Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship
Welcome to our 2020 Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship!
We’re glad you’ve joined us as together we celebrate Jesus’ birthday and, more to the point, God’s act of coming into our world as a human being. Here’s a great quote from Max Lucado that helps us better understand God’s purpose for doing this.
“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior.”
“Perhaps your life resembles a Bethlehem stable. Crude and smelly in some spots, not much glamour. You do your best to make the best of it, but try as you might, the roof still leaks, and the winter wind still sneaks through the holes you just can’t seem to fix. You’ve shivered through your share of cold nights. You wonder if God has a place for someone like you. The story of Christmas is the story of God’s relentless love for us. There is no place He will not go, no place too common, no person too hardened, no distance too far, no person He cannot reach, and no limit to His love!”
In response to our great need of forgiveness, God sent Jesus our Savior, Redeemer, and Teacher, and provided everything we need to experience forgiveness and a new life in Christ. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to this sin-filled, disheartened, and confused world to bring life, hope and love. In Him we become new creatures! As our Scriptures say:
“So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!”
-- 2 Corinthians 5:17, Common English Bible
May you have a wonderful and blessed time with your family and friends as you celebrate the birthday of our King. May we encourage you to share this hope with those who do not know Him? Ask the Lord for creative ways to share the true meaning of Christmas, a Savior has come! As you carry this ‘light,’ we pray God richly blesses you and yours!
Pastoral Welcome & Call to Worship
"Joy to the World" *UMH #246
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing.
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Let all their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love, and wonders of his love.
"There's a Song in the Air" UMH #249
There's a song in the air! There's a star in the sky!
There's a mother's deep prayer and a baby's low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
There's a tumult of joy o'er the wonderful birth,
for the virgin's sweet boy is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
In the light of that star lie the ages impearled;
and that song from afar has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing
in the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!
We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song
that comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.
Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
and we greet in his cradle our Savior and King!
Lighting the Christ Candle
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
3 You have made the nation great;
you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest,
as those who divide plunder rejoice.
4 As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them,
the staff on their shoulders,
and the rod of their oppressor.
5 Because every boot of the thundering warriors,
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned, fuel for the fire.
6 A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be vast authority and endless peace
for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it
with justice and righteousness
now and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.
Musical Response "A Star Shone Bright" W&S #3051
A star shone bright across the plain and calmed the earth so Love could reign.
'Twas in a child that hope was born, dream fulfilled! O happy morn!
O Son of God, Incarnate Word, O Wisdom's Light, whom angels heard,
come forth again, our hearts console. O heal our hurts and make us whole.
From Bethlehem come to our day; reveal to us your holy way.
Be born again, Eternal Fire. O Spirit come, our souls inspire.
O star shine forth once more this night and flood our streets with heavenly Light
Till ev'ry heart in Christ shall see the glory of eternity.
Special Music "Holy Night, Silent Night"
1 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. 9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.
Carol "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" UMH #229
Special Music "This Holy Night"
L: This is the night we are reminded that God loves to be with us. Yet all too often – by our choices, our words, our silence – we choose not to be with God. Join me as we pray on this holy night to the One who was born to gift us with mercy and hope.
P: This was going to be the year, God of silent nights, when we were going to give away more than we spent, but we didn’t. This was going to be the season when we spent more time with others, but we filled our calendars with meetings. This was going to be the Christmas when we wrote personal letters to friends and family but spent too much energy filling out our to-do lists. This was going to be a truly holy season, but it just got too harried and hurried.
Forgive us, Love-Gifter, and draw us closer to the Baby born not into wealth and power, but into poverty and weakness; to the One who loves unconditionally and welcomes all; to the Child who gathers other children to him, to bless them and serve them; to the One who drew near to us, so we might be drawn to your heart – Jesus Christ, our Brother, our Lord.
L: Into the valleys of our death, Jesus comes with life;
into the shadows of our world, Jesus brings light;
into the brokenness of our lives, Jesus brings forgiveness and peace.
P: Thanks be to God for the gift of the Baby of Bethlehem, who brings joy and peace to us in these moments of forgiveness and in all the days to come. Amen.
L: May the God of silent nights be with you!
P: May the God of herald angels be with you!
L: Open your hearts to the One born in the little town of Bethlehem.
P: May Emmanuel come to abide in our hearts.
L: Join all believers in singing of our joy this night.
P: May our voices blend with those of the angels and shepherds.
L: You crept into chaos so long ago, Star-shaper, . . . .
. . . . As we gather with children dressed in bathrobes, as we join with the voices around us and remotely,we sing praises to you this Christmas night:
P: We will not be afraid, for great joy is ours this night. We will look for the signs of your presence, grace swaddled in hope, love wrapped around broken hearts.
Glory to you, God in the highest heavens! May peace fill the lives of all your children!
L: Leaving your side, God of holiness, your Child came to walk with us . . . .
. . . . On this night, when we sing of the baby in the manger, as the shadow of the cross is cast by the stars, we proclaim that mystery called incarnation:
P: Christ is our light, and we will join the angels in singing the good news; Christ is our life, and we will join the disciples in telling the Story; Christ is our promise, and we wait for the joy of his return.
L: Here in the silence and the singing, with children, carols, and candlelight, we gather around the Table of joy. . . .
. . . . And when all time and history becomes silence, we will be gathered with our sisters and brothers from Bethlehem and Belfast, from Cairo and Chicago, from Capetown and Istanbul, from Sydney and Shanghai, from every corner and moment of every universe, to join the angel choirs in forever singing your praises as we dance to the Table of wonder and grace, God in Community, Holy in One.
Special Music "Heavenly Peace"
Lighting the Candles & Silent Night
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight;
glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!
Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love's pure light;
radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light;
with the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!