Second Sunday after Christmas
JOHN 1:1-18/1:1-19 IV (A,B,C)
The Word Lives Among Us
Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; Doctrine and Covenants 165:2b
As people enter for worship, give them a small piece of paper with instructions: “Write a word, phrase or one sentence: What is your prayer for peace in our community or the world?” These words will be collected during the Welcome.
Select two to four people who will collect the papers during the Welcome and create a Prayer for Peace (see below).
Include a reminder to write their word, phrase or sentence that describes their desire for peace. Make certain they know that the desires will be read as the part of the Prayer for Peace. Collect their papers.
New Year Hymn
“This Is a Day of New Beginnings” CCS 495
Change the word “day” to “year” as you sing Stanza 1.
OR “God of Wonder, God of Thunder” CCS 18
Call to Worship
Leader: Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
For God is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
—Psalm 147: 1, adapted
Congregational Response OR Ministry of Music
“Laudate Dominum” Sing once using the first ending CCS 91
OR play the vocal recording from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings
Leader: Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
Congregational Response OR Ministry of Music
“Laudate Dominum” Sing entire hymn CCS 91
OR play the vocal recording from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings
Prayer for the New Year
Hymn of the Spirit
“Womb of Life and Source of Being” CCS 62
OR “Breath of the Living God/Soplo del Dios viviente” CCS 43
Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.
Readers Theatre Scripture Reading: John 1:1-18 See script at end of service.
Based on Communion and John 1:1-18
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
A Time to Remember
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6
As we have heard in this scripture, we have been blessed. Sometimes we fail to recognize the blessings or to act in ways that acknowledges how much God loves us. As you prepare for communion, take a moment to consider how this new year brings new opportunities to express how God has blessed you.
Communion Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:17-30
Hymn of Remembrance
“In These Moments We Remember” Stanzas 1 and 2 CCS 515
OR “Here at Thy Table, Lord” Stanzas 1 and 2 CCS 517
OR “I Come with Joy, a Child of God” Stanzas 1 and 2 CCS 533
Invitation to Communion
All are welcome at Christ’s table. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. In Community of Christ, we also experience Communion as an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenant and to be formed as disciples who live Christ’s mission. Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.
Hymn of Preparation and Preparation of the Emblems
“In These Moments We Remember” Stanza 3 CCS 515
OR “Here at Thy Table, Lord” Stanzas 4 and 5 CCS 517
OR “I Come with Joy, a Child of God” Stanzas 3, 4, and 5 CCS 533
Blessing and Serving of Bread and Wine
For guidelines on the Lord’s Supper, including online participation, see www.CofChrist.org/common/cms/resources/Guidelines-Lords-Supper-9-2019-EN.pdf.
Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle.
Those who collected the words and phrases of peace we wrote earlier today will now use those expressions to offer our Prayer for Peace.
God of Shalom, we bring our prayers for peace to you today.
Insert writings submitted by the congregants.
We ask your blessing on these prayers. If they challenge us to compassion, give us
compassion. If they inspire us to action, give us courage to act.
In the name of the Prince of Peace we pray, Amen.
A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Disciples’ Generous Response
During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 165:2b
As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.
The first Sunday of each month focuses the Disciples’ Generous Response on Abolish Poverty, End Suffering which includes Oblation and World Hunger ministry.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Hymn of God with Us
“God’s Love Made Visible!” CCS 411
OR “Star-Child” CCS 420
OR “We Are Children of Creation” CCS 340
As God sends us forth today, we receive grace as the Word lives among us. Go forth and dare to reach out to others, to help reconcile and make new. Our experience today fed and nourished us, and it is now time for us to actively do something to transform today’s words into actions. We are
disciples called to be involved—to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, one instance at a time.
We have been fed around this table. Now it is our turn to feed others. May the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the encouraging presence of the Holy Spirit be with you, this day, and every day.
