Worship Guide - Christmas Eve Service

Worship Guide

December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve Service


Creating Disciples of Jesus who Transform the World






Minister: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

People: And also with you!


Lighting the Advent Candle:                                        


Reader 1: To a people longing for hope and yearning for deliverance, the prophet Isaiah declared,

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...For 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.  (Isaiah 9:2, 6)

Reader 2: Tonight, we come seeking hope, peace, joy, and love, and we find these things in a child. God made flesh as a baby in a manger. A baby who is both the beginning and the end of our salvation, who dwells with us even now, our Emmanuel, God with us.

People:   We live as people in the in-between who celebrate the arrival of the Light that shines in lost and broken places as we wait for the day when we will love in the fullness of God’s kin-dom.

Reader 1: We light these candles as signs of our shocking hope, our just peace, our fierce joy, the love that transforms us, and Jesus Christ, our wondrous Light. May the Light burning in our hearts guide us, comfort us, protect us, and tend us in all seasons and circumstances, reminding us that day and night, in the light and in the darkness, God is with us. Our salvation has come! Amen.


Reader 2: We remind ourselves that this year one candle remains unlit, as the Christmas lights in Bethlehem remain unlit, in memory of those killed in the current conflict in the Holy Land.


Special Music: “When Hope Came Down”  Stefanie


The Bidding Prayer


Beloved in Christ, this Christmas Eve, it is our duty and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels, and to go in heart and mind to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in the manger.


Therefore let us hear again from Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our sin until the glorious redemption brought us by this holy Child; and let us make this house of prayer glad with our carols of praise.


But first, because this of all things would rejoice Jesus’ heart, let us pray to him for the needs of the whole world, and all his people; for peace upon the earth he came to save; for love and unity within the one Church he did build; for goodwill among all people.


And particularly at this time let us remember the poor, the cold, the hungry, the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and all who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.


Lastly let us remember all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in greater light, that multitude which no one can number whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.


These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words that Christ himself has taught us.


The Lords Prayer




The almighty God bless us with divine grace, Christ give us the joys of everlasting life, and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all. Amen


First Lesson:


God announces in the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve’s punishment for their rebellion and that the seed of woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.


Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19


8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you among all animals

and among all wild creatures;

upon your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

15     I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.”

17     And to the man he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,

and have eaten of the tree

about which I commanded you,

‘You shall not eat of it,’

cursed is the ground because of you;

in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18     thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19     By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread

until you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”


Hymn: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”


Come, Thou long expected Jesus

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,

hope of all the earth thou art;

dear desire of every nation,

joy of every longing heart.


Born thy people to deliver,

born a child and yet a King,

born to reign in us forever,

now thy gracious kingdom bring.

by thine own eternal spirit

rule in all our hearts alone;

by thine all sufficient merit,

raise us to thy glorious throne.


Second Lesson:


God promises to Abraham that by his descendants all the nations of the earth shall obtain blessing.


Genesis 22:15-18


15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”


       Hymn: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” Verses 1-3


O come, O come, Emmanuel,

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,

and order all things far and nigh;

to us the path of knowledge show,

and cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, O come, great Lord of might,

who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height

in ancient times once gave the law

in cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


Third Lesson:


The prophet announces the birth of a king to a people in darkness.


Isaiah 9:2, 6-7


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.

6      For 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.

7      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.


Fourth Lesson:


The king is coming and will usher in a reign of justice for the poor and peace for all of God’s creation.


Micah 5:2-5


2      But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,

who are one of the little clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to rule in Israel,

whose origin is from of old,

from ancient days.

3      Therefore he shall give them up until the time

when she who is in labor has brought forth;

then the rest of his kindred shall return

to the people of Israel.

4      And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,

in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great

to the ends of the earth;

5      and he shall be the one of peace.

If the Assyrians come into our land

and tread upon our soil,

we will raise against them seven shepherds

and eight installed as rulers.


       Hymn: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”     


O little town of Bethlehem,

how still we see thee lie;

above thy deep and dreamless sleep

the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

the everlasting Light;

the hopes and fears of all the years

are met in thee tonight.


For Christ is born of Mary,

and gathered all above,

while mortals sleep, the angels keep

their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars, together

proclaim the holy birth,

and praises sing to God the King,

and peace to all on earth!


How silently, how silently,

the wondrous gift is given;

So God imparts to human hearts

the blessings of his heaven.

No ear may hear his coming,

but in this world of sin,

where meek souls will receive him still,

the dear Christ enters in.


