Thank you to the Rev. Andrew O’Neil, from St. Paul’s United Church, Riverview, NB, for providing two new communion liturgies to the Advent Unwrapped community.
For the season of preparation, In the Rich Dark of Winter (pdf) draws on the evocative scriptural imagery and expansive language associated with Advent. The familiar carol “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (Voices United 1) is suggested for a communion hymn. Here’s a taste:
Bless us, O God, and these your gifts.
Encourage us to share your life and love,
which make us, and the gifts we share, truly holy.
Transform us, God, and your world, and bless your children:
those who feel alone or afraid…
those who whose souls and homes are broken by violence…
those who will go hungry, thirsty, and cold tonight…
those who long only to hear that they are loved…
God made known in Jesus Christ,
hear our prayer.
For Christmas Eve, The Most Wondrous of Nights (pdf) is built around the beautiful carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” (Voices United 55).
The carol verses act as a response to the communion prayers. This encourages congregational participation—which is particularly helpful when children are present, as they will likely be on Christmas Eve. The hymn speaks of the angels’ adoration and praise, and its words are neatly substituted into the Sanctus-Benedictus.
Here’s an excerpt from the Christmas Eve liturgy:
God of shepherds and kings, you gather us by the light of the star of promise.
You lead us not only to hope for the future,
but to trust in your presence and renewal of life in every time and place.
Guide us this night, by the light of that same star.
Lead us to the mangers of this world,
where uncertainty is met with the renewal life
and the transformation of this world is most deeply felt
in love, one with another.
Be with us on this most wondrous of nights, we ask in Jesus’ name.
Are you are a worship leader preparing for Advent? Browse the At Church page for more creative resources to animate the season. You’ll find liturgies, music, a Bible study, and suggestions for celebrating with all ages.
Together, let’s get ready for Christ(mas)!
Alydia Smith is Program Coordinator, Worship, Music, and Spirituality for The United Church of Canada.