Six readers are required for this Readers Theatre format. If fewer than six are available, invite those participating to read more than one part. For instance, Participant A could be Reader 1, Reader 4 and Reader 6. The lines should be read clearly and with feeling. The repeated phrases are to help emphasize important words or phrases. Using different levels of volume will help it to be more effective.
Scripture Reading: John 1:1-18
Reader 1: In the beginning was the Word,
Reader 2: the Word,
Reader 1: and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Reader 3: the Word was God
Reader 1: He was in the beginning with God.
Reader 2: in the beginning with God.
Reader 1: All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
Reader 3: What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Reader 4: the life was
Reader 3: the light of all people.
Reader 1: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Reader 5: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
Reader 4: He himself was not the light.
Reader 5: He came to testify to the light.
Reader 1: The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Reader 2: The true light was coming into the world.
Reader 1: He was in the world,
Reader 5: he was in the world,
Reader 1: and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.
Reader 3: But to all who received him,
Reader 6: all who received him,
Reader 1: Who believed in his name,
Reader 2: Who believed in his name
Reader 1: he gave power to become children of God,
Reader 3: power to become children of God
Reader 6: children of God
Reader 1: he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
Reader 4: And the Word
Reader 5: the Word
Reader 4: became flesh
Reader 6: became flesh
Reader 3: became flesh
Reader 4: and lived among us,
Reader 2: lived among us
Reader 4: and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.
Reader 1: John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'” From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Reader 6: we have all received, grace upon grace.
Reader 1: The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Reader 6: grace and truth through Jesus Christ.
Reader 1: No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
Reader 4: And to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.
Second Sunday after Christmas Day
Exploring the Scripture
Today is the second Sunday of Christmas. For many, Christmas has been put away. The decorations are down, and the Nativity scene carefully wrapped and safely tucked into storage to wait for next year. Is that all about Christmas that has been tucked away? Or, is hope still tangible? Is joy expected? Is the call for peace still heard? Can love find an outward expression to a stranger?
John calls us to look past the birth of Jesus, to see what Jesus’ birth means for us. Jesus is the word and the word is God. The word gave light and life. Biblical text is understood through the life, teachings, and acts of Jesus who embodies God in the world (vv. 9–18). The word and relationships are outlined in today’s text: the word and God (vv. 1–2), the word and creation (vv. 3–5), the word and John the Baptist (vv. 6–7), the word and the world (vv. 9–13), the word and community (vv. 14–18).* John settles the divinity and humanness of Jesus and sets before us the invitation for our rebirth—to become children of God.
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (vv. 12–13). This is the essence of the message: Jesus came that we might become the children of God. We are no longer bound by circumstances that surround us. We are no longer defined by societal norms. We, all of us, are children of God.
Jesus came and was born, lived, died and was raised again to remind us, to show us, that God loves us without reservation, without condition. How do we accept the powerful message of Christmas into our lives? Maybe we need to unpack the manger and keep it out all year to remind us God sent the Son so we might become children of God.
- The message and invitation of Christmas does not end in December.
- Jesus’ birth and life created the path for us to become children of God.
- God loves all humans unconditionally.
Questions to Consider
- When did the life of Jesus come alive in your life?
- When did you realize God’s love was for you and for all humanity?
- What are the things in our lives we need to pack up and put away so we can live into our lives as disciples and as children of God.
- How will your congregation keep the joy and hope of Christmas lively and vibrant in the coming days?
*Note: Based on R. Alan Culpepper, “Second Sunday after Christmas Day Exegetical Perspective” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A, vol. 1, David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 189 and Karyn Wiseman, Commentary on Gospel, WorkingPreacher.org (accessed February 24, 2015).
Small-group Worship Suggestions
Second Sunday after Christmas
Jeremiah 31:7–14 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Radiant God, we come into your presence grateful for the light you have brought into the world; breathe your spirit into our very beings. May your love shine from within us as evidence that you continue to bless your creation with possibility and peace.