O holy Child of Bethlehem,

descend to us, we pray;

cast out our sin, and enter in,

be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels

the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us,

our Lord Emmanuel!


Fifth Lesson:


The angel Gabriel announces to the virgin Mary that she will give birth to God’s promised Son whose kingdom shall never end.


Luke 1:26-35, 38


26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He 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. 33 He 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?” 35 The 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.

38 Then 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.


       Special: “Breath of Heaven” Stefanie


Sixth Lesson:


Against a backdrop of emperors and taxes, Jesus is born.


Luke 2:1-7


1 In those days a decree went out from   Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph 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. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was    expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


Seventh Lesson:


The shepherds go to see the Savior of the world, lying in a manger.


Luke 2:8-16


8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 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!”

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.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.


Hymn: “The First Noel”                     


The first Noel the angel did say

was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;

in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,

on a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,

Born is the King of Israel.


They looked up and saw a star

shining in the east, beyond them far;

and to the earth it gave great light,

and so it continued both day and night.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,

Born is the King of Israel.


And by the light of that same star

three Wise Men came from country far;

to seek for a king was their intent,

and to follow the star wherever it went.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,

Born is the King of Israel.


This star drew nigh to the northwest,

over Bethlehem it took its rest;

and there it did both stop and stay,

right over the place where Jesus lay.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,

Born is the King of Israel.


Then entered in those Wise Men three,

full reverently upon the knee,

and offered there, in his presence,

their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,

Born is the King of Israel.


Eighth Lesson:


The wise men follow a star to find the child Jesus, the King of the Jews.


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, 2 asking, “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.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They 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.’ ”

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then 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. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On 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: “God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen”


God rest you merry, gentlemen,

let nothing you dismay,

for Jesus Christ, our Saviour,

was born upon this day,

to save us all from Satan's power

when we were gone astray.


O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy;

O tidings of comfort and joy!


In Bethlehem in Judah

this blessed babe was born,

and laid within a manger

upon this blessed morn;

for which his mother Mary

did nothing take in scorn.


O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy;

O tidings of comfort and joy!


From God our heavenly Father

a blessed angel came,

and unto certain shepherds

brought tidings of the same,

how that in Bethlehem was born

the Son of God by name.


O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy;

O tidings of comfort and joy!


The shepherds at these tidings

rejoiced much in mind,

and left their flocks a-feeding

in tempest, storm and wind,

and went to Bethlehem straightway,

the blessed babe to find.


O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy;

O tidings of comfort and joy!


Now to the Lord sing praises,

all you within this place,

and with true love and brotherhood

each other now embrace.

this holy tide of Christmas

all others doth deface.


O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy;

O tidings of comfort and joy!


Ninth Lesson:


John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation.


John 1:1-14


1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

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.


Hymn: “O Come All Ye Faithful”  


O come, all ye faithful,

joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye,

to Bethlehem.

Come and behold him,

born the King of angels;


O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord.


True God of true God,

Light from Light Eternal,

lo, he shuns not

the Virgin’s womb;

Son of the Father,

begotten, not created;


O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord.


Sing, choirs of angels,

sing in exultation;

O sing, all ye citizens

of heaven above!

Glory to God,

all glory in the highest;


O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord.


See how the shepherds,

summoned to his cradle,

Leaving their flocks,

draw nigh to gaze;

we too will thither

bend our joyful footsteps;


O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord.


Sharing in the Light:

We light these candles to proclaim that, out of love for the world, God dispelled darkness forever through the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. As the candles are lit, may we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ take all darkness out of our hearts, now and forever. Amen.


Hymn: “Silent Night”          


Silent night, holy night,

all is calm, all is bright

round yon virgin mother and child.

Holy infant, so tender and mild,

sleep in heavenly peace,

sleep in heavenly peace.


Silent night, holy night

wondrous star, lend thy light;

with the angels let us sing,

Alleluia to our King;

Christ the Savior is born,

Christ the Savior is born!


Silent night, holy night,

Son of God, love’s pure light;

radiant beams from thy holy face

with the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.


Silent night, holy night

wondrous star, lend thy light;

with the angels let us sing,

Alleluia to our King;

Christ the Savior is born,

Christ the Savior is born!


The Blessing


May your Christmas be a joyful and blessed time. 

May the gift of Christmas be ever present in your heart. 

May the Love of God bless your home throughout the holidays. 

And may you all celebrate in safety and love the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.