Christmas Eve Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeWexford CarolChris Johansen, piano
Call to WorshipPastor Linda
ReadingThe Shortest Day by Susan CooperChris Johansen
Gathering SongPeople, Look East
#248
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
HymnIt Came Upon a Midnight Clear
#282
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Christmas Litany
HymnOf the Father’s Love Begotten
#295
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingJohn 1: 1-5Chris Johansen
ReadingBirth from Crossings by Susan Palo CherwienPastor Linda
Readingby Gertrude Mueller NelsonShawn Mai
HymnIn the Bleak Midwinter
#294
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingJohn 1: 14-18Pastor Linda
Readingfrom The Road to Daybreak by Henri NouwenShawn Mai
HymnO Little Town of Bethlehem
#279
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingMicah 5: 2-5Shawn Mai
ReadingsHenrik Strandskov
Nikki Strandskov
HymnTwas in the Moon of Wintertime
#284
Harry Johansen
Paul Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReadingPastor Linda
HymnThe Bells of Christmas
#298
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
ReadingLuke 2: 1-20Henrik Strandskov
Nikki Strandskov
Musical “offering”Dejlig er den himmel blåThe National Danish Girls Choir
Philip Faber, conductor
Prayers
Lord’s Prayer
Pastor Linda
HymnOn Christmas Night
#274
Harry Johansen
Paul Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Closing Litany
Blessing
Closing HymnSilent Night
#281
Jim Miles

Note: The audio cuts off the first part of Linda’s introduction to the service. The text of the introduction appears below.


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Call to Worship

The undeniable hardship of this winter is a reminder that for much of human history, particularly in colder climates, winter was a season simply to be survived. Winter is a primal time of death and loss, and a time for grief. It reminds us that darkness, not only light, is part of the recurring rhythm of what it means to be human.

In a year that has stripped life to bare fundamentals, the natural world has become our shared story. Natural rhythms of seasons offer the reminder that the world moves on even if our sense of time has blurred. The dormancy of winter provides a beautiful way of assuring us that we have lived through long nights before. It is at the point that the nights are longest and darkest that we actually turn a corner.

Medieval Persian writings suggested that if one can not afford a feast in their season of darkness, it is enough to bring a flower.

Look for the smallest bit of beauty around you. At a time like this, when it seems like the mega-narratives, institutions, and systems are all broken or falling apart, we return our gaze to the small, beautiful details of this Christmas story of birth in the midst of turmoil and displacement. Dormancy is not death. Dormancy, isolation, solitude – these words describe winter – they might describe your life in COVID-19. But the solstice is past. The shortest day came, and now we begin to climb back into the light. Winter’s darkness, our experiences of dormancy and darkness and death cannot overcome it.



Reading – The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
Hymn – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

1.
It came upon the midnight clear,
that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth
to touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to all,
from heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
to hear the angels sing.

2.
Still through the cloven skies they come
with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heav’nly music floats
o’er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hov’ring wing,
and ever o’er its babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.

3.
And you, beneath life’s crushing load,
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow;
look now, for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing;
oh, rest beside the weary road
and hear the angels sing!

4.
For lo! The days are hast’ning on,
by prophets seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold,
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and all the world give back the song
which now the angels sing.


Christmas Litany

P:  When we offer a glass of water to a thirsty person, we are in Christmas,

C: When we clothe a naked person with a gown of love, we are in Christmas,

P:   When we wipe the tears from weeping eyes, we are in Christmas,

C: When we cushion a hopeless heart with love, we are in Christmas,

ALL: When I kiss a friend without hypocrisy,

When the spirit of revenge dies in me,

When hardness is gone from my heart,

When my soul melts in the Being of God, I am in Christmas.

P:  On the night of Christmas …   

ALL: Hatred will vanish

P: On the night of Christmas …

ALL: The Earth blooms

P:  On the night of Christmas …   

ALL: War is buried

P:  On the night of Christmas …   

ALL: Love is born

Adapted from Laylat al-Milad (On the Eve of Christmas) a traditional carol sung by Arab Christians at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church of Bethlehem, Palestine.


Hymn – Of the Father’s Love Begotten

1.
Of the Father’s love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore.

2.
Oh, that birth forever blessed,
when the Virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bore the Savior of our race,
and the babe, the world’s Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore.

3.
This is he whom seers in old time
chanted of with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long-expected;
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.

4.
Let the heights of heav’n’ adore him;
angel hosts, his praises sing;
pow’rs, dominions, bow before him
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
ev’ry voice in concert ring
evermore and evermore.

5.
Christ, to thee, with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and unwearied praises be:
honor, glory, and dominion,
and eternal victory
evermore and evermore! Amen.


Reading – John 1:1-5
Reading – from Crossings by Susan Palo Cherwien
Reading – by Gertrude Mueller Nelson


Hymn – In the Bleak Midwinter

1.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

2.
Heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heav’n and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign;
in the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God almighty, Jesus Christ.

3.
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him – give my heart.


Reading – John 1: 14-18
Reading – from The Road to Daybreak by Henri Nouwen


Hymn – O Little Town of Bethlehem

1.
O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by;
yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

2.
For Christ is born of Mary,
and, gathered all above
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the king,
and peace to all on earth!

3.
How silently, how silently
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming;
but, in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.

4.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
oh, come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel!


Reading – Micah 5:2-5
Two Readings


Hymn – Twas in the Moon of Wintertime


Reading


Hymn – The Bells of Christmas

1.
The bells of Christmas chime once more;
the heav’nly guest is at the door.
He comes to earthly dwellings still
with new year gifts of peace, good will.

2.
This world, though wide and far outspread,
could scarcely find for you a bed.
Your cradle was a manger stall,
no pearl nor silk nor kingly hall.

3.
Now let us go with quiet mind,
the swaddled babe with shepherds find,
to gaze on him who gladdens them,
the loveliest flow’r of Jesse’s stem.

4.
Oh, join with me, in gladness sing,
to keep our Christmas with our king,
until our song, from loving souls,
like rushing mighty water rolls!

5.
O patriarchs’ Joy, O prophets’ Song,
O Dayspring bright, awaited long,
O Son of Man, incarnate Word,
great David’s Son, great David’s Lord:!

6.
Come, Jesus, glorious heav’nly guest,
and keep your Christmas in our breast;
then David’s harp-string, hushed so long,
shall swell our jubilee of song.


Reading – Luke 2: 1-20
Musical “Offering”


Prayers
Lord’s Prayer


Hymn – On Christmas Night

1.
On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring.
On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring:
news of great joy, news of great mirth,
news of our merciful king’s birth.

2.
Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our redeemer made us glad?
Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our redeemer made us glad,
when from our sin he set us free,
all for to gain our liberty?

3.
When sin departs before his face,
then life and health come in its place.
When sin departs before his face,
then life and health come in its place.
Angels rejoice with us and sing,
all for to see the new-born King.

4.
All out of darkness we have light,
which made the angels sing this night.
All out of darkness we have light,
which made the angels sing this night:
“Glory to God in highest heav’n;
peace on earth, and goodwill. Amen.”


Closing Litany

P:  When we offer a glass of water to a thirsty person, we are in Christmas,

Women: Lo, in the silent night a child to God is born

And all is brought again that ere was lost or lorn.

Men: Could but thy soul, O man, become a silent night!

God would be born in thee and set all things aright.

~15th Century


Blessing


Hymn – Silent Night

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 your holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord, at your birth,
Jesus, Lord, at your birth.


Postlude

Chris Johansen