Merry Christmas! And thank you for joining us for worship! Wherever you are, we invite you to create space for worship, both in your physical space and in your heart — light your Advent wreath or grab a bible or hymnal, or do whatever helps you most to feel worshipful.
We will be singing Silent Night by candlelight, and we encourage you to light candles also and sing with us.
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Friday, December 24, 2022 • Christmas Eve
Ministers: the people
Pastor: Day Hefner
Organist: Chrissi Bywater
Lector: Jon Knutson & company
Communion asst: Sharon Schurman, Jon Knutson
Slideshow: Crystal Callahan
The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world!
He is the Light no darkness can overcome.
At darkest night we gather to celebrate the great light of our salvation.
With the heavenly host we sing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven.”
In Christ, God’s Word is made flesh and lives among us.
With the shepherds, we will tell of the wonders we have seen and heard.
GATHERING SONG (ELW 283) 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! The highest, most holy, light of light eternal, born of a virgin, a mortal he comes; Son of the Father now in flesh appearing! 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… in… the… highest: O come, let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord! Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning; Jesus, to the be… glory giv’n! Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing: O come, let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
GREETING & PRAYER
May the grace and truth of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song.
Narrator – In the Genesis story, we hear that God created the world with language. God said,
God – “Let there be light.”
Narrator – God said,
God – “Let there be night and day.”
Narrator – God said,
God – “It is good.”
Narrator – Then, in the first chapter in the Gospel of John, we hear how this language, the Word, is with God and Jesus.
John 1:1-4, 9–13, 18b
Reader – 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 true light, which helps everyone to see, was coming into the world. Jesus was in the world, and Word that shaped the world was in 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.
It is Jesus, a child of God, who by being close to the Father’s heart, has made God known.
HYMN (ELW 257, vs 1-2) 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. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel. O come, O wisdom from on high, embracing all things far and nigh: in strength and beauty come and stay; teach us your will and guide our way. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
Narrator – In the 1st chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we learn of Mary’s willingness to work with God even though what is being asked of her will not be easy. Being pregnant when not married is against the rules where and when she lives. There are some very hard consequences for breaking these rules – the worst consequence being death.
Reader – In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the messenger of God, Gabriel, was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to an unmarried woman engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The young woman’s name was Mary. And Gabriel said to her,
Gabriel – “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
Reader – But Mary was much perplexed by his words and wondered what sort of greeting this might be. Gabriel said to her,
Gabriel – “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Reader – Mary asked,
Mary – “How can this be, since I am unmarried?”
Reader – The angel said to her,
Gabriel – “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Reader – Then Mary said,
Mary – “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Reader – The messenger of God then departed from her. Mary quickly set out and went to the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. As the two women greeted one another, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy. Mary and Elizabeth extolled the wondrous things that God was doing, and Mary began to sing:
Mary – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.”
HYMN: The Magnificat (setting from Holden Evening Prayer by Marty Haugen)
My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, and my spirit rejoices in you, You have looked with love on your servant here, and blessed me all my life through. Great and mighty are you, O Holy One, strong is your kindness evermore. How you favor the weak and lowly one, humbling the proud of heart. You have cast the mighty down from their thrones and uplifted the humble of heart, You have filled the hungry with wondrous things, and left the wealthy no part. Great and mighty are you, O Faithful One, strong is your justice, strong your love, As you promised to Sarah and Abraham, kindness forevermore. My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, and my spirit rejoices in you, You have looked with love on your servant here, and blessed me all my life through.
Narrator – The place of Jesus’ birth is in Bethlehem, a small town a few miles south of Jerusalem. But Bethlehem was not Joseph or Mary’s hometown. They had to go to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus had made a law that everyone must be counted in the towns where their great-great grandparents (or ancestors) had been born. This was a long trip to travel by foot (about 60 miles or 3 days time). It would’ve been even more difficult since Mary was pregnant. When Mary and Joseph finally made it to Bethlehem, every guest room and place to stay was already stuffed to the gills with people. Many of these folks would have been their very extended family – and they would never turn away a family member who needed a place to stay. So they found Mary and Joseph a warm spot, resting among the household animals.
HYMN (ELW 279, vs 1-2) O Little Town of Bethlehem
During hymn: MARY, JOSEPH, and baby Jesus come forward and take a seat in chancel; ANIMALS come take places around Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus
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 wond’ring love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the king, and peace to all the earth!
Narrator – In this humble setting, far away from home, Mary gave birth to a baby boy – her firstborn son. She wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger – a feed trough for the animals. Mary and Joseph named him Jesus.
HYMN (ELW 278, vs 1-2) Away in a Manger
Away in a manger, no crib for his bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head; the stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. The cattle are lowing; the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes. I love you, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Reader – Now, it was night time and in the fields nearby, shepherds were watching their flocks. Then an angel stood before the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone around all of them. And the shepherds were terrified. But the angel of the Lord said to them:
Angel of the Lord – “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
Reader – Immediately after the angel stopped speaking, there were suddenly many angels praising God and saying
Angels – “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors.”
