opening prayer

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prelude                     “Angels from the Realm”                             Price

call to worship

Here on the heels of Christmas,
We speak of love.

We speak of joy.
We speak of candle light and fireside.

We speak of dreams being fulfilled.
We speak of “glorias” and angel choruses.

We speak the words, “Do not be afraid.”
Here on the heels of Christmas,
we are called to speak, for the world needs a light.

A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.
Let us worship and listen. Then, let us speak. Amen.

Hymn                         “Angels from the Realms of Glory”

a time for confession

When I was in seventh grade, my youth pastor asked the group the question, “Where have you seen God today?” Thinking that this must be a trick question, I began mentally racing through my day, trying to imagine what he could possibly mean. Where had I seen God today? We had spent the day on a hiking trail! All I had seen were people and nature.  As my panic settled into my gut and I was unable to answer the question, one of my peers began speaking.  She spoke of the beauty of the sunrise and how the gift of another day felt holy. Then another friend spoke of the little girl we passed on the trail who had given her a wildflower—  an act of random kindness to a complete stranger.  Another peer mentioned David, who had helped pick Josh up when he slipped in the mud, showing only genuine concern.  And on and on they went, until I began to see that God was everywhere, and it was not enough to keep it inside.  Seeing God in your midst is one thing. Speaking it out loud for all to hear, that’s entirely different. The world needs this good news. We are not called to be silent. So family of faith, please repeat after me our prayer of confession:

God of today and tomorrow,
We know
That your fingerprints are all over this world. And we know
That those who dream cannot keep silent.
So today we pray,
Give us eyes to see you.
Give us courage to trust you.
And give us lips to speak of you in our midst. Gratefully we pray,
Amen.

children’s message:           be the church

Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Our scripture passage for today tells the story of young Jesus being blessed in the temple by his community of faith. Two prophets, Anna and Simeon, proclaim praise and blessings for Jesus. The church is the people, and we cannot do faith without one another.

Knowing that, take a moment to text or email someone in your faith community.

Think of the people who have served as Anna and Simeon in your life—pointing out good news and Jesus when they see it. Send those people a message of peace or a short blessing, giving thanks for them.

Anthem                     “I Saw Three Ships”              arr. Wilcocks

prayer of illumination

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

read | Luke 2:22-40

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b]27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

reflect

Notice the characters in this story. For each character, imagine what emotions they might be feeling.

Which character(s) do you relate to most—Mary, Joseph, Simeon, or Anna?

The text says that Simeon was “moved by the Spirit” (v. 27). Have you ever felt “moved by the Spirit?” What does that look like for you?

Both Anna and Simeon publicly display their faith, telling all who will listen about Jesus and their dreams for Jerusalem’s future. What things do you speak up about? What are things you have remained silent about? What prevents you from speaking?

Who in your life has been an Anna and Simeon for you? What did they speak about, and how did their profession change you?

The text today speaks of Jesus being presented in the temple. In many ways, this mirrors the ritual of baptizing babies at a young age in worship. Share a meaningful baptism memory with the group, either from your community of faith or from your family.

Finally, focus on the “now what”? What is your takeaway from the story? What are you going to do with this now?  creative reflection |

Reading the Poem

swell | Luke 2:22-40 —by Sarah Are

You know that feeling when you fall in love?

Time-stands-still and moves too fast.
You’d give up sleep just to talk all night,
Because there’s so much to say and not enough time.

It’s that full to the brim,

Over the stars,
Living is dreaming,

Too-good-to-be-true

Kind of feeling?

I imagine that’s how Simeon and Anna felt

When they saw Jesus that day.
I imagine it was that full to the brim,
Over the stars,

Living is dreaming,

Too-good-to-be-true
Good news kind of feeling.

I imagine it was love.
And I imagine that that good, good news

Swelled to the tip of their tongues
Until they could not keep silent.

So may we know what Simeon and Anna knew,

Which is that some dreams we hold close to our chest,

For ourselves to cherish and never forget.
But other dreams must be spoken out loud—
Dreams of justice and love and hope, here and now.

So today my prayer is to know that swell,

For there is good, good news
That we must tell.

join the conversation | Reflective Prayer

There are some dreams that we keep to ourselves, but there are others that must be spoken out loud. Anna and Simeon speak about their dreams for Jerusalem. They speak of their dreams for the Messiah. They could not keep silent.

To practice speaking aloud our dreams for this world, we invite you to write three things, following these prompts:

1. Anna and Simeon begin speaking by praising God. Write something that you are grateful for—a piece of good news worthy of praise.

2. Anna and Simeon have dreams for a better world. Write a dream you have for the world that we need to speak about.

3. Anna and Simeon speak and are heard, but not all people are listened to with the same equality in our world. Think of one person or group of people that are speaking, but are not being heard. May this be a reminder that we can use our voices for and alongside others.

affirming our faith

Anna and Simeon’s professions of faith inspired everyone around them because they spoke their beliefs out loud for others to hear. Let us mirror their conviction and courage by speaking aloud what we believe:

We believe in telling the story—

The story of a loving and merciful God,
Who will not let God’s people go;
The story of a baby who grew up and changed the world; The story of our faith.

We believe in speaking up—

For our neighbors, For the oppressed, For the overlooked And marginalized.

We believe in speaking out—

Against violence,

Greed,

Abuse,
Fear,
Scarcity mindset,

And bigotry.

We believe in passing the mic—

So that we are not the only ones speaking,
So that we can lift up the voices of those around us,

So that we too might listen and learn.

We believe in the good news of the gospel.

We believe that this good news is too good to keep to ourselves.

We believe that those who dream cannot keep silent.

Speak to us, Holy God.

Speak through us, Holy God. May it be so, amen.

hymn             “’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime”

prayers of the people

Holy Dreamer,
When they saw Jesus, Anna and Simeon spoke your praise. In this time, we now lift our own prayers of gratitude and praise:
Worshipers speak their prayers aloud, or type them into the chat.

Holy Dreamer,
Anna and Simeon had dreams for a better world. We, too, have these dreams—and we won’t keep silent about them. We now offer our dreams to you:
Worshipers speak their prayers aloud, or type them into the chat.

Holy Dreamer,
When Anna and Simeon speak, their voices are heard and what they say is received with reverence. Yet, we live in a world where not all voices are heard—instead, many are silenced. We now lift our prayers for those whose voices are silenced or muted:

Worshipers speak their prayers aloud, or type them into the chat.

Holy God,
We lift all these prayers, written and unwritten, spoken and unspoken, to you. Hold them with care. Give them life. Breathe your grace into them and make all things new. Amen.

announcements

offertory anthem               “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”                traditional

hymn                         “In the Bleak Midwinter”

closing pray

Divine Voice,
In the beginning,
It was you who spoke over the water and brought forth creation.
And then it was you who asked, “Cain, where is your brother?”
It was you who spoke to Elijah in a still, small, voice.
And it was you, through angels,
Who spoke to Mary and Joseph and the shepherds.
You have always been speaking—
In words, in memories, in songs, and in dreams.
We come to you today, asking for the strength to join our voices to yours.

Open our ears to hear the voices of those crying out.
Open our mouths to speak aloud your dream for this world.
We are listening. We are grateful.
Amen.