Dunsford United Church Worship Service – December 24, 2020

Welcome to our community of faith family.

Mission Statement: We are a diverse, intentional, inclusive, compassionate, hope-filled Christian family of faith, seeking to respect everyone’s individuality and dignity as Jesus modelled, creating safe space, to demonstrate the spirit of God’s love through worship, work, growth, and respect for all creation. We celebrate and value people of every age, health, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family configuration, background, ability, interest, culture, economic circumstance and faith journey. All are encouraged to be in full participation in the life and work of all ministries. We endeavor to be aware of, and responsive to, the needs in our community and beyond.

WE GATHER TOGETHER

* GATHERING HYMN: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” VU #60 (verse 1) (Words: Frederick Oakeley) Brenda

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.

WELCOME

Surely God is in this place. Help me notice. My name is Sharon Ballantyne and I am the minister at Dunsford United Church. We are an affirming ministry of the United Church of Canada. Merry Christmas and thank-you for joining us virtually for this Christmas Eve service 2020. Today we share glad tidings and shout our joy to the whole world that a Saviour has been born, who is Christ our Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

We invite Brenda to play some quiet music and ask Cliff to come light our Advent candles and our Christ candle.

MUSICAL PRELUDE

CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLE LITURGY:

In the love of our hearts, we give thanks for light.

We light a candle of hope: hope for ourselves, and for God’s beloved world.

Ignite hope in us, the promise of hope born in Jesus tonight.

We light a candle of peace: peace in our hearts, and on earth.

Ignite peace in us, the promise of peace born in Jesus tonight.

We light a candle of joy: joy to the world, and within our whole being.

Ignite joy in us, the promise of joy born in Jesus tonight.

We light a candle of love: the promise of God’s love for us, and for all creation.

Ignite love in us, the promise of love born in Jesus tonight

We light this Christ candle as a symbol that God is with us, born in Jesus this night.

We live in a world longing for God, the God who will be our courage when we are scared of what comes next, the God who will be our wisdom when we don’t know which way to turn, the God who will be with us now and always.

Knowing the need for God in our own lives and in this heartbroken world,

the Christ candle shines:

for hope for us and for the world;

for peace in our hearts and throughout all lands;

for joy within our whole being and everywhere;

for the promise of God’s love for us and all of creation.

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all generations.

For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a saviour who is Christ the Lord.

Amen.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS: 

We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishnabeg/Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty,  was signed, on the lands where we are and we acknowledge also and give thanks for the lands and people of treaties and unceded territories of all who are worshiping. It is up to all of us to live into truth, respect, reconciliation and right relations.

CALL TO WORSHIP:

The peace of Christ be with us all. Our hearts are stirred, even amid our pandemic as we gather before our infant king. 

Like the shepherds, we come to the stable, uncertain of what we have heard and seen, longing to hear a word of peace and joy.

Like the wise ones, we have journeys to make, gifts to offer, and hope in

our hearts, that this world can change for the better.

Here, now, in this time, we gather to share the light of Christ,

a light that shines in the darkness.

We gather in the wonder of this Christmas Eve.

All of creation can feel the Spirit’s stirring.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, peace on earth to all!

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” VU #44 (Words: Edmund Hamilton Sears) Solo by Brenda

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.

Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurled;

and still their heavenly music floats o’er all the weary world;

above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing,

and ever o’er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long;

beneath the angel strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong;

and warring humankind hears not the love song which they bring.

O hush the noise, and cease your strife,             to hear the angels sing.

For, lo! the days are hastening 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 splendours fling,

and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

OPENING PRAYER:

Holy Mystery,

Let the words of sacred scripture speak to our hearts, invite our questioning, our wondering.  Let the light of your love shine in us and through us.

Divine Presence,

In this strange time of sheltering, our hearts are filled with all the challenges and changes, of how different our lives are this year, but you O Christ, be born anew in us.

Eternal One,

Let the light of our faith, all that flickers, shine and transform us through the quiet, the silent moments, the hopes and fears, the uncertainty, and the excitement.

Slow our steps, Mother of peace and righteousness; slow our steps as we near the birthing place.  Calm our thoughts; make us ready to see you in unexpected places. Grant that this time of worship may be a time of wonder, love, and praise.  Bring us closer to you, to others in our lives, and to Christ, the perfect stranger in our midst,

as we pause to worship, to hear you, to reflect, to remind us of what brings us to the manger.  In the name of the infant king, Jesus, Amen.

* MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “Go, Tell It on the Mountain” VU #43 (Words: John W. Work)

Solo by Brenda with anyone in sanctuary playing rhythm instruments

R:        Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.

            Go, tell it on the mountain  that Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night,

behold, throughout the heavens there shone a holy light.  R

The shepherds feared and trembled when lo, above the earth

rang out the angel chorus that hailed our Saviour’s birth!  R

Down in a lonely manger the humble Christ was born,

and God sent our salvation that blessed Christmas morn.  R

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

I invite Cliff to read our first scripture lesson.

SCRIPTURE LESSON: Luke 2: 1, 3-7 – The Birth of Jesus

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 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.

* HYMN: “Away in a Manger” VU #69 Solo by Brenda

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,

the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.

I love you, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,

and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in your tender care,

and fit us for heaven, to live with you there.

SCRIPTURE LESSON: Luke 2:8-16 – The Shepherds Go to the Manger

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.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “When A Child Is Born” Solo by Brenda Shield

MESSAGE:

Let us pray.

