From: Rev. Vicky Elder, Unity of Monterey Bay
4th Sunday of Advent…Christmas Service 2009
Christmas Carols for opening songs
Joy to the World ~ 1-3
The First Noel ~ 1-2
Hark the Herald Angels Sing ~ 1 only
LIGHT THE ADVENT CANDLE
Luke, Chapter 1 (67,69, 78.79)
Then Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist) was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophesy:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has looked favorably on the people and redeemed them. God has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of the servant David… By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace…
Good morning…I am ___________ of this Community of Love…and on this 4th Sunday of Advent, we welcome you all to this inclusive spiritual community that invites and supports ALL people to know God’s love…and we join together with UNITY churches all around the world to proclaim our commitment…
Centered in God, we co-create a world that works for all.
Today, as we embrace the JOY of Christmas, which is just around the corner, we remember that this sacred Christmas story is just one of many ways that God has come into the world to remind humanity that we are, in truth, spiritual beings, having a human adventure.
Together we embrace the God of each of our understanding…One God, perceived in many names and faces, One God, embraced through many spiritual paths, One God, expressing always as love…
Will you join me in our statement of faith?
“There is only One Presence and One Power active in my life, in this community and in the world today, God the Good…”
And we also give thanks to be alive today…in the midst of this transformational time… We are grateful to be people of faith—within a faith community that knows the Truth that:
God is Good…ALL THE TIME…
Today is our special Christmas service…where we share the beloved story of the birth of Jesus…our teacher and wayshower, who demonstrated the path to Christhood…and called us to follow.
?? CELEBRATION HYMN – O Come All Ye Faithful 1-2 new
?? MUSIC: Go Tell It On the Mountain 1-3
As with all myths, the Christmas story we are about to share, is not so much about the events alleged to have taken place long ago, far across the sea, but it is about the gifts of Truth that the story awakens within each of us…
The Christmas story, the miracle of divine birth, is your story and my story. Every new-born babe is divine in nature; and every birth is a miracle…whether it is a physical birth into the world, or a spiritual rebirth of overcoming challenges and darkness to reclaim Light and Life.
It is enacted within us every day of our lives…it is cause for rejoicing and wonderment each time it occurs, and it can occur as often as we allow it.
And so, this fourth Sunday of Advent…as we celebrate the JOY of Christmas coming…we prepare in our hearts a womb–a safe and nurturing environment–where the Christ Light can grow within each of us…to be born, once again, into the world on Christmas.
I invite you to get into a comfortable position and open up the manger of your hearts to receive the gifts of Mary & Joseph, the Angels and Shepherds, the Star and the Wise Men, and ultimately, the Christ Child who is being born within us all, again, this Christmas…
“The Angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee
named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name
was Joseph, of the house of David, and the maiden’s name
I represent the Angel Gabriel–a messenger sent by God–from within your heart. I bring the gift of MYSTERY, the unknown canvas of circumstances, blessings and challenges on which you will paint your life over the coming year…
Yet, I am here to assure you, ‘Do not be afraid.’ Whatever lies before you, trust God within you. I speak to you beyond your current self-concept, beyond your current belief about who you are and what you are capable of. I call on you to step outside your comfort zone–and take a leap of faith–into your true glory. . .”
Let us AFFIRM: As I place my trust in God, I welcome the mystery of life unfolding before me…
“And the angel came to Mary and said, ‘Hail Mary, O favored one, the Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. .”
I represent Mary, the divine feminine, the soul of our consciousness that remains pure and innocent–untouched by the world of appearances and its affairs. I bring the gift of LOVE.
I am that which desires to see only the good come to every individual and to all creation… I am the gentlest aspect of our being, yet I am strong because all the power of good in the universe is with me. . .
Through me is created that sacred space, the womb, out of which we give birth to an understanding of our true self:
a beloved child of God, a Christ Light unto the world. . .LOVE in expression.
Let us AFFIRM: As I open my heart to the Love of God, I become an expression of God’s Good in the world…
?? MUSIC – Mary’s Little Boy Child (solo – Denise)
“Now it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled, and all went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem. . . To enroll himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child.
I represent Joseph, the husband of Mary. I bring the gift of WISDOM, which protects and guides the Love in our soul. We can trust the Christ within us as we connect to and listen for the still small voice of Spirit providing us with Divine Guidance…a light that shines on the path before us, and directs our steps in the way of our highest good…the way that will bless not only us, but the world.
Let us AFFIRM: My path is made clear as I follow the radiant light of Christ within
And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that Mary should be delivered. . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. ..
?THE WORD I represent the LIVING WORD. . . I bring the gift of truth – that which was conceived, was born, and is embedded in the heart of every living soul.
