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REFLECTIONS


My name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say.
-Treebeard the Ent, in J.R.R. Tolkein’s novel The Two Towers: The Lord of the Rings Part Two

Now burn, new born to the world, Doubled-naturèd name,
The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame,
Mid-numbered he in three of the thunder-throne!
Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;
Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire, not a lightning of fíre hard- hurled.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins, from “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” in
Mortal Beauty, God’s Grace: Major Poems and Spiritual Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins


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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 24, 2015
Christmas Eve
Center City Campus

OPENING SENTENCES
Leader: Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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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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

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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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


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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! 

GLORIA PATRI

Glory be to the Father
Glory be to the Son
Glory be to the Spirit Three in One
As it was in the beginning
It will be forever
Amen, Amen, Amen

PASSING THE PEACE


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SCRIPTURE READING
Matthew 1: 18-25, NRSV

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. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But 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. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

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

REFLECTION
Speaker: Jared Ayers

 


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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. 

 


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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.


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OFFERING
 

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King.
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies,
With th'angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th'incarnate Deity;
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail, the heav'n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris'n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give us second birth.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!”


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CANDLE LIGHTING
SCRIPTURE READING
John 1:1-14 NRSV


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 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.

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 Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness, who comes with healing in his wings, 
Fill you with the joy and peace that passes all understanding. The blessing of God almighty, 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. 


All: Amen. 

DISMISSAL

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







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