Christmas Eve Service
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
December 24, 2007
(Logistics: Pulpit and lectern are moved to another room, wood cover is put over baptismal. Worship Center table has Advent wreath on top and empty manger underneath. Readers sit on side end of each pew, standing in front of the post - with a mic on stand and a flashlight – when they read/pray. Characters in appropriate costume needed [in order of appearance]: Isaiah [very brief], Mary, angel, Joseph, Shepherds [how many?], more angels [how many?], 3 wise men.) Lighting is solely by candles, flashlights, extra lighting for organ/other instrumentalists, and spotlight from balcony. All words to hymns are projected onto screen, therefore no need for hymnals. Someone is needed in first pew to run the LCD projector. Back-up person needs to be ready to turn ceiling lights – bottom portion only – on and off in case of technical glitch.)
- “Noel” Guilmant
- “The Quiet Hills of Bethlehem”
Words of Welcome
Hymn – “O come, all ye faithful” 212
(family lighting the Advent wreath and Christ candle, processes forward on last verse of previous song with a lit candle)
Advent Wreath - Lighting the Christ Candle
(2 readers begin, family divides up who lights which candle)
1 - The season of Advent is coming to an end and Christmas begins.
2 - We light, one last time, the candle of Preparation.
(light the first candle)
1 - We light, again, the candle of Anticipation.
(light the second candle)
2 - We light, once more, the candle of Invitation.
(light the third candle)
1 - We re-light the candle of Proclamation.
(light the fourth candle)
2 - And now we light the most important one,
1 - the candle of Incarnation,
2 - the Christ Candle.
(light the center candle)
Scripture – John 1:14
14“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
(Advent wreath family returns to their seats as we sing. During this next hymn, the characters quietly move into place. Isaiah is on stage left, [non-pregnant] Mary is center stage, and Joseph is stage right. The angel stands between Mary and Joseph, at first close to Mary.)
Hymn – “What child is this” 215
Opening Prayer (on back of bulletin, one person - not in unison)
It is time for us
to turn on the light, O God.
We stand amidst a dark world
of hatred and violence, of oppression and persecution.
We stumble over each other
as we might stumble in a dark room,
thwarted by competition and blame,
fear and arrogance,
when all we need to do is reach out
for a solid foundation,
for a reassuring touch,
with a listening ear,
with a voice of solidarity –
a shining light that the darkness cannot overcome.
On this holy night,
enlighten us with your light, O God.
May your Word guide us
as the star guided those travelers long ago
to a stable bursting with welcome and love.
And may we have the courage
to turn on the light,
illuminating the world with your light,
and your peace. Amen
Melissa Bennett, pastor for worship and youth
(Spotlight opens up on the prophet Isaiah.)
Scripture - Isaiah 9:2,6
2 “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... 6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Hymn – “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” 211
(Spotlight shifts to Mary and the angel. Isaiah quietly exits.)
Scripture - Luke 1:26-38
26“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’ 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He 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. 33He 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?’ 35The 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. 36And 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. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then 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.”
Solo/Ensemble – “The angel Gabriel” 180
(Mary quietly exits as spotlight shifts to Joseph, with angel moved close to him. Meanwhile, Mary stuffs pillow in costume.)
Scripture - Matthew 1:18-24
18“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23’Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife…”
(Spotlight goes off, Joseph exits during hymn and heads to be with now ‘pregnant’ Mary in the back of the sanctuary.)
Hymn – “O come, O come, Immanuel” 172
(solo on verses, with congregation on the refrain)
(As scripture is read, Joseph and Mary process up center aisle, him holding a glowing lantern. Spotlight picks them up ¾ of the way forward and follows the rest of the way. When up front they come to stage center. Joseph pulls manger out from under worship table and they sit on either side of it for the rest of the service. Soft spotlight on them – make sure it doesn’t shine on area above baptismal.)
Scripture - Luke 2:1-6
1“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.”
Hymn – “O little town of Bethlehem” 191
(During verse 4, the shepherd process down left side with lanterns, pausing halfway. At the same time, one angel quietly goes and stands at stage left.)
(At verse 9 of the scripture reading below, the spotlight moves over to the angel on stage left, and brightens.)
Scripture - Luke 2:8-12
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.’”
Hymn – “While Shepherds Watched” (1951 Brethren Hymnal 130, not 196 in new hymnal)
(During verse 3, the other angels quietly get in place on top of baptismal cover.)
(As scripture below begins, the spotlight moves up to the angels standing on the baptismal. Angel on stage left quietly goes and joins them.)
Scripture - Luke 2:13-14
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!”
Hymn – “Angels we have heard on high” 197
(Spotlight moves to Mary and Joseph and widens/softens. Shepherds – with lanterns – move up to stage left on verse 3, where they will remain until the candlelighting. Angels quietly depart on verse 4 and return to their seats in the pews.)
Scripture - Luke 2:15
15“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.”
(Soft spotlight remains on Mary and Joseph. Star is projected on screen during scripture reading. Three wise men – with lanterns – slowly process up the right aisle as scripture is read, ending up on stage right where they will remain until the candlelighting).
Scripture - Matthew 2:1-11
1“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘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.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They 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.’’ 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then 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. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On 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.”
Hymn – “We Three Kings of Orient Are” (1951 Brethren Hymnal 141)
We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts, we traverse afar
field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.
O - star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding , Guide us to the perfect light.
Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia, Earth to the heavens replies.
O - star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to the perfect light.
(After the hymn, the shepherds and the kings quench their lanterns and go up to the Advent wreath, where each lights a candle – enough hidden behind wreath on table for this purpose - off the Christ candle, then head out the start the congregational candlelighting. The organ begins the next hymn as the angels reach the first pew. Once they’ve finished, shepherds and kings return to their seats in the pews.)
Hymn – “Come, thou long-expected Jesus” 178
(Spotlight focuses upon the empty manger.)
Hymn – “Silent night, holy night” 193 (harp &/or guitar)
It is good to have been here!
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in deepest night, are lit up with a brilliant sight.
“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.
The spread of his influence and of his peace will never end.”
Therefore, go out into the world with great joy,
and the grace of Bethlehem’s matchless Child,
the love of the God who never ceases to amaze,
and the fellowship of the Spirit who never wearies,
will be with you this holy night and evermore.
Thanks be to God!