Christmas Day Worship Service

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December 25, 2023

Theme of the Day

Merry Christmas and welcome to worship! We are here to celebrate a birth and contemplate a mystery. The Son of God, the eternal Word, became a man who was born in time. How he did that is known to God. Why he did it has been revealed to us. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us to secure one blessing after another for the entire human race.


Pastor Westendorf’s Welcome

Invocation

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Opening Words (Psalm 8)

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold
Against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

What is a human being that you are mindful of him,
A son of man that you care for him?

You have made him a little lower than the angels
And crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
You put everything under his feet:

All flocks and herds,
And the animals of the wild,

The birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea,
All that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is your name in all the earth! 

Let Us All with Gladsome Voice – CW 332

1 Let us all with gladsome voice
    praise the God of heaven,
who, to bid our hearts rejoice,
    his own Son has given.

2 To this vale of tears he comes,
    here to serve in sadness,
that with him in heav’n’s fair homes
    we may reign in gladness.

3 We are rich, for he was poor;
    is not this a wonder?
Therefore praise God evermore
    here on earth and yonder.

Confession and Absolution

In these days of Christmas, we hear people talking about peace. 
But how can there be peace unless you grant it? 

In this season, we hear songs about joy and mirth. 
But how can sinners rejoice unless they are pardoned? 

Lord, we confess that our sins have broken the peace with you,
And our iniquities have forfeited a joyful relationship with you. 

On our own, we deserve nothing but darkness.
On our own, we deserve nothing but death.

But you have not left us on our own. 
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. 

You have not abandoned us to our rightful lot. 
On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 

You kept your promise to send your Son, 
And he will be our peace. 

See, my soul, your Savior chooses 
    poverty and weakness, too; 
    in such love he comes to you. 
Neither crib nor cross refuses, 
    all he suffers for your good 
    to redeem you by his blood. 
Joy, oh joy, beyond all gladness! 
Christ has done away with sadness! 
Hence all sorrow and repining 
for the Sun of grace is shining.

Joy Has Dawned – CW 352

1 Joy has dawned upon the world,
    promised from creation –
God’s salvation now unfurled,
    hope for ev’ry nation.
Not with fanfares from above,
    not with scenes of glory,
but a humble gift of love –
    Jesus born of Mary.

2 Sounds of wonder fill the sky
    with the songs of angels
as the mighty Prince of life
    shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place,
    shaped the earth in darkness,
cling now to a mother’s breast,
    vuln’rable and helpless.

3 Shepherds bow before the Lamb,
    gazing at the glory.
Gifts of men from distant lands
    prophesy the story:
gold – a king is born today;
    incense – God is with us;
myrrh – his death will make a way,
    and by his blood he’ll win us.

4 Son of Adam, Son of heav’n,
    given as a ransom;
reconciling God and man,
    Christ, our mighty champion!
What a Savior! What a friend!
    What a glorious myst’ry!
Once a babe in Bethlehem –
    now the Lord of hist’ry.

Prayer

Almighty God, grant that the birth of your only Son in the flesh may set us free from our old bondage under the yoke of sin; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.

The Word Became Flesh

Through Whom All Was Made – Meditation on John 1:1-3

  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

O Jesus Christ, Your Manger Is – CW 342

1 O Jesus Christ,
    your manger is
my paradise at which I am reclining.
    For there, O Lord,
    we find the Word
made flesh for us – your grace is brightly shining.

2 He whom the sea
    and wind obey
comes down to serve the sinner in great meekness.
    Now God’s own Son
    with us is one
and joins us and our children in our weakness.

3 Dear Christian friend,
    on him depend;
be of good cheer and let no sorrow move you.
    For God’s own Child
    in mercy mild
joins you to him – how greatly God must love you!

5 The world may hold
    her wealth and gold;
but you, my heart, keep Christ as your true treasure.
    To him hold fast
    until at last
a crown is yours and honor in full measure.

Who Brings Life and Light – Meditation on John 1:4-9

  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

Family Choir – For Unto Us a Child is Born

To Give Us a Lasting Identity – Meditation on John 1:10-13

  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Love Has Come – CW 364

1 Love has come, a light in the darkness!
    Love shines forth in the Bethlehem skies.
See, all heaven has come to proclaim it;
    hear how their song of joy arises:
Love! Love! Born unto you, a Savior!
Love! Love! Glory to God on high!

2 Love is born! Come share in the wonder.
    Love is God now asleep in the hay.
See the glow in the eyes of his mother;
    what is the name her heart is saying?
Love! Love! Love is the name she whispers.
Love! Love! Jesus, Immanuel.

3 Love has come and never will leave us!
    Love is life everlasting and free.
Love is Jesus within and among us.
    Love is the peace our hearts are seeking.
Love! Love! Love is the gift of Christmas.
Love! Love! Praise to you, God on high!

To Bring Grace and Truth – Meditation on John 1:14-18

  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Family Choir – And the Glory of the Lord

Offering

Prayer

Eternal Father, we give you thanks and praise on this holy day for sending your one and only Son to share our humanity, carry our guilt, and become for us the perfect Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
Lord, we praise you.

Keep our faith in your Son alive and strong. Nourish us with your Word and sacraments and by your Holy Spirit give us strength to overcome Satan’s power and empty promises. Help us to withstand the temptations the world and our sinful nature put on our path. 
Give us faith and courage.

Remember ministers of the gospel throughout the world who on this day are proclaiming that a Savior has been born. We especially commend to your care the missionaries we have called as members of the Wisconsin Synod. Since they cannot enjoy the fellowship of their extended families this Christmas, grant to them the inner joy that comes with service in your kingdom.
Protect all those who proclaim the gospel in our place.

We pray for our city and countryside, for our neighborhoods and subdivisions, and for all who live and work and find delight here. Give to the leaders of government wisdom to make and uphold laws that promote the good of society. Grant our nation peace, health, and prosperity that we may have the opportunity and resources to spread the good news to all people.
Govern and prosper your people.

Fill us with kindness and arouse us to do good to all people, especially those who are less fortunate than we. Bring your healing to those who are sick or diseased in body or mind and comfort those who are mourning the death of someone they love. We especially pray for brothers and sisters who are setting aside their celebration today to care for the sick and stand at the side of the dying.
Sustain those who endure the troubles of life.

Be a source of strength to all your people and fill them with your power and peace. If any are among us today who have lost the true meaning of this festival, let them rediscover the joy that comes from Christ alone.
Let your peace reign in the hearts of all.

Hear us, Lord, as we pray in silence. 

Silence for personal prayer

As you sent your Son to bring peace to all people on earth, so we pray for all people, those known and those unknown to us.
We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done
        on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    as we forgive those
    who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
    and the glory are yours
    now and forever. Amen.

Blessing

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Amen.

Family Choir – Hallelujah Chorus

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