Illuminating One, as we experience that light within us, help us radiate your love and light to those around us. May our friends, families, coworkers, and neighbors become aware of your light that emanates from within them as well, redeeming brokenness and creating peace.
Light of the world, extend ever-increasing brightness within this circle of self and friends to those who live all around the world. We remember all nations, including Nigeria, the country we pray for today. In places of darkness and hopelessness, may rays of your saving light break through and provide the way to hope and peace.
Holy One, who created darkness and light, bless all your creation with the energy your light produces. Continue to sustain all forms of life—seen and unseen, for the welfare of your beloved creation. May the entire Earth be at peace.
May the One who spoke light into darkness and substance out of the void hear our prayers. May the circle of light in which we live be enlarged to encompass all that was, and is, and is to be. Amen.
Praying Liturgical Prayer
Give each person a copy of the prayer. Invite the group to read the prayer aloud with you.
Light of life, you came in flesh,
born into human pain and joy,
and gave us power to be your children.
Grant us faith, O Christ, to see your presence among us,
so that all of creation may sing new songs of gladness
and walk in the way of peace. Amen.
Sharing Around the Table
Jeremiah 31:7–14 NRSV
For thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
“Save, O Lord, your people,
the remnant of Israel.”
See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.”
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall become like a watered garden,
and they shall never languish again.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will give the priests their fill of fatness,
and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,
says the Lord.
“I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13). These are surprising words coming from Jeremiah, who is not typically regarded as a happy or particularly encouraging prophet. In fact, so unyielding is Jeremiah’s usual brand of rebuke and doomsday preaching that an entire style of sermonizing called the “Jeremiad” is named after him.
After spending 40 years warning his people that disaster was coming, this section, known as the “little book of consolation,” shines like a light piercing through a raging storm. In this passage, God promises to refashion and rebuild a fractured and exiled people. Joy overtakes grief, singing replaces weeping. The destruction and death sounded elsewhere by Jeremiah is here reversed to proclaim healing and new life. This “little book of consolation” offers a much-needed moment of respite—a breath—as it addresses a community reeling from the consequences of trauma.
Traumatic violence imprints itself on individuals and communities, particularly those most discriminated against in society. Remarkably, God’s vision for the restoration of Israel is more than a return to the old ways, but instead a refashioning of society to include the lame and blind who were excluded from coming before God in their former society. Not only will young women dance and men of every age rejoice, but the most vulnerable members of society will return to Israel as well. In this reconciliation, everyone will share in the joy and abundance of life. God proclaims a restored life of wholeness (shalom), characterized by justice, harmony, and peace, that is communal as much as it is individual.
The question of communal salvation raises the issue: Who in our communities is not yet singing joy? Who has been left behind? Think of people living in exile around the world today due to war and foreign occupation. Think of those in our society who are neglected or marginalized because of their differences of color, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or religion. Think of those who have experienced the trauma of violence.
Along with Jeremiah, it is easy to despair over our society being a far cry from what is envisioned in this passage. But let us drink deeply from words of hope: “I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” During this Christmas season, may we offer our own “little book of consolation” to a troubled world, bringing tidings of comfort and joy to the wounded and the neglected.
- How have you felt the reassuring love of God during troubling times?
- If Jeremiah were writing today, who do you think would be included in his “little book of consolation”?
- Jeremiah’s writings offer words of comfort and hope. In what ways can you share the ministry and message of Jesus to offer comfort and hope in our present age of war, violence, and marginalization?
Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
God of Love and Light,
In this season of hope, love, and joy, may the peace of your son Jesus be made real in the world. May our hearts, minds, hands, and resources be useful in the cause of bringing your light where there is darkness and your love where there is despair, anger, fear, and suffering. May our offerings be used toward your purposes we pray.
Invitation to Next Meeting
Community of Christ Sings 430, “When the Present Holds No Promise”