Tag Archives: Bread

“Traditions that won’t die – Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve” from Luke 2:1-20

There are some Christmas Traditions that won’t die – like going to church on Christmas Eve.  The tradition I grew up in didn’t go to church on Christmas Eve. Midnight Mass sounded too Catholic for them.  Instead, my family’s tradition was to open our gifts from ma and pa on Christmas Eve knowing on Christmas Day we would go to the extended family Christmas. The one where you got all these gifts you didn’t want from Aunts and Uncles you wouldn’t see again until the next family gathering.

The irony is the first Christmas Eve service I ever went to was in a Catholic Church.  I was at college in Danville.  Two of my good friends were Catholic, so when they invited me, I went.  The priest was very open and joyful. He didn’t care that I wasn’t Catholic.  So when the time came for me to receive communion, I went forward with everyone else.  And that’s when I encountered the wafer.

I’m not sure what brand of dissolvable cardboard the priest gave me, but it wasn’t bread.  Bread has flavor.  Bread has texture.  Bread travels down to your stomach with a sensation that is real, sensual, and gratifying.  Not so with the wafer.  It had no flavor.  It had no texture save the distinct realization by my tongue something had been placed on it with a micro-measure of weight.  And after it dissolved in my mouth, I’m not sure any remnant made it any further down the pipe.

I’m not trying to poke fun at our Catholic sisters and brothers.  I respect their understanding and practice of the Lord’s Supper.  Yet it occurs to me that many times that wafer represents my own experience in spirituality.  It lacks flavor. There are times that I can’t tell you the last time I tasted the joy of the Lord’s presence.  It lacks texture. There are long places in my own life where I don’t feel as if God is with me; quite the opposite of Emmanuel.  It leaves me hungry.

At the first church I served as pastor, I was reminded of this by a 4 year old boy named Cody.  It was an ordinary Sunday with ordinary hymns.  You might say we were going through the motions.  I’m sure it was the first Sunday of the month, because we were having communion.  Folks were coming up to the rail in groups as was tradition. They knelt and received a torn bit of bread which they were invited to dip into the cup.  But the ordinary disappeared when little Cody received his bread.

“Is that all I get?”  He had said it as any 4 year old would have said it.  Quiet enough that the entire congregation heard him.  Loud enough to embarrass his mother and father.  But what struck me was his honesty about the hunger.  He didn’t come here for wafers or crumbs.  Cody wanted the flavor, the texture, the fulfillment.  Cody wanted the feast, all that God would give him.  Cody wanted to experience God at the table.

You may be asking what does this have to do with Jesus, the Stable, the Manger, etc.  God didn’t offer us fast food solutions, but instead offered us a full multi-course feast in this babe, in this birth, in this life, in this death, and in this resurrection.  He could have been born in a palace, yet he chose a stable.  He could have had Angels announcing his coming to all humanity, yet he chose shepherds in a field.  He could have picked any town – Rome, New York, Washington DC, yet he chose Bethlehem, a Hebrew word that translates as “House of Bread.”  He could have had the best Tempurpedic, double down, plush bed for his crib, yet mother Mary laid him in a manger – fancy word for a “feeding trough” for animals.

We didn’t come here for a little snack or a bit of fast food.  We came here for the whole experience of who Jesus is.  Tonight we celebrate his coming to us.  Tonight we are invited to experience the whole of who God is in a little child laid in a manger.  Tonight we are invited to experience the whole of who God is in a candle light dinner of a little bread and a little wine.  Thank God some traditions won’t die.  Amen.

Call to Worship based on the Lord’s Prayer

As we gather today, we call you
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
As we gather today, we lift up who you are and what you represent
hallowed be your name
As we gather today, We seek your ways, not our own
Your Kingdom come, your will be done…
As we gather today, we say sorry to you and one another
Forgive us as we forgive…
As we gather today, we need you.
Give us this day our daily bread,
Lead us away from temptation,
Deliver us from Evil.
As we gather today, we pray.
Amen.

Celebration of a New Appointment 2015

As I was talking with the leaders at my new appointment, I got the feeling that they felt this service needed a face lift.  Here is my attempt at making something old new again.  One of the things I am trying to emphasize is the aspect of the Word in ministry and Local Missions.  Feedback would be appreciated greatly!

 

Service of Installation for 2015

 

By leader: 

Friends, today we welcome Pastor ________________.

