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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 24, 2014
Christmas Eve

PRELUDE

GREETING AND PREPARATION

Leader: The Lord be with you. 
People: And also with you!

CALL TO WORSHIP 

Leader: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
People: on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 

Leader: Jesus Christ is our life and light.
People: In his name and in his power, let us worship God!  

— Based on Isaiah 9:2, NIV


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O COME, O COME EMMANUEL

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

CHORUS
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave.

CHORUS

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

CHORUS

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

CHORUS


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SCRIPTURE READING 

Psalm 96, NRSV

O sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be revered above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.

Honor and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts.

Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
    tremble before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
    The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
    He will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

12     let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

13     before the Lord; for he is coming,
    for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with his truth. 

Leader: This is the word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God!


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ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

CHORUS
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!


Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

CHORUS

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

CHORUS

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

CHORUS 

PASSING THE PEACE


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Luke 2:1-20, NRSV

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. 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. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 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.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Leader: This is the gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you O Christ!

REFLECTION

Speaker: Jared Ayers


REFLECTIONS 

Rejoice, you just;
it is the birthday of the Justifier.
Rejoice, you who are weak and sick; 
it is the birthday of the Savior, the Healer.
Rejoice, captives; it is the birthday of the Redeemer...
Rejoice, free people; it is the birthday 
of the One who makes you free.
Rejoice, all Christians; it is the birthday of Christ.
Born of his mother, 
he commended this day to the ages,
while born of his Father he created all ages...  
The One who holds the world in being 
was lying in a manger; 

he was simultaneously speechless infant and Word.  The heavens cannot contain him, 
but a woman carried him in her bosom... 

— Augustine of Hippo, from a 4th century Christmas sermon


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 THE LORD’S TABLE

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING  

The Lord be with you. 
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts now!  
We lift them to the Lord. 

Let us give thanks to the Lord our saving God.
It is right and good, always and everywhere.
To give thanks, to the Lord. 

Minister: With joy we praise you, gracious God, for you have created heaven and earth, made us in your image, and kept covenant with us — even when we fell into sin. We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, who came among us as the Word made flesh to show us your glory, full of grace and truth. Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and the whole creation to proclaim the glory of your name, saying:

Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest! 
Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest! 

Minister: You are holy, O God of majesty, and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Born in humility, he came to rule over all. Helpless as an infant, he showed the power of your love. Poor in things of the world, he brought the wealth of your grace. Rejected by many, he welcomed all who sought him. In his dying and rising, you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery  to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. 


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Minister: Remembering your gracious acts in Jesus Christ, we take from your creation this bread  and wine and joyfully celebrate his dying and rising as we await the day of his coming. With thanksgiving we offer our very selves to you to be a living and holy sacrifice, dedicated to your service. Together we proclaim the mystery of the faith. 

Your death, O Christ, we proclaim.
        Your rising celebrate!
Your coming Lord we await, to make all things new.
(REPEAT)

Minister: Lord, our God, send your Holy Spirit so that this bread and cup may be for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we and all your saints be united with Christ and remain faithful in hope and love. Gather your whole church, O Lord, into the glory of your kingdom.

 Praise to the Father,
praise to the Son, 
praise to the Spirit, 
Our God the Three in One.  

WORDS OF INSTITUTION

Minister: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.         
People: Therefore, let us keep the feast. 

HOLY COMMUNION        

Minister: The gifts of God for the people of God.     

Gluten-free communion wafers are available at the welcome table in the front lobby of the church. Please pick one up prior to coming forward to take communion. 

Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the family meal of Christians. We invite all committed followers of Jesus Christ to partake of this sacrament: those who are baptized members of a congregation that proclaims the Gospel, who are at peace with God and their neighbor, and who seek strength to live more faithfully for Christ.


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PRAYERS FOR REFLECTION

If you are not a Christian, or if you are not prepared to share in this meal, we encourage you to spend this time in prayer. We hope that this time is helpful to you as you consider your relationship with Jesus Christ and with his people, the church. If you are unable to receive Communion, we invite you to meditate on one of the following prayers: 

PRAYER FOR THOSE SEARCHING FOR TRUTH: Lord Jesus, you claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. Grant that I might be undaunted by the cost of following you as I consider the reasons for doing so. If what you claim is true, please guide me, teach me, and open to me the reality of who you are. Give me an understanding of you that is coherent, convincing, and that leads to the life that you promise. Amen.

PRAYER OF BELIEF: Lord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through you I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross, and offering forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as Savior and Lord. Amen.

PRAYER OF COMMITMENT: Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you in baptism and in a life of committed discipleship in your church. Grant that I may take the necessary steps to be one with your people, and live in the fullness of your Spirit. Amen.


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JOY TO THE WORLD

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and heav'n and nature sing.

Joy to the world! The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods,
rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, and wonders of His love. 


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OFFERING

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

CHORUS
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;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
"Glory to God,
all glory in the highest!"

CHORUS

Yea, Lord we greet Thee,
Born that happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv'n.
Word of the Father,
now in flesh appearing:

CHORUS


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CANDLE LIGHTING

SCRIPTURE READING


Isaiah 9:2-7, NRSV

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 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.

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.


Leader: This is the word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God!


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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
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
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.


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BENEDICTION

Minister: May God, who sent his angels to proclaim the glad news of the Savior’s birth, fill you with joy and make you heralds of the gospel. 
All: Amen.

DISMISSAL

Minister: Let us go forth in the name of Christ!
People: Thanks be to God!


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ANNOUNCEMENTS

THANKS FOR JOINING US!
If you’re joining us tonight for the first time, welcome! We’d love for you to join us again on Sunday - click here for more information. This winter, we’re going through a sermon series entitled, “The One: The Story of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.”

TODAY'S OFFERING
The offering collected during today's service will be given to the Liberti Church Benevolence Fund. This fund supports our various efforts to provide assistance to our members and friends in times of need.  These efforts can include financial assistance for counseling as well as assistance in various crisis care needs that arise within our congregation. 

Please visit and libertichurch.org/news for more information on these and other upcoming opportunities at Liberti Church!

 

PRAYER REQUESTS 

This week, please pray alongside us for...

Our Church — Pray for our homeless friends and neighbors to receive the Gospel in tangible ways through the Bethesda and Emmanuel Christmas lunches.

Our City — Pray for those in need of physical and mental healing.

Our World — Pray for the many people in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo who live in desperate poverty, and the efforts to create better living conditions for them. Pray for the children in these countries who are trafficked for cheap labor or otherwise exploited.

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