Call to Worship
This old year is almost done;
but before we say farewell…
let us pause and watch and wait,
with the patience of Simeon and Anna,
for the dawning of the promise.
As one year ends, one life, one time,
we come to God,
we bring our memories,
our hopes for the future.
We bring our worship.
HYMN – As With Gladness
who took children in your arms
and blessed them;
you touched all sorts of people
and let them touch you.
You did not mind if they were clean or unclean,
male or female, rich or poor,
one of your own people or complete strangers.
Your touch was intimate, but always safe,
and we have missed all that this year.
We have missed the cuddles and handshakes;
the tussles and messing up of hair;
we have missed high fives and holding hands,
and coorying up on the sofa to watch TV.
In our mind’s eye we can see you as a baby
being passed around
from one set of loving arms to another:
from your mum to the old priest Simeon;
and to Anna, who would have loved a grandchild,
but who loved you more.
We can feel the warmth and weight of you,
smell the milk-and-baby-lotion smell.
Hold us in your arms, most loving God,
when we feel uncertain and alone.
And when you need us to hold you safe,
may our arms be open and strong.
Reading – Luke 2:22-40
HYMN – Thou who was Rich Beyond all Splendour
Now, Lord, let your servant go in peace,
according to your Word.
Gentle God, we can see the smile
spread across old Simeon’s face,
his eyes soften and all tension leaves him
as he holds the child who embodies
all that he has ever hoped or dreamed of,
the fulfilment of your promise to the world.
In our imaginations, if we can do so safely
(and not if we can’t) we take ourselves forward
to the moment of our own death,
many years in the future or just around the corner.
What would it take for us–for me–to be able to say,
“I’m ready now—I can die in peace”?
Would it be to see our children settled,
to have passed on our stories to the next generation?
Are there places still to be visited,
dreams to be fulfilled, or ambitions achieved?
Do we want to leave a mark behind,
to have made a difference somehow…
not to be forgotten?
Are we still hoping to find the answers, at last,
to the big, imponderable questions:
Who am I? What does it all mean?
is there something more?
Have I lived enough… loved enough…
learned enough to be able to let go?
Will there be loving arms to hold me
when I do?
God, our beginning and our ending,
our life’s source and its goal,
may it be enough for us, as it was
for your faithful servant Simeon,
to know that you are there;
that the promises of our faith are true,
fulfilled differently in each generation,
but not an illusion.
They are real,
and you are real,
and we and our loved ones are safe
in your care,
now and for ever.
HYMN – Angels from the Realms of Glory
Our shared time of worship has come to an end,
and we are dismissed to go in peace,
thankful for the examples of those
who have served you in patience and hope,
and looking forward with anticipation
to the living Lord
to work within us to the end of this year and beyond. Amen.
and through us. Amen.