May words speak anew in us, as our imaginations and memories are enlivened. May the thoughts and meditations of all of our hearts be filled with the joy of welcoming Jesus, born anew in us. Amen.

We have journeyed through this Advent adventure, a journey we could not have imagined last year. 2020 is like no other year we have ever known. The pandemic as horrible as it is has connected us with all of humanity and creation world-wide. In these past months we have learned to do things differently, to embrace new possibilities to creatively connect and keep physical distance, to mask and to manage, to lament and grieve, and to notice our lives, relationships, priorities and creation around us—all in new ways. We are confronted on this Christmas to reflect on the values that are most important to us and to hold on to gifts that have not come in the form of wrapped packages and bows. Many of us have spent more time in our homes than ever before. We have been forced to simplify our lives and to not take our lives for granted.

What is being revealed to you this Christmas?

We have travelled highways of hope, pathways of peace, journeys of joy and laneways of love all leading us here to the manger, to the story of Christmas of love in our hearts.

God can work wonders in all of us!

The extraordinary” happens everywhere.

Spirit and strength exist in unexpected places.

God is doing such wonderful and seemingly impossible things here!

We are invited to say yes to the possibilities God continues to offer us. Believe it! Believe in yourselves and in each other. In the gift of our vulnerability, of trust and sharing our stories we deepen connections and find our way forward to continue on life’s way. Take the next right step!

Yes, I will live this life that is being held out to me

“Don’t be afraid!”

“Nothing is impossible with God.”

We can dare to allow love and joy to dwell in us?

We can dare to let God’s love and light fill us with hope.

Let’s connect with our story again. Cliff will be sharing the book M is For Manger.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE:

Emmanuel: God, you are with us. We have heard the promise of the prophets. We have caught the notes of the angel’s song. We have seen a star in the heavens. We have believed. We have come to be with you because you have come to be with us. We seek an innocent, helpless baby in a crude manger. We seek a Messiah who will reign with justice; and you, who are the weakest and the strongest, the most humble and the most mighty have found us. We celebrate the babe in Bethlehem. The gift of the infant king born for us.

Holy Friend and Comforter, receive our prayer.

Trumpet and Piano Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

God of stars and stable, we praise you for drawing us near to you tonight,

whether we are shepherds who were looking in the fields outside the city,

or people who have arrived early to stay at a comfortable shelter nearby,

or travelers who come from afar to seek a new king.

We reach out from our shelters and safety, creatively connecting and seeking ways to show our love.

Holy Friend and Comforter, receive our prayer.

Trumpet and Piano Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

We confess that in our haste and focus on many other concerns with pandemic all around us, we need you to break through with Good News this night and remind us of the wonder of Word and Light that comes to us and all people in a stable.

Holy Friend and Comforter, receive our prayer.

Trumpet and Piano Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

We are thankful for the gift of a child this night, whose birth gives us good tidings of great joy to rejoice and to share, a gift of your self-giving love to be with us, a gift promised and longed for through the ages, the greatest of gifts you have provided for our lives. And we lift to you our joys and concerns, those we hold on our heart.

Holy Friend and Comforter, receive our prayer.

Trumpet and Piano Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

As we remember and are grateful for all these, we ask for fullness of life for all your children – peace for people torn by war between nations or conflict with those near them, joy for people shaken by fear or tragedy, love for people broken by loneliness or hatred.

Holy Friend and Comforter, receive our prayer.

Trumpet and Piano Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

For all we experience at the stable tonight: for love that has come to be among us, for all people, ignite hope, peace, joy and love that comes to touch our lives now and always. Bless this community of faith and its present and future ministries. We thank-you for our gifts, for blessings. Use us and them to share your love here and throughout our world.  We are not alone!

Holy Friend and Comforter, receive our prayer.

Trumpet and Piano Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

As Jesus prayed with his friends, we say together:

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, the power, and the glory forever! Amen.

WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE

Holy Babe of Bethlehem, born this holy night be with us as we go from this place.

Let your light shine in our hearts, through us and around us.

As we meet others in life’s journey, may we mutually extend hands of welcome, acceptance and openness as we spread the miracle of light and love.

Fill us with the peace of this silent and holy night as we take our light into the world. Amen.

We come to a special part of our Christmas Eve service.  As Christ comes bringing the light ofGod’s love, we light candles to signify our individual and collective connection to God’s light and love on this holy night.

Traditionally we each light a candle in the sanctuary. I invite you to have a candle, real, battery operated, or a light source such as a lamp, and to light that candle, candles or turn on lights, allowing the fullness of God’s light and love to fill your heart as we receive Brenda singing “Silent Night” which will conclude our service. Stay safe and Be well. Merry Christmas!

* HYMN: “Silent Night, Holy Night” VU #67 (Words: Joseph Mohr) Solo by Brenda

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 Hallelujah,

Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.

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.

POSTLUDE

References:

Call to Worship, adapted “Light in Darkness” by Patty L. Llowes, Worship Ways, United Church of Christ, Dec. 2017

Opening Prayer, last part, Adapted from Christmas Eve, Advent Unwrapped 2017

Book M is For Manger

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5 and by appointment 705-793-2511 dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca   www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com

Minister: Rev. Dr. Sharon Ballantyne 705-875-8837    

Email: sharon.ballantyne@gmail.com

Music Director: Brenda

Envelope Steward: Kathy

http://dunsfordunitedchurch.com   Visit our website

CCLI License #11197107  


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