Tag Archives: Communion

“Traditions that won’t die – Christmas Trees” from Luke 1:76-80

There are some traditions that just won’t die – like decorating the Christmas Tree.  Some of my favorite Christmas memories revolve around the Christmas tree.  I’d watch impatiently as my father cussed and fussed with the artificial tree we had growing up. He’d be kneeling on the floor in front of the beaten up box that still had the Sears Roebucks sticker on the side.  He looked like he was paying homage to a giant green monster that was about to devour him in one colossal bite.  In the dim light he’d look for colors that had long worn off on the ends of branches, trying to decipher them like an archaeologist staring at the Rosetta stone. Reds and oranges looked like twins as did blacks and grays.

Meanwhile, mom would be sitting in the couch entrapped by miles of lights. She’d go light by light checking to make each strand work and blink at just the right rhythm.  Replacing bulbs and fuses in monotonous fashion.  She would giggle at my father’s frustration, humming songs about Rudolph, St. Nick, and Frosty.  Finally, when the tree was up and all the lights were on it. Mom would look at it once more.  She’d go up to each bubble light and encourage it with a tap.  She’d bend branches and add green fluffs to places where time had taken toll.  Then she’d turn my sister and I loose.

To say that we decorated the tree was to say that two midgets had the ability to slam dunk on the basketball court.  We decorated the tree from about midway down.  We were little after all.  With Burl Ives singing about mistletoe kisses in the background, we decorated the tree with those shiny balls (breaking two or three in the process).  We decorated the tree with arts and crafts that we had made at school and at church. Mom would smile when we hung our clothespin reindeer, our paper Santa with cotton ball beards, and of course our latest arts and crafts projects from school.  Then she’d politely ask, “Do we have to put your clay Freddie Kruegar on the Christmas tree?” Yes, even though I had never seen the movies, I had made a clay man with a claw for a hand and painted him bright bloody red.  “Mom, Freddie needs Christmas too!”

I never understood why ma and pa would let us decorate the tree.  She knew we were going to break some of the ornaments.  She knew we couldn’t reach all the way to the top.  After Sis and I went to bed we knew she was going to re-decorate the tree to her specifications.  And yet, she invited us to participate in this sacred moment, creating memories and experiencing love.

Christmas Trees are so much a part of our Christmas these days.  It’s no surprise I think that Christmas trees weren’t always a part of the Christmas holiday.  While people have been gathering around trees and decorating them for centuries, the first record of a decorated Christmas tree is not in Bethlehem. It happened in Riga, Latvia, in 1510.

Christmas Trees give life.  An acre of Christmas Trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people daily.

Christmas trees are a part of our nation’s story.  Christmas trees have been a part of the American Experience for a long time. In 1856, President Franklin Pierce was the first to place a Christmas Tree on the White House Lawn.  This tradition has been carried out since then with the exception of Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, who banned the National Christmas tree for religious and environmental reasons.

Christmas trees are a part of our faith story.  I can still remember sitting in the dark with my mother, watching the bubble lights glow and the twinkling reflections.  In the darkness, in the waiting, in the cold and bitter winter, Christmas trees remind us of God’s eternal love and the Light of Christ’s birth.  As Luke states, “God’s deep compassion, the dawn of heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.”

Times are dark.  Most of the trees have lost their leaves.  The world of nature is stark with dying colors – Fall’s parade of reds, yellows, and orange have given to bland browns.  Our community weeps as Suntrust bank closes down in town.  Life in winter struggles and slows down.  Sometimes the cold infects our hearts and our behaviors reflect selfish desires and sinful intent rather than generous giving or self-sacrifice.

Into this picture, Luke’s gospel introduces John  the Baptizer.  His Father, Zechariah, preaches in song about his life.  (Remember Zechariah, the old guy whose old wife suddenly has a baby?)  Now as a proud father, he preaches in song about his Son, John.  “You child will be called a prophet of the most high, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.”  For Zechariah, John’s message is one of hope, love, peace, and joy.  John brings a message that the light is coming.  John brings a message that forgiveness is coming.  John opens the gate to the way, the truth, and the life in Christ Jesus.  In this Gospel he wears his faith for all the world to see, and it is more than long hair and camel skin!

In a winter season, John is the Christmas Tree getting decorated for Christ’s birth.  He reminds us of God’s eternal love.  He shows us the way to Christ’s light being born in the darkness.  What’s more is that we are called to be like John.

