Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 24, 2004
7:00 pm

Christmas Eve Service

  Gathering music

  Welcome

  Prelude

  The light shines                           John 1:1-14

*Processional Hymn       (vs. 1-3) "O come, all ye faithful"                             212

*Unison Prayer                                                                        (back of bulletin)

  Prayer in Song (solo)         "Welcome to our world"

  Responsive Scripture Reading                         Isaiah 9:2-7                        827

  Alleluia Choir                       "Will you be Ready"
                                                "Child of Peace"
                                     "Upon a Calm and Quiet Night"

  A Word of Hope

  Hymn                      (vs.1) "Angels we have heard on high"                         197
                     (light the advent candle of hope from the Christ candle as we sing)

 A Word of Peace

  Hymn                      (vs.2) "Angels we have heard on high"                         197
                    (light the advent candle of peace from the Christ candle as we sing)

  A Word of Joy

  Hymn                      (vs.3) "Angels we have heard on high"                         197
                       (light the advent candle of joy from the Christ candle as we sing)

  A Word of Love

  Hymn                      (vs.4) "Angels we have heard on high"                         197
                      (light the advent candle of love from the Christ candle as we sing)

  Scripture                                   Luke 2:1-7

  Time for Children (all are invited to come forward)

  Hymn                             "O little town of Bethlehem"                               191

  Scripture                                   Luke 2:8-14

  Hymn                            "Hark! the herald angels sing"                              201

  Scripture                                  Luke 2:14-20

  Solo                                           "Nino liŮdo"

  Hymn                                    "What child is this"                                       215

  Scripture                                   Isaiah 52:7-10

  Alleluia choir                 "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus"

  Let the light shine in you

  Duet                                "Come to us, home to us"
                                              (begin congregational candlelighting)

  Hymn                                 "Silent night, holy night"                                    193

  Prayer

  Benediction

  Postlude


#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

The light shines
John 1:1-14

voice 1 - (John 1:1-5 from the back)

(Acolyte processes and lights the Christ candle only just as 1:5 is read)

voice 2 - (John 1:6-9 from the left side)

voice 3 - (John 1:10-13 from the right side)

voice 4 - (John 1:14 from the front)
  

Unison Prayer

         Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, come and rule over us. Transform us into servants of God, who with willing hearts will seek to transform the world by demonstrating the graceful love of Jesus that came to us in his birth. Amen.

Bob W. Dell, pastor
Codorus (Loganville, PA) Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085, "The Living Word Series"
  

Responsive Scripture Reading
Isaiah 9:2-7 - Hymnal #827

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 to us a child is born,
         to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
         and his name will be called
                "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.

New Revised Standard Version,
verse 6 from Revised Standard Version
    

A Word of Hope

         Every Sunday morning leading up to this date, a candle has been lit on our Advent wreath. Various families from our congregation have participated in this, each sharing a few words about hope, then peace, then joy, and finally love. Tonight, we will re-light these candles, one at a time. This time, however, the source of each flame will be the Christ candle in the center. This, we believe, is "the light of all people," as John once wrote. Furthermore, This "light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." That is why we are here, is it not?

         A Word of Hope ... On Wednesday I visited a brother in jail, a plate of glass between us. We talked by phone. His reasons for being there are not as important as the hope which grows within him. God has been doing awesome things in his life. He is sharing the good news he has discovered, which may bear fruit later on in new faces among us. As our children just sang, "Will you be Ready" for this if and when it happens?

         Anyway, our brotherís release date is just around the corner. He has willingly accepted his punishment, and his freedom is coming, a time filled with responsibility and expectation. I have seen the hope grow on his face, week by week. Our hope in Christ is like this.

         On Thursday I stopped by to see a dear sister. The night before she was moved to a different nursing home. "Just for a month," she was told, and then she can return to the place where feels at home. The reasons behind this move are not as important, however, as the hope she carries. Unlike some, she has a guarantee she will return, and that helps her face these first uncomfortable days in a new place. I "hope" to see "hope" growing within her as we count down the time.

         Our hope in Christ is a light which cannot be extinguished. Even when we leave this sanctuary tonight and blow out all the candles, hope remains. Let it shine! Glory to God!
   

A Word of Peace

         From the Christ candle comes the flame of peace. We confess that sometimes this flame seems more like a flicker, all-too easily blown out. But, you know, when we turn to the Christmas story as we have received it, we donít exactly see a bonfire there, either. In the Bible, the birth of the Prince of Peace is a very tenuous event. Luke recalls a newlywed couple away from the comforts of home, traveling at a time when a pregnant woman should not, forced to do so by the powers-that-be. If youíre a person who imagines everything that can go wrong in life, here is a prime example. When we view our world through this story, we wonder if there is room anywhere for Godís peace - or will the light fade because no doors will open?

