A Candlelight Service Christmas Eve of Lessons and Carols
Please note: This service is pre-recorded and will be available for viewing starting at 8AM, December 24th.
Joyce Rhodes, organ
Welcome and Prayer
It may seem naive,
in a world of grief,
to choose to live in joy;
It may seem foolish,
in a world where solemnity is power,
to sing and dance to a different tune;
It may seem cruel,
in a world of suffering and injustice,
to speak of light and celebration;
But you have come, Jesus,
to bring joy into our grief,
light into our darkness,
singing into our mourning;
and it is an act of healing and proclamation
to believe and embrace the joy you offer.
Joy to the world!
The Lord is come!
Christmas Eve Call to Worship
The Prophet Isaiah said: The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light; Those who lived in a land of deep darkness— On them light has shined.
Response: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” vs. 1
The Priest Zechariah said before John’s birth: By the tender mercy of our God, The dawn from on high will break upon us, To give light to those who sit in darkness, To guide our feet into the way of peace.
Response: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” vs. 2
The Evangelist John said: What has come into being in him was life – and the life is the light of all people.The light shines in the darkness,
And the darkness did not overcome it.
Response: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” vs. 3
God is with us God is coming into our lives in a new way
The birth of the Christ-child is the renewal of hope – a reminder that Christ will come again. Keep watch for the light; it is drawing near.
Response: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” vs. 4
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” ~ UMH #234 vs. 1, 3
Pastor Kate Conolly
The Message of the Angel – Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. 27 He was sent to a virgin. The girl was engaged to a man named Joseph. He came from the family line of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel greeted her and said, “The Lord has blessed you in a special way. He is with you.”
29 Mary was very upset because of his words. She wondered what kind of greeting this could be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you. 31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. 33 The Son of the Most High God will rule forever over his people. They are from the family line of Jacob. That kingdom will never end.”
34 “How can this happen?” Mary asked the angel. “I am a virgin.”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God. 36 Your relative Elizabeth will have a child even though she is old. People thought she could not have children. But she has been pregnant for six months now. 37 That’s because what God says will always come true.”
38 “I serve the Lord,” Mary answered. “May it happen to me just as you said it would.” Then the angel left her.
Lighting of the First Advent Candle
“Angels We Have Heard on High” ~ UMH #238 vs. 1, 4
Luke 1:39-45 – Good news for two women
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in Judea’s hill country. 40 There she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby inside her jumped. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she called out, “God has blessed you more than other women. And blessed is the child you will have! 43 But why is God so kind to me? Why has the mother of my Lord come to me? 44 As soon as I heard the sound of your voice, the baby inside me jumped for joy. 45 You are a woman God has blessed. You have believed that the Lord would keep his promises to you!”
Lighting of the Second Advent Candle
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” ~ UMH# vs. 1, 2
Luke 1:46-55 – Mary’s hymn of praise
46 Mary said,
“My soul gives glory to the Lord.
47 My spirit delights in God my Savior.
48 He has taken note of me
even though I am not considered important.
From now on all people will call me blessed.
49 The Mighty One has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
50 He shows his mercy to those who have respect for him,
from parent to child down through the years.
51 He has done mighty things with his powerful arm.
He has scattered those who are proud in their deepest thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones.
But he has lifted up people who are not considered important.
53 He has filled with good things those who are hungry.
But he has sent away empty those who are rich.
54 He has helped the people of Israel, who serve him.
He has always remembered to be kind
55 to Abraham and his children down through the years.
He has done it just as he promised to our people of long ago.”
Lighting of the Third Advent Candle
“What Child Is This” ~ UMH #219
Matthew 1:18-25 – Joseph’s Dream
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married. But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph was faithful to the law. But he did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly.
20 But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That’s because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to bring about what the Lord had said would happen. He had said through the prophet, 23 “The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The name Immanuel means “God with us.”
24 Joseph woke up. He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not sleep with her until she gave birth to a son. And Joseph gave him the name Jesus.
Lighting of the Fourth Advent Candle
“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” ~ UMH #218 vs. 1 ,4
Luke 2:1-7 – The birth of Jesus
2 In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. 2 It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own town to be listed.
4 So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. 5 He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby. 6 While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay.
Lighting of the Fifth Advent Candle (Christ Candle)
Because injustice and despair threaten to overwhelm us, we pray for hope… Because so many swords have not yet been beaten into ploughshares, we pray for peace…
Because grief and loss weigh so heavily, we pray for joy…
Because hatred is still so strong, and because people all over the world are suffering, we pray for love.
God has come to us as a child, to dwell with us, and to walk with us.
May the light and the fire from these candles burn away everything that is preventing the God of hope and peace and joy and love from being born among us.
Brothers and sisters, be not afraid, even now — even now — the light of Christ is overwhelming the world, on earth as it is in heaven!
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” ~ UMH #230 vs. 1, 2
Luke 2:8-20 – The Shepherds and the Angels
8 There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said,
14 “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven!
And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!”
15 The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. 17 After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 20 The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
“The First Noel” ~ UMH #245 vs. 1, 2
Christmas Eve Offering for Second Harvest
Second Harvest Video
O Loving and Merciful God,
tonight we remember our sisters and brothers
who are hungry.
In honor of the Christ child who came
with a message of caring for the needy and most
vulnerable among us, we give these gifts in his name.
“O Holy Night”
Lighting of Our Candles
“Silent Night, Holy Night” ~ UMH #239 vs. 1-4
Come to us, Lord Jesus,
Be born in us this night, in our hearts, our minds, our lives.
May the light of your life be kindled in us,
And lead us to the shining truth,
of God with us, God for us, God in us. Amen.
“Joy to the World!” ~ UMH #246 vs. 1, 2
Joyce Rhodes, organ