A Christmas Eve Covenant & Candlelight Service
“God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust & obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.”
― Elisabeth Elliot
Prelude One “Fairest Jesu” Benjamin Harlan
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Song;
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honor;
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown/
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, Love most bright.
Drawn by Thee our souls aspiring,
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God our flesh that fashioned
With the fire of life impassioned.
Striving sill to Truth unknown,
Soaring, dying, round Thy throne.
Lord of all nations,
Blessed Son of God and Son of man!]
Glory and honor,
Now and forever more be Thine!
Prelude Two “We Seek the Lord” John Purifoy
We seek the Lord!
Come, let us worship His name in one accord;
We seek the Lord, our Savior and King.
All glory and honor to Him we gladly bring.
Sing Alleluia; His name be adored!
Our hearts in gladness rejoicing
As we seek the Lord!
Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing.
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
We seek the Lord,
The light of His Face,
The hope of all nations,
The dawn of truth and grace.
Low in a manger, a child now is born!
Come, let us worship and praise Him
As we seek the Lord!
Prelude Three “Christmas Seekers” John Purifoy
I am a seeker, I am a child,
And sometimes when I’ve lost my way,
Your voice, soft and kind,
Says “Seek, ye shall find,”
And Your light turns darkness into day.
I am a seeker, you are my rock
On pathways of boulders and sand;
Your word is my guide, You walk at my side,
When I stumble, You reach for my hand.
I ask for forgiveness, I knock at your door,
I seek to follow your way.
Lord, grant me wisdom to come to Your kingdom
And live my faith every day.
I am a seeker, show me the light,
Give me strength when the journey is long.
With your word to guide
And your love inside,
My will and my faith will be strong.
The Church Gathers
Words of Welcome and Announcements (by the minister)
† Choral Introit “The Birthday of a King” William Harold Neidlinger
Alleluia! O how the angels sang.
Alleluia! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light.
‘Twas the birthday of a King.
Lighting of the Christ Candle “O Holy Night” Adam
O Holy Night The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees,
O hear the angels’ voices!
O night divine,
O night when Christ was born
O night divine,
O night divine,
O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need; to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
† Call to Worship
Commit yourselves to Christ as his servants. Give yourselves to him, that you may belong to him. Christ has many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves. But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. It is necessary, therefore, that we consider what it means to be a servant of Christ. Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:
Let me be your servant, under your command. I will no longer be my own. I will give up myself to your will in all things.
Be satisfied that Christ shall give you your place and work.
Lord, make me what you will. I put myself fully into your hands: put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed by you, or laid aside for you, let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal.
Christ will be the Savior of none but his servants. He is the source of all salvation to those who obey. Christ will have no servants except by consent; Christ will not accept anything except full consent to all that he requires. Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing.
May Christ be all in all for me!
† Hymn “O Come, All Ye Faithful” No. 234
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.
True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal, lo, he shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten not created; (Refrain)
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation; O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest; (Refrain)
See how the shepherds, summoned to his cradle, leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
we too will thither bend our joyful footsteps; (Refrain)
Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger, we would embrace thee with love and awe.
Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly? (Refrain)
Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning, Jesus, to thee be all glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing: (Refrain)
To Hear the Word
From the Hebrew Scripture Isaiah 9:2-7 Nancy Brannan is the Liturgist.
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.
Anthem “Song of Mary and Joseph” John Purifoy
Mary: Holy Spirit fills my soul, and all who seek shall call me blessed.
Events foretold have now occurred, A child will come to bring His word.
Joseph: Angels in a wondrous dream said “Mary’s child is Christ the King.
Call Him Jesus, heavenly Son, Lord and Savior, holy One.”
Mary: I fear not the days ahead, I know the Lord is in my soul.
I rejoice in Gabriel’s word, And I am blessed by all I’ve heard.
My soul shall magnify the Lord. He will be God’s only Son,
Lord and Savior, heavenly One.
Joseph: I fear not what lies ahead, for Mary is God’s chosen one.
Just as angels did foretell, This child shall be Emmanuel!
From the Gospel Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph 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. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And 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.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “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.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When 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.” So they 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. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Sermon “Christmas Power: self-controlled, upright, and godly”
Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He 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.
To Respond in Faith
† Hymn “Angels from the Realms of Glory” No. 220
Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth;
ye who sang creation’s story now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn king.
Shepherds, in the field abiding, watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing; yonder shines the infant light: (Refrain)
Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar;
seek the great Desire of nations; ye have seen his natal star: (Refrain)
Saints, before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear;
suddenly the Lord, descending, in his temple shall appear: (Refrain)
Continuing the Covenant Service:
Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing. We choose all, and we confirm this by a Holy Covenant.
To make this covenant a reality in your life, listen to these admonitions:
First, set apart some time, more than once, to be spent alone before the Lord; in seeking earnestly God’s special assistance and gracious acceptance of you; in carefully thinking through all the conditions of the covenant; in searching your hearts whether you have already freely given your life to Christ. Consider what your sins are. Consider the laws of Christ, how holy, strict, and spiritual they are, and whether you, after having carefully considered them, are willing to choose them all. Be sure that you are clear in these matters, see that you do not lie to God.
Second, be serious and in a spirit of holy awe and reverence.
Third, claim God’s covenant, rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength, so you can keep your promise. Trust not your own strength and power.
