Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Carol service worship order

"Christmas: Seeking refuge in a home away from home." Dec 6, 2015, Charles Ranson Hall.
Sunday, December 6, 2015, Charles Ranson Hall
(As the choir sings the prayer song a child, a woman faculty member, a male staff member and the principal light the lamp. This is an Indian way of entering the advent filled with peace, love, hope and joy.)

Opening prayer
God of hope, in this Advent of expectation draw us together in unity that our praise and worship might echo in these walls and also through our lives. In this Advent of expectation draw us together in mission, that the hope within might be the song we sing, and the melody of our lives. In this Advent of expectation draw us together in service, that the path we follow might lead us from a stable to a glimpse of eternity. We pray for those away from home, those who have had to leave home and those who have been forced out of their homes. Help us O Lord to come together as a community of believers with one house where we can all congregate and pray. Amen.

Congregational hymn lead by the college choir

Bible reading

Isaiah 2:2-5
Romans 13: 11-14
Luke 2:1-7

College choir song 1
Advent Reflection: Rev. Dr. John Samuel Raj, Principal, UTC

College choir song 2

Prayers for the Christmas season
L: O Emmanuel, we feel your presence whenever we are willing to risk our belongings, our definite lives and our familiar surroundings. Your birth Christ was unfavourable for the decision makers but favourable for the shepherds. In your birth the wise chose to follow the star than follow the King because it was revealed to them that kingship had moved from the palace to the street. This cold evening may realization come at this time of prayer and singing which will make us sweat and feel warm in the assuring presence of God.
C: This is the time for birth, a birth with Christ.

L: O Lord Jesus, we have all moved out from our homes seeking jobs, security, peace and a better future. Nothing is permanent and no one but you is the owner of what we use. We pray with a deep sense of sadness for Chennai and its people. Many of us have stayed there, lived in houses, walked through its streets, passed through and known and still know people from there. Can there be a celebration for us when our friends and family are struggling to live? We come to your presence God because we need the hope of Christmas, the hope of your birth through which we can rise up from any difficulty and hold hands together and praise you.
C: This is the time for birth, a birth with Christ.

L: O God of mercy, bind us together through this service that we may hug each other and embrace one another in a true gesture of what the shepherds and wise humans did on visiting the baby in the street. Has Christ been born in each one of us? Isn’t there a manger and a street in us and in our neighbor? Shouldn’t we bow down to one another and in doing so bow before Christ our Lord. Christ is born in every way we can imagine and in everyone we can imagine. Isn’t this the season of saying “Merry Christmas” because we greet and accept each other because of God’s mercy and care?
C: This is the time for birth, a birth with Christ.

JBF song
Sharing the gifts of Christmas

It’s Christmas and no one can go back without a gift. This is a time to exchange our biggest gift of forgiveness and understanding. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth won’t get houses, food and education for the poor and the needy. Shall we submit our gifts to God and wait for God’s unending gifts of mercy and grace to bless us this season? Shall we forgive each other and give peace to one another because Christ is born in our midst? May God take care of our pain and suffering and may we feel the excitement of the birth of our Lord Jesus. Amen.

