Christmas Eve: 24 Dec – “For unto us is born a Savior – Christ the Lord!”

Christmas Eve

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father: Prepare our hearts to enter into the joy and wonder of Christmas. Shine your Light into our darkness; and remind us of those Christ Jesus came to seek and save – the poor and helpless… the cold and hungry… the sick and those who mourn… the lonely and unloved… the persecuted and oppressed… and all lost souls everywhere. Make us a Light to the nations, that we may bring the Good News of peace and goodwill through Christ Jesus our Lord into every corner of the whole world. All to your honor and glory. Amen.
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“Once in Royal David’s City” – King’s College Cambridge 2010


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Isaiah 9:2–7 (NLT)

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

“O Come O Come Emmanuel” – Enya

Micah 5:2-4 (NLT)

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world.

“When Love Came Down to Earth” – Kristyn Getty, Margaret Becker, Joanne Hogg

Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

“Joseph’s Song” – Gabe Hughes

Luke 2:8–16 (NLT)

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – Sissel Kyrkjebø

John 1:1-5, 10-14 (NLT)

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it….

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
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“Joy to the World” – Northern Ireland Flashmob


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Blessing

Through the incarnation of His Son God has scattered the darkness of the world, and by Christ’s glorious birth, which angels announced to the shepherds, has brightened this most holy night. May the God of infinite goodness banish the darkness of sin from our hearts and make them radiant with the light of His goodness.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

4th Sunday of Advent: 24 Dec – Luke 1:26-38 ~ May everything you have said about me come true.

4th Sunday of Advent

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening Prayer

Here in our midst, O God of mystery, You disclose the secret hidden for countless ages. For You we wait, for You we listen. Upon hearing Your voice may we, like Mary, embrace Your will and become a dwelling fit for Your Word. Grant this through Him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near: Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
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“Gabriel’s Message” – Jars of Clay


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Reading: Luke 1:26-38 (NLT)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
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Intercessory Prayer

Gracious God: Your steadfast love endures forever; hear our prayers as we present our needs to You –

+ For all who profess faith in Christ, that with open hearts we may welcome our Savior….
+ For the Jewish people, descendants of King David, that Your promises to them may be fulfilled….
+ For all people of goodwill, that we may grow in kindness and respect for each other….
+ For all who lack faith and courage, that we may be inspired by Mary’s trust in God….
+ For family and friends coming home for Christmas, that we may travel safely and find rest….
+ For all who have suffered grief or illness in 2017, that we may support them in their sorrow….
+ For all who have gone before us in faith, that they may receive a joyous welcome in heaven….

Gracious God, Your steadfast love endures forever: hear us and help us, as we wait expectantly for the glorious return of Christ Jesus, Your Son and our Savior, in whose name we pray. Amen.
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“Almost There” – Amy Grant w/ Michael W Smith


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Blessing – Romans 16:25-27 (NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!