~ Service Of Lessons & Carols ~

December 24, 2020Christmas 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

GATHERING MUSIC

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GREETING & CALL TO WORSHIP

Good evening and welcome to Christmas Eve at Saint John’s Church! We gather tonight to rejoice for GOD IS WITH US! In the darkness and shadows of our world, God’s holy light shines in the birth of a child. There is reason to hope, to love, to laugh, to live. God is coming to be with us, we are not alone. Let us begin our worship.

LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE

Christmas Eve — Adoration

Each Sunday of Advent, we lit a candle in anticipation of this moment. The candles of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE tell of our longing for Emmanuel. Tonight, we celebrate the birth of our Savior and look to his return. We light the Christ Candle in adoration and fulfillment of God’s promise. Hear these words from the scriptures…The prophet Isaiah proclaimed a time when those who walked in darkness would see a great light and a child would be born to us. Luke showed us the Nativity and repeated the heavenly song of the angels. John declared that this great light is Christ, the Word made flesh. This light lives among us. By it we behold God's glory - full of grace and truth. We rejoice at the birth of our Savior.

 

Prayer Of Illumination 

Holy God, our Life and Light, thank you for coming to us this night, for touching all heaven and earth with your splendor. In every corner of the world, shine with your peace. In every corner of our hearts, shine with your grace. Amen. 

GATHERING CAROL  "O Come, All Ye Faithful

RESPONSIVE VERSES

Isaiah 52: 4-10

Leader: For thus says the Lord God: Long ago, my people went down into Egypt to reside there as aliens; the Assyrians, too, oppressed them without cause.

C: Now therefore what am I doing here, says the Lord, seeing that my people are taken away without cause? 

L: Their rulers howl, says the Lord, and continually, all day long, my name is despised.

C: Therefore, my people shall know my name; therefore, in that day they shall know that it is I who speak: “Here am I.”

L: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

C: Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion.

L: Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.

ALL: The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

CONFESSION OF SIN

Even in the midst of great joy and celebration, we know that our lives don’t always reflect God’s intentions. Come, let us confess our sins, calling on God’s transforming power. Let us pray…Merciful God, we confess that often we find darkness more comfortable than light. We confess that we find your good news frightening and unsettling, especially when we consider its demands as well as its promises. We confess that Christmas has become more to us than the birthday of the Christ, who sometimes gets crowded out of our busy lives. Forgive us, bend us,  and remake us. Give us the courage to be open to the wonder and healing of your coming. Be born again into our world, be born again into our hearts and lives. Amen.

 

ASSURANCE OF PARDON

Leader: The true light has come into the world. That light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it because God’s grace does not ever stop surrounding us…loving us…healing us…and making us new, each and every day! This is the good news: God hears our cries in the darkness and forgives us our sins if we truly repent. Thanks be to God! Amen.

THE FIRST LESSON 

Isaiah 9:2-7 – The Prophesy Of the Coming King

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. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

A CAROL  "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"

THE SECOND LESSON 

Hebrews 1:1-4, 10-12 – God Has Spoken Through His Son

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands;  they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.”

 

A CAROL  “Hail To The Lord’s Anointed”

THE THIRD LESSON

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. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 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.

A CAROL  “Angels We Have Heard On High”

EVENING PRAYERS & LORD’S PRAYER (using debts/debtors)

Leader: As we look to God in our evening prayers, the congregational response after “Christ Jesus by your coming” is “Shine your everlasting light."

L: The Lord be with you.

C: And with you also.

L: Let us pray…God of life and light, by the birth of Jesus you have brought light into our darkness. Shine in our lives and help us remember that nothing will ever separate us from your love. Give us faith to trust in you. Christ Jesus, by your coming…

C: Shine your everlasting light.

L: God of life and light, you call us to serve the hungry, the lonely and the outcast. Jesus was born in a stable, without a home or the comforts we know. Be with those who hunger for food, love, and companionship this night. Lead us to help them with care and dignity. Christ Jesus, by your coming…

C: Shine your everlasting light.

