- Rev. Daniel Benson
Christmas Eve/Day Service of Lessons & Carols: Christ is Born!
Thursday, December 24th / Friday December 25th, 2020
Welcome to Christmas!
Unto us a child is born!
Unto us a son is given!
He will establish and uphold God's kingdom,
with justice, love, and righteousness,
from this time and forevermore!
O come, let us adore him!
O come, let us adore him!
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!
We've been walking the road to Bethlehem these past few weeks; walking the path of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. We've lit candles along the way to mark our way and illuminate the gifts of God's presence. Listen to the words of this song, a gift of Elise, Alexandra, and Liane Catibog.
In preparation for the following service, you may wish to have your Advent Wreath and Candles ready. Always practice safe candle-burning! We light candles in church because they remind us of the presence and beauty of God.
God be with you!
Lighting of the Advent Candles and the Christ Candle.
Hymn: Angels from the Realms of Glory.
Lessons & Carols: The traditional telling of the Nativity of Jesus may have as many as nine segments. For this year, since we're online, we're keeping to the five that include the prophecies of Isaiah, Luke's Nativity narrative, and the proclamation from the opening words of John. Within these passages of Scripture is the revelation of Jesus as God's medium and message, through whom we come to know God and God's dream for us: that we are a people of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love -- if we can but listen, understand, and live the Christmas message.
Lesson 1: Isaiah 9: 2, 6 - 7. "For, unto us a son is given."
Carol: This chorus from Handel's beloved oratorio, "Messiah," is presented by the Ghana Gramophone Chorus.
Lesson 2: Isaiah 11: 1 - 3, 6 - 9. "A little child will lead them."
Carol: Julie Andrews sang"In the Bleak Midwinter" for her Christmas Special in 1973. Originally a poem by Christina Rosetti (1872), Gustav Holst set it to music in 1906, and it's been a Christmas staple ever since. Some may prefer the Harold Darke setting, which you can find here.
Lesson 3: Luke 2: 1 - 7, "The Nativity of Jesus"
Carol: 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' is sung to two different tunes, but "St. Louis" is the popular one at St. Paul's. This beautiful rendition is offered by Nat King Cole. If you prefer the other tune, "Forest Green," I can recommend this version here by the choir of King's College Cambridge.
Lesson 4: Luke 2: 8 - 16, " The Shepherds hear the Good News."
Carol: Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss play and sing the ancient 'Wexford Carol.'
Lesson 5: John: 1: 1 - 14 "In the Beginning was the Word..."
Carol: Silent Night.
Reflection: A sermon, reflection, or homily (whatever you want to call it) is a preacher's way of 'illuminating' scripture; that is, helping us to understand God's meaning behind the words and then relating it to the reality of our lives. Often, at Christmas, we leave the story of Jesus' nativity to 'speak for itself.' This year, I'd like to turn the (virtual) pulpit over to one of my favourite poets, Maya Angelou, reading her Christmas poem, 'Amazing Peace.'
Gifted by the promise of Christmas, surrounded by the abundance of grace and goodwill, we share from all that we have, returning to God ourselves and our offerings to bring about God's Christmas dream for the world: a world overflowing with hope, peace, joy, and love.
Anthem: Based on the poem, 'Minuit, chrétiens' by Placid Cappeau, 'Cantique noël' was written by Adolphe Adam in 1847 and subsequently translated into 'O Holy Night' in 1855 by John Sullivan Dwight. Zoë sings for us.
Our offering is both a practical and symbolic act of our commitment to serve Christ and build His church. Although we can’t actually ‘pass the plate’ online, you are encouraged to continue your gift to the church, as the work of the St Paul’s and the staff continues:
Drop your envelope (cheque or cash) at the church;
Mail your cheque to the church;
Go on PAR (call the church for details);
Use the Donate button at the top of the page (it will take you to SPUC’s Canada Helps page where you can donate online and get an instant tax receipt).
May these gifts open others to the blessings you, O God, give this Christmas:
the gift of childlike wonder,
the gift of peace that passes all understanding,
the gift of joy that knows no bounds,
and the gift of grace that overcomes all obstacles.
With these gifts, we bring ourselves, O God, in response to the greatest gift of all, the Babe in Bethlehem, Emmanuel -- God with Us, Jesus the Christ child.
Communion: Separated by miles, connected by the web and by God's spirit, we can celebrate the gift of Christmas with the gift of Communion. Here in the simple elements of bread and wine, we will taste and see that God is good.
You're invited and encouraged to participate by having a piece of bread and a small cup of something -- wine, juice, or even water, will suffice; God won't mind. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are also bid welcome to Christ's table.
Hymn for Communion: The great soprano Leontyne Price sings "Let Us Break Bread Together."
Prayer. You're invited to listen to the Christmas Prayer on the video below, after which, you can recite aloud or in your heart the Lord's Prayer.
And, of all the prayers silent and spoken, we pray the one prayer that unites us in your presence:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
As we leave our time of worship this Christmas,
may the joy of the angels sing in our voices;
may the hope of the shepherds calm our fears;
may the confidence of Mary and Joseph strengthen our spirits;
may the courage of the Wise Men stir us from our complacency;
may the love of Jesus shine in our hearts;
and may God's blessings be upon us this holy moment and always.
One Last Thought. They say behind every great man....
Don’t forget to extinguish your candle(s)
Note that portions of this service are drawn and adapted from 'Gathering,' a worship resource published by The United Church of Canada.
Thanks to our contributors this week: the Catibog Trio, the Catibogs for their readings, Zoë for her singing.
Wishing all our members, friends, and neighbours the blessings of Christmas; and, may 2021 bring Good News beyond measure to everyone.