Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve 2020

 Christmas Eve 2020

Video of Service

Based on Ancient Sources, the first service of this kind in modern times was held in Victorian England. Father E.W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury and father of E.F. Benson who authored the Lucia novels, began the practice of a Festival Service of Lessons and Carols in preparation for the Christmas Feast, first at Truro Cathedral (1880) and later at Canterbury Cathedral. Popularized by recordings from King’s College, Cambridge, this service has come to be associated with a traditional celebration of Christmas by millions of people throughout the world. Its spirit and content sum up the true spirit of the season, while taking us in heart and mind to the Christmas celebrations of former times

In these days of virtual worship I pray this special service be a blessing to one and all…

Opening Hymn Once in Royal David’s City

Beloved in Christ, as we anticipate Christmas and all that means this year, let us prepare ourselves so that we may be shown its true meaning. 

Let us hear, in readings from Holy Scripture, how the prophets of Israel foretold that God would visit and redeem his waiting people. 

Let us rejoice, in our carols and hymns, that the good purpose of God is being mightily fulfilled even in this the most un-usual of Christmas seasons.

Let us celebrate the promise that Jesus will bring all people and all things into the glory of God’s eternal kin-dom. 

But first, let us pray for the needs of his whole world; 

for peace and goodwill over all the earth; 

for the mission of the Church;

the poor and the helpless; 

the hungry and the oppressed; 

the sick and those who mourn; 

the lonely and the unloved; 

the aged and the little children.

Let us also remember all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no one can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in Jesus, we for evermore are one. 

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer to God, in the words which Christ himself taught us:

 Our Creator, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kin-dom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our Trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Come thou long expected Jesus

Connie -The First reading ; Genesis 3:1-5

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.”‘ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’ The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures.’

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: The Lord at first did Adam make – canto de choirs

Marge -The second reading Genesis 22:15-18

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Good Christian friends rejoice

I saw three ships come sailing in-Bob Bennet

Marge -The third reading: Isaiah 9:2,6-7

Christ’s birth and kingdom are foretold by Isaiah. 

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. 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.

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: I wonder as I wander-First congregational Church Glen Ellyn Il.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky, 

How Jesus the Savior did come for to die. 

For poor on’ry people like you and like I... 

I wonder as I wander out under the sky. 

When Mary birthed Jesus ‘twas in a cow’s stall, 

With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all. 

But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall, 

And the promise of ages it then did recall. 

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing, 

A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing, 

Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing, 

He surely could have it, ‘cause he was the King.

Hymn: Unto Us a Boy is Born


ALL: Unto us a boy is born!

King of all creation,

came he to a world forlorn,

the Lord of every nation.

Women: Cradled in a stall was he

with sleepy cows and asses;

but the very beasts could see

that he all folk surpasses.

Men: Herod then with fear was filled;

'A prince', he said, 'in Jewry!'

All the little boys he killed

at Bethl'em in his fury.

Women: Now may Mary's son, who came 

so long ago to love us,

lead us all with hearts aflame

unto the joys above us.

ALL: Omega and Alpha he!

Let the organ thunder,

while we sing our songs with glee

and rend the air asunder


Dave-The Fourth Reading: Micah 5:2-4

The prophet Micah foretells the glory of little Bethlehem. 

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: O Little town of Bethlehem

Kathleen -The Fifth Reading: Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel salutes the virgin Mary. 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. 

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn; Mary did you Know

Joe-The Sixth Reading: Mathew 1:18-23

Matthew tells of the birth of Jesus. 

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: O Come O Come Emmanuel

Kathy -Seventh reading: Luke 2:8-16

The shepherds go to the manger. 

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.

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn; God rest you Merry Gentlemen

Connie-The Eighth Reading: Mathew 2:1-11

The wise men are led by the star to Jesus. 

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

This is the Word of God

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: We Three Kings

We three kings of Orient are; bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star. 

Refrain: O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light. 

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain, gold I bring to crown him again, King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign. Refrain 

Frankincense to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh; prayer and praising, voices raising, worshiping God on high. Refrain 

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom; sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone cold tomb. Refrain 

Glorious now behold him arise; King and God and sacrifice; Alleluia, Alleluia, sounds through the earth and skies. Refrain.

Dave -The Ninth reading: John 1:1-14

John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation. 

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 did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 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. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept 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.

The Word of God for the people of God

Thanks be to God

I would like to take this moment to mention a special collection that we normally would collect on the Sunday before Christmas but these have not been normal days. 

The Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund is a Special Mission Offering that congregations have been supporting for over 100 years.  The offering is administered through the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance, the charitable arm of the Pension Boards.  Funds provide direct financial support to those who serve the church and are facing financial difficulties.  Active and retired clergy, lay employees, and their surviving spouses may be eligible for the Supplementation of Small Annuities, Supplementation of Health Premiums, Emergency Grants, and/or Christmas “Thank You” Gift Checks. 

-If you would like to help us support this cause please send in or drop at the church with a note specifying the Christmas fund or in the memo line on your checks we appreciate you helping us to support our clergy

At this time I offer all here to lift a prayer  a prayer for Christmas a prayer for well-being and a prayer for yourselves feel free to share your joys and concerns in the comment section

Silent Night performed by The Boston GMC

sharing of prayers…

A Christmas Prayer – “This Child”

God of Grace and God of Glory, 

Your Word comes to dwell with us full of Grace and Truth, 

Your Son is birthed in our lives as a child who embodies Love. 

We come before you this night in stillness and wonder. 

We kneel at his manger and whisper thanks and praise. 

Your birthing This Child is not the act of a mad and desperate ruler, 

Or the breathtaking discovery of a sage, 

Or the anthem of a musical genius, 

Or the pious offering of a genuine saint. 

Your birthing This Child is Your Power alive in this world of Your Creating. 

Which boggles the mind, 

leads by the Spirit, 

and causes all creatures great and small to pause and pray. 

The birth of This Child transforms all things, 

Breathes Salvation into life And redeems heartless Humanity. 

As if to shame the most powerful human efforts to restrain the poor, 

This Child is placed by You, 

in the center of world history 

And he coos as he cuddles, 

He kicks away hate with tiny toes, 

He reaches for the stars with little fingers 

And he caresses Hope in his newborn hands. 

This Child, born of humans but given by You, O God, 

Is nothing less than Your Mystery at the heart of this world’s redemption. 

All that is past and all that is to come 

is found 

in a feed trough, 

in a barn, 

in a backwater town 

at the heart of Your Love for all creation. 

Because of This Child, 

we join our voices, 

our hearts, 

our hopes, 

our hurts, 

and we come to Bethlehem this night. 

This Child is our Hope, 

our Joy, 

Our Peace, 

Our Love. 

Thank you, Gracious God, for your Son, Our Savior, 

Thank you for This Child. Amen. 

A prayer by the Rev. Dr. Timothy C. Ahrens, Senior Minister, First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Columbus, Ohio, December 15, 2019 4:00pm, for A Service of Lessons and Carols

Final Hymn Hark the Herald Angels sing New century Hymnal #144…

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