L: God of life and light, Jesus lived under oppression. Open our eyes to injustice, and inspire us to truly help the poor, proclaim your reign, and work toward peace in our community, nation, and world. Christ Jesus, by your coming…

C: Shine your everlasting light.

L: God of life and light, Jesus was visited by shepherds and peasants. Be with all who are working this Christmas, those who are unable to work, and those who long to work. Help us find fulfillment in our daily work. Christ Jesus, by your coming…

C: Shine your everlasting light.

L: God of life and light, Jesus became a refugee. Be with those who fear for their lives, those who have left homes and families in search of safety. Instill in them your peace. Guide us to comfort those in need. Christ Jesus, by your coming…

C: Shine your everlasting light.

L: God of life and light, you sent Jesus to save a troubled world.  Bring your healing to all who are suffering in these difficult days, especially those we name in our hearts…(pause)…Fill them with your presence. Keep us mindful of ways we can ease the suffering of others. Christ Jesus, by your coming…

C: Shine your everlasting light.

L: God of life and light, inspire our congregation to reach out beyond our walls, beyond our fears, and beyond our past. Help us to welcome your future with confidence and joy. Strengthen our faith and increase our love for one another. Christ Jesus, by your coming…

C: Shine your everlasting light.

God of life and light, you have sent the Christ Child, Emmanuel, the Word to be our light, our life, and our hope. We pray all these things in the name of Jesus, 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.

OFFERING

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own Him. The King of Kings salvation brings. Let loving hearts enthrone Him. Let us bring what we have to show our love for Christ, the newborn King and our neighbors. Please join in singing God’s praise…

All creation join in praising God, the Father, Spirit, Son!

     Evermore your voices raising to the Eternal Three in One.

Come and worship, Come and worship, 

     Worship Christ, the newborn King!

DEDICATION PRAYER

God of light and love, we ask that you bless these gifts that we have brought before you. They represent the hopes and dreams that we hold for your kingdom here on earth. May they be used to help us shine your glorious love so that others may come into the joy of knowing you this Christmas Eve and in the days and weeks ahead. Guide us out of darkness and into your joyous light each and every day. Amen. You may be seated.

~ The Sacrament Of Holy Communion ~

INVITATION

Luke, the evangelist wrote of our risen Lord, that when he was at table with two of the disciples, 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. For the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.”  

COMMUNION PRAYER

L: Lift up your hearts.

C: We lift them to the Lord.

L: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

C: It is right to give our thanks and praise.

L: Lord, we greet you this happy night, for you have been at work in our world through all time. You made all things and called them good. You claimed your people Israel, freed them from the bondage of Egypt, and journeyed with them through the wilderness to the promised land. You sent prophets to call your people back to you. Then, in the fullness of time, you sent your Son, Emmanuel, born the King of angels, your Word in flesh appearing. 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. Still we wait for the day when we too will share the fullness of life in him and with him.

And so, O God, come among us tonight. Show us your presence in this bread and cup. By the power of your Holy Spirit, unite us with Christ and all who share this feast. Give us courage to be your people until the day when the baby, whose birth we celebrate tonight, comes again. Amen. 

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, and in offering here our thanks and praise, may we be united with Christ and one another. 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

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.       

~ The Service Of Candlelight ~

SHARING THE LIGHT

John 1:1-14 – Jesus, The Light Of The World

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

A CAROL  “Silent Night”

CALLED TO BE THE LIGHT

Isaiah 60: 1-3 – The Ingathering Is Dispersed

We are a people of LIGHT! Hear the ancient words from Isaiah… Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

 

The deeper the darkness the brighter the light shines. For love refuses to be extinguished by despair. Resilience and hope cannot be smothered while the light of love burns steadily, fueled by courage and by compassion. Look for the light and there you will find love.

PARTING CAROL  "Joy To The World"

COMMISSION & BENEDICTION

The Light of the world has come! Alleluia! Let us leave the manger and go forth into the world with joy believing that we have seen the Messiah. 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! 

CHIMES & POSTLUDE MUSIC

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