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A Christmas Eve Candlelight Cantata and Communion Service

	This Christmas Eve Cantata Communion Service was first 
	written in 1994.  It was revised in 1996.  Anthems can
	be changed to match your musical sources.  We attempt
	to match Carols with the message of the various readings.
	The narrator and readers were part of the choir itself.


PROCESSIONAL CAROL: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

L:   The Lord be with you.
P:   And also with you.

L:   We light the candles hope, peace, love, and joy this
     Christmas Eve to remind us of God's gifts to us through
     Jesus the Christ - the light of the world.
P:   Jesus is the son of Mary and the son of God, one with us,
     our Lord, our Saviour, our brother and our friend.
L:   The Son of Mary brings us the hope of God.
P:   He calls us to share this hope with others.
L:   The Son of God brings us the peace of God.
P:   He calls us to share this love with others
L:   Christ our Saviour brings us the joy of God.
P:   He calls us to share this joy with others.
P:   He calls us to share this peace with others.
L:   Jesus our Lord brings us the love of God.
L:   We light the candles of hope, of peace, of joy, and of
     love to remind us of the gifts that the light of the
     world has brought us.

         ...(As the Advent Candles are lit all sing)...

     Light the Christmas Candles now, sing of donkey, sheep, and cow,
     Birthday candles for the king, let the alleliuahs ring
     Filled with wonder at the sight, of the child on Christmas night.

     Candle, candle, burning bright, shining in the cold winter night,
     Candle, candle, burning bright, fill our hearts with Christmas light.

L:   We light the Christ candle to remind us that the light of
     the world was born this night.
P:   The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. 
     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.
P:   For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the
     government shall be upon his shoulder.
L:   His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
P:   He is also called Emmanuel, for in him God is with us.
L:   Let us Pray
P:   Most Loving Father, thank you for this night and for all it
     represents.  Thank you for the hope you bestow, the peace
     you bring, the love you pour out, and the joy you give.  We
     praise you most of all for Jesus, your Word made flesh.  May
     he light our way as the holy star lit the way for the wise
     men.  Amen

                      LET'S GO TO BETHLEHEM

INTRODUCTION                                           - Narrator
     "Let's go to Bethlehem."  That's what the shepherds said
     after the angel came to them saying, "Do not be afraid; for
     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 Saviour, who
     is the Messiah, the Lord."

     "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
     which the Lord has told us."  The shepherds listened to the
     angel and went with haste to Bethlehem.  There they found
     Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger with the
     animals standing around, their breath steaming in the cool
     night air.

     As the shepherds entered and knelt at the manger gazing with
     awe at the baby and his parents they were at the end of a
     long chain of people who had been watching and waiting for
     this very thing to happen.  For many, many years - all the
     way back to the time of Adam and Eve - there were people
     watching and waiting for God to fulfill His promises and
     send His Son.  Sometimes these people felt that God was very
     far away but they also knew that God promised to come very
     close some day - close enough to see and touch.  Through the
     long years of waiting  people had heard God's promises and
     believed them.  Some of these people even talked with God
     and became God's messengers, announcing again and again
     God's great plan.

     The shepherds, like most people in Israel,  also waited and
     watched for the coming of  the Messiah.  As they spent their
     nights out on the lonely hills and fields surrounding
     Bethlehem they looked upwards to the heavens wondering.  So
     it was that they saw the heavenly host and heard the angel
     announce the good news.
     Tonight we are going to take a trip to hear once again the
     good news that fulfills God's promises and to discover
     afresh and celebrate the meaning of Christmas.  On the way
     we will visit with just a few of the people who pointed the
     way to Bethlehem many long years ago.

     Keep in mind tonight as you watch and wait - all of the
     people who have waited for Jesus' birth - all of the people
     who form the chain to Bethlehem.  And remember that you are
     one of these people.  Think, too, of all the family and
     friends you have invited to come along as we go to Bethlehem
     and see this thing that has happened, this thing which the
     Lord has told us!"

CAROL: O Little Town of Bethlehem

ADAM AND EVE                                           - Narrator
     Throughout history many people have looked forward to Jesus'
     coming.  It all began with Adam and Eve who were once very
     close to God, walking and talking together in the Garden
     with Him in the cool of the evening.  But after they broke
     their promises they lost this closeness with God.  Their
     friendship with God had been damaged.  Ever after Adam and
     Eve yearned for this closeness again and spent many hours
     thinking about when that might happen and what it would be
     like to once again experience it.

READING OF Matthew 1:21-23                               - Reader

ISAIAH                                                 - Narrator
     Isaiah was that prophet.  He had much to say  about
     Emmanuel's coning.  "The people who have walked in darkness
     have seen a great light... for unto us a child has been
     born, unto us a son has been given."

CHOIR MEDLEY: "Emmanuel \ Jesus, Name Above All Names"    - Choir

ABRAHAM AND SARAH, JACOB, AND DAVID                    - Narrator
     Time passed.  God chose a man named Abraham and called him
     to go forth and lead his family to a new country.  God
     promised Abraham that he would bless him and make of him a
     great nation and God kept his promise.  Out of Abraham and
     his wife Sarah came the people of Israel., God's own people. 
     And one day, centuries later, Jesus was born in the land of
     Israel, the land of Abraham and Sarah.

     Years after his death Abraham's grandson Jacob had a dream
     in which he saw  angels going up and down on a ladder - a
     stairway  reaching to heaven..  Jacob was promised that all
     the families of the earth were to blessed in him and in his
     offspring.  Thus it was that his descendant Joseph heard in 
     a dream before Jesus was born,  that this child was from the
     Holy Spirit and was coming down from heaven to be born..

     Many years later came David, God's chosen King.  David was a
     powerful earthly king.  God promised David that someone from
     his house, his family would one day be king forever.  God
     kept that promise to David when he sent Jesus - our king!

READING OF Luke 1:32-33, 68-73a                          - Reader

ANTHEM: "Alleluia, The King"                              - Choir

ZECHARIAH AND ELIZABETH                                - Narrator
     One day the priest Zechariah was serving in the temple when
     he was visited by  an angel of the Lord who told him that he
     and his wife Elizabeth were finally to become parents, that
     Elizabeth would bear a son.  They were to name him John and
     he was "to make ready  a people prepared for the Lord." 
     Zechariah was so afraid to believe that he lost his voice. 
     Elizabeth was overjoyed at this great gift.   When he was
     born Zechariah regained his voice and praised God.

READING OF Luke 1:67, 76-79                              - Reader

THE ANGEL GABRIEL AND MARY                            - Narrator 
     God spoke to people through dreams and prophets and angels. 
     To announce the coming birth of his son Jesus he sent a
     special  angel messenger - Gabriel. who says of himself,  "I
     stand in the presence of God."  Gabriel was sent by God to
     Mary to tell her of God's plans for her life and for the

CAROL: The First Noel (verses 1,2,3,6)

READING OF Luke 1:26-32, 34-35, 38                       - Reader

JOSEPH OBEYS GOD                                       - Narrator
     While Joseph and Mary were engaged but before they lived
     together Joseph was startled to find that Mary was pregnant.
     Distressed and disappointed, but nevertheless a righteous
     and gentle man, Joseph planned to quietly break the
     engagement and send Mary  away.  God had other plans.

READING OF Matthew 1:20-21, 24                           - Reader

CAESAR AUGUSTUS AND THE CENSUS                         - Narrator
     Far away, in the  city of Rome, the emperor Caesar Augustus
     called for a census of the whole Roman world thus playing a
     part in God's plan to briing his son into the world.    All
     went to their own towns to be registered and counted.

JOSEPH AND MARY GO TO BETHLEHEM                        - Narrator
     Joseph also went to his home town.  He took Mary with him to
     be registered in Bethlehem of Judea, the home of his
     ancestor David.  While they were there the time came for
     Jesus to be born.

READING OF Luke 2:7                                      - Reader

CAROL: Away in A Manger

ANTHEM: Sweet Little Jesus Boy                            - Choir

READING OF Luke 2:8-12                                   - Reader

ANGELS AND SHEPHERDS                                   - Narrator
     Listen carefully.... And suddenly there was with the angel a
     great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and
     saying, " Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth
     peace, good will  among those whom he favours!"  Imagine the
     excited conversation after the heavenly host departed.  With
     one mind the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go to
     Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened."

CAROL: Hark The Herald Angels Sing

ANTHEM: Little Drummer Boy                                - Choir

WISE MEN                                               - Narrator
     Meanwhile far away in the East wise men scanned the skies
     and found a very special star.  They knew that this star
     meant that something very important was happening, something
     like the birth of a king.  They decided to travel west to
     find this king.  When thy arrived in Jerusalem at Herod's
     court they made inquiries and discovered that, indeed, a
     king was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea according the
     prophet.  They left Herod and continued their journey and
     ahead of them went the star until it stopped over the place
     where the child was.  When the star stopped they were
     overwhelmed with joy.

Anthem: Little Drummer Boy                                - Choir

READING OF Matthew 2:1-2                                 - Reader

CAROL: We Three Kings               - Song Book (put in bulletin)

THE GOOD NEWS OF BETHLEHEM                             - Narrator
     The good news of great joy for all people - shepherd, wise
     man, you and I - was born in Bethlehem.  Tonight we once
     again have travelled the road to Bethlehem, heard the
     prophecies and their fulfillment; listened to angels,
     treasured these things in our hearts and pondered on them
     with Mary.  Along with the shepherds and wise men we have
     discovered Christmas in the birth at Bethlehem.  Let us take
     just one more peek, and like the shepherds make known what
     has been told us about this child.

     Down in a lowly manger
     The humble Christ was born
     God sent us salvation
     That blessed Christmas morn
     That Jesus Christ was born.

ANTHEM: Go, Tell It On The Mountain                       - Choir

                        CARING AND SHARING

- The Offering is Received and Anthem: "Mary's Little Boy Child"
- The Doxology: We Give Thee But Thine Own (verse one)  - Red 296
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:   And today we are still sometimes cold and fearful, certainly
     poor in many ways.
P:   We often feel that we have no place and are unclear about
     that 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:   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: O Come All Ye Faithful (verses 1,3,5)            - Red 415

A CHRISTMAS CONFESSION ((Walter Russell Bowie: A Christmas Creed))
L:   I believe in Jesus Christ and 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
L:   I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be
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 our 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.


THE LORD'S PRAYER SUNG                     (following the Cantor)


       As everyone comes forward to receive communion
       (moving counter-clockwise around the church)
       Please light a candle after receiving communion.

CAROL: Silent Night

DEPARTING PRAYER: The Canticle of Simeon (unison)


BLESSING SONG: "Go Now In Peace"

Written by Richard and Charlene Fairchild 
and Anne Stansell (music selection and concept)
copyright 1994 - 2005
             please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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