We are called to be the Christmas Trees in the world today.  Like John, we are to remind the world that there is still life in these branches of green.  Like John, we are to point to the Christ light being born in the darkness.  Like John, we are called to come and prepare the way. Like my mother and father, God is trusting us with decorating the tree.

I never understood why ma and pa would let us decorate the tree.  She knew we were going to break some of the ornaments.  She knew we couldn’t reach all the way to the top.  After Sis and I went to bed we knew she was going to re-decorate the tree to her specifications.  And yet, she invited us to participate in this sacred moment, creating memories and experiencing love.

I don’t understand why God would trust us with sharing the news about Jesus.  God knows we’re going to break some of the commandments and be called hypocrites.  God knows we can’t reach heaven on our own let alone bring God’s kingdom here through our efforts.  After we’ve made a mess and failed, God is going to have to rework all the bad to recreate this world new, resurrected, reformed.  And yet, the Lord invites us to participate here, at this table, in this sacred moment, remembering, observing, creating new and experiencing love.  

There are some traditions that won’t die.  God’s love is one of them.

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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.

Radical Invitation for Communion (October 4 2009)

Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table

Who is this us?  All of us?

            The poor, the blind, the lame, the outcasts?

Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table

            The old, the young, the divorced, the married, the single?

Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table

The migrants, the homeless, the troubled, the unknowns?

Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table

Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists?

Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table

The abused, the abusers, homosexuals, AIDS patients?

Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table

            Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table

                        to learn to live in peace together,

                        to learn to live repentant lives together,

                        to learn to love God and neighbor together.

            Christ, our Lord, invites us to his table.

                        – Nathan Decker (CC) 2009

Communion Service for the End of an Appointment

Service of Table for the end of an Appointment, assumes an invitation and confession have already occurred.  

 

The Lord is with us always.

How do we approach God carrying grief?

 

We lift up our broken hearts.

We lift them up in thankfulness for what has been.

 

But what has been is not what shall be.

We must look to the Kingdom that will be.

 

In the midst of our mourning of endings,

We will also celebrate new beginnings.

God will turn our mourning into dancing!

 

And so we are thankful this morning, Creator God.

You continue to renew us day after day by your love.

When one chapter of your people’s story ends,

You are always here:

Speaking a new creation into being,

Calling a new prophet into preaching,

Bringing a new vibrance and continuation to the journey begun.

 

As in the days of Moses and Joshua,

Deborah and Gideon,

Naomi and Ruth,

Elijah and Elisha –

through each generation and appointment time

you have been present and at work during transitions.

 

We are thankful, great God, for the doors you take us through.

You comfort us in the closing of yesterdays

and you guide us in the opening of tomorrows.

 

And so we your people praise your name

joining the voices that have sung from time antiquity

and the voices of today and tomorrow that rise:

 

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord

God of Power and Might

Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory!

Hosanna in the Highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the Highest!

 

We are thankful this bright day for Jesus Christ, our Savior.

He came to walk side by side with us in our journeys.

He called us away from the everyday to spend time with the Holy.

He taught us to find the Holy within the everyday.

Each time we think that life has perished,

He is always here:

Offering living water hope to those with tears,

Giving forgiveness to those burdened by mistakes,

And loving the lost onto a faith path of purpose.

 

Jesus called disciples –

Peter, James and John,

Mary, Martha, the Samaritan woman and the well.

He calls us still to be a part of the Body of Christ,

renewed within his baptism, death, and resurrection.

 

On the night in which he gave himself up for us,

Christ took bread, gave thanks to you, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said:

“Take, Eat, this is my body given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

When the supper was over, he took the cup,

gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:

“Drink from this all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,

poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

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

 

This is the great mystery:

that through Jesus Christ, God brings new relationships out of old

that in giving ourselves away

we truly find ourselves in union with Christ.

In Christ every goodbye leads one day to an eternal hello.

Christ is with us in life, in death, and in life after death.

This is the great mystery:

 

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

 

Pour out your Guiding Spirit this evening nightfall

and turn it again into the sunrise of day.

Renew us in the midst of change!

Pour out your gifts on the Body of Christ.

Pour out on us!

Pour out on the Pauls and the Pricillas of our day.

Pour out on us!

Pour out on the Susannas and John Wesleys.

Pour out on us!

Pour out on the sons and daughters who you are calling and sending this day!

Pour out on us!

Pour out on these gifts of bread and wine,

that we may know your body and blood are always here:

refreshing, renewing, reviving our hearts and minds and bodies!

 

This we ask in the name of the Relational God, Three-in-One and One-in-Three,

Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, Amen.