So This is Christmas: A Christmas Eve Liturgy

Multimedia Prelude Music: Happy Xmas (War is Over), Jake Shimabukuro, Yo-Yo Ma
Video: Snow_Loop, Work of the People

Call to Worship

And so this is Christmas!
We gather again to mark the birth of the one who comes to turn the world upside down.

And so this is Christmas!
Instead of coming in wealth, using armies of power, God’s loving kin-dom begins in poverty.

And so this is Christmas!
The babe of Bethlehem brings us hope in a world of darkness.

And so this is Christmas!
Let us worship the God of the upside-down realm of love & grace. Amen.

Opening Hymn Joy to the World #132 NCH

Christmas is Hope

In a time of greedy and power hungry politicians, King Darius was manipulated into a law of intolerance. A faithful man, he refused to submit, choosing instead to continue to practice his faithfulness to the god of love and grace. For this he is thrown into a hungry pit of lions.
And so this is Christmas?

Hymn O Come All Ye Faithful #135 NCH

Sacred Words Daniel 6:7, 9-10, 16, 19, 21 CEB

7  All the officers of the kingdom, the ministers, the chief administrators, the royal associates, and the governors advise[d] the king to issue an edict and enforce a law, that for thirty days anyone who says prayers to any god or human being except you, Your Majesty, will be thrown into a pit of lions. 9  Because of this, King Darius signed the document containing the law.

10 When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went to his house. Now his upper room had open windows that faced Jerusalem. Daniel knelt down, prayed, and praised his God three times that day, just like he always did.

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and hurled him into the pit of lions. The king said to Daniel: “Your God—the one you serve so consistently—will rescue you.”

19  At dawn, at the first sign of light, the king rose and rushed to the lions’ pit. 21 Then Daniel answered the king: “Long live the king!  22 My God sent his messenger, who shut the lions’ mouths. They haven’t touched me because I was judged innocent before my God. I haven’t done anything wrong to you either, Your Majesty.” 2011 © Common English Bible

Lighting the Candle of Hope

In a time when our world is fragmented and filled with too much hate…
We light this first candle of Advent, a symbol of trust and hope.

Hymn Star-Child #174  vs #1 SPP

1 Star-Child, earth-Child go between of God, love Child, Christ Child, heaven’s lightning rod.

C This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive!

Christmas is Peace

Speaking to another people in another place and time, the prophet Joel spoke to the people. Just as the prophet gives voice to the peace of God to the Israelites of the past, he gives peace to us in a new era filled with new challenges and fears.
And so this is Christmas?

Hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem #133

Sacred Words Joel 2:12-13, 28-29 CEB

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; 13 tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive. 28 After that I will pour out my spirit upon everyone; your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. 29 In those days, I will also pour out my spirit on the male and female slaves. 2011 © Common English Bible  

Lighting the Candle of Peace

In a time when our world is fragmented and filled with too much hate…
We light this second candle of Advent, a symbol of the peace that comes with our return to God.

Hymn Star-Child #174 v. 2 SPP

2 Street child, beat child, no place left to go, hurt child, used child, no one wants to know.

C This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive!

Christmas is Joy

Words of Wisdom Paolo Coelho

Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment help us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments — but all of this is transitory it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken. Paulo Coelho in By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
And so this is Christmas?

Special Music Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

Sacred Words  Isaiah 61:1-3a, 8-10a CEB

The Lord God’s spirit is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 to provide for Zion’s mourners, to give them a crown in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, a mantle of praise in place of discouragement…

8  I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and dishonesty. I will faithfully give them their wage, and make with them an enduring covenant. 9 Their offspring will be known among the nations, and their descendants among the peoples. All who see them will recognize that they are a people blessed by the Lord.

10 I surely rejoice in the Lord;

my heart is joyful because of my God, because he has clothed me with clothes of victory, wrapped me in a robe of righteousness…   2011 © Common English Bible

Lighting the Candle of Joy

In a time when our world is fragmented and filled with too much hate…
We light this third candle of Advent, a symbol of the joy that comes when we choose to live within the unfolding realm of God.

Hymn Star-Child #174 v. 3 SPP

3 Grown child, old child, memory full of years, sad child, lost child, story told in tears.

C This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive!

