Connections January

Trinity Connections

Pastor Phil Wold cell - 307-763-1115

January 30

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

Psalm 111:1

Psalm 111 will be our Call to Worship for Sunday worship. This reflection by Pastor Talitha Arnold was published by the UCC on Wednesday.

I think often we fail to realize how important remembering is. To remember God’s promises, to recollect God’s goodness, to recall our place as God’s people - remembrance and praise help to restore hope, and can give us strength to carry on.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

Powered by Praise - Talitha Arnold

Until this past year, I thought a psalm like Psalm 111 had to be written by someone at the top of their game. Filled with praise and thanks for God’s wondrous deeds, the psalmist revels in God’s honor and majesty, grace and mercy, proclaiming that “the works of God’s hands are faithful and just, all God’s precepts are trustworthy.”

Such praise and thanksgiving could only come from an experience of overwhelming abundance and security, to my thinking. The psalmist knew God was good, because life was good. All of life was good—health, relationships, job, even the state of the nation. Why else would the psalmist thank God with their whole heart and in public, no less?

But the past year turned that interpretation on its head. I wonder now if the psalmist was instead in the midst of their own worst hard time—a pandemic perhaps, or economic upheaval, a prolonged drought, national unrest, the loss of a job, or all the above. A time like our time.

Perhaps the psalmist realized the only way to get through that worst hard time was to remember—to recall God’s holiness and majesty, the awesomeness of God’s works. Maybe the writer realized that praising God for being faithful and just, even if the world wasn’t, was an act of power on the psalmist’s part.

It still is.


Help us, Lord, to give you thanks with all our hearts. May we know the power of praise to overcome fear and despair, that we might trust you and love your world once again. Amen.

January 29

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Mathew 6:33

Yesterday, was the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). He was a scholar who is considered one of the great theologians of the Church. Martin Luther contended against much of the philosophy that undergirded his teaching.

This prayer by Thomas Aquinas makes me think of this line I set aside years ago: "I realize,” writes Reinhold Niebuhr, "that the only time the church is really sufferable is when it is at prayer. When it talks, it claims too much for itself." A nice reminder that our faithfulness, our prayer and our love for God’s children are most important.

Let us pray:

Grant me, my God

a mind to know you,

a heart to seek you,

wisdom to find you,

conduct that pleases you,

perseverance to wait for you,

and the hope of embracing you

when everything ends. - Thomas Aquinas

I am sad to inform you that Audrey Doerr died yesterday at home. She had been in hospice care for a few weeks. Her funeral will be Friday, February 5, at 10 a.m. here at Trinity.

The Sanctuary is open each day for those who would like to stop by to pray. Giving records for 2020 are available. If you cannot pick them up in the next few days, they will be mailed on Monday.

January 28

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”

Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Then he said to me,

“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

Revelation 21:5-6

These concluding lines from a prayer by Walter Brueggemann are challenging and inviting as well. The prayer is titled: “On Generosity” - It is published in a book of sermons and prayers “Inscribing the Text”

Sink your generosity deep into our lives

that your muchness may expose our false lack

that endlessly receiving, we may endlessly give,

so that the world may be made Easter new,

without greedy lack, but only wonder

without coercive need, but only love

without destructive greed, but only praise

without aggression and invasiveness. . .

all things Easter new. . .

all around us toward us and

by us

all things Easter new.

Finish your creation. . . in wonder, love and praise. Amen.

Inscribing the Text by Walter Brueggemann, Fortress Press, 2004. Page 4

January 27

…and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Romans 5:5

The Covid numbers in Sheridan have continued to be good, and Council has determined that we will resume in-person worship this coming Sunday, January 31st. We will have services at 8:30 and 11, with our annual meeting being held online on Zoom at 10:00.

Ironically, it seems that the last few weeks, more Trinity folks have come down with this virus than at any other point in this pandemic. I am afraid that I just learned that I have tested positive for Covid-19. Please keep me in your prayers, and thanks to Pastor Beth Kelsey for being willing to preach for us on Sunday.

