Coming Home | GOING HOME AGAIN
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
First Sunday After Christmas Day: GOING HOME AGAIN
Christmas Season colors are white and gold, now through Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord (January 7). Beginning January 14, the color shifts to green.
For your Planning Team
In the Series
We conclude the series, but not Christmas Season today. Next week, our new series, Rise Up!, begins with a combination of Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord rolled into one.
Plan for a strong ending for this series. Strong series endings do the following:
- Recapitulate where you’ve been and where you’ve come to through the series. Today’s theme of “Going Home Again” will naturally help you do this. The family reunion time is over. It’s time to get back to your “regular” life. The year is ending. A new year dawns this night, and the regular cycles of work and study will likely begin in the next few days. Taking all you’ve experienced through these past five weeks, including today, how will you seek to live re-aligned and transformed by the one destined for the falling and rising of many and the redemption of the universe? Today’s service rightly leads to that question as a segue into an observance of Watch Night tonight and to the series that follows beginning next Sunday (Rise Up!).
- Underscore the series promise-- We’ve taken this journey of realignment with God’s purposes for the universe and reunion with one another. Now we’re poised to step out in faith to live this way better in the coming year than we did in the year past.
- Send the people forth with confidence in where they’ve been and where they’re going. Jackson Henry’s new setting of Simeon’s song to the well-known tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is a great way to send folks forth today-- ready for recommitments tonight and faithful, hope-filled, gospel living in the year to come.
And make a point this morning and tonight, if you observe Watch Night together (as suggested) to invite people back for the launch of the next series, Rise Up!, beginning next Sunday.
The series outline for Rise Up! is:
January 7 God Is Speaking!
(Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord)
Isaiah 60:1-6; Mark 1:4-11
January 14 Listen
I Samuel 3:1-10
January 21 Move
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
January 28 Answer
February 4 Focus
February 11: God is Speaking!
2 Kings 2:1-12; Mark 9:2-9
This Week’s Evening/Night Activity: Watch Night
Watch Night has its modern roots in Methodism. Originally an observance of night prayer (prayer vigil, or prayer watch) held throughout the year in the early Methodist societies in England and the American colonies, Watch Night soon became associated and combined with another Methodist observance, Covenant Renewal, and thus ultimately became an annual time of prayer, exhortation, and recommitment on New Year’s Eve.
Later in the nineteenth century, Watch Night observances among black Americans also became associated with the end of slavery, as Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law on December 31, 1862 (155 years before this night). Watch Night remains a significant observance in many black churches of all denominations in the United States, taking into account not only the end of slavery, but ongoing forms of oppression and suppression, such as enhanced Voter ID laws that tend to target black voters in many instances, the ongoing incarceration of disproportional numbers of black males, and drug laws and police and other forms of violence that disproportionately affect black people in this country. Black Christians who gather on this night have a long history of seeking the Jesus destined for the falling and rising up of many, and the redemption of all.
Our Book of Worship includes a full Service of Covenant Renewal, with the covenant renewal proper drawn from John Wesley’s 1780 version of this service.
We suggest you begin your time together with a gathering for a meal or late evening refreshments and one last round of Christmas songs (secular or sacred) interspersed with Freedom Songs in solidarity with black Americans and all others who remain oppressed and need the deliverance and redemption only Christ can bring about. Consider starting the Covenant Renewal service fifteen to twenty minutes before midnight, so the act of covenant renewal itself is in progress over the midnight hour as the new year dawns. As the italics at the end of the service suggest, provide a full printout of the covenant renewal rite to every person, and encourage each person to sign it and keep it as a sign of his/her commitment this night and into the coming year. If you continue with Holy Communion, use The Great Thanksgiving for New Year, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, or Covenant Reaffirmation (BOW 58-59).
Additional Resources for this Service
Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: (Click link to find countries for this week when they are posted)