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A Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service - Year A


                 WE GATHER AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD
                                
MUSICAL PRELUDE

* PROCESSIONAL CAROL:  O Come All Ye Faithful  (VU 60:1-3)
     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.
            
     Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
     Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
     Glory to God, 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 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.


WORDS OF WELCOME & LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES:
L    The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, the son of God 
     is born this night.
P    God's word has been made flesh among us.
L    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.  
P    Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness - 
     on them a light has shined.
L    You, O Lord, have multiplied the nation.  
     You have increased its joy.  
     For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, 
     and the government shall be upon his shoulder.
P    His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
L    He is also called Emmanuel, for in him God is with us.
     
           ........ (After the Advent Candles & the
          Christ Candle are lit all sing)........

     We honour Messiah with Christ candle's flame
     our Christmas Eve candles glad tidings proclaim.
     O Come all you faithful, rejoice in this night,
     as God comes among us, the Christian's true light.    (VU 6:5)


UNISON PRAYER
L    Let us Pray...
P    Eternal God, this holy night is radiant with the brilliance of
     your one true light.  May that light illuminate our hearts and
     shine in our words and deeds.  May the hope, the peace, the
     joy, and the love represented by the birth in Bethlehem this
     night fill our lives and become part of all that we say and
     do.  May we share the divine life of your son Jesus Christ,
     even as he humbled himself to share our humanity.  Amen.


* CAROL:  It Came Upon The Midnight Clear  (VU 44:1-2)
     It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old
     from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold,
     'Peace on the earth, good will to all, from heaven's all gracious King'
     The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.
     
     Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurled,
     and still their heavenly music floats o'er all the weary world;
     above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing,
     and ever o'er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.


               THE CHRISTMAS STORY IN WORD & SONG


LUKE 1:26-38: The Angel Visits Mary
     In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a
     town in Galilee called Nazareth, {27} to a virgin engaged to
     a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The
     virgin's name was Mary. {28} And he came to her and said,
     "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." {29} But she
     was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of
     greeting this might be. {30} The angel said to her, "Do not
     be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. {31} And
     now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you
     will name him Jesus. {32} 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. {33} He will reign
     over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there
     will be no end." {34} Mary said to the angel, "How can this
     be, since I am a virgin?" {35} 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. {36} 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. {37} For nothing will be impossible with God." {38}
     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.

     ANTHEM:  "Song Of The Angel"

     REFLECTION
     Angels sang about it.  Prophets foretold it.  The arrival of
     the Christ child, freshly birthed from Mary's womb, was to
     be an outward and visible sign - to those with the eyes to
     see - of an inward and spiritual mystery.  In the precious
     moments of conception and of birth a vast ripple in the
     fabric of time and space would burst open for an instant. 
     And God would become a human being, identifying himself with
     His creation.  Through the line of Jesse, he would become
     Emmanuel, God with us.  

     CAROL:  Lo, How A Rose E'er Is Blooming  (VU 8)
     Lo, how a rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
     of Jesse's linage coming, as seers of old have sung.
     It came a blossom bright, amid the cold of winter, 
     when half spent was the night

     Isaiah 'twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind,
     with Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
     To show God's love aright she bore for us a Saviour,
     when half spent was the night.


LUKE 1:39-45: Mary and Elizabeth
     In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean
     town in the hill country, {40} where she entered the house
     of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. {41} When Elisabeth
     heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And
     Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit {42} and exclaimed
     with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed
     is the fruit of your womb. {43} And why has this happened to
     me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? {44} For as soon
     as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb
     leaped for joy. {45} And blessed is she who believed that
     there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by
     the Lord."

     ANTHEM:  "Bring A Torch"

     REFLECTION
     How radiant the mother, how angelic the child.  So we sing,
     and so we believe.  Elizabeth knew it when she said to Mary
     even before the child was born: "Blessed art thou - and
     blessed is the fruit of thy Womb."  Blessed indeed.  For
     Emmanuel came with a purpose in mind and to fulfill - a
     purpose beyond the wildest dreams of prophets, priests and
     scholars and beyond the wildest hopes of ordinary men and
     woman everywhere.  The fabric of time and space were to be
     shaken, a king and a saviour would be born none like none
     before him and none after him.

