Christmas -- Days Of
Future: A Blessing for Today:
Worship for the Sunday after Christmas
First Sunday of
This liturgy has been designed to
include and respect all ages within the congregation. We will make some suggestions about groups or
individuals you may wish to ask to participate, but you should use your own
situation to ensure that all are included.
During the discussion of the passage, it
will be important for the worship leader to bring in a photograph of herself or
himself as a young child or infant.
Also, prepare a few people ahead of time that you will be asking them
during worship to share a few sentences about what they thought they would be
when they grew up and what they ended up doing.
And if you have time to get baby pictures of them as well, that would be
If you want to be even more ambitious
try to get a number of members of the congregation to bring in pictures of
themselves as young people or infants and put them on a board with current pictures
or church directory. Make up a sheet of
paper with a number which corresponds to the pictures and let people try and
guess who is who. You can even give out
a prize the next week for whoever does the best job. And the next week put up the answers so
everyone can enjoy.
Luke speaks of Jesus’ presentation in
the temple. In Luke’s story, his parents
bring Jesus to fulfill the Law of Moses.
They make the offering of a poor family.
In the temple Jesus is greeted by two people of great age, Simeon
and Anna, elders who have devoted their lives to worshipping God and praying
for the people of Israel. In this chance meeting with a seemingly
ordinary and poor child, both of them recognize a fulfillment of their prayers,
and evidence of God’s salvation present in their midst. They recognize in Jesus God’s future reign
breaking in among them.
The main characters act and interact in
interesting ways, blessing and receiving blessings in return. Past and present meet together, and behold in
faith a future in God which looks quite different than anything they could have
The emotions and feelings expressed by
this profound intergenerational group are full.
The parents exhibit surprise, pride wonder, gratitude, faithfulness and
awe. Simeon and Anna, in the midst of
being faithful, are filled with peace, insight, vision, relief and good news to
offer others who share important concerns. Jesus, while young, is said to
experience growth, increasing strength, becoming wiser, and aware of the favor
of God on himself.
Liturgy for First Sunday after Christmas
Call to Worship
Jesus is born to Mary and Joseph,
Jesus is presented at the temple,
Simeon holds Jesus in his arms,
Anna recognizes Jesus in the temple,
People: God is here.
Leader: In the future we cannot see,
us worship God!
Holy God, we know that you have
been present to us
all of history, even throughout our own histories.
know you will be with us in our future.
often we don’t live as if we know that.
ask no more of us than what we can provide.
As Jesus’ parents were asked to give within their means at the temple,
you ask us to give of our
means. We often fail to do this.
Men of Wisdom:
As Simeon recognized in Jesus the salvation of his people,
we recognize in Jesus’ Way our own
wholeness and health, yet
we often fail to follow.
Women of Wisdom:
As Anna recognized in Jesus the redemption of her people,
we recognize in Jesus God’s saving
grace for us, yet
we often fail to rejoice and to
share this good news.
Forgive us, make us wise and
joyful and strong
that we live in the understanding
your never ending love. Amen.
The scriptures promise that God will make all things new.
As God makes the year new, may we
also be made new
by God’s love and forgiveness in
Sermon/Discussion of the Passage
Invite the children of the
congregation to come forward. (And
anyone young at heart.)
the children the picture of you when you were a baby, ask if they know who it
is. Show them a picture of one of the people you have prepped in the
congregation. Ask the children to guess
who it is, then ask the person to raise
their hand. Ask that person what they
wanted to be when they were a little
girl/boy. Then ask that person some of
the things she or he has done as a grown
up that they never imagined when they
were a child. Do this with one or two
some discussion about how it is difficult to guess what someone is going to
look like as a grown up when
they are a baby, and difficult to guess what they will do in their lifetime.
into the passage:
“Today we are going to listen to a
bible passage where Simeon and Anna are able to see who Jesus is going to be as a grown up when he is just a little
Read the Scripture Passage: Have
a teen/young person read the Luke passage.
Points to guide the discussion:
As you move into this discussion, don’t
hesitate to let children ask questions and make comments.
also, if they are inserting things that don’t pertain to the topic, feel free
to say something like “I
love to talk with you about that later, but for now let’s stick to this story.”
if they have any questions about the passage or parts that they are interested
their questions and then lead into something like this, obviously modified to
out how Simeon and Anna both see this baby at the temple. There would likely have been
of babies at the temple. His parents are
bringing their offering, which the bible describes as what
you have to bring if you are
poor. There is nothing special on the
outside about Mary, Joseph, or
Jesus. Yet, both Simeon and Anna, these people of
faith and wisdom, see the man Jesus is going to
become when they look at the baby. Time for them becomes fluid; they can see
past, present and
at one time. That doesn’t happen too
often for most of us. As parents, we try
all the time
to imagine what
our children will become as they grow up, but they constantly surprise us with
changes we couldn’t possibly
of the key messages of this passage is that God has hopes and dreams for us,
beyond anything we can imagine for
ourselves. We often talk about how God
has hopes and dreams for us when we are
children, but in this passage it is clear that God has plans for all of
us. Simeon and Anna were both at the end of their lives,
and from the sounds of it, they had done wonderful things in the community all their lives. Yet God still had things for them to do. Jesus’ parents on earth had work to do. They had already done all of the things we
talked about during Advent and on Christmas,
but now they have a little baby to raise.
And although we don’t read much in scripture about that part of Jesus’s life, they must have done a good job,
because all that Simeon and Anna see in
that baby comes true in the life of Jesus when he begins his ministry.
practice using our Simeon/Anna vision.
In the coming weeks, when you look at people,
whether they are young or old, try to imagine what God
has planned for them. Then, find a small
quiet place and think about
what God may hope and dream for you.
Prayer with the Children: Have
the children hold the hand of at least two people and repeat the following
prayer with the leader:
you for this chance to be together,
the vision of Simeon and Anna,
the baby Jesus,
for each one of us.
us to see people as you see them,
see that each one of us is special to you
that you have plans for each of us.
us to make time to remember that we are special
to think about what hopes and dreams you have for us.
Blessing with the Children: At the end of the prayer,
gather in a circle while the worship leader blesses the children by placing
their hand on the children’s head and saying:
you always remember that you are special to God.
Then have the children spread out
throughout the congregation and pass the blessing on by placing their hands on
the head of the person at the end of the pew, saying:
remember you are special to God.
Then that person passes the blessing on
to their neighbor, etc.
Call to Offering
God, you call us to give as we have
received. On this Sunday following
when our blessings are great, when you have shared your Child
with us, help us to
blessing with those in need.
Offering Prayer (In
these offerings of money
turn them into vision;
of all people fed,
of all people safe,
of all people housed,
of all people educated. Amen
May the God who comes through the
child Jesus bless the child in each of you
and receive the blessings that we
Past Meets Future: A Blessing
for Today was
written by an intergenerational family team: the Rev. Dr. Robert George,
retired minister ordained in the Presbyterian Church of the USA and Karen
George, retired Christian educator, both now active in the Broad Bay
Congregational UCC of Waldoboro, Maine, and Judy Colby-George, carrying on the
family tradition as Christian educator at First Parish Church of Freeport,
2009 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry
Team, United Church
of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this
material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.