Christmas is Love

Mary had every reason to be frightened. She’s alone in her room. Suddenly a divine messenger appears. Then she’s told she’s going to be pregnant despite never having and sexual relations. And yet her trust in and love of God enables her to cope. Like theologian Frederick Buechner said, “I did not love God, God knows, because I was some sort of saint or hero…[God] empowered [me] to love [God] at least a little, at least enough to survive.” Like Buechner and like Mary when faced with the inexplicable and scary world, God empowers us with just enough love to survive.
And so this is Christmas?

Special Music O Holy Night

Sacred Words Luke 1: 30-35, 38 CEB

30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 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. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

35 The angel replied, “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.

38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her. 2011 © Common English Bible

Lighting the Candle of Love

In a time when our world is fragmented and filled with too much hate…
We light this fourth candle of Advent, a symbol of the love embedded in the nature of God & God’s unfolding realm.

Hymn Star-Child #174 v. 4 SPP

4 Spared child, spoiled child, having, wanting more, wise child, faith child, knowing joy in store.

C This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive!

A Prayer for Christmas
Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer Together

Our Father who art 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 &
the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Offering
As the offering plate comes around respond in openness to all we’ve been given. Place your financial offering in the plate but also — and more importantly — place your hand over it and silently commit to God to use your gifts, talents, and heart for furthering the unfolding realm of God on earth.

Offertory

*Doxology
Praise God from whom all blessings  flow. Praise God all creatures here below. Praise God above the heavenly host. Praise father, Son, & Holy Ghost. Amen.

*Dedication
Divine One: We promise to use these gifts for good. We promise to use these gifts in furthering God ’s loving kin-dom. We commit to using these gifts in love and mercy for others. Amen.

Hymn Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #144 NCH

And So This is Christmas

Joseph and the expectant Mary traveled to Bethlehem to be registered in the tax rolls.
They did their duty.

While there it came time for the baby to be born. There was no room at the inn, he came into this world in a stable.
They did what was necessary.

They were guarding their sheep when  a divine messenger appeared to the shepherds.
They did their job.

Your savior is born, said the messenger.  And the shepherds went to see the newborn babe.
They did what the faithful do.

The birth of a baby always reveals God’s dreams for humanity. This baby, however, will change the world.
God did what God does.

Sacred Words Luke 2:1-14 CEB

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.”                2011 © Common English Bible

Lighting the Christ Candle

In a time when our world is fragmented and filled with too much hate…
We light this final candle representing the Christ. As followers of Jesus we commit to standing with those who are despised by the powerful, those who are oppressed, and forgotten. Amen.

Hymn Star-Child #174 v. 5 SPP

5 Hope for peace Child, God’s stupendous sign, down-to-earth Child, Star of stars that shine.

C This year, this year let the day arrive when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive!

Being Christmas in the World

Please form a circle around the Advent wreath, making sure we can all see one another.

Hymn Silent Night #134 NCH

1 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.

2 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!”

3 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!

4 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.”

Benediction responsive
Go out into the world as a follower of Jesus. Do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with our God and love your neighbor as yourself.
And so THIS is Christmas. Amen.

Multimedia Postlude Music: Happy Xmas (War is Over), Jake Shimabukuro, Yo-Yo Ma
Video: Snow_Loop, Work of the People

***

NCH = New Century Hymnal, SPP = Sing! Prayer & Praise

 

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Tim strives to share God’s extravagant love for all–no matter what & without strings. Seeking to follow the lure of the Spirit, Tim writes about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in an era where Christianity has come to be associated with hatred and political wedge issues. “Heinous things have been said & done (& still are) in the name of the One who breathed in the Divine,” notes Tim, “but Jesus shows us that God loves extravagantly.” Following the teachings and life of Jesus is about inclusion not exclusion. It is about compassion, grace, and admitting no one has all the answers. It is about responding lovingly to the best of our human ability. It is about people not institutions. It is about social justice. It is about caring for creation. It is about being who we were each created to be. Tim is a former early childhood educator, a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, father of two adult children and their spouses, and a grandfather of two perfect babies. The former pastor of the Condon United Church of Christ, Tim recently began serving the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Albany, Oregon. He writes from home, from the coffee shop, and wherever the trail leads him.

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Posted in Christmas, Christmas Eve, Daniel, Daniel 6, Daniel 6:6-26, Days of the Church, Isaiah, Isaiah 61, Isaiah 61:1-11, Joel, Joel 2:12-13, 28-29, Luke, Luke 1, Luke 1:26-45, Luke 2, Luke 2:1-20, New Testament, Old Testament, Seasons of the Church

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Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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