I am that Higher Self that is honored in every spiritual tradition throughout the world, throughout time. I am the Shekinah of the Jew, the Christ of the Christian, the Buddha nature of the Buddhist, the Atman of the Hindu, the Qur’an of the Muslims. . . the enlightened wisdom that has been known by other names at other times and places. . . manifesting fully the divine reality that is inherent in every one of us as we are made in the image and likeness of God.
Let us AFFIRM: I am One with God, with all people, and with all Creation. There are many paths, all connected to the One Source.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger…”
I represent the manger. . . I bring the gift of sanctity. The Christ nature does not emerge amongst the riches and fame – but from the commonplace.
I am evidence of the fact that wherever you put forth the best that is in you, you make of it a holy place. God is everywhere, even in the most humble of surroundings.
Remember me whenever you are called upon to do your best in situations that may not seem quite worthy. . . your “best” is a gift to God.
AFFIRM: Wherever I allow my Christ Light to shine becomes Holy Ground…
?? MUSIC – What Child Is This? (1 & 3 new)
(Follows The Manger)
“And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And a host of heavenly angels of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
“And the angel said unto them, ‘do not be afraid. For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day, in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord, and this shall be the sign unto you – ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.’
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace. . .’ ”
I represent the Angels. I bring good tidings and the gift of great JOY… those radiant thoughts which come to us directly from the mind of God–reminding us of our true being–of all the peace and happiness we are capable of creating and sharing–of our Oneness with all people; and how all people are now and forever One in God.
Let us AFFIRM: From the fullness of my heart, I give and receive joyfully.
“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.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. And when they saw it, they shared that which they had experienced in the fields, and that which had been told them concerning the child.”
I represent the Shepherds and I bring the gift of HOPE. Our hope is born not of the past or the present conditions… Hope is born of the Spirit within… which lifts us into new possibilities, ways to grow, and blessings beyond our imagination… so that we might look forward with anticipation and say “Yes” to all that is possible in our lives and in the world.
Let us AFFIRM: The gift of HOPE inspires me to move forward, knowing that with God, all things are possible…
?? Angels We Have Heard on High 1-3 new
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and we have come to worship him. . .’
“And lo, the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”
I represent the star that guided the magi. I bring the gift of intuition – that which calls you to awaken to your Christ self.
Sometimes i appear only as a dim flicker in the sky of your mind, but as you recognize me and follow me, I become brighter and more familiar, radiating light from your heart.
God has given me to you as a gift, a guiding light to lead you into your highest good. Trust me, follow me, for I will not fail you or lead you astray.
AFFIRM: The light of Christ guides me to my highest good.
“And when the wise men saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
?MAGI –I represent the magi from the east and I bring the gift of Power… the hidden and buried resources deep within us…and of which we are often unaware. Every time we come to a new realization of our wonderful, true self—our inner power is released…as evidence and support of our spiritual potential and calling…
AFFIRM: The Power of God works wonders in and through me…
?? MUSIC – We Three Kings 1 (new)
(Follows Magi – and special music)
?CHRIST CHILD –
I represent the Christ Child…and I bring the gift of
GRACE… which represents the sum total of all the good which is our true nature—the love in our hearts, the wisdom in our minds, and the peace in our souls.
AFFIRM: Through Christ in me, I express the Love and Peace of God.
PREP for MEDITATION…
And now, we are going to have an opportunity to take this sacred story and its gifts even a level deeper into our souls… as we enter into a time of meditation. . .
? Meditation Music: Emmanuel
And now, as we fully embrace the gifts we have received from this ancient and magical Christmas story…we step into its meaning and take this opportunity to offer our own gifts and tithes to live its Truth and to support the divine purpose of this ministry…to invite all people to know God’s love and to be the voice and heart through which Heaven will be made known on earth…
?? Special Music: Do You Hear What I Hear?
Join us in BLESSING THIS LOVE OFFERING
“I offer this gift in celebration of our world’s growing awareness of the Light–born again into the world as the Christ Child, Jesus–and born again within each one of us.”
Dedication of the offering…
Before we close–want to acknowledge our Nativity Story Participants – will you all stand.
And our musicians, Denise,
There is an infant Christ in all…
An infant birth of love,
And infant birth of faith,
Just the tiniest beginning point of light
That glimpses the Christmas story.
It draws deep from the soul
In music of the season
So beyond reason and
That night of wonder!
As the shepherds heard and saw
I, like them, in awe
View the infant Christ in me.
In me! Imagine the audacity!
It had to be a stable lowly—
I could not see myself holy
Except as a tiny newborn babe.
The mystic Star shines bright
And I, so encompassed in its light,
Let the warmth and healing Truth
Of that Christmas night enfold me.
In adoration real
At my Christ’s birth.
I INVITE YOU TO USE YOUR IMAGINATION NOW AND JOURNEY BACK TWO THOUSAND YEARS.
