THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT WOODBURY

CHRISTMAS EVE
December 24, 2021
6:30 pm

Each year the Child is born again.  Each year some new heart finally hears – finally sees- finally knows love.  And in heaven there is great rejoicing!  There is a festival of stars!  There is celebration among the angels!  For in the finding of one lost sheep, the heart of the Shepherd is glad, and Christmas has happened once more.  The Child is born anew and one more knee is bowed!             – From Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems

PRELUDE                   “Adeste Fideles”                    Margareta deJong

OPENING PRAYER

Great God, as you came at night when all was still, so enter our lives this night.  Illumine our paths with the light of Christ’s presence, that we may clearly see the way, the truth, and the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE      Christmas Eve           The Franchetti Family

We have watched; we have waited in hope. Light the first candle.
for peace. Light the second candle.
in joy! Light the third (pink) candle.
with love. Light the fourth candle is lit.
Now our redemption draws near! The Christ candle (the center white candle) is lit.

Hear the Word of the Lord from Isaiah 9:2-7:

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 the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.  For a child has been born for us, a son is 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. Glory to God in the highest!  Alleluia! Amen!

CALL TO WORSHIP

Let us go, in heart and mind, to see what has come to pass. Let us go with the shepherds:
Let us go to find the Savior!
Let us go with the wise ones:
Let us go to find God’s promise, born for us!
Let us go with the poor and humble:
Let us go to find our King, born in a lowly manger.
Let us go with all the world, with all the peoples of the nations. Come, let us worship; come, let us adore him:
Christ the Lord!

*HYMN NO. 133                    “O Come, All Ye Faithful

1 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!

2 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!

3 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!

4 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!

*PRAYER

God who labors to bring forth abundant life among us, we thank you for the birth we celebrate tonight.  A newborn bundle of human life can cause us to gaze for hours, amazed.  Refresh our amazement that you sent Jesus to us from your very self, to be born as a human baby, and to live among us, showing us the way to new life.  In response to your great labor of love, may we open ourselves to you, that you may create new life among us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

*HYMN NO. 124                    “Still, Still, Still”

1 Still, still, still,
he sleeps this night so chill!
The virgin’s tender arms enfolding,
warm and safe the child are holding.
Still, still, still,
he sleeps this night so chill.

2 Sleep, sleep, sleep,
he lies in slumber deep
while angel hosts from heaven come winging,
sweetest songs of joy are singing.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
he lies in slumber deep. 

PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION

Faithful God, you chose Mary, full of grace, to be the mother of our Sovereign and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now fill us with your grace, that with her, we may understand your ways, rejoice in your salvation, and embrace your will; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

ANTHEM                   “Somewhere A Child”                       Gilbert Martin

SCRIPTURE

Luke 2:1-7                   Sarah Congdon

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And 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.

Luke 2:8-14                Larry Diehlman

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’

Luke 2:15-20               Kelly Connell

15When 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.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

HYMN NO. 145                     “What Child Is This”

1 What child is this, who, laid to rest,
on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
while shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of Mary!

2 Why lies he in such mean estate
where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear; for sinners here
the silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear, shall pierce him through;
the cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
the babe, the son of Mary!

3 So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh;
come, one and all, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise, raise the song on high.
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
the babe, the son of Mary! 

STORY                       “The Final Invitation”                      by Dan Schomer

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER

God of our Salvation,
we come to you on this wondrous night to gather in praise,
to lift up your name with friend, family, and stranger.
In the beginning, your creative work began with a word,
and tonight, your creation continues with the Word made flesh.
On this holiest of nights, we join the everlasting chorus saying:
    Glory to God on highest!  Great is your name in all the earth!

Like Mary, we ponder these things in our hearts,
and wonder how you could love us so much
as to actually become one of us, one with us.
We remember these stories this evening
that remind us of your steadfast love,
that affirm that you have never, and will never, give up on your children.
    Thank you for your steadfast presence in our lives!

And yet, even on this night on which we celebrate the fulfillment of love,
we recognize that there are many who are still waiting for fulfillment:
the fulfillment of adequate food and shelter…
the fulfillment of peace and the end of violence…
the fulfillment of reprieve from the fierce grip of grief…
the fulfillment of a restoration of a broken relationship…
the fulfillment of a renewing of heart, mind, or body…
the fulfillment of healing from a chronic illness…
the fulfillment of an end to substance abuse…
Giving God,
        give us the courage to do your work in the world
        and to share the peace coming to us in the manger this evening.

We pray this night especially for those who have traveled to be here…
for those who have lost loved ones in the past year…
for those who struggle with mental illness…
for those who fight alcoholism’s onslaught…
for those who will be traveling in the coming days and weeks…
for those who work on Christmas:
especially medical workers, police, and emergency personnel…
for those who cannot make it home for Christmas…
hear us we pray, O God,
    Restore us and make your face to shine that we might be saved.

In all that we do and in all that we are,
send your Spirit to send us forward with the majesty of this night
and to share the grace we find with everyone we encounter.
This we pray in the name of your Son, 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.

ANTHEM                   “Christmas Lullaby”             Joseph Martin

*SHARING THE LIGHT

As the light is passed from person to person down the pews,
Please tilt the unlit candle to accept the light from the upright-lit candle.

*HYMN                      “Silent Night”                                                see insert

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 

(HUM)Silent night, holy night! Wondrous star, lend they light;
With the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.

*BENEDICTION

The joy of the angels,
the eagerness of the shepherds,
the perseverance of the wise men,
the obedience of Joseph and Mary,
and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas.
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

*Hymn of Celebration                     “Joy to the World!”               see insert

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 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, repeat the sound 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 and wonders of His love

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!