     CAROL:  T'was In The Moon of Wintertime  (VU 71:1,2,4)
     'Twas in the moon of winter time, when all the birds had fled
     that might Gitchi Manitou sent angels choirs instead;
     before their light the stars grew dim,
           and wandering hunters heard the hymn:
     Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born; in excelsis gloria.

     Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found,
     a ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round;
     but as the hunter braves drew nigh, 
          the angels song rang loud and high:
     Jesus your King is born, in excelsis gloria.

     O children of the forest free, the angel song is true,
     the holy child of earth and heaven is born today for you.
     Come kneel before the radiant boy, 
          who brings you beauty, peace, and joy:
     Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born; in excelsis gloria.


LUKE 2:1-7:  The Birth in Bethlehem
     In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that
     all the world should be registered. {2} This was the first
     registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of
     Syria. {3} All went to their own towns to be registered. {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. {5} He went to
     be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was
     expecting a child. {6} While they were there, the time came
     for her to deliver her child. {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.

     ANTHEM:  "What Child Is This" 

     REFLECTION
     What child is this who is laid to rest on Mary's lap? He is
     the one in whom meet the hopes and fears of all the years. 
     He is the one to whom all people have ever prayed - the one
     was at the beginning and who is at the ending.  He is the
     one who, by coming down, lifts us up, the one who by
     entering into our bondage sets us free. What child is this
     whom shepherds guard and angels sing?  He is the word made
     flesh, this babe of Bethlehem, this son of Mary.

     CAROL:  O Little Town of Bethlehem  (VU 64:1-2)
     O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
     Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by:
     yet in thy dark street shineth the everlasting light;
     the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
     
     How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!
     So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.
     No ear may hear his coming; but in the world of sin,
     Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.


LUKE 2:8-14:  The Angels & The Shepherds - Read by Darcy Anderson
     In that region there were shepherds living in the fields,
     keeping watch over their flock by night. {9} Then an angel
     of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord
     shone around them, and they were terrified. {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: {11}
     to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who
     is the Messiah, the Lord. {12} This will be a sign for you:
     you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in
     a manger." {13} And 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!"

     ANTHEM:  "O How Joyfully" 

     REFLECTION
     How joyfully, how merrily, Christmas comes.  For it was to
     shepherds that the angels first sang the song of peace, it
     was to common people that the heavenly host first proclaimed
     the messiah's birth.  How joyfully, how merrily Christmas
     comes, for we celebrate how through the one in the manger
     the Peace of God is granted to all, to the humble as well as
     to the mighty, to the poor as well as to the rich. 

     CAROL:  Angels From The Realms of Glory  (VU 36:1-2)
     Angels from the realms of glory, 
     wing your flight o'er all the earth;
     ye who sang creation's story, now proclaim Messiah's birth:
     come and worship, come and worship, 
     worship Christ, the newborn King.
               
     Shepherds in the field abiding, 
     watching o'er your flocks by night,
     God with us is now residing, yonder shines the infant Light:
     come and worship, come and worship, 
     worship Christ, the newborn King.


LUKE 2:15-20:  The Shepherds Worship
     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." {16} So they went with haste and found
     Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. {17}
     When they saw this, they made known what had been told them
     about this child; {18} and all who heard it were amazed at
     what the shepherds told them. {19} But Mary treasured all
     these words and pondered them in her heart. {20} The
     shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they
     had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

     ANTHEM:  "Away In A Manger"

     REFLECTION
     What the shepherds and the wise men saw when they gazed upon
     this new life we'll never truly know.  They left no account
     of their own.  But it is clear that they saw enough,
     glimpsed enough, to know that they stood in the presence of
     God.  It was God's gift to them, this seeing - and
     ultimately it is God's gift to us.  God's gift - this God
     who comes to us in our time and our space and takes our form
     - and yet continues to be more than all that the universe
     can encompass.

     CAROL:  Gentle Mary Laid Her Child  (VU 46:1-3)
     Gentle Mary laid her child lowly in a manger,
     There he lay the undefiled, to the world a stranger.
     Such a babe in such a place, can he be the Saviour?
     Ask the saved of all the race who have found his favour.

     Angels sang about his birth, wise men sought and found him;
     heaven's star shone brightly forth, glory all around him.
     Shepherds saw the wondrous site, heard the angels singing;
     all the plains were lit that night, all the hills were ringing.

     Gentle Mary laid her child, lowly in a manger;
     He is still the undefiled, but no more a stranger.
     Son of God of humble birth, beautiful the story;
     Praise his name in all the earth; hail the King of glory!


MATTHEW 2:1-11:  The Gifts of The Magi
     In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem
     of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, {2}
     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." {3} When King Herod heard this, he was
     frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; {4} and calling
     together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he
     inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. {5} They
     told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written
     by the prophet: {6} '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.'" {7} Then Herod secretly called for the wise men
     and learned from them the exact time when the star had
     appeared. {8} 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." {9} 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. {10} When they saw that the star had stopped, they were
     overwhelmed with joy. {11} 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.

     ANTHEM:  "O Holy Night"

     REFLECTION     
     It was indeed a Holy Night, the night of our dear Saviour's
     birth.  Time and space were altered by what happened that
     night - and nothing can be the same again.  The one born
     that night, the one whom the wise men sought out and thought
     to be the king of Jews, hallows that night - and this night
     too. The infant whom the magi worshipped, would by his life
     and his death be revealed as our heavenly king.  The one who
     was held in his mother's arm - would be raised up to hold in
     his tender grasp - all those who call upon his name. 
     Blessed be our God and the light that shown at his birth.

     CAROL:  As With Gladness Men of Old  (VU 81:1-3)
     As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold,
     as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward beaming bright,
     so most gracious Lord, may we evermore your splendour see.
             
     As with joyful steps they sped, to that lowly manger bed,
     there to bend the knee before Christ, whom heaven and earth adore;
     so may we with eager pace ever seek your throne of grace.
           
     As they offered gifts most rare at the manger crude and bare,
     so may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin's alloy,
     all our costliest treasures bring, Christ to you, our heavenly King.


JOHN 1:1-5; 3:16-18: The Word Made Flesh
     We began by saying that in the precious moments of Jesus'
     conception and of birth a vast ripple in the fabric of time
     and space would burst open for an instant.  And God would
     become one of us, and be with us.  This indeed is the story
     of Christmas.  This is indeed the story of Salvation - a
     story that Jesus most beloved disciple tells in other words
     and another way, when he writes:

     In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
     God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the
     beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and
     without him was not any thing made that was made.  In
     him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And
     the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness
     comprehended it not.  And the Word was made flesh, and
     dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

     For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
     begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should
     not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent
     not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but
     that the world through him might be saved.

L    This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord.  
P    Praise be to you Lord Jesus Christ.


ANTHEM:  "Gloria In Excelsis" 


* CAROL:  Joy To The World  (VU 59)
     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 Saviour reigns:
     Let men their songs employ,
     while fields and floods, rocks hills and plains,
     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...
   
     He rules the earth with truth and grace,
     and makes the nations prove
     the glories of his righteousness
     and wonders of his love...


                        THE GIFTS WE BRING

       
SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: 
- The Offering is Received
- Anthem: "In A Manger" 
- As Offering is Presented Stand To Sing The Doxology:
       
     Take my life, and let it be consecrated, all for thee;
     Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.
        
     Take my love: and I will pour at thy feet its treasure store;
     take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee. (VU 506)


* PRAYER OF DEDICATION AND A CHRISTMAS PRAYER (standing)
L    It was cold and Mary and Joseph were fearful.
P    But that did not stop the birth.
L    They were poor and had no place fitting for their child.
P    But that did not stop the birth.
L    They were uncertain about what God wanted from them.
P    But that did not stop the birth.
L    Today we are still sometimes cold and fearful, 
     certainly poor in many ways.
P    We often feel we have no place 
     and are unclear about what God wants of us.
L    But these things did not stop the birth of Jesus then, 
     nor will they now. 
P    Lord Jesus be born in us today. 
L    Loving God, like Mary and Joseph, who trusted in your grace,
     we offer ourselves and our gifts to you.  Bless our offering
     and hallow our every thought and our every action, that Christ
     may be revealed through them to the world that is yet in
     darkness.  Amen.


                       CHRISTMAS COMMUNION

* CAROL:  Good Christian Friends Rejoice  (VU 35:1-3)
     Good Christian friends, rejoice 
     with heart and soul and voice!
     Give ye heed to what we say: News!  News!  
     Jesus Christ is born today.
     Ox and Ass before him bow, and he is in the manger now.
     Christ is born today, Christ is born today!

     Good Christian friends,  rejoice 
     with heart and soul and voice!
     Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy!  Joy!
     Jesus Christ was born for this.
     He hath opened heaven's door, and we are blessed for evermore.
     Christ was born for this, Christ was born for this!

     Good Christian friends, rejoice 
     with heart and soul and voice!
     Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace!  Peace!
     Jesus Christ was born to save, 
     calls you one and calls you all to gain his everlasting hall.
     Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save!


COMMUNION LITANY:
L    The peace of the Lord be with you.
P    And also with you.
L    Lift your hearts up to the Lord.
P    It is right to give God thanks and praise.
L    Let us proclaim our faith in God and in his son, Jesus
     Christ, our Lord, our brother, and our saviour.
P    We come before him, thankful for all his love and mercy.


A CHRISTMAS CONFESSION  (Walter Russell Bowie: A Christmas Creed)
L    I believe in Jesus Christ 
     and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.
P    I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; 
     and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the
     world, in towns both large and small.
L    I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no
     room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to
     exclude Christ from my life today.
P    I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored 
     and the proud could never understand; 
     whose life was among common people, 
     whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.
L    I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be
     invincible:
P    I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother's arms, 
     whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth,
     who looked at persons and made them see 
     what God's love saw in them, 
     who by love brought sinners back to purity, 
     and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.
L    I confess my ever-lasting need of God:
P    The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed, 
     the need of new life for empty souls, 
     the need of love for hearts grown cold.
L    I believe in God who gives us the best of himself.
P    I believe in Jesus, 
     the son of the living God, 
     born in Bethlehem this night, 
     for me and for the world. 

   
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER 
     Indeed, O God, we believe in the one born in Bethlehem this
     night - and we give you thanks for all the gifts  that you
     give have given us through him.  We praise you for his
     birth, for how he  lived his life as the servant of your
     Most Holy Will - and for how, in obedience and in love he
     finally gave himself over to death, even death on a cross,
     for our sakes - thereby opening to all people the gates of
     heaven and the way to eternal life.  Wherefor  O God we
     spread this table before you as he commanded us to do on the
     night he was betrayed.  We remember how he took bread, and
     gave you thanks for it - as even now we give you thanks O
     God for our daily bread - and how he broke it and gave it to
     his disciples saying, "take, eat, this is my body, broken
     for you.".  In like manner we recall, how when the meal was
     done, Jesus took the cup, the cup of blessing, and after
     giving thanks, offered it to his disciples saying, "take,
     drink, this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant for
     the forgiveness of sins   as often as you do this, do it in
     remembrance of me."


BLESSING OF THE ELEMENTS
     Bless O God, this bread and this wine that it may be for us
     communion in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  Send your
     spirit upon these elements  and upon us and grant that we
     may obtain maturity of faith and live in him and through him
     - faithful and righteous all our days.  We ask through
     Christ our Lord, as we pray and sing the prayer he taught
     us...

THE LORD'S PRAYER SUNG (VU 960)
           
RECEIVING COMMUNION & LIGHTING CANDLES: The Choir will receive
     first so that they may continue to sing  - then all present
     are asked to come forward for communion by moving up the
     sides of the church to receive, then to the Advent Wreath to
     light your candle and back to your pews via the centre
     aisle.
      

DEPARTING PRAYER: The Canticle of Simeon
L    Having travelled to Bethlehem together and having beheld the
     child, born a king, let us pray using the word's of Simeon,
     a righteous and devote man who looked forward to the
     consolation of Israel and who beheld his coming:
P    Lord, let your servants now depart in peace, 
     according to your word; 
     for our eyes have seen your salvation, 
     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 
     a light to lighten the Gentiles 
     and the glory of your people Israel.


CAROL: Silent Night (VU-67:1-3) - Remain Seated
     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 Saviour, 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.
     
BENEDICTION & CHORAL BLESSING


                        MERRY CHRISTMAS
                       And HAPPY NEW YEAR!


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1998 - 2004
	    please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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