Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

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December 24, 2023

Theme of the Day

How Far Is It to Bethlehem?
A Candlelight Christmas Eve Service


Pastor Frick’s Welcome

Adult Choir – Advent Prayer (Congregation joins on 2nd refrain in bold)

1 We are waiting on this day.
Jesus will take our fears away.
We will keep our vigil here, 
as his Advent draws us near.
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel. 
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel. 

2 We are longing on this day; 
Jesus will take our sins away.
As a shepherd, he will lead; 
gently tend our ev’ry need.
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel. 
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel.

3 We are reaching on this day; 
Jesus will lead us, light our way.
He will show the way of peace, 
from our darkness bring release.
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel. 
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel.

4 We will expect him on that day; 
we prepare our hearts and pray.
He will bless us with his grace, 
saving all the human race.
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel. 
Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell, 
  dwell in our hearts, Immanuel.

Invocation

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen! We rejoice to come into his house on this holy night.  

Let us pray to the Lord. 

O God, you once caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light. Bless us as we again contemplate the mystery that is Christmas and bring us at last to experience fullness of light and life and joy with you in heaven. We pray in the name of the one who is Light, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born in Bethlehem to save us. Amen.   

Part One: How Far Is It for Pilgrims Today?

Lighting of the Pilgrim Candle

Responsive Reading of Scripture

It was prophesied long ago:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

Once in Royal David’s City – CW 343

1 Once in royal David’s city
    stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
    in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

2 He came down to earth from heaven
    who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
    and his cradle was a stall;
with the poor and mean and lowly
lived on earth our Savior holy.

3 And our eyes at last shall see him
    through his own redeeming love,
for that child, so dear and gentle,
    is our Lord in heav’n above,
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

4 Not in that poor, lowly stable
    with the oxen standing by
shall we see him, but in heaven,
    set at God’s right hand on high.
Then like stars his children crowned,
all in white, his praise will sound.

Part Two: How Far Was It for Mary and Joseph?

Lighting of the Mary and Joseph Candle

Responsive Reading of Scripture

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:34-35)
I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:38)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 
And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
To redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly – CW 339

1 Infant holy,
    infant lowly,
for his bed a cattle stall;
    oxen lowing,
    little knowing
Christ the child is Lord of all.
    Swiftly winging
    angels singing,
    bells are ringing,
    tidings bringing:
Christ the child is Lord of all!
Christ the child is Lord of all!

2 Flocks were sleeping,
    shepherds keeping
vigil till the morning new
    saw the glory,
    heard the story,
tidings of a gospel true.
    Thus rejoicing,
        free from sorrow,
    praises voicing,
        greet the morrow:
Christ the child was born for you!
Christ the child was born for you!

Part Three: How Far Was It for the Angels?

Lighting of the Angels Candle

Responsive Reading of Scripture

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20)

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:9-14)

Having heard the same Good News, we will set fear aside and, “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – CW 350

1 Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
    peace on earth and mercy mild,
    God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
    with th’‿angelic host proclaim,
    “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

2 Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
    late in time behold him come,
    offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
hail th’‿incarnate Deity!
    Pleased as man with man to dwell,
    Jesus, our Immanuel!
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

3 Hail, the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
    Light and life to all he brings,
    ris’n with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
    born to raise the sons of earth,
    born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Part Four: How Far Was It for the Shepherds?

Lighting of the Shepherds Candle

Responsive Reading of Scripture

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:15-20)
We will spread to the ends of the earth the word concerning what we have been told about this Child.

Solo – O Holy Night

Part Five: How Far Was It for God?

Lighting of the God Candle

Responsive Reading of Scripture

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (I Timothy 3:16)
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Peace Came to Earth – CW 330

1 Peace came to earth at last that chosen night
when angels clove the sky with song and light
and God embodied love and sheathed his might –
    Who could but gasp: Immanuel!
    Who could but sing: Immanuel!

2 And who could be the same for having held
the infant in their arms and later felt
the wounded hands and side, all doubts dispelled –
    Who could but sigh: Immanuel!
    Who could but shout: Immanuel!

