Worship Elements: Christmas Eve 2017 (Option 4)

November 24th, 2017

COLOR: White or Gold
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

THEME IDEAS

Darkness is overcome by light; despair gives way to hope; prisoners are freed; and death is vanquished by the promise of salvation. These are the life- and history-changing forces set in motion by the birth of a child—a child born to a poor Jewish couple, in an obscure town, in a backwater province of the Roman empire. On this night, we eagerly await the arrival of light, hope, freedom, and salvation, as we hear again the beloved story told and retold for generations: Christ is born! Alleluia!

INVITATION AND GATHERING

Call to Worship (Isaiah 9, Luke 2)

Good news! Unspeakable joy!
A great light has burst forth,
overcoming the darkness!
A child is born for us—a son has been given!
Bringing a kingdom of endless peace,
we shall call him Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God!
Come, let us see what God has brought us!
Let us see what the Lord has done!
Glory to God in the highest!
And on earth, peace and goodwill to all!

Opening Prayer (Psalm 96, Isaiah 9, Titus 2)

Holy One,
you have appeared in the flesh,
bringing redemption to all,
your glory is made known in this newborn child,
this living, blessed hope.
Tonight we sing a new song—
a song of justice, righteousness, and endless peace.
Gift of God, beautiful Christ-child,
we welcome you!
Let love be born anew in our hearts
on this joyous night. Amen.

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

Prayer of Confession (Isaiah 9, Titus 2, Luke 2)

Lord, we have lived far too long
in dark places of our own making.
We have walled ourselves in,
shut the world out,
and held ourselves captive
to our fear and failings.
Free us from this place, Lord.
Return us to a life in your presence,
where we may face the trials of this world
with you by our side.
Restore your light to our eyes,
that we may behold anew
your love in our lives.
Hear us and help us, we pray.
We wait in eager anticipation,
for the glory of your salvation this night. Amen.

Words of Assurance (Isaiah 9, Luke 2)

Rejoice and be glad:
Your burdens are lifted, your captivity is ended!
The Lord’s great light pierces the darkness:
breaching the walls of our prisons,
revealing the way of true freedom.
Light, love, and salvation have come to us this night.
Christ is born, and with Christ, we are born anew!
Amen.

Introduction to the Word (Luke 2)

Over two thousand years ago, a weary world awaited its promised savior. At the appointed time, a governor’s order sent the messiah’s parents from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Imagine, a decree of the Roman empire becomes the means to fulfill God’s prophecies. Timeless stories, timeless truths, timeless love: our messiah has come! Christ is here!

Response to the Word (Isaiah 9, Psalm 96, Luke 2)

Your glory shines around us, Lord;
your light banishes the darkness.
We join the angels and all the heavenly host,
worshiping you with songs of heartfelt praise.
All creation shouts the good news of great joy:
chains are broken, burdens are lifted,
wounds are healed.
This is God’s doing.
Let the world rejoice in the goodness of the Lord! Amen.

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

Offering Prayer (Psalm 96)

Blessed Lord,
you have given us your greatest gift—
your very Word come to earth,
to live with us and through us;
you have filled us with your grace and truth—
your holy child sent to free us from our bonds.
How can we repay such divine generosity?
Receive our thanks and praise.
As you have given to us,
so now we share your gifts and your grace
with a world in need.
May this offering help bring your light and love
to those who still wander in darkness. Amen.

SENDING FORTH

Benediction (Isaiah 9, Luke 2)

A child has been born for us.
God’s grace has been given to us.
From a stable in Bethlehem our savior has come.
We have seen the glory of the Lord,
revealed in the face of the Christ child.
We can hardly contain our amazement.
Tell the world. Treasure the story.
Ponder it in your heart.
We will Glorify and praise God,
for all we have heard and seen!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ has come!
Amen!

CONTEMPORARY OPTIONS

Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 96, Luke 2)

Let all people sing praises to the Lord.
Let the whole world give glory to the Lord.
Let heaven rejoice. Let the whole world rejoice.
We sing for joy. The Lord is coming.
The Lord is coming. Christ is coming.
Christ is coming. Christ is here. Hallelujah!

Praise Sentences (Isaiah 9, Psalm 96, Luke 2)

Let the heavens rejoice!
Let the earth rejoice in exaltation!
Let the seas roar and the trees shout for joy!
The Lord is coming to bring righteousness and truth.
God’s light has overcome the darkness!
The light shines upon us, around us, and through us.
Sing to the Lord and bless God’s name!
Salvation has come! Christ has come!

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