As we resume worship, and look ahead to an improving landscape, with many of us becoming vaccinated, we look ahead with hope.

I think often of an important distinction between hope and optimism. Optimism is an outlook that things will improve. It is the present, written bigger and better into the future. Hope is quite something else. It is the expectation that God will keep God’s promises, and that God will work God’s good in the world.

Let us look ahead with hope, and seek to be a part of God’s new day, now and always!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 26

with Christ Jesus

Ephesians 2:19-20

I took a quick look at some quotes I have set aside, and saw this line by 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon. Talk of resolutions seemed fitting as we are in the last week of January.

Make no resolution as to what you will do;

your resolutions will surely be broken as they are made.

Instead of trying to revive yourself, offer prayers.

Do not say, “I will revive myself,"

but cry, “O Lord, revive thy work.”

Charles Spurgeon

I will joke about having a “low anthropology.” That is to say, I understand that we are all sinners, in need of God’s grace. As we look ahead to the rest of 2021, may our prayer be that God would work through us, to bring God’s love and gave to world that needs it now as eve.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 25

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For t

I Thessalonians 4:13-14

We have sad news. Sunday afternoon, Carol Dau died. She had been in the hospital for a few days. Carol’s family is making plans, and we will let you know about her funeral.

I thought of this beautiful reflection on grief by Ann Weems.

Jesus wept,

and in his weeping,

he joined himself forever

to those who mourn

He stands now throughout all time,

this Jesus weeping,

with his arms about the weeping ones:

“Blessed are those who mourn,

for they shall be comforted.”

He stands with the mourners,

for his name is God with us.

Jesus wept. - Ann Weems, Psalms of Lament,

In Hebrews, we read this: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” Indeed!

We pray that the sure and certain hope of the resurrection will be an abiding comfort for all who mourn.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 23

Jesus spoke to them, saying,

“I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness

but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

I have long known of Martin Luther King’s words that only light can dispel darkness, yet it is instructive to note that this comes from a fuller context. M.L. King’s commitment to non-violence was grounded in Jesus’ call to love your neighbor.

Perhaps the finest gift of the Martin Luther King holiday would be for us to recall Rev. King’s call to live as the Beloved Community, a call inspired by the love of Jesus Christ.

“I'm concerned about a better world. I'm concerned about justice; I'm concerned about brotherhood; I'm concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.”

Excerpted from Martin Luther King’s speech “Where Do We Go From Here?,” delivered at the 11th Annual Southern Christian Leadership Conference Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.

January 22

“You have heard that it was said,

‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

But I say to you,

Love your enemies

and pray for those who persecute you,

so that you may be children of

your Father in heaven…

Matthew 5:43-45a

In his quest to shape the “Beloved Community”, Martin Luther King turned to those incredibly challenging words Jesus speaks to us in Matthew: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” I once heard a preacher offer this interesting criticism of our worship services: 'We don’t often hear prayers for our enemies during the Prayers of the People at worship.'

This is true.

Have you ever had an adversary in your life, and prayed for that one? What might happen if you did?

Here is Martin Luther King, I think the may be from a sermon:

“Now, there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. …It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”

Matin Luther King jr.

January 21

Jesus said to him,

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

This week in which we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, I am inviting you to consider some of the words of M L King. They can be inspiring and challenging and thought provoking.

When God calls us to love our neighbor and to lay aside hate, this is law, but it is also gift, and release of a burden.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther King jr.

January 20

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:31-33

As part of this week in which we celebrate Martin Luther King, jr., I am share quotes from him.

Dr. King was a preacher, a scholar, a philosopher, and of course, a civil rights leader. He brought his Christian faith to bear in his quest for equality, and many of his insights reflect that synthesis brilliantly.

Here is something for us to consider on the day a new president takes office.

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” ML King jr.

January 19

Let us hold fast

to the confession of our hope without wavering,

for he who has promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

I thought I would share some quotes from Martin Luther King jr. this week. Dr. King was a minister, and many of his best known sayings were grounded in faith.