YOU’RE A SHEPHERD – KEEPING WATCH OVER YOUR FLOCK IN THE NIGHT – IN THE HILLS SURROUNDING BETHLEHEM.
THE ANIMALS SEEM RESTLESS TONIGHT – NOT AFRAID – JUST RESTLESS. THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT THIS NIGHT – THE STARS SEEM BRIGHTER THAN YOU’VE EVER SEEN THEM – ALMOST AS IF YOU COULD REACH UP AND TOUCH THEM. ONE STAR IN PARTICULAR SEEMS TO STAND OUT AND RADIATE A GREAT LIGHT – IT SEEMS TO BE CALLING YOU AT THE DEPTH OF YOUR SOUL.
THE STAR SEEMS TO BE CASTING ITS LIGHT ON A LITTLE STABLE IN THE FIELD BEHIND THE INN. . .SOMETHING INSIDE OF YOU URGES YOU TO GO AND SEE. IT IS A NIGHT OF MIRACLES.
AS YOU APPROACH THE STABLE, YOU CAN SEE THE SHADOWS OF PEOPLE MOVING INSIDE. YOU LOOK AROUND AND SEE THAT OTHERS ARE ALSO COMING…
THERE ARE SOFT VOICES COMING FROM WITHIN AND AS YOU STEP INSIDE, YOU CAN FEEL THE WARMTH AND SMELL THE EARTHY ODOR OF STRAW AND ANIMALS.
AS YOUR EYES ADJUST TO THE SOFT LAMP LIGHT, YOU SEE A YOUNG MAN TURN TOWARD YOU AND SMILE WITH GREAT JOY IN HIS EYES.
BESIDE HIM, A YOUNG WOMAN, TIRED BUT CONTENT, IS RESTING ON A PILE OF STRAW. IN HER ARMS IS A SMALL AND HELPLESS CHILD – JUST A FEW HOURS OLD.
SHE SMILES AND HOLDS THE CHILD FORWARD, INVITING YOU TO COME CLOSER TO SEE.
YOU MOVE CLOSER, KNEEL NEXT TO HER AND GAZE INTO THE SLEEPING CHILD’S FACE. THE WOMAN SAYS, “HIS NAME IS JESUS.’
AS YOU LEAN CLOSER, THE CHILD’S EYES OPEN EVER SO BRIEFLY AND FOR JUST AN INSTANT, YOU GAZE INTO ETERNITY….pause in silence…
PEACE AND JOY, LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER KNOWN OR COULD EVER EVEN IMAGINE, IS SWEEPS OVER YOUR SOUL…
IN THAT MOMENT – LOOKING INTO THE WONDER CHILD’S EYES – YOU SEE YOURSELF – NOT AS YOU IMAGINE YOURSELF, BUT AS GOD SEES YOU…
BEYOND WORDS—YOU GLIMPSE THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF LIFE AND THE DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE. FOR THAT ETERNAL MOMENT, YOU KNOW THE ANSWERS TO ALL OF LIFE’S QUESTIONS, AND EXPERIENCE YOUR UNITY WITH ALL CREATION.
IN THAT INSTANT, EYE TO EYE WITH THIS CHILD OF LIGHT, YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THE UNIVERSE IS WITHIN YOU, JUST AS YOU ARE IN THE UNIVERSE. YOU KNOW THAT YOUR LIFE IS IMPORTANT – THAT YOU ARE A PRECIOUS PART OF GOD’s PLAN TO BRING JOY TO THIS WORLD AND PEACE TOTHIS EARTH.
CONNECTED WITH ALL THAT IS, YOU EXPERIENCE DIVINE LOVE, DIVINE GRACE, DIVINE PERFECTION. IN THIS ETERNAL MOMENT, CHRIST IS BORN IN YOU!
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Floodwaters await in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and gray and threatening.
We question ourselves. What have we done to so affront nature?
We interrogate and worry God.
Are you there? Are you there, really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged t come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Floodwaters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children.
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth, brightening all things,
Even hate, which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloved and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas
We beckon this good season to wait awhile with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you to stay awhile with us
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:
Peace, My Brother
Peace, My Sister
Peace, My Soul.
Joy to the World
Joy to the world
The light returns
Let earth resound with praise
While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy!
O Come, All Ye Faithful
O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem;
Come and behold the Light of God appearing
O come in adoration, O come in adoration
O come in adoration, Christ is Lord
Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
O sing all ye messengers of heavenly love
Glory to God, all glory in the highest
O come in adoration, O come in adoration
O come in adoration, Christ is Lord
Yea, Lord we greet thee, born one happy morning,
Jesus, to thee shall all glory be giv’n.
Inspiring God’s Truth be born in every heart;
O come in adoration, O come in adoration
O come in adoration, Christ is Lord
O Little Town of Bethlehem 1 & 3
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie;
Above the deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts on human hearts
The glorious love of heav’n.