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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Thursday, December 24, 2020 • Christmas Eve
Ministers: the people
Pastor Shari Schwedhelm (Salem & St. Timothy Lutheran in Fremont)
Pastor Heidi Wallace (Bethany Lutheran & First Presbyterian in Lyons)
Pastor Day Hefner (St. John’s Lutheran in Schuyler)
Deacon Kristin Johnson (First Lutheran in Fremont)
Pastor Scott Johnson (Midland Lutheran campus pastor in Fremont)
Greg Johnson (Salem Lutheran in Fremont)
PROCESSIONAL HYMN (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 and 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.
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, who was in the beginning, who makes a dwelling among us, who covers us with justice and mercy.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God of goodness and lovingkindness,
we confess that we have sinned against you and our neighbors.
We have turned away from your invitation to new life.
We have turned away from the lowly and downtrodden.
In your abundant mercy, forgive us our sins, those we know and those known only to you, for the sake of the one who came to live among us, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
Hear the good news of peace and salvation! God forgives us all our sins, not through our own work, but through ☩ Jesus Christ, made known to all people. With all who come to the manger, rejoice in this amazing gift of grace.
ADVENT WREATH LITANY
Because injustice and despair threaten to overwhelm us, we pray for hope…
(Light the first candle in your Advent wreath.)
Because so many swords have not yet been beaten into ploughshares, we pray for peace…
(Light the second candle in your Advent wreath.)
Because grief and loss weigh so heavily, we pray for joy…
(Light the third candle in your Advent wreath.)
Because hatred is still so strong, and because people all over the world are suffering, we pray for love.
(Light the fourth candle in your Advent wreath.)
God has come to us as a child. Christ is present in our world.
(Light the Christ Candle in your Advent wreath, often a candle in the center.)
May the light and the fire from these candles burn away everything that is preventing the God of hope and peace and joy and love from being born among us…
Brothers and sisters, be not afraid, even now – even now – the light of Christ is overwhelming the world!
SPECIAL MUSIC – O Holy Night
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
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. Amen.
FIRST READING: Isaiah 9:2-7
2The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
3You 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.
4For 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.
5For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6For 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.
7His 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.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
PSALM: Psalm 96
1Sing to the Lord| a new song;
sing to the Lord, | all the earth.
2Sing to the Lord, bless the name | of the Lord;
proclaim God’s salvation from | day to day.
3Declare God’s glory a- | mong the nations
and God’s wonders a- | mong all peoples.
4For great is the Lord and greatly | to be praised,
more to be feared | than all gods. R
5As for all the gods of the nations, they | are but idols;
but you, O Lord, have | made the heavens.
6Majesty and magnificence are | in your presence;
power and splendor are in your | sanctuary.
7Ascribe to the Lord, you families | of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord hon- | or and power.
8Ascribe to the Lord the honor due the | holy name;
bring offerings and enter the courts | of the Lord. R
9Worship the Lord in the beau- | ty of holiness;
tremble before the Lord, | all the earth.
10Tell it out among the nations: “The | Lord is king!
The one who made the world so firm that it cannot be moved will judge the peo- |ples with equity.”
11Let the heavens rejoice, and let the | earth be glad;
let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that | is therein.
12Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy at your com- | ing, O Lord,
for you come to | judge the earth.
13You will judge the | world with righteousness
and the peoples | with your truth. R
SECOND READING: Titus 2:11-14
11The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (ELW 289) 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. Glo-oria in excelsis Deo; Glo-oria in excelsis Deo. Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? What the gladsome tidings be which inspire your heav’nly song? Glo-oria in excelsis Deo; Glo-oria in excelsis Deo. Come to Bethlehem and see him whose birth the angels sing; come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn king. Glo-oria in excelsis Deo; Glo-oria in excelsis Deo.
GOSPEL: Luke 2:1-20
The holy gospel according to Luke.
Glory to you, O Lord.
1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And 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.