3 You show the Father none has ever seen,
in flesh and blood you bore our griefs and pain,
in bread and wine you visit us again –
    Who could but see: Immanuel!
    Who could but thrill: Immanuel!

4 How else could I have known you, O my God!
How else could I have loved you, O my God!
How else could I embrace you, O my God!
    Who could but pray: Immanuel!
    Who could but praise: Immanuel!

Part Six: How Far Is It for You and Me?

Lighting of the You and Me Candle

Responsive Reading of Scripture

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. 
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:21-22)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Now Sing We, Now Rejoice – CW 363

1 Now sing we, now rejoice,
now raise to heav’n our voice;
    he from whom joy streameth
poor in a manger lies;
    not so brightly beameth
the sun in yonder skies.
    Thou my Savior art!
    Thou my Savior art!

2 Come from on high to me;
I cannot rise to thee.
    Cheer my wearied spirit,
O pure and holy Child;
    thro’ thy grace and merit,
blest Jesus, Lord most mild,
    draw me unto thee!
    Draw me unto thee!

3 Now through his Son doth shine
the Father’s grace divine.
    Death was reigning o’er us
through sin and vanity
    till he opened for us
a bright eternity.
    May we praise him there!
    May we praise him there!

4 Oh, where shall joy be found?
Where but on heav’nly ground,
    where the angels singing
with all his saints unite,
    sweetest praises bringing
in heav’nly joy and light.
    Oh, that we were there!
    Oh, that we were there!

Offering

Lighting of the Candles

The Pastor will light his candle from the “Christ” candle in the middle of the Advent wreath, the ushers will light their candles from the Pastor’s candle, and then light the candle of the worshiper in each pew nearest to the aisle. Do not tip the lighted candles. Tip the unlighted candle toward the lighted one.

Silent Night, Holy Night – CW 337

1 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.

2 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!

3 Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
    Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
    Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Prayer (spoken and sung responsively)

What child is this who, laid to rest, 
On Mary’s lap is sleeping? 
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet 
While shepherds watch are keeping?

Oh gracious and almighty Father, your Christmas gospel, proclaimed by angels, gives us your gift: “To you is born a Savior.” Cheer our hearts with the good news of a Savior born for us, who lived for us, who died and rose again for us.

This, this is Christ the King, 
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing. 
Haste, haste to bring him laud, 
The babe, the Son of Mary!

Why lies he in such mean estate, 
Where oxen now are feeding?
Good Christians, fear; for sinners here 
The silent Word is pleading.

When the shepherds heard the good news and saw their Savior, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child. Help us to treasure this good news of great joy, and to remember that it is for all people.

Nails, spear shall pierce him through; 
The cross he’ll bear for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh, 
The babe, the Son of Mary!

Your Son entered this world in poverty, born in a stable with a manger as his crib, and he was first visited by poor shepherds. We remember the poor, the homeless, the sick and the lonely. Fill our hearts with your goodwill and move us to provide for their needs.

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh; 
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings; 
Let loving hearts enthrone him.

Raise, raise the song on high; 
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy, for Christ is born, 
The babe, the Son of Mary!

Lord’s Prayer (Sung to the melody of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear)

Our Father, Lord, on heav’ns high throne, 
Most holy be Your name. 
Your kingdom come; Your will be done 
On earth, in heav’n the same. 
Give us this day the food we need, 
Forgiven may we be; 
Into temptation do not lead; 
From evil set us free.

Yours is the kingdom, unto You 
In grateful love we bow, 
And Yours the pow’r, Lord, let us view
Your mighty presence now. 
The glory Yours; Your praise be sung 
By angel hosts and men
In ev’ry land, by ev’ry tongue 
Forevermore! Amen.

At this time, our worshipers are asked to carefully extinguish the candles. 
Please keep them upright until any melted wax has hardened. 
You may deposit them in the containers at the entryway as you leave.

Benediction (spoken responsively)

The Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, bless you and keep you.
The Everlasting Father make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Prince of Peace look upon you with favor and give you peace.
Amen. We rejoice this night as we have traveled to Bethlehem and have seen God’s Christmas gift to us.  The gift of his Son! The gift of our salvation. 

Joy to the World – CW 353

1 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.

2 Joy to the earth, 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.

3 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.

4 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.

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