We come, together with all creation, to offer the praise that is due to our God.
A Call to Worship
Christmas Eve (i) Year A 2016
We come, together with the nations of the world, to bring our praise offerings.
We come, to sing our new song of thanks to God as we: “...praise his name...”
We come, because: “...Honour and majesty surround him; strength and beauty
fill his sanctuary... Come into his courts. Tell all the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’...”
We come, to worship the Lord our God in trembling and awe-struck amazement,
because of the miracles of grace we receive each day from our Majestic God:
“...Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!... O nations of the world...
recognise that the Lord is glorious and strong. Give to the Lord the glory he
deserves! ...Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour... for he is coming... coming..!” Amen.
1 Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
2 Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
4 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be feared above all gods.
5 The gods of other nations are mere idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!
6 Honour and majesty surround him;
strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.
7 O nations of the world, recognise the Lord;
recognise that the Lord is glorious and strong.
8 Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!
Bring your offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour.
Let all the earth tremble before him.
10 Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
He will judge all peoples fairly.
11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord, for he is coming!
He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
and the nations with his truth.
Prayers of Thankfulness and Praise
God of holy splendour and majesty, we come, to sing a new song of thankfulness:
Christmas Eve (i) Year A 2016
this is our responsive and grateful offering that we bring this day to our God – Mighty
Ruler and King of all creation. We come together in thankfulness, because “...Honour
and majesty surround him; strength and beauty fill his sanctuary... Come into his courts.
Tell all the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’... Great is the Lord! He is worthy of praise!...”
We come with a new song, because today we have had a whole new experience of
God’s glory and majesty, and we are humbled before such glory! Yet despite our humility—
we dare to approach the God of holy splendour, even if our knees are knocking in
awe at God’s holy glory. This is the awesome wonder and mystery of our faith: because
God is coming and even now, is here amongst us to receive our prayers and praises.
Creating God, whose creative powers never cease, and whose wonders never stop
being miraculous, we come to join with all of the created world and beyond, to offer
our gifts of thankfulness and praises, because before the Holy One, we have nothing
else we dare to offer. We pray too, that the nations of the world will “...recognise that
the Lord is glorious and strong. Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! ...” We pray
that all who deny the Kingly glory and majesty of our God, will have their eyes opened,
so that the thanks and praises that are due to God will echo around the world in an
awe-inspired new song of praise and thankfulness to God, because “...Great is the Lord!..”
God of glory and infinite wisdom, we come to give our thanks that the LORD, the Holy
and Eternal One, is even now with us in our worship; is even now responding to our
prayers and praises, and lifting us up to a higher and greater understanding of the
wonders of our God. We come because we are called to spread abroad the wonders
and miracles of God’s grace that we daily receive from our Liberating God. We are
in awe and wonder at the gracious mercy of our God, because justice and truth are
the hallmarks of our God; and as God’s people we are called to live with justice; to
live in mercy; and to live and love with grace, and to spread abroad the truth of God. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
When I was a young woman, one of my first jobs was at an establishment that sold
Christmas Eve (i) Year A 2016
woman’s apparel and the business was named “Adornments”, which literally means
decorated, embellishments, enhancement or ornamentation. “Voice of the Psalms”
translation describes verse nine thus: “...Bow down to the Eternal, adorned in holiness;
lay awestruck before Him, trembling, all people of the earth...”1 Add to this the imagery
in verse 6 “... honour and majesty precede Him; strength and beauty infuse His holy
sanctuary..”1 I find it fascinating the way words are used to add to our mental pictures!
One of the major uses of the word “infuse” is when tea is infused in boiling water for
a cup of tea; another use is for medicinal purposes when drugs a mixed with a liquid
for “infusions”; or another concept is when a substance is saturated, which means that
it is incapable of absorbing any more liquid. When those words are thus interpreted and
placed alongside the glory and wonder of God’s holy presence, what a difference that
makes to our understanding of the concept and imagery of the “holy splendour” of God!
|Creative pause:||God is adorned and infused with “holy splendour”!|
According to the Revised Common Lectionary, Psalm 96 is the traditional reading
for worship services on Christmas Eve. I have written about many aspects on this
psalm over the years. However, one of the beauties of the Psalms is that there is
always something fresh to receive from them. This time, the words that sprang out
to me were: “...Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour. Let all the earth tremble
before him...” Verses seven to nine are a summons addressed to “...nations of the
world...”, so it is to all people of the earth that this formal summons is given to tremble
in awe-struck and reverent worship of the God, who is so very worthy of our praise
because the Lord God reigns over all creation! “...O nations of the world, recognise
the Lord; recognise that the Lord is glorious and strong. Give to the Lord the glory
he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in all
his holy splendour. Let all the earth tremble before him....” Do we tremble in our minds,
our spirits, or does our whole bodies tremble for the wonder of the God who reigns?
|Creative pause:||Do you tremble when you encounter God’s “holy splendour”?|
How does any individual in their imagination tremble before the “holy splendour” of
the Lord our God? Is God’s “holy splendour” an emotion, one’s circumstances, an
experience, or even a special place? Or is God’s “holy splendour” all or some of these
things? Like many other people, I have also had special holy moments when God’s
presence is very real and also a great blessing! Two of my own special experiences of
God’s “holy splendour” has had to do with places that inspired within me an awe-struck
sense of wonder. At that time, I was in a period of intense prayer, as I struggled with
what I perceived to be a call from God. Was I more open to that experience of God
because of my prayers? I still believe that is so. Those special times were firstly when
I spent a weekend on Holy Island Lindisfarne, which is on the extreme north-east corner
of England. In a small chapel there, I experienced a life-changing awareness of God’s
holiness that left me totally breathless. A similar experience of God’s “holy splendour”
took place in the famous crypt of the Lutheran Cathedral Church of Sweden in Lund –
also known as “Lunds Domkyrka”. The memories of that deep awareness of God’s
holiness has stayed with me ever since; and can be recalled to bless and inspire me.
|Creative pause:||For you, is God’s “holy splendour” an emotion, experience or place?|
1 “The Voice” Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society
All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation,
copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
*Revised Indexing Scheme from 'Consultation on Church Union' (COCU).
I acknowledge and give heartfelt thanks for the theological inspiration available from the scholarship and writings of
Professor Walter Brueggemann; and through the resources from the internet and “The Text this Week” (Textweek).
If the Prayers and/or Meditations are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2016 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.
Download/view a pdf file of this document here: christmasevea_2016.pdf