HYMN (ELW 270, vs 1-2) Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
During hymn: ANGELS come up and stand behind/near Mary, Joseph, & Jesus
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn king; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled." Joyful, all you nations, rise; join the triumph of the skies; with angelic hosts 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, incarnate deity! Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel! Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn king!"
Narrator – Then the angels left the shepherds and the shepherds took a deep breath (or maybe five or six deep breaths). Then they looked at each other and said:
Shepherds – “We better go see this baby!”
Reader – The shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
HYMN (ELW 276) Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
During hymn: SHEPHERDS come stand near Mary, Joseph, Jesus, & angels
Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall; oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the babe is Lord of all. Swiftly winging angels singing, bells are ringing, tidings bringing: Christ the child is Lord of all! Christ the child is Lord of all! Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new saw the glory, heard the story, tidings of a gospel true. Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow: Christ the child was born for you! Christ the child was born for you!
Narrator – So this place that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were staying was, as you heard earlier, home to some of the animals that belonged to the family. And you’ve got to imagine that these animals were pretty curious as to what a baby was doing in their feeding trough. If animals could talk, they might have said something like,
Animal 1 – “Hey this baby sure is cute, but why is it sitting in my dinner!?”
Narrator – Or maybe,
Animal 2 – “What are all these extra people doing in our home?? Let’s smell them and find out!”
Reader – We can just imagine these animals gathering around Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the shepherds, wanting to get a closer look. After all, this wasn’t just the Savior of people, but the Redeemer of the whole world!
Narrator – As for the shepherds, when they got to Bethlehem and saw Mary, Joseph and Jesus, they saw that everything that the angels had said to them was true. And so they returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen, making it known to everyone they met the wondrous new thing that God was doing.
HYMN (ELW 290, vs 1-2) Go Tell It on the Mountain
Refrain Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and ev’ry where; go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born! While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night, behold, throughout the heavens there shown a holy light. Refrain The shepherds feared and trembled when, lo, above the earth rang out the angel chorus that hailed our Savior’s birth. Refrain
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
With wonder and thanksgiving for Christ’s coming into the world, we pray for the church, the life of the earth, and the whole human family.
A brief silence.
Your infinite love is born to us this night. With choirs of angels the church proclaims the good news. Send us out as messengers of the hope that has come to all people. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You are pleased to dwell with your creatures and the whole earth sings for joy. Renew the splendor of creation from the smallest cell to the widest galaxies. Guide us to be wise stewards of your gifts for the sake of generations to come. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Your authority is over the nations. Break the rod of oppression in every land and free all people from fear. Bring peace where there is war, compassion where there is suffering, and healing where there is disease (regions in crisis may be named). God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You cherish those who are most vulnerable. Protect infants and children, and bless those who care for them. Watch over women giving birth, attend the dying, and relieve any who are in pain (especially). Shelter refugee families and those who have no home. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Your lovingkindness embraces everyone in need. Help any for whom this season is lonely or joyless. Comfort those among us, or known to us, who are experiencing distress of body or mind, missing loved ones, or grieving (especially). God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You welcome those who have died into the joyous light of glory. We give thanks for the saints of every time and place who have praised you with lives of faith and humility. Inspire us by their example to love you by serving others. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Pondering the mystery of eternal love made flesh in Christ Jesus, we commend all for whom we pray to the mercy of God.
The peace of Christ be with you always.
And also with you.
God feeds us with the presence of Jesus Christ.
There are many ways to make your offering:
- Checks may be mailed or dropped off at the church
- Ask your bank about setting up automatic giving
- Make a secure offering online by clicking on the button below (opens up our Tithe.ly giving page in a new window)
God of abundance, receive and bless these gifts we have offered. Join our hearts with the song of the angels, and gather us at your table of celebration. Strengthen us to share with all the world the abundance of your grace upon grace, poured out in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is indeed right, our duty and our joy… we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
HOLY, HOLY (tune of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear)
O Holy, holy, holy one, great God of power and might. the heav’ns and earth declare your praise. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed now and ever is the one who comes in God’s holy name. O Holy, holy, holy God, from age to age the same!
THANKSGIVING AT THE TABLE
Holy one, the beginning and the end… Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
With this bread and cup, we remember… We look with hope for his coming.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Holy God, we long for your Spirit… Bring the gift of peace on earth.
Come, Holy Spirit.
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, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
INVITATION TO COMMUNION
Glory to God in the highest! Come to the table of peace.
All are welcome at the Lord’s table, whether Lutheran or not. Ushers will invite you up by household to take communion at the table. Wine and juice are available.
COMMUNION SONG (ELW 267) Joy to the World
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king; let ev’ry 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 earth, the Savior reigns! Let all 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 sin or sorrow 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, wonders of his love.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Let us pray.
God our redeemer, you have fed us at this table with gifts of grace, truth, and life. As you have gathered us in joy, send us forth as messengers of your peace. Make us shine with the good news of your glory, born to us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.
SENDING SONG (ELW 281) Silent Night, Holy 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, heav’nly 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 your holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at your birth, Jesus, Lord, at your birth.
God bless you and keep you, Jesus grant you grace and truth, and the Spirit send peace upon your hearts, now and forever.
Christ the Savior is born! Go in peace. Proclaim this good news.
Thanks be to God.