         Matthewís gospel tells of the manipulations of a king who was threatened by the birth of this Prince of Peace. Yes, Magi followed a star, but ... does anyone else really see this light? We still ask that question today as we look at our world. The innocent continue to die, a tale as old as time itself; and we wonder, where is this promised peace?

         The rest of the story, though, reminds us that doors do open (even if itís not the best of accommodations), that people do see and respond (even if they are out in some field far from power). The rest of the story reveals that God provides a way, and keeps the light from going out. Angels whisper and danger is avoided. They sing and people come to the light.

         There is more to the story today, as well. The peace of Christ is a light which cannot be extinguished. It will remain lit all around us, long after we turn out the lights and leave this place. Shalom! Godís peace be with you. Let it shine! Glory to God!
   

A Word of Joy

         I appreciate children in worship because they manage to shake us out of our solemn seriousness and nudge us toward joy. The younger they are, the more they donít know any better than to laugh at something thatís silly, or ask "why?" and thus turn us in directions we might not see. A service like this is a prime example. Yes, these are sacred moments, filled with tradition and respectful silence. But if you think the stable in which Jesus was born was as quiet as a sanctuary, or as sanitary as a hospital, youíve missed the joy.

         Imagine. We sing of "cattle lowing," enough so that "the baby awakes." Can you hear the barn sounds of cows, donkeys, sheep, pigs, chickens and whatever else was kept there? Did I mention the accompanying smells? The Frankincense has yet to arrive, you know. What a crazy place, and yet it is full of joy. A mother has just given birth, a time of pain which erupts into sheer happiness, a wifeís cry changing to laughter and thus calming a nervous husband who has never done this before.

         Imagine. A straggly bunch of shepherds wander in, a strange and yet very fitting sight, adding their own odors. I mean, who knows when they last had a bath. They are as wide-eyed as any child wanting to hold a candle on Christmas Eve, and probably just as fidgety. Yet, the "good news of great joy" they had earlier heard out in the field still resounds in their ears, and there is probably a silly grin on each face. Can you see it? If not, turn to the child nearest you.

         The joy of Christ within us, the real happiness with which God blesses us, doesnít disappear, even when someone says, "sshhh! be quiet!" This light canít be blown out. It shines deep within us. Let it shine! Glory to God!
   

A Word of Love

With apology to the apostle Paul, let me share a Christmas version of the Love chapter from 1 Corinthians:

If the words we share this evening are impressive and inspiring, but we are missing out on what real love in all about, we are no better than the wrapping paper on our gifts - pretty but soon gone.

And if we can envision how much someone is going to appreciate what weíve bought for them, and we just "know" exactly what it is they want or need, and if our faith that God will give whatever we ask has proven true, but weíre forgetting about love - well, our gift-wrapped boxes are really empty.

If, on the other hand, we gave lots of money - or maybe even most of our possessions to the Salvation Army, and became full-time bell-ringers in front of Target just to Ďmake a statementí (getting arrested for doing so), but have left love behind in the closet, what have we have gained? Nothing.

Though the following has also been said many times, many ways, itís true: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. Donít ever forget that. Remember it long after Christmas has past.

As for what we think is going to happen, it comes and goes; as for the good stuff we say, the words - like all others - go in one ear and out the other; as for all our wisdom, well - the Library of Congress is full of many, many books. Catch my drift?

You see, what we know is only partial. Hey, havenít you ever given a gift that bombed? Furthermore, none of us can really see very far ahead, even if weíve been around the block more than a few times. God is the One, though, who pulls it all off - not us.

When we were younger, the things we said, how we thought and reasoned, well, letís just say, we had a lot of maturing to do. Though being a kid is great, growing up is important. Even so, none of us sees perfectly, no matter how grown up weíve become. Some day, weíll see the One who knows us fully and loves us deeply (God, that is) face to face. Weíve been given a glimpse in Jesus. Godís love lies at the center of everything. This flame will never go out. Let it shine. Glory to God!
    

Time for Children

 

Let the light shine in you

 

Prayer

 

Benediction

 

 

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International Lesson thoughts
from the
Mennonite Publishing House

"Jesus is all"
commentary on the
International Lesson

International Lesson
Commentary by
Edwin Elliott

 

©2003 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)

 

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