Through prayerful discernment Bishop _____________ has sent him/her to serve, lead, and love in Christ as our Pastor.

_______, you have been called by God and sent by the Church

to live among us as an example of the Word,

to preach and teach the Word in mercy and grace,

and to offer the Word at Table, at Font,

in Mission and in Service.

 

You are sent to love, lead, and with us make disciples for the transformation of the world.

 

By Pastor:

I have been called and sent, and with God’s grace and help

I will love, lead, and with you make disciples for the transformation of the world.

 

By leader:

Friends in Christ, let us celebrate this new beginning!

 

Congregation:

God is with us.  God is with you.

You will pray for us – We will pray for you.

You will be with us in joy and in grief.

We will be with you in celebration and sorrow.

You will give your gifts to God among us.

We will share God’s blessings to us with you.

Together we will serve and witness to Christ’s Kingdom

in our community and to our neighbors.

 

By leader or volunteers with symbolic items given or lifted up:

Preach the Word (Bible)

Baptize new Disciples (Water)

and Offer Christ constantly (Bread and Wine)

as you Lead us to be Servants of all (Towel and Basin)

in Mission in our Community.  (Something that represents the local community)

 

By leader:

This stole reminds us that you have been set apart for the ministry of an Elder. (Stole)

 

Congregation:       

 Shepherd us as our Pastor.

                                   

Pastor:

 This yoke is laid upon me, I take it willingly.

 

All:

Lord, bless the ministries of our church.

Live among us as your Living Word.

Preach your Word through our words and actions.

Give us grace to share with one another and the world

as we seek to be Disciples who make Disciples

in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Giving God Our Nothing (Call To Worship August 2014)

                   Once, Jesus and his disciples were in the world, doing ministry:

 

Lord, send this crowd away.  It is getting late.  We’re all tired.

Blessed are those who have set their priority on the Kingdom.

                   But Lord, they’re starting to get hungry,

and we have nothing to feed them.

Nothing?

                   Nothing?

Well we do have two fish and some loaves of bread.

                   That’s nothing when you give it to this crowd!

                   Give me your nothing.

Why?  What will it amount to in this world of pain and misery?

                   Give me your nothing.

Are you sure you want to get involved with the needy? 

                   You know they’ll just come back for more, following the bread crumbs.

                   Give me your nothing.

Jesus, if we give up our lunch, then what will we eat in retirement?

                   Give me your nothing.

Yes, Lord.

                   If we give God our Nothing, then Something Kingdom will happen.

Kid’s Communion

Kids Eucharist

By Nathan Decker and Lisa Fong

Invitation in Song
All singing:
Jesus loves me, this I know
for the Bible tells me so.
He wants me to come and eat
learning love for all I meet.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus love me
at this Table his love shows.

Confession and Pardon in Song
All continue singing:
Jesus love me, this I pray
I messed up along the way.
Teach me how to grow and live
and to share all I can give.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus love me
at this Table I can know.

Passing of the Peace
Because Jesus opened his arms big enough to love and hug all of us,
let us hug and show we have arms big enough to love one another.

All are brought back together in the singing:
Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

The Great Thanksgiving

Dear God,
We love you with all our hearts.
You are good. You are great.
You created everything we see and don’t see.
You saved the animals on the Ark with Noah.
You helped Moses free the slaves.
You gave victory to David against giant problems.
You are good. You are great.

People Respond in the Singing:
Father, I adore you.
Lay my life before you.
How I love you.

Dear God,
you loved us with all your heart.
You are good. You are great.
You sent Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem.
He grew up and taught people how to love
and what kind of people you wanted us to be.
Before he died, he invited his friends to a meal.
He took bread, told you “thank you,” broke the bread
and gave to his friends saying,
“Take, Eat, this is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.”
When the meal was over, he took a cup, told you “thank you,”
and gave the cup to his friends saying,
“Take, drink, this is the promise that God gives in my blood that he will forgive you, all of you.

Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Jesus, I adore you.

Lay my life before you.

How I love you. 
Dear God,
show your love to us in being here today.
You are good. You are great.

Send your Holy Spirit on this bread and cup.
Help us know that you are here.
Help us show that you are near.

Send your Holy Spirit on us as your children.
Help us learn to grow and live.
Help us learn to share and give.

Spirit, I adore you.
Lay my life before you.
How I love you.

This we pray and as God’s children say, Amen.