The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury

January 3, 2021
Second Sunday after Christmas


God of fresh starts, we gather in the first moments of a new year. Some of us look back at 2020 and rejoice for all the moments of healing, hope, laughter, and growth. Others of us look back and are ready to wipe our hands clean of days that tried us—our patience, our health, our relationships, our sense of self. No matter how we feel about the last days or weeks or months, we pause at the beginning of this new year to reorient ourselves toward you. Open our hearts in the quiet of this hour that we might be attentive to how you might be be calling us, assuring us, challenging us for the new year. May this time of worship be but a tiny glimpse of our shared walk in the year to come. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

PRELUDE                   Chorale Fantasia on “How Brightly Shines”          Buxtehude


Praise the Lord, O people!
For God strengthens the weak and blesses the children.
God grants peace and gives abundance for all.
God has created all things through the Word,
and sustains the goodness of creation.  

Click for HYMN No. 827: “O Morning Star”


In this season of Christmas, we are reminded that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Yet we are fearful and anxious; we do not trust in the light of God — the Word of God made flesh. Let us therefore confess our sin, trusting God’s promise of light and grace.


God of new beginnings and new life, we confess that we aren’t always open to offer fresh starts to others or to ourselves. We wallow in our own hurt and pain, forgetting that through Christ, we have been forgiven and that we’re to forgive others as well, though forgiving is no easy task. As this new year begins, may we walk closer with you, O Lord, and be open to the bright hope and light that only you can bring forth into the helplessness and darkness that often surround us. Forgive our closed and broken hearts and open us to new possibilities and reconciliation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Silence is observed


The old is gone and the new is bursting forth!
Watch out! God is doing a new thing!
Friends, hear and believe the good news!
In Jesus Christ, we’re a forgiven people.
Thanks be to God! Hallelujah and Amen.


Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen, amen.



(all children will remain in the sanctuary)



Isaiah 43:18-19 and Luke 7:36-50


SERMON: “Acceptance and Awe” – President David Esterline

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH            from Confession of Belhar

We believe that God has entrusted the church with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ; We believe that the church is called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, that the church is called blessed because it is a peacemaker, that the church is witness both by word and by deed to the new heaven and the new earth in which righteousness dwells. We believe that God’s life-giving Word and Spirit will enable the church to live in a new obedience which can open new possibilities of life for society and the world. Jesus is Lord. To the one and only God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for HYMN No. 109: “Blest Be the God of Israel”



The table of bread and cup is now to be made ready.
It is the table of company with Jesus,
and all who love him.
It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world,
with whom Jesus identified himself.
It is the table of communion with the earth,
in which Christ became incarnate.
So come to this table,
you who have much faith
and you who would like to have more;
you who have been here often
and you who have not been for a while
you who have tried to follow Jesus,
and you who have failed;
It is Christ who invites us to meet him here.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God of all time and place, it is our greatest joy to offer you thanks, to offer you praise. You created light out of darkness and brought forth life on the earth. You formed us in your image, called us to love and serve you, and in our unfaithfulness, you have never turned away. Thank you for every work to free us from our sin, for every time you have pulled us back to your promises, for every person you have placed in our lives to speak truth to power and show us your way.

We thank you for your Word, for Christ, one with you since before the beginning of time. Thank you for your love so expansive that you would send your Son, Jesus Christ,
to be our Savior. In him, your Word took on skin and bone like ours and lived among us, full of grace and truth. And we glorify you, Emmanuel, God with us!

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with the choirs of angels who ever sing to the glory of your name.  Thank you for teaching us humility in Jesus’ fragile beginnings—who, helpless as an infant, showed the power of your love; who, poor in the things of the world, brought the wealth of your grace; who, rejected by many, welcomed all who sought him.

Even as we prepare for birth, we give thanks for Christ’s dying and rising, in which you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.

Remembering your gracious acts in Jesus Christ, we take from your creation this bread and this cup and joyfully celebrate Jesus’ dying and rising as we await the day of Christ’s return. With thanksgiving we offer ourselves to you to be a living and holy sacrifice, dedicated to your service.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and the gifts of this table, that the bread we break and the cup we bless may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ. By your Spirit, make us one with Christ, and one with those who have gone before us and those who come after us, that we may be united at this feast which transcends time and place.

As this bread is Christ’s body for us, send us out to be the body of Christ in the world.

Considerations: Intercessions for the church and the world may be included here.

Empower us by your Spirit, O God, to be Christ’s presence in the world even as Jesus was God-with-us. Give us courage to speak Christ’s truth, to seek his justice, and to love with his love. Keep us faithful in your service, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast with all your saints in the joy of your eternal realm.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, almighty God, now and forever.

The Lord’s Prayer

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who taught us to pray saying…

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Breaking of the Bread & Pouring of the Cup

ANTHEM                   “At This Table”          Menzel                       soloist: Wendy Hill

COMMUNION with instructions

Closing Prayer

Gracious Lord of hosts, may this bread and this cup continue to nourish us as we leave this place. May this meal also give us courage and sustain us as we go out into this world to speak truth to power, to seek God’s love and justice, and to wait with expectant hope for the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.



On this Second Sunday of Christmas, we ponder the gift of light that has come into the darkness of our world — the gift of incarnation, of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Let us give in response to what we have been given, that we may share the light of the world with others.


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.  Praise God, all creatures high and low. Alleluia, alleluia!  Praise God, in Jesus fully known: Creator, Word, and Spirit one. Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!


O God, receive the gifts we offer in gratitude for abundant gifts that we have received from you, and now return to you to further your work in the world. Amen.

Click for HYMN No. 156: “Sing of God Made Manifest”


Shine! Let your light shine! Be generous and loving with others and they will shine, too. Together, we will shine in the darkness and be a light to the world. As you go from this place, shine and be a guiding light for others so that they may see the light of Christ.

In this new year, may the light and love of God shine upon you. May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ bring light unto us. And may the friendship of the Holy Spirit offer new possibilities for reconciliation. Amen.