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Trinity United Church
Longest Night
December 21, 2020 Zoom Worship  

“Connection not Perfection”  



 Acknowledgement of Territory
We humbly acknowledge that even as we gather digitally, we gather and live and work on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People, Trinity United Church rests on the unceded territory of the Kwikwitlem First Nations.  
As the nights have grown longer, sadness and emptiness, loneliness and pain wrap around the hearts of many.  In this season of long nights, some struggle to put into words that which causes them to feel sorrow rather than joy.   For some, a loved one has died.  For others, a friend has moved away.  Still others have lost a job, a cherished dream, or a sense of hope.  There are those who might be feeling worried, trapped, insecure, adrift, or alone.  Those who may be grieving what might have been but will not be, or grieving over what used to be, but cannot be anymore.  We may simply be in need of a place of quiet and calm in an otherwise busy season. Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship:  


Call to Worship:
May God be with you.
    And also with you!
Let us turn to God, the Source of Life.
    Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we may be saved!
We have been fed the bread of tears and have drunk tears in full measure.
    Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we may be saved!
May those who sow in tears, reap with shouts of joy.
    Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home carrying sheaves with shouts of joy.*

*written by Harry Oussoren
Gathering A/C/E 2012/13 (Year C), p55 ff
Used with permission    

Hymn  “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” VU 2
CLICK HERE for video. 


We will hear a number of readings, after each reading we will light one of the Advent Candles, and follow it with a brief silence.  CLICK HERE for video.

First Reading:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

Lighting of the First Candle
A time to weep, a time to mourn – we remember those whom we loved with body and soul – the hugs and embraces, the conversations, the quiet moments filled with meaning, the shared activities, the common purpose – spirit greeting spirit, heart meeting heart.

We light this candle, trusting that the living God gives us…
good reason to laugh and to dance.
    A time to weep, but also a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, but also a time to dance!  

Second Reading:
Isaiah 40:1, 6-11
40Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God…  6A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
9Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.  

Lighting of the Second Candle
Life is fragile and fleeting in our eyes.  We seek permanence, constancy, stability.  We experience transience, change, and instability.  We plan, and our hopes are shunted aside by unforeseen happenings.  The foundations of our lives are shaken.

So we light this candle…
and repeat our common faith:
    Our help is in the name of God,
    who made heaven and Earth!  

Third Reading:
John 14:1-4
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe* in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?* 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4And you know the way to the place where I am going.’  

Lighting of the Third Candle
Home is where the heart is.  The Gospel of Christ is that our home is with God – in the heart of God – where there is more than enough room for all who know their need and yearn for home! 
So we light this candle and we proclaim that by the love of God, the broken and the bruised are made whole – healed by love to be love for the healing of the nations.  

Fourth Reading:
 Revelation 21:1-6
21Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home* of God is among mortals. He will dwell* with them; they will be his peoples,*
and God himself will be with them;*
4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’
5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.  

Lighting of the Fourth Candle
We long for this Gospel to fill our lives, but also the lives of all God’s human family. 
So we hope fervently for that blessed time when heaven comes down to Earth and Earth is transformed into heaven.  That is God’ time when all our thirsting ends and we are satisfied by the spring that gives the water of life. 
We light the fourth candle…
[fourth candle is lit]
    Alpha and Omega,
our lives, our world, our longings, and our joys
are in your tender, mother-like hands,
we pray as Jesus taught us: 
Our Father who art in Heaven…  

Fifth Reading:
Luke 2:10-15
10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,    and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’*
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’  

Lighting of the Christ Candle
As we journey on, may the Gospel of great joy be born in us today and in all the days of our living. 
We light this Candle because in this humble, yet holy child lies the hope of all the ages the assurance that God is with us to turn our tears into joy, our mourning into laughter. 
…the best of all is God is with us.
    We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.  

Hymn: “A Candle Is Burning”   VU 6
CLICK HERE for video.



Guided Healing Pathways Meditation        CLICK HERE for video. 

The Disciples’ Prayer “The Mallote”        CLICK HERE for video.


Hymn: “Silent Night”       VU 67
CLICK HERE for video. 

Christmas Hope:
The winter is cold and dark.
Snow covers the ground, and I wait for the future spring.
It seems so far away, sometimes I wonder if I imagined it.  Was the green grass
and spring warmth a memory or a dream of the future?
It is both.  It has been and it will be.
I live with the certainty that spring will come
again, yet uncertain what spring will bring.
And so as a child is born,
new life is certain.
Yet what the life will be is uncertain.
A baby born in the winter in a place forlorn, cold and damp
and yet not so forlorn…
Surrounded by warmth, the warmth of love,
and the warmth of the animals’ breath.
I hear the cow moo softly to her little one.
I hear a newborn baby’s cry, and my heart leaps.
All babies are special, and this one will change the world.
The sound of a baby’s cry brings joy and hope.
This baby carries within him the hope
for the world.
I wonder if he knows what his life will hold.
New life fills me with awe and wonder.
As prayers surround this child, he grows in
God’s love.
New life is a sign of God’s presence among us.
This baby changed the world forever.
God is with us.
God is with us.
God not distant and far away
but here in a baby’s cry.
Hope is God’s presence among us.
This baby embodies God’s love for the world.
I trust that God’s love has come into the world in this baby.
Perhaps God’s love comes into the world with
every new child.
Is it memory or the future?
I know not.
New life is certain and real.
It has occurred and will happen again.
This is hope based on what has been
God’s love.
God with us.
Here now and in the future.  

*written by Jen Dresser
Gathering A/C/E 2016/17 (Year A), p71 ff
Used with permission



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