Worship: December 24, 2020 Christmas Eve

ZION UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

22 Gettysburg Street  Box 538

Arendtsville, Pennsylvania

Christmas Eve

December 24, 2020

Mary and Joseph did not know the future; they only knew that in this moment in time they were about to become new parents in a small village far from their home in Nazareth.  Mary would give birth, not in the comfort of a hospital or even a warm bed of a hotel room, but in a straw-filled stable.  Her relatives were not there, just animals quietly watching what was happening.  The birth would be greeted by strangers, lowly shepherds summoned to the stable by the angels.  In the midst of these unusual circumstances, Mary and Joseph trusted that God was present with them and that trust allowed them to love and to nurture their child, the one whom we know as Jesus, Emmanuel with us.  In the unusual circumstances of the past months, when we have had to adjust our normal routines and faced many inconveniences and frustrations, we remember that the God who was present with Mary and Joseph is present with us.  God’s love reaches out and embraces you, a love that is assured through the gift of a child born to be our Savior.

As you follow along in the bulletin during live stream worship, please participate quietly when you come to the bold print.

ORGAN PRELUDE

“Ukranian Bell Carol”, Mykola Smytrovich Leontovych, arr. Joseph M. Martin ©1997 Malcolm Music

“Noel Nouvelet”, setting by Raymond H. Haan, © 1985 The Sacred Music Press

 

VOCAL SOLO

“The Birthday of a King” ©1890 G. Schirmer, public domain

Dan W., Soloist

 

We are gathered in the presence of the Holy One, our God,

the One who is our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sustainer to the end of time.

Tonight, old dreams die and new dreams come to life.

The Promise is fulfilled!

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

Hope gives way to joy

and prayer to proclaiming the birth of the One who was promised.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

Our candles illuminate our story. Dawn invades midnight.

The Light of the World has come.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

And this light is a light for all;

igniting a flame within the soul, warming us from within,

radiating love, lighting our lives

with the presence of God-to-come in human flesh

within us and among us now and always.

 

CAROL “O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Printed with permission under license CCLI #1149146

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant;

O come ye; o come ye to Bethlehem!

Come and behold him born the king of angels!

O come, let us adore him; O come let us adore him;

O come let us adore him; Christ, the Lord.

 

True God from true God, Light from light eternal,

Born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;

Very God, begotten not created!

O come, let us adore him; O come let us adore him;

O come let us adore him; Christ, the Lord.

 

Sing, choirs of angels; sing in exultation,

Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!

Glory to God, all glory in the highest!

O come, let us adore him; O come let us adore him;

O come let us adore him; Christ, the Lord.

 

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;

Jesus to thee be all glory given;

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!

O come, let us adore him; O come let us adore him;

O come let us adore him; Christ, the Lord.

 

LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE

O God of all creation,

we pace the waiting room, filled with hope and fear –

hoping that your coming will truly bring the peace we hunger for;

fearing that we hope for more than you are ready to share with us.

The dawning brightness all around us reaches for a sense of hope

 hidden deeper than the pain, and we give thanks.

Our chosen family of faith is gathering – and scattering –

to celebrate this time of new beginnings, and we give thanks.

Your promised light is coming once again, and we give thanks.

Fill us with a child’s love we pray,

so we can fill this room with prayers of praise and thanks,

for all your gifts of life and hope!

Sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done marvelous things;

God’s right hand and holy arm have worked salvation.

Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.

The Lord has made salvation known

and revealed righteousness to the nations.

Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.

God has remembered his love and faithfulness to the people;

all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God.

Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,

burst into jubilant song with music;

make music to the Lord with the harp,

with the harp and the sound of singing.

Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.

Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;

let them sing before the Lord, for God comes to judge the earth.

The Lord will judge the world with righteousness

and the people with equity.

Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.

We light the four outer candles of the Advent Wreath one last time.

The first candle reminds us of our hope in God’s promises.

The second candle is the candle of peace.

The third candle represents our joy.

The fourth candle is for love and God’s love for us.

We now light the center candle, the Christ candle.

Jesus Christ is our Hope.  Jesus Christ gives us Peace.

We can have Joy because Jesus has come to us.

Jesus is God’s greatest gift of Love.

And because of God’s loving gift of Jesus Christ,

We can have life now and forever.

Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.

Let us pray.

Loving God, we are thankful that the waiting of Advent is over.

We rejoice that today in the city of David a Savior is born.

We rejoice that our hope is fulfilled, And God’s peace has come to earth.

