~ Casual Service ~
December 24, 2020 / Christmas Eve
This service includes the Sacrament of Holy Communion. If you wish to partake, please take a moment to prepare a small piece of bread or cracker and a cup of wine or juice.
PRAYER IN PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
God of stars and stables, prepare us now to receive the good news of a baby's birth. As we gather here in this space, may we feel your love. As we see evergreen decorations, may we think of your Spirit, ever present. As we sing carols and look to the Nativity, may we remember the stories of old. As we see the Advent wreath, may the candles assure us of your presence in the full circle of our lives. We offer this prayer in the name of Bethlehem's bright child who comes to be with us: Emmanuel. Amen
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GREETING & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Welcome to Christmas Eve at Saint John’s Church! We gather together to rejoice in Emmanuel: GOD WITH US! There is reason to hope, to love, to laugh, to live. God is coming to be with us, we are not alone.
Gracious God, with joy and thanksgiving we gather as your people. We have come to hear the timeless story of Christ's birth. Quiet our hearts that we may know the peace and fullness of your love. Let every corner of the world shine your with your peace. Let every corner of our hearts shine with your grace. Amen.
"O Come, All Ye Faithful"
CONFESSION OF SIN
Even in the midst of great joy and celebration, we know that our lives don’t always reflect God’s intentions. Let us confess our sins, calling on God’s transforming power. Let us pray…Lord Jesus, Christmas brings us feelings of joy, sadness, and comfort. Joy because you left the splendor of heaven to come to a world in need of your love. Sadness because there are many who do not want to receive you and turn away. Comfort because you offer perfect forgiveness and full cleansing to all who acknowledge their need of you. Help us to know the joy of your presence. Cleanse our hearts and remove the sadness that scars the hearts of your people. Surround us with the comfort of your love and peace so that we may welcome you with open hearts. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Hear the good news of Christmas. Today God reveals to us the wonders of divine love. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. This is the good news: God hears our cries and forgives us our sins if we truly repent. Thanks be to God! Amen.
Luke 1:26-38 - Jesus Birth Is Foretold
When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom. The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.” Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 2: 1-18 – The Birth Of Jesus Christ
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
AFTERNOON PRAYER & LORD’S PRAYER (using debts/debtors)
Lord God, you have come to us. You didn’t wait for us to become good. You didn’t stay away until we searched for you. You entered the world as one of us, as a helpless child. You meet us where we are, as we are. And so, we know that as we pray, you hear, you understand, and you answer. Come into this world again. Bring your peace, love and trust to a creation filled with distrust, hatred and suspicion. Come into our land again. Bring your healing to our nation which has been ravaged by violence, disease, and anger. Come into your church again. Bring faith, love, and inspiration into the community that you call to be your servants. Come into our lives, and those of our loved ones again. May we know in the depth of our souls, today and every day, that you are truly with us, no matter what life brings.
We pray all these things through your Son, Emmanuel, 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.
~ The Sacrament Of Holy Communion ~
Leader: Luke, the evangelist wrote of our risen Lord, that when he was at table with two of the disciples, he took bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them, and their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. In company with all believers in every time and beyond time, we come to this table to know him in the breaking of the bread.
Lord, you made all things and called them good. You sent your Son into our world. He was one of us and lived with us, giving up his life to make us whole. And yet, you raised him up again to overcome the power of death and live anew.
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Therefore, bless now, by your Word and Spirit, both us and these gifts of bread and wine, that in receiving them at this table we may be united with Christ and all who share this feast. Give us the courage to be your people until the day when the baby, whose birth we celebrate, comes again. Amen. In the strength Christ gives, we offer ourselves to you, giving thanks that you have called us to serve you. Amen.
SHARING OF THE BREAD AND WINE
For the Lord Jesus Christ, on the night he was betrayed, took bred, and, when he had given thanks,, broke it, and said "this is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it , in remembrance of me."
Through the broken bread we participate in the body of Christ. Take and eat.
(You may partake of the bread at this time and pause for a moment of meditation)
Through the cup of blessing we participate in the new life Christ gives. Take and drink.
(You may partake of the wine at this time and pause for a moment of meditation)
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
We give thanks, almighty God, that you have refreshed us at your table by granting us the presence of your Son, Jesus Christ. Strengthen our faith, increase our love for one another, and send us forth into the world in courage and peace, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
COMMISSION & BENEDICTION
The song does not ever have to end. The joy does not ever have to be forgotten. The celebration does not ever have to fade because God's grace never stops surrounding us, loving us, healing us, and making us new each day! Let us go forth into the world with joy. find the lost, heal the broken, feed the hungry, release the prisoner, rebuild the nations, bring peace among people, make music in every heart and preach the Good News wherever you go, sharing God's love with all whom you meet! Amen and Amen!
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