I like this line: “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr

This speaks to so many places in our lives. Whatever disappointment we face, we do so as people who bear an infinite hope. May the hope you bear, sustain you now and always.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 18

Beloved, let us love one another,

because love is from God;

everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

I John 4:7

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday that invites us to some introspection, and a call to repentance.

This past year has seen a great deal of unrest and sad violence around issues of racial injustice. We have a lot of work to do as a nation, and I pray that we will be equal to the task.

One thing I consider a gift for us as people of God in Christ, is the tradition of repentance. We are taught to take note of our sin, and to hear God’s call to forgiveness, justice and love.

One thing that I find enlightening every time I look into Martin Luther King’s legacy, is his calling us to be the “Beloved Community.” So much of our lives these days is talked about as if we are in a battle. The fight against this or that. We may be. We also live as God’s children in Christ, with a calling to extend God’s love and care to all.

May this day be a time for us to recall our best visions of ourselves, of our community and of our country.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 16

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone

Ephesians 2:19-20

Here is a prayer for “responsible citizenship” from our hymnal. I think often of a theologian who said in a lecture: “We have been rendered consumers in an economy, rather than citizens in a society.” This is not a judgment of anyone. This is a challenge and call for us to claim our place as citizens of the Kingdom of God, sent to bear the love of Jesus into our daily lives.

Responsible Citizenship

Lord God, you call your people to honor those in authority. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, participate in wise decisions for our common life, and serve our neighbors in local communities. Bless the leaders of our land, that we may be at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. ELW page #77

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

January 15

I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me…

Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.

Philippians 4:10-14

I just learned that a colleague, Pastor Larry Vinson, died on Tuesday from complications of COVID. He served Trinity Lutheran Church in Cody from 1984 until retiring in 2009.

Larry was a character and I always enjoyed talking with him when we crossed paths. I believe Larry also served on the ELCA Church Council, with a term at the beginning of the ELCA.

Statistics and numbers can cause us to lose sight of the fact that events that take place “out in the world” are challenges and tragedies, opportunities and joys, disruptions and difficulties that affect the lives of real people like you and me.

When we gather for in-person worship we share prayer concerns in our community. I am often moved to invite you all to turn to your right and left, and to pray for those who are sitting with you. We know - too well - that those in our midst are facing their own challenges and tragedies, opportunities and joys, disruptions and difficulties.

That is one of the many things we have missed in these days of on-line worship. I have been careful (probably overly careful) about writing down the names of those on our prayer list. It is one thing to share as we greet one another at the beginning of worship. It feels a bit more complex to put names down in these e-mails.

That being said, our prayer list has many people on it right now. Ironically, as we begin planning for in-person worship on January 31st, it seems more Trinity folks than at any time in the pandemic are dealing with this virus right now.

Please, pray for all those with whom we have gathered for worship over the many years. …

Blessings on you, you are in my prayers.

Pastor Phil

January 14

Praise the LORD from the earth,

you sea monsters and all deeps,

fire and hail, snow and frost,

stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Psalm 148:7-8

I mentioned yesterday that the Trinity Council is tentatively planning to resume in-person worship on January 31. We also will have our Annual Congregational Meeting that day. We will do that over Zoom, and the details are still being worked out.

The windy weather has me wondering if I dare go outside.

Sometimes, when I become caught up in how something like the wind is affecting me, it can be a bit depressing. It is helpful to be mindful of those who are truly impacted by such things.

Let us pray for those who must work outside in this weather, those who take care of downed power lines and trees and all who are truly impacted by the wind. (Let’s also pray for the wind to stop soon!)

Interestingly, the Psalmist calls upon the wind to prayer the Lord. Let’s join in!

Blessings on you, Pastor Phil

January 13

I walk in the way of righteousness,

along the paths of justice

Proverbs 8:20

For some reason, I am sort of suspicious of the idea of pilgrimage. The idea that you might go someplace and have a special religious encounter.

When I think it through a bit, though, there might be gifts in looking at our lives as a pilgrimage. Wherever we go, of course, is made holy by the love of God. All that we do, is lived in the presence of God. Every breath that we take, is a gift from God. The incarnation means that God has come to be with us, right here and right now.