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And 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!”
15When 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.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
SERMON — Pastor Scott Johnson (Midland University campus ministry, Fremont)
HYMN OF THE DAY (ELW 279) 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 wond’ring love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the king, and peace to all the earth! How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is giv’n! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heav’n. 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; oh, come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel!
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Joining our voices with the song of the angels, let us pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
Silence for reflection.
The shepherds sing, “Jesus Christ is born!” Let your church throughout the world proclaim this good news, over the hills and everywhere. Unite the voices of all your faithful people in songs of praise and rejoicing. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Heaven and nature sing, “Joy to the world!” Give respite to flocks, fields, and those who tend them. Come near to us in the beauty of nighttime, the shining of the stars, and the hush of a world at rest. May our wonder at your creation rouse our care for all the earth. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
The angels sing, “Peace on earth!” Come quickly to still the strife of this world. Hush the noise of war and violence in places of unrest (especially). Inspire leaders of nations to seek lasting peace and sustainable provision for all in their care. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Mary sings melodies of comfort to her newborn child. Bring rest and reassurance to those facing struggles this night. Shelter travelers and those without homes. Console those who lie awake due to pain or anxiety. Heal those who are sick or hurting (especially). Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Love sings through the sound of a new baby’s cry. Bless new parents and expectant parents. Comfort those who long for children, especially those running out of hope or options. Surround families of every shape and size with your love and care. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
The heavenly chorus sings, “Glory to God in the highest!” We give you thanks for all the saints who have proclaimed your glory in word and deed (especially). Let us join them this night in joyful praise around your eternal throne (especially). Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
God of mercy, come quickly to us with grace upon grace as we lift these and all our prayers to you, in the name of Jesus.
The peace of Christ be with you always.
And also with you.
Though we are separated by distance and illness, Christ’s peace is with each of us.
HYMN (ELW 282) It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold: “Peace on the earth, good will to all, from heav’n’s all-gracious king.” The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing. Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurled, and still their heav’nly music floats o’er all the weary world. Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hov’ring wing, and ever o’er its babel sounds the blessed angels sing. And you, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow: look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing; oh, rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing! For lo! The days are hast’ning on, by prophets seen of old, when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold, when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and all the world give back the song which now the angels sing.
All are encouraged to be diligent in giving, especially in this unusual season.
- 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)
Gracious God, you came to us as one unknown, bringing joy and salvation to the earth. Nourish us at your banquet table, that with all who welcome your birth we may proclaim your peace, revealed in Jesus Christ, our Savior.
THANKSGIVING FOR THE WORD
Holy God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, at the birth of time your Word brought light into the world, and throughout the ages, you proclaim newness of life.
For your wondrous Word, we thank you, O God.
We thank you, O God.
In the fullness of time, your Word became flesh, to shine in our world’s darkness, to speak peace to all people, and to welcome us as members of your family.
For your loving Word, we adore you, O God.
We adore you, O God.
Grant us now the gift of your Spirit, that held, nourished, and protected by your Word, we may live as your children, bearing your goodness throughout the world.
For your powerful Word, we praise you, O God.
We praise you, O God.
All glory to you, holy God, now and forever.
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.
HYMN (ELW 277) 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. Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in your tender care and fit us for heaven, to live with you there.
LIGHTING OF CANDLES
We celebrate the entrance of Christ’s light into the world by passing light from the Christ candle to all the people. (Please also light your candles at home!)
CANDLELIGHT READING: verses from John 1 and Genesis 1
CANDLELIGHT HYMN (ELW 281) Silent Night, Holy Night!
(A soloist might start by singing a verse in German)
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.
Grace from God’s own heart, peace from the ☩ Child in the manger, and strength from the Spirit of life be blessings for you today and forever.
SENDING SONG (ELW 290) 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 Down in a lonely manger the humble Christ was born; and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn. Refrain
Christ is born! Share the Good News!
Thanks be to God.