Naga fellowship song
Kannada fellowship song
Telugu fellowship song

Remember these voices from the manger
Voice 1- While the entire nation is trying to make sense of what tolerance is, there is humanity at its best in Chennai. I can tell this for sure because, I stay in Qatar and my family (wife and 2 kids aged 11 and 7) are in Chennai. With all the floods and problems, I am getting the message from them, "We are safe". In the wake of calamity, Chennai is "One". It has only one religion, "Humanity"; It has only one enemy, "Water"; there is only one aim "Help". And they did it in style. When they were offering help, they didn't ask whether you are "Hindu" or a "Christian" Or a "Muslim". They didn't ask whether you are "Rich" or "Poor". They didn't ask whether you are a "Tamlian", "Malayalee", "Telugu", "Kannadiga" or "North Indian". Only one question they asked; "Do you need any help?"The rich people; my neighbors who never interacted with anybody in the neighborhood in last 4 years; opened the gates of their huge house. The man stood outside and welcomed people to his house. "We will eat whatever we have. We will share whatever we have. You can stay here until the water recedes"; that all he had said.. He accommodated around 35 people in his house. He is a Hindu Brahmin. He provided mat for the Muslims to do Namaz. He allowed Christians to pray in his Pooja room. There were volunteers outside helping people to reach safe places. They used anything and everything as tool; until the army people reached. Once the experts came, they gave the leadership to the more experienced and helped them to help others. My wife told me that, there were group of people going through the streets with neck deep water and asking "Sir / Madam, do you need any help?" in front of every house. They provided whatever help they can and they distributed food and essentials. There were groups providing cellphone batteries for 5 minutes to anybody who want to talk.
I have seen people fight for food when there is a calamity. Even the most modern countries, when there is a calamity, people fight for food. They think only about themselves at that time. But, when the food was distributed in Chennai, it was calm. People stood in queues and they have given food for the people who are not able to stand in queues (elderly, mothers and kids). They brought boats. They made temporary rafts and just went on helping people. On top of all these things, this is what my kids are seeing. This is what they are learning. How to help each other at the time of need. It goes straight into their brain. The images gets implanted there. And then, when there is another calamity, they know what to do.. How to survive.. How to get help and how to help others... This is what I want my kids to learn.. Humanity, without boundaries....
All- Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Voice 2- Ever since she was in kindergarten in the Syrian city of Homs, Ibtihaj has dreamed of becoming an artist. She hoped of one day being able to open her own gallery and showcasing her work to the world.Now 12 years old, Ibtihaj lives in Jordan, one of the more than 3.8 million Syrians who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict.
Through her latest creations, proudly displayed on her bedroom walls, it’s clear her experiences have had a big impact on her. “This is a son and his mother praying to God asking him to help Syria,” she says. “And this is an eye crying for its country.”Following a visit from a UK artist to Jordan last year, Ibtihaj is set to see her dream of reaching a global audience come true. She along with other refugees, were involved in an innovative project of recycling old UNHCR tents. They were encouraged to express their feelings through their painting, or to write poetry, or whatever artistic medium came to them, whilst being given broad themes of ‘Hope’, ‘Memories’ and ‘The Impact of War On Families’. The results have been so powerful; the tents are now set to be exhibited in a number of locations across the world. “The goal was to turn these symbols of loss and displacement into beautiful pieces of artwork, in order to raise awareness for the plight of refugees,” said Hannah, a student who was living in Jordan last year. “We played with the idea of ‘fragments’, ‘pieces’ and ‘shattered lives’. Lives fall apart when forcefully expelled from their homes and need to be rebuilt again. The most common image expressed by the refugees however, one that kept reoccurring, was ‘home’, highlighting the longing of many refugees for the conflict to end and to return to their lives.
All- Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Voice 3- I am a dalit woman who is forced to do manual scavenging because I am told that is the only thing I can do. I have lost my sense of smell. I don’t know what is beautiful anymore, my own stench because of scavenging, or the smell of jasmine flowers. I am send to spaces which people conveniently want to forget. I have to clean and carry the smell of others on my head so that others may be clean and beautiful. My Christ cannot exist in richness and privilege simply because I don’t know what that is. It is not about right and wrong and black and white. Rather it is about who we are and what we hope for. I would like to live a dignified life which I believe was what Christ Jesus did. He was also born into the stench of life because the other spaces were taken up. He was also branded a carpenter and was shown his place by the chief priests. But I am told that he did not let that prevent him from becoming who he did. He made his stench his strength and the sweat of his body his attraction, so much that we eat his body and drink his blood. We are one with him and in him, aren’t we? Why wouldn’t you then so much as touch me when my smell is the smell of the manger you now approach in prayer.
All- Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Voice 4- They didn’t give me an apartment because I was from a minority community. People ask me whether I am a terrorist, a fundamentalist, a trouble maker and a meat eater. Is there is a difference in our blood? I am O+. What are you? Does religion change our DNA and blood? Do we enquire about Christ’s blood group? Do we know his family name, was his beard long or short? Will Christ be stopped at an airport because of how he looks, his designation and what he speaks? I also like Christ. He is very dear to me because I feel crucified just the way he was. I also walk in the street and get stared at and abused just as Christ was. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge me by how I look.
All- Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Tamil fellowship song
Malayalam fellowship song
Mizo fellowship song
Hindi fellowship song

Affirmation of faith
We believe in God, the creator and giver of life, who brought all creation to birth, who mothers us and fathers us, protecting, nurturing, and cherishing us. We believe in Jesus Christ: God born among us as a fragile baby, embodying both love and the need for love, and calling us to rest in God as trustingly as a tiny child.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, breathed into us at our birth, always drawing us on to be born again, encouraging, exhorting, comforting, nourishing our growth and inspiring our living. We believe in the reconciliation of the world to God, through Christ. Hunted at birth and humiliated at death, Christ entered our fearful darkness so that we might enter his glorious light and share the life of his resurrection.
And we believe that each new child is a glimpse of the face of God, a sign of the life to come, and a call to live in peace and celebrate living together. Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God's people on earth. Amen.

College Choir song no 3
Offertory hymn lead by the college choir

Commitment prayer
Gracious God, you are the source of all goodness, generosity and love. We thank you for opening the hearts of many to those who are fleeing for their lives. Help us now to open our arms in welcome, and reach out our hands in support of those who have to flee their lands and homes and to those who can’t live in their homes at present because of the crisis of rain and flooding. That the desperate may find new hope, and lives torn apart be restored. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, Our Lord, who fled persecution at His birth and at His last triumphed over death. Amen.

Closing hymn led by the college choir
Lord’s prayer

Home is always sweet. But what is home? Isn’t it the place where we are offered hospitality, where we show hospitality, live together in harmony and seek the good of one another? Christ Jesus showed us how to live in a home away from home and yet attract people to him. Go forth feeling that the spirit of Christmas lives in us. Go to the homes of others and offer yourselves as guests who trust the love of others. Open your homes to others so that the advent may truly be here in the now. Let us forget the small manger and the crib in our houses and make our house and mind into a manger, offered in openness and kindness for those without homes to come, stay, pass by and experience the birth of Christ. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ evident from the stable, the love of God experienced by the shepherds and the wise humans and the grace of the Holy Spirit symbolized through the star be with you all now and through this Christmas season of love, peace and harmony. Amen.
Choir song no. 4

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