In his book, “Without Oars,” Wes Granberg-Michaelson makes this observation from a pilgrimage to the Camino, (which is in Northern Spain).

“On the Camino de Santiago, makeshift shrines along the way are littered with things pilgrims have left behind - an extra pair of shoes, a sweater, a razorblade, an inflatable pillow, a book, a pair of pants, a makeup kit. Nearly every pilgrim on the Camino, despite careful packing, discovers that they are carrying too much.”

Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Without Oars, p. 13

As we venture into this Epiphany season - (make our pilgrimage through life?) - we might want to discard those things that weigh us down, and get in the way of love…

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 12

Cast all your anxieties on him

because he cares for you.

I Peter 5:7

“Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” I like this verse. I have turned to it often when the cares of the world have weighed me down.

There is another, verse that I often turn to. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says to us, not to worry, for God will take care of us. I smile at the line: ““So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)

I think it is interesting that we have these words of comfort for us. They do not waste much time berating us for worrying - they simply offer God’s abiding comfort.

May you know the presence of Jesus in these days, and as ones comforted by God’s love, may we be bearers of comfort to those around us.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 11

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

Galatians 5:22-23

Along with so many others, I continue to be troubled by the events in our Capitol on Wednesday.

Here is another prayer from our hymnal. I like how this prayer grounds our diversity in God’s Trinity.

As we pray for our country and our elected leaders, let us pray for one another, that we might be loving citizens who help to make our country a more perfect union.

Blessings to you this week. Pastor Phil

The Nation

Holy Trinity, one God,

you show us the splendor of diversity and the beauty of unity in your own divine life.

Make us, who came from many nations with many languages,

a united people that delights in our many different gifts.

Defend our liberties,

and give those whom we have entrusted with authority

the spirit of wisdom,

that there might be justice and peace in our land.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ,

our sovereign and our Savior. Amen. ELW page 77

January 9

The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:5

I had a Christikon board meeting this morning, and had hoped to prepare and send the Connections beforehand.

In the face of national events this past week, I am praying fervently for peace and justice. Here is an Advent Prayer that might well be fitting for us any and everyday. A prayer that speaks of our desire for the light of justice of God to shine

Opening Call to Worship and Prayer:

Seeking Light

In this season of waiting, of longing,

of looking for you to come into our world

We are seeking light

[Light candles]

In our own lives

We are seeking light

In our neighborhoods

We are seeking light

In our families

We are seeking light

In our work

We are seeking light

In Trinity

We are seeking light

In our nation

We are seeking light

In our world

We are seeking light

Seek and you shall find

Knock and the door will be opened

Ask and it will be given to you

Jesus Christ you are the light of the world

May we have eyes to see you

And ears to hear you

Come into our world today


~ from the website of Grace Church in Ealing, London.

January 8

The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:5

Laura and I took a few days to get outside a bit, do some cross country skiing, and enjoying this beautiful land we are so fortunate to call home. It is fun to see that the days are - slowly - getting a little longer.

In the evenings, we spent a great deal of time observing the national news.

In the midst of chaotic and saddening times, we join with all our fellow citizens in praying for those who keep us safe, and those who govern in a way that serves our communities.

As the days lengthen, we mark Epiphany as a season of light. I think of this line from the liturgy for the Easter Vigil:

“May the light of Christ rising in glory

dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”

May this Easter prayer be a Word of life for our Epiphany season, and our lives as citizens in this community. May we remember that we belong to one another, and together, we are called to bear God’s love to this world, shrouded in darkness.

A prayer from our hymnal: Time of conflict, crisis, disaster

O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. ELW page 76

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

January 7

Arise, shine; for your light has come,

and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Isaiah 60:1

This Litany bears fitting words for us as we venture into the season of Epiphany. This season is a time to celebrate that the gift of the Christ Child which we celebrate at Christmas, is a gift given for not only for the Jews, God’s Chosen people, but for all God’s world.

There is indeed, darkness that threatens us all, yet for God, “the night is as bright as the day.”

May God’s love light the way for you this Epiphany.

Litany of Assurance: Your Light Has Come

Here’s a beautiful litany of assurance, inspired by Psalm 139:11-12 and Isaiah 60:1. It comes from the Presbyterian Church website.

Words of Assurance. (inspired by Psalm 139:11-12, Isaiah 60:1)

Hear the good news of the psalmist’s proclamation:

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,

And the light around me will be night,”

Even the darkness is not dark to God,

and the night is as bright as the day.

Our God who promised never to leave us or forsake us

HAS come to us in Jesus Christ

who binds up the brokenhearted.

heals all our infirmities,

and relieves our burden of sin.

So arise, shine; for your light has come,

And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Thanks be to God!

~ from Advent Longing for the Light of Healing, posted on the Presbyterian Church USA website. To see the whole service, click here:

January 6

for to you is born this day in the city of David,

a savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11 (RSV)

A blessed Epiphany!

This Canticle of Praise sings out in gratitude for the greatest gift, Jesus Christ.

The Wise Men came from afar, suspecting that God was doing extraordinary things.

Little did they know!

Let us celebrate Epiphany with joy at God’s great generosity to us, and to all the world!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

Canticle of Praise for Christmas and Epiphany

Blessed are you, O Christ, our God;

you were before time began,

and came to the world to save us.

Blessed are you, Sun of righteousness;

you shine with the Father's love

and illumine the whole universe.

Blessed are you, Son of Mary;

born a child

you shared our humanity.

Blessed are you, son of David;

born to rule,

you received gifts from the wise men.

Blessed are you, Son of Man;

baptised by John,

you saved us from ourselves.

Blessed are you, heavenly King;

teaching and preaching, healing and comforting,

you proclaimed the kingdom.

With all the voices of heaven

we celebrate the coming of our Saviour.

Let heaven and earth shout their praise.

With all the creatures on earth

we sing and dance at your birth.

Praise and glory to you, O Lord Jesus Christ.

— written by David Beswick, and posted at

January 5

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Luke 2:15

It is the 12th Day of Christmas!

This prayer touches on many themes for the season of Christmas, especially how God has worked God’s love in the world in God’s own surprising and turn-the-world-on-its-head ways.

Prayer for Christmas Eve

We come to your manger, each of us, in the stillness of this night,

Here we know our profound powerlessness,

and here you are –

a fragile powerless newborn,

yet the newborn child in whom we recognize the ruler of the universe.

We hear your newborn cry, the cry we have been waiting for –

"Make room! Make room for me!"

Fragile God, born in the night –

Meet us here at your manger.

Meet us as a newborn child meets new parents,

come to change our lives forever.

Meet us as the newborn

who insists that we make room for you,

who requires that we reorder our lives to pay attention to you,

who demands that we be re-centered on the very center of life.

Fragile God, born in the night –

You come as a tiny light in a vast darkness

yet that fragile and flickering light

changes the darkness completely.

Fragile God,

meet us here in the lighting of our small lights,

that we may know your awesome power making room among us

as the light that shines in the darkness,

the fragile light that the darkness cannot overpower.

Fragile God, there is room in our inn.

Be born in our night.


~ written by Dr. Susan M. (Elli) Elliott December 24, 2004, 2005. If you use this material, please credit Dr. Susan M. (Elli) Elliott. Source:

January 4

for to you is born this day in the city of David,

a savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11 (RSV)

A blessed 11th Day of Christmas to you.

Everything has been so different this holiday season… do we still wish one another “Happy New Year!” on the 4th of January? I can’t remember.

I thought it might be nice for us to turn to a litany that invites Jesus to “be born in us.” By now, we have possibly left this imagery behind, and it might be good to re-visit this metaphor.

As in the language of “being born again” - Christmas invites us to see that the gift of faith brings re-creation to our hearts and to our lives. This litany grounds this re-birth in Jesus’ birth, his life, and cross and resurrection.

May this day, may this year, be a time of continued renewal!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

This prayer litany is from the Grace website, a worship resource of an Anglican congregation in London.

Jesus of Bethlehem and Nazareth and Calvary

Jesus of Bethlehem and Nazareth and Calvary

We celebrate your birth

Come and be born in us

Jesus of the manger and the inn

Jesus of the workshop and the temple

Jesus of the lakeside and the city

Jesus of the fireside and the roadside

We celebrate your life

Come and be born in us

Jesus of Mary and Joseph

Jesus of shepherds and angels

Jesus of children and animals

Jesus of fishermen and priests

Jesus of women and men

Jesus of tax collectors and prostitutes

Jesus of all who will receive you

We celebrate your resurrection

Come and be born in us

— Adapted from a prayer by Doug Gay from Alternative Worship. Posted on the Grace website worship archive.

January 2

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace goodwill toward men”

Luke 2:13-14

This prayer sings praise to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In rich imagery and creative language, we are invited to note how God is embodied in the wonder of Christmas.

Tomorrow we hear from the Gospel of John, and consider the mystery of the incarnation.

By faith, may you know God’s presence in 2021.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

Prayer of Praise for the Christmas Season


Glorious are you, Mystery of Life,

essence of all creation.

You are the symphony of stars and planets.

You are the music of the atoms within us.

You are the dawn on mountain peaks,

the moonlight on evening seas.

Forest and farm, the rush of the city,

everything is embraced in your love.

We rejoice as we sing our gratitude.

Glorious are you, O Jesus Christ,

Cosmic love in human flesh.

You graced the smallness of time and place

to teach us to dance to the music.

You walk on our seas and heal in our streets.

You make your home in our lives,

revealing that cross and resurrection

are one on the road to freedom.

We rejoice as we sing our gratitude.

Glorious are you, O Spirit of Truth,

wisdom and breath of our being.

You are the wind that sweeps our senses.

You are the fire that burns in our hearts.

You are the needle of the inner compass,

always pointing to true North,

guiding us on the sacred dance

into the Mystery of Life.

We rejoice as we sing our gratitude.

— written by Joy Cowley, and posted on the Liturgy that Works website.

January 1

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,

who are one of the little clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to rule in Israel,

whose origin is from of old,

from ancient days.

Micha 5:2

I want to, again, wish you a Happy New Year!

I suspect that many of us are glad to leave 2020 behind, and I am sure we will talk about this past year for quite some time.

This candle lighting litany speaks of God’s appearance in our lives as an interruption. It made me think of this line that I had read by a Methodist minister.

“Advent puts Christmas into its proper place, not as a comforting destination or early winter way station, but rather as nothing less than the completely disruptive inbreaking of the God who, through this birth, makes all things new.” – Taylor Burton-Edwards

We have experienced quite the “disruptive inbreaking” this year. Much of it very unwelcome. At the same time, God has made disruptive appearances, giving life to Gospel hope and love. As we look ahead, may we always remember that, whatever may interrupt our lives, God breaks in as well, to bring healing and life.

Christmas Eve Candle-lighting Litany

Immanuel, God-with-us,

interrupt and open our eyes to the wonder of this night,

that we might catch a glimpse of your glory

in the simplicity of these moments.

May your light shine!

(First advent candle is lit.)

Immanuel, God-with-us,

interrupt and soften our hearts to the message of this hour,

that we might turn toward you,

and have the way prepared in us for your coming.

May your light shine!

(Second advent candle is lit.)

Immanuel, God-with-us,

interrupt and open our minds to truly listen to all

who speak and sing this evening,

that we might hear your voice cry out from many lips.

May your light shine!

(Third advent candle is lit.)

Immanuel, God-with-us,

interrupt and fill our spirits

with the courage to admit when we are lost

and the insight to recognize that we have been found.

May your light shine!

(Fourth advent candle is lit.)

Immanuel, God-with-us,

with eyes open, hearts softened, minds listening, and spirits full,

we rejoice that you interrupt what we have in mind

in order to bring into being something more than we dare imagine.

May your light shine! Amen.

(Center Christ candle is lit.)

— written by Peter L. Haynes, and posted in the Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren Chrismtas Eve Service.