This liturgy was created for a house concert/gathering in 2015 around the eve of the winter solstice, the longest night. It was designed to allow people to come together honestly in the midst of their struggles, questions, and grief, to pray and sing and seek God's hope, to wait for the light. The song, "Longest Nights," at the center of this liturgy, was written in response to the events of Ferguson, and in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. "Room For Us All" was born out of lament for the 60 million refugees in our world right now, and for all those who find borders and doors - even church doors - slammed in their faces. "Remember Mercy" and "Holy Is Your Name" were both inspired by Mary's Magnificat, that revolutionary call from Luke's gospel for a new day, and a new way.
You may download a PDF of the liturgy here.
Longest Night Worship
Peace of God be With You
Peace of God be with you. Peace of God be with you.
Salaam. Salaam. Peace of God be with you.
Emmanuel, Emmanuel, God with us. Love for us.
Emmanuel, Emmanuel, born into the longest nights Emmanuel.
Psalm 77: 1- 15
One: I cry aloud to God
I cry aloud, and God hears me.
In times of trouble I pray to the Lord;
All night long I lift my hands in prayer,
But I cannot find comfort.
When I think of God I sigh;
When I meditate I feel discouraged.
All: This keeps me awake all night;
I am so worried that I cannot speak.
I think of days gone by and remember years of long ago.
One: I spend the night in deep thought;
I meditate, and this is what I ask myself:
All: Will the Lord always reject us?
Will God never again be pleased with us?
Has God stopped loving us?
Does the word of the Lord no longer stand?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
One: Has anger taken the place of compassion?
All: I will remember your great deeds, Lord.
I will recall the wonders you did in the past.
I will think about all that you have done;
I will meditate on all your mighty acts.
Everything you do, O God, is holy.
No god is as great as you.
You are the God who works miracles;
You showed your might among the nations.
By your power you saved your people.
Comfort, Comfort Ye My People
An Offering of Prayers
In Psalm 56:8 the Psalmist says to God: “You have my tears in your bottle.” That's quite a picture, isn't it? God, with this huge bottle of tears, the tears of all of us, keeping them, like each tear matters, makes a difference.
So tonight take the pen and slips of paper provided for each of you and write down what you're weeping about in your own life, and in our world, and place them in this bottle as we pass it around. Once we've gathered all the tears we will join in a moment of prayer together as we offer our tears to God.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Luke 1: 26 - 33
When Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary.
When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you.
“Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
God With Us
Light of the world, Hope of glory
Man of sorrow, acquainted with grief.
Healer of Nations, Mighty God
Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace
Jesus, Jesus God with us
Jesus, Jesus We sing Gloria, Gloria,
Gloria, Gloria; Gloria, Gloria; Gloria, Gloria!
God with us. God With Us
Luke 1: 39 – 42; 46 – 50
Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry.”
And Mary sang:
“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is God’s name.
God’s mercy extends to those who honor him
from generation to generation.”
Magnify, Glorify (repeat)
You, O Lord, Remember Mercy.
Luke 2: 1 – 7
In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.
Joseph went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Room for All of Us Here
Your light came shining
Into this crying night
Bringing hope, bringing healing,
Your love revealing.
Your light came shining into this crying night
To say it's ok,
there's room for all of us here.
We are on this earth to love.
I don’t know what you’ve heard about me. Everyone has heard something it seems. When I got pregnant, before I was married to Joseph, there was a lot of talk about me. None of it anything I’d want to repeat with small children present if you know what I mean.
And then later, much later, after Jesus was born and grown, after he died and rose again, many of his followers began saying different kinds of things about me. About me being special in some way. Saint Mary or something.
I just want to be clear. I was simply an ordinary girl. And ordinary small town girl with all the regular small town girl dreams and fears and desires. I slept and ate and worked and just lived, like you do. Everyday, just living.
But then extraordinary things started happening to me. An angel making pronouncements in my bedroom. Carrying God’s child in my womb for 9 months. Giving birth to the whole world’s hope one night in a dingy stable.
Through it all I kept wondering, why me? I’m nothing special. Why would God choose me? That night, after the labor was over and the baby was born I finally got some kind of answer. I was holding Jesus in my arms and I was feeding him from my breast. And he was hungry. He was thirsty. And I suddenly realized, this is what God is like. This is how hungry God is. As impossible as it sounds, God is that hungry for us. That hungry to be close to us. Thirsty for us in our very earthliness. In our complete ordinariness.
Our ordinary human lives are like sweet mother’s milk to God.It came to me that night, what I’d never even glimpsed before. It came to me that what God really wants is to be with us and to drink us in. To simply drink us in and enjoy us. God stepped out of heaven to be born on earth as this tiny baby just to be closer to us.
And I saw, that night in Bethlehem, that when we let God do that, when we let God get that close to us, as close as a mother and her newborn babe, we can finally see how extraordinary each moment of our lives is. And we can finally see how precious and loved each of us, each human being in this world, truly is.
So...when you speak of me, when you say what you’ve heard about the mother of Jesus, say, “Mary was just an ordinary girl who discovered God’s extraordinary love for her.”
Oh and by the way. Not just for me. For you too. For you too.”
Holy is Your Name
Holy, holy, holy is your name.
Glory, glory, glory to your name.
The angels and the heavens sing
Of the new day that you bring
Glory, glory, glory to your name
The proud will fall,
The poor will see
That all hopes not lost,
And grace flows free.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
The Mary monologue was written by Lenora Rand
Advent & Christmas 2015, an album of 6 original songs and 3 carols by The Many, is available for free streaming or download here: http://noisetrade.com/themany/advent-christmas-2015
The Carols, Comfort, Comfort and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear were arranged by Hannah Rand.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Music by Gary Rand. © 2015 Helical Music. Used with permission.
God With Us. Lyrics by Lenora Rand. Music by Gary Rand. © 2015 Helical Music. Used with permission.
Holy is Your Name. Lyrics by Lenora Rand. Music by Hannah Rand. © 2015 Mirasion Music. Used with permission. Used with permission.
Peace of God be With You. Text: Arabic greeting. Music by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan. © 2004 Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ. Used with permission. OneLicense.net License #A-704703. http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/GG2013/448
Remember Mercy. Lyrics by Lenora Rand. Music by Elsa Harris and Gary Rand. © 2015 Harris & Rand Music. Used with permission.
Room For All Of Us. Words by Lenora Rand. Music by Hannah Rand. © 2015 Mirasion Music. Used with permission.
Longest Nights. Lyrics by Lenora Rand. Music by Hannah Rand. © 2015 Mirasion Music. Used with permission.