Christmas 1 or 2—December 27, 2020 or January 3, 2021 – Year B

Service Prayers
for the First or Second Sundays of Christmas, Year B
December 27, 2020 or January 3, 2021

Service Prayers
for the First or Second Sundays of Christmas, Year B
December 27, 2020 or January 3, 2021
(based on the readings for Christmas 1, Year B; congregations may wish to use the Christmas Pageant created by the UCC National Setting on December 27, and use this liturgy on January 3)

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 • Psalm 148 • Galatians 4:4-7 • Luke 2:22-40

Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for will be edited for online use. “Rubrics” for virtual services will be noted in red; take and adapt as you need!

Leader should speak the lines of the people, along with the Leader’s lines

Call to Worship

Leader: When Jesus is born to Mary and Joseph,
People: Out loud, but muted
God is there.

Leader: When they present Jesus at the temple,
People: Out loud, but muted
God is there.

Leader: When Simeon holds Jesus in his arms,
People: Out loud, but muted
God is there.

Leader: When Anna recognizes Jesus as the answer to prayer,
People: Out loud, but muted
God is there.

Leader: This very morning,
People: God is here.

Leader: In the future we cannot see,
People: Out loud, but muted
God is there.
Let us worship God!

O God, in the sweetness of the story we tell today,
the encounter of old and young–
Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus to the elders–
We feel the movement of your Spirit making all things new.
Awake us to your presence in this moment
As we seek Christ in our midst:
Let us recognize God-with-us,
A light to the nations, your glory revealed.
In Jesus’ name we pray.

Prayer of Confession

All: Holy God, we know that you have been present to us
throughout all of history,
even throughout our own histories.
We know you will be with us in our future.
Yet often we don’t live as if we know that.

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.

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.

All: Forgive us, make us wise and joyful and strong
so that we live in the understanding
of your never ending love. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

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 Jesus. Amen.

(Alternate Prayer of Confession
Simeon and Anna were steeped in revered tradition,
and yet spent their lives praying to recognize the action of God
pointing to a future they could not imagine.
Far from being held back by tradition,
for them it was a constant stretch toward faithfulness:
where is God at work? What are the signs?
What needs to be let go, entrusted to a new way, new people, new
and unexpected shape?

Ways of being Church are changing quickly in these Covid-19 days,
and “getting back to normal” may mean a “new” normal.

So, in this moment, what are we clinging to?
What do we need to relinquish
so that we can recognize the call of God in this moment?


Assurance of Grace 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9

God is faithful,
and gives us grace in Christ Jesus.
In this fellowship we can count on being in enriched
In speech, in knowledge, in every spiritual gift.
Let us give thanks, in Christ, we are set free
and sent forth to work for God’s reign among us.)

Scripture, Sermon, Prayers of the People

Notes for the worship planners in 2020:
Consider a simple message or even an interactive Bible Study that engages people with the Scriptures for today. Evolving traditions play a big part in today’s gospel story. The young couple, Mary and Joseph, honor an old tradition and bring the child Jesus to the temple.
They meet there the elders, Simeon and Anna, who have been honoring tradition in their prayer and fasting, awaiting a sign of salvation: seeking God’s action in their midst. In the most ordinary tradition–the presentation of a poor, first born child to God—the elders recognize the extraordinary: tradition will take a new turn in Jesus. They offer wisdom, and blessing to the young family, and then, in Simeon’s famous words, they “depart in peace”. Do you see faith traditions evolving in this moment? Has the experience of 2020—Covid-19, demands of racial justice, political stresses—had an impact on our church traditions? What are we called to let go of? What are we invited to celebrate and support for a good future?

For the Prayers of the People, you might use a bidding prayer (“God, we pray today for those who are sick, including ….”) and encourage folk to type in their prayers using Zoom chat or Facebook Live; allow for more time in silence for those prayers to be typed and read. Consider a collective response at the end of each bidding prayer.
⦁ A caution regarding prayers of the People online: Folks gathered in-person often recount a lot of detail in their prayers concerning other members or family (“Elderly Name, living alone, experiencing isolation…” In a private, in-person gathering, this information may be safe, but online, it can expose vulnerable people to harm, since we can’t control who will join the gathering or access it later online. Invite people to be prudent in offering prayers: “For First name only, in need of healing”; “For First name only, comfort in grief” etc.
Encourage people to contact the pastor directly with news of those needed extra pastoral care

Call to Offering
God, you call us to give as we have received In this Christmas Season when you have shared your Child with us, help us to share our blessing with those in need.

Dedication Prayer (In unison)
People: Out loud, but muted
God of Vision,
Take these offerings of money
and turn them into vision;
vision of all people fed,
vision of all people safe,
vision of all people housed,
vision of all people educated. Amen.

Send us into the world refreshed in hope,
Awake, alert,
attuned to your presence
ready to join your work of blessing for all.

Service Prayers for Advent 1 Year B 2020 was written by an intergenerational family team: the late Rev. Dr. Robert George, retired minister ordained in the Presbyterian Church of the USA and Karen George, retired Christian educator, from 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, Maine.
Prayers were adapted for 2020 by Susan A. Blain, minister for Worship and Gospel Arts.

Copyright 2020 Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO 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.

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