We rejoice that we can fully know God’s love in Jesus Christ.

Help us to celebrate today and always

That a Savior has been born to us.  Amen

 

VOCAL SOLO

“What Child is This” (Old English Air/Greensleaves), J. Stainer, public domain

Kevin C., Soloist

 

READING OF THE GOSPEL

St. Luke 2: 1-20

2:1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2:2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
2:3 All went to their own towns to be registered.
2:4 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.
2:5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
2:6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
2:7 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.
2:8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2:9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
2:10 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:
2:11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
2:12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
2:15 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.”
2:16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
2:17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;
2:18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
2:19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

SILENT PRAYER AND PREPARATION

“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”, ©1985 Hope Publishing Company, The Singing Church

A HOMILY

 

VOCAL SOLO

“O Holy Night”, Adolphe C. Adam/John S. Dwight, public domain

Fred M., Soloist

 

THE LITURGY OF THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION

May God be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them up to our God.

Let us give thanks to God Almighty.

It is right to give God thanks and praise.

It is indeed proper, good and right, O God our Creator,

that in this evening our hearts should be raised in highest praise,

and our thoughts be lifted to the wonder of your gracious mercy.

You alone are God, living and true.  Through all time you have been the source of life and blessing, filling all your creation with goodness

and leading your people by your light.

All your actions show your wisdom and love for us.

You formed us in your own likeness and set us over the whole world.

Even when we rebelled against your will, you did not abandon us,

but sought to reach out in love to us.

You loved us so much that you sent your only Child into the world.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,

born in a humble manger of the Blessed Mary,

lived on earth in obedience to you, and was like us in all things

except he resisted the power of evil at work in the world.

He proclaimed the Good News of your saving grace.

In order to fulfill your will, he gave himself up to death,

the cruel death on the cross.  Yet death could not hold him,

and your mighty power raised Jesus to be our Savior.

By rising from death, death itself was destroyed and eternal life assured.

Jesus always loved those in the world. When the time came f

or him to be glorified by you, he showed the depth of that love.

While he and the disciples were at supper, Jesus took bread, broke it, gave thanks to you, and then, giving it to the disciples, said,

“Take this, all of you, and eat it; this is my body which is given for you.”

In the same way, after supper, Jesus took the cup and giving it to the disciples, said, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood,

the blood of the everlasting covenant.  It will be shed for you and for all people, so that sin may be forgiven.  Do this in memory of me.”

Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:

Christ’s death, O God, we proclaim.

Christ’s resurrection, O God, we declare.

Christ’s coming, O God, we await.

Glory be to you, O God.

Dying you destroyed our death.

Rising, you restored our life.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Send your Holy Spirit upon this bread and this cup and upon us.

Strengthen your universal church that it might be your instrument in the world.  Restore the earth with your grace that makes all things new.

Keep us faithful to the vision of the day when sharing by all will mean scarcity for none.  May we remain your people of love and hope

until we feast at the perfect feast prepared in your realm with our Savior.

By whom, with whom, in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

All honor and glory be to you, O God, now and forever.  Amen.

 

BREAKING OF THE BREAD AND POURING OF WINE

This is the feast of the people of God.  Give thanks and praise to the One who sent us the Christ Child in Bethlehem, the Child who grew to be our Savior.

In humble and joyous thanksgiving, we will receive the body and blood of our Savior.

THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION

SACRAMENTAL BLESSING

 

THE PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

We give you thanks, O God, that you have come to us

both in the midst of time and history in the city of Bethlehem

and in the timeless presence of Christ’s Body and Blood made present with us now.  Send us out into the world rejoicing,

ready to share your love with the people we meet,

for we ask it in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

CAROL: “Silent Night”

Kevin and Fred, Duet (all join in harmony)

Printed with permission under license CCLI #1149146

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 the holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord at thy birth; Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

BENEDICTION

CAROL “Joy to the World”

Printed with permission under license CCLI #1149146

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 heaven and nature sing.

 

Joy to the earth, 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, 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, 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, wonders, of his love.

 

CHIME MEDITATION

“Go Tell It on the Mountain”, John W. Work III, ©1989 Melva Wilson Costen, Glory to God Hymnal

POSTLUDE

“And the Glory of the Lord” (from “Messiah), G. F. Handel, arr. Lani Smith, ©1993 The Lorenz Publishing Company

 

Zion’s sanctuary is brightened this evening by poinsettias purchased by members of the congregation

Poinsettias may be picked up at the church at your convenience or by calling Donna M.