use it for good. Let us give our tithes and our offerings now.
Your offering helps us carry out our ministries of love and justice in the world - from preparing worship services like this to preparing worship services at church. You can give your offering today online at stmarksla.org/give.
Thanksgiving for the Offering
Gracious God, your story is one that forever invites us to be our full selves, to take up space, to go where we feel called, and to allow this community to feel like home. So use these gifts to keep building your home among us. With gratitude as tall as the ceiling, we pray. Amen.
Sending: God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.
Our Christmas season benediction comes to us from the theologian and mystic Howard Thurman. Howard Thurman was a mentor to Dr. King, and one of the great spiritual writers of the 20th century, and he wrote these words:
"When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart."