With so much gratitude and excitement, we’ll begin with special music with the Amherst Irregulars Chamber Ensemble.
Gathering Together: Welcome everyone on this Christmas Eve 2018. We come together to celebrate the joy of the coming of Christ in community, story, and song. Welcome. Please note that the back of your bulletin has information on upcoming and ongoing activities. Please take a moment to take a peek. (hymns accompanied by the Church Flutes).
Completing the Manger (with the children).
Set the Stage (others in the stable who wouldn’t quite be here yet, but we wanted to set the stage for the whole story). Tonight, there would only be a few people:
–MARY: She will become and icon and prophet, but tonight, she is a woman. She is weary from travel and very human. She is in pain and needs a place to rest.
–JOSEPH: He has his own fears and worries, but most important at this moment is to find a safe place and comfort his wife who is about to give birth.
–I know you think what comes next, but Cory and I were discussing a few weeks ago that the animals needed to be fed. If the animals are hungry the cattle won’t be lowing. Some hay for the critters.
–And Last, we have JESUS: The Newborn King. As Julie reminded us on Sunday of the significance of this title of both vulnerability and power.
Prayer for All Beings:
Knowing that even in this time of Joy there are always some carrying the Sorrows and Concerns that being human comes with. Let us take a moment now to ask for God’s strength to give us courage amid life’s struggles, worries, and hurts.
May you be comforted and safe and free from want.
May we all be comforted and safe and free from want.
May all beings be comforted and safe and free from want. AMEN
And let us say together …
The Lord’s Prayer.
Reading: For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
With the children we set the stage of the very human Mary, Joseph, and the coming of Jesus. Now, let me read to you from Luke:
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. Luke 2: 4-21
FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN.
In closing: I will offer the closing Blessing and we’ll move right into Silent Night and the lighting of the candles. When complete, please silently blow out your candle and exit the sanctuary in silence to meet in the hall for cookies, coffee, and community (and yes, then talking). Anyone who would like a few extra moments of quiet reflection may remain in the stillness of the sanctuary.
Closing blessing: Our closing words are attributed…(perhaps somewhat fictionally, but in the right spirit) to Charles Dickens. It is to Dickens that the (relatively) modern celebrations of Christmas arose. The Christian spirit of giving and sharing of gifts and food…as equals. A time we were reminded that those who had more shared with those who had less. And those who had less offered what they had to share even if it seemed so small and insignificant (very much like the story of the Little Drummer Boy who had nothing to offer but his song). Embracing the human spirit of hope and love and caring for our fellow man and so…“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. A toast….
I wish you many merry Christmases, friendships, great accumulation of cheerful recollections and heaven at last for all of us. (PAUSE) In the season of hope, we will shut out nothing from our firesides and everyone will be welcome. Welcome what has been and what is, and what we hope may be, to the shelter underneath the holly. Happy, happy Christmas to one and all.”
AOTV link to live A Christmas Carol