Fourth, resolve to be faithful. You have given the Lord your hearts, you have opened your mouths to the Lord, and you have dedicated youself to God. With God’s power, never go back.
And last, be then prepared to renew your covenant with the Lord. Fall down on your knees, lift your hands toward heaven, open your hearts to the Lord, as we pray together:
Covenant Prayer (responsive, you may kneel or bow as able)
(All) O Righteous God, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, see me as I fall down before you. Forgive my unfaithfulness in not having done your will, for you have promised mercy to me if I turn to you with my whole heart.
(Leader) God requires that you shall put away all your idols.
(All) I here from the bottom of my heart renounce them all, covenanting with you that no known sin shall be allowed in my life. Against your will, I have turned my love toward the world. In your power I will watch all temptations that will lead me away from you. For my own righteousness is riddled with sin, unable to stand before you.
(Leader) Through Christ, God has offered to be your God again if you would let him.
(All) Before all heaven and earth, I here acknowledge you as my Lord and God. I take you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for my portion, and vow to give up myself, body and soul, as your servant, to serve you in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life.
(Leader) God has given the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way and means of coming to God.
(All) Jesus, I do here on bended knee accept Christ as the only new and living Way, and sincerely join myself in a covenant with him. O blessed Jesus, I come to you, hungry, sinful, miserable, blind, and naked, unworthy even to wash the feet of your servants. I do here, will all my power, accept you as my Lord and Head. I renounce my own worthiness, and vow that you are the Lord, my righteousness. I renounce my own wisdom, and take you for my only guide. I renounce my own will, and take your will as my law.
(Leader) Christ has told you that you must suffer with him.
(All) I do here covenant with you, O Christ, to take my lot with you as it may fall. Through your grace I promise that neither life nor death shall part me from you.
(Leader) God has given holy laws as the rule of your life.
(All) I do here willingly put my neck under your yoke, to carry your burden. All your laws are holy, just, and good. I therefore take them as the rule for my words, thoughts, and actions, promising that I will strive to order my whole life according to your direction, and not allow myself to neglect anything I know to be my duty.
(Leader) The almighty God searches and knows your heart.
(All) O God, you know that I make this covenant with you today without guile or reservation. If any falsehood should be in it, guide me and help me to set it aright. And now, glory be to you, O God the Father, whom I from this day forward shall look upon as my God and Father. Glory be to you, O God the Son, who have loved me and washed me from my sins in your own blood, and now is my Savior and Redeemer. Glory be to you, O God the Holy Spirit, who by your almighty power have turned my heart from sin to God. O mighty God, the Lord Omnipotent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you have now become my Covenant Friend. And I, through your infinite grace, have become your covenant servant. So be it. And let the covenant I have made on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.
You are invited to make this covenant not only in your heart, but in word; not only in word, but in writing. Therefore, with all reverence, lay the service before the Lord as your act and deed. And when you have done this, sign it. Then keep it as a reminder of the holy agreement between God and you that you may remember it during doubts and temptations. In Writing I commit myself to this covenant:
To Receive the Sacrament
Prayer of Confession and Pardon No.8
(unison) Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
All pray in silence
(leader) Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
(unison to leader) In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
(unison) Glory to God. Amen.
The Collection of Tithes and Offerings
Anthem Two “Sleep Peacefully, Jesus” Benjamin Harlan
Sleep peacefully, Jesus, all warm in the hay.
May your waking cries come with breaking of day.
Surrounded by silence on this sacred night,
Sleep soundly, sweet Jesus,’til morning’s first night.
How can it be true that in this cattle stall
Sleeps One who is born to be Savior of all?
The darkness that covers the people of earth
Will somehow be lifted because of Your birth.
So sleep, Baby Jesus, and dream of the day
When Your little hands will turn sorrow away.
For you, born tonight in this dark cattle stall
Brought God’s gift of love to give light to us all.
† Presentation of Tithes and Offerings (unison) No. 99
To God be the glory, to God be the glory, to God be the glory for the things he hath done. With his blood he has saved me; with his power he has raised me; to God be the glory for the things he hath done.
The Great Thanksgiving (with Musical Setting B: pp. 19-20)
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 good to give our thanks and praise.
(pastor prays, concluding) And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
(sung, leader calls and congregation echoes one line at a time)
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna, in the highest
(pastor prays, concluding:) And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
(sung, call and echo) Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!
(pastor prays, concluding:) All honor and glory is yours, almighty God, now and forever.
(sung, call and echo) Amen Amen Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer (unison)
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. Amen.
Please be seated.
Breaking the Bread
Giving the Bread and Cup
Prayer Following the Receiving of the Sacrament (unison)
Eternal God, we give thanks to you for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your spirit, to give ourselves for others, in the name of Jesus Christ our lord, Amen.
And Scatters to Be the Church in the World
† Carol “Silent Night, Holy Night” No. 239
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 dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light;
with the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!
† A Reading of the Magnificat Luke 1:46b-55 Susan Allenback
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
† Carol “Joy to the World” No. 246
Joy to the World , the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, 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.
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.
† Dismissal with Blessing
Go, to receive Christ into your life in a new way this Christmas
We Go now, to be God’s people.
† Choral Response “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” John Purifoy
For unto us a Child is born,
For unto us a Song is given,
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
For unto us a Child is born,
And His name shall ever be
“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
† Ringing of the Bicentennial Bell
† Organ Postlude “In Dulci Jubilo” Honegger