Preparing for Worship
Today we conclude our Advent journey. Today we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, the Christ child, Jesus. Today we celebrate the revelation of God in Jesus, the Son of God born of the virgin Mary, the eternal God made flesh in human weakness and frailty and potential and promise. Today we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
We are following a traditional Advent or Christmas service format called “Lessons and Carols.” In this service there are seven Scripture texts that tell the story of Jesus’ birth from prophecy to fulfillment (the “Lessons”), and seven accompanying songs for these readings (the “Carols”).
In preparation for this service, you may wish to set out an Advent wreath with five candles, if you have one. If you don’t have one, you can create a set of Advent candles simply by placing four candles around a fifth candle in the centre. You can light all four of the outside candles before beginning the service. These candles symbolize our waiting for the Christ child, just as ancient Israel waited for their Messiah. Now we are ready to light the central Christ candle.
Christmas Candle Lighting
Light the centre candle as the Christ candle is lit among us in the video below. The reading today is done by Jason, Kristy, Cooper, and Theo L. H. Feel free to sing along to STS 15 Hope Is a Candle vv. 1,2,4,3,5, accompanied by Irene S. and Adalynne, Larissa, Matthew, and Michael P. You can use the song book or follow the lyrics below the video.
Hope is a candle, once lit by the prophets,
never consumed, though it burns through the years;
dim in the daylight of power and privilege –
when they are gone, hope will shine on.
Peace is a candle to show us a pathway,
threatened by gusts from our rage and our greed.
Friend, feel no envy for those in the shadows –
violence and force their dead-end course.
Joy is a candle of myst’ry and laughter,
Myst’ry of light that is born in the dark;
laughter at hearing the voice of an angel,
ever so near, casting out fear.
Love is a candle whose light makes a circle,
where ev’ry face is the face of a friend.
Widen the circle by sharing and giving –
God’s holy dare: love everywhere.
Christ is the light that the prophets awaited,
Christ is the lion, the lamb, and the child.
Christ is the love and the myst’ry and laughter –
candles, make way! Christ is the day.
Michael P. reads our first Scripture text from Isaiah 9:2-7.
Join in singing HWB 178 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, accompanied by Michael, Larissa, Amelia, Michael, Matthew, and Adalynne P. Note that this arrangement includes a third verse not found in our blue hymnals, but included in our new Voices Together hymnal as VT 218. You can use the but hymnbook for the harmonies, but you’ll want to follow the lyrics below.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus!
Born to set thy people free,
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art,
dear desire of ev’ry nation,
joy of ev’ry longing heart.
Come, thou universal Saviour;
come, redeem the human race.
Life and joy spring from thy favour;
cheer each soul in need of grace.
Still we wait for thine appearing –
make our senseless struggles cease.
Guide us from our wear wand’ring
into paths of perfect peace.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit,
rule in all our hearts alone.
By thine all-sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Kristy L. H. reads our second Scripture text from Isaiah 11:1-9.
Join in singing HWB 211 Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, accompanied by Michael, Larissa, Amelia, Michael, Matthew, and Adalynne P. The lyrics below are those found in the new Voices Together hymnal, as VT 216. You can use the blue hymn book for the harmonies, but you will want to follow the lyrics below.
Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem has sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming as saints of old have sung.
It came, a flow’ret bright, amid the cold of winter,
when half-spent was the night.
Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to us a Saviour,
when half-spent was the night.
Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
dispel in glorious splendor gloom and grief ev’rywhere.
True man, yet very God, from sin and death he saves us,
and lightens ev’ry load.
Lawrence S. reads our third Scripture text from Isaiah 40:1-11.
Join in singing HWB 176 Comfort, Comfort, O My People, accompanied by Michael, Larissa, Amelia, Michael, Matthew, and Adalynne P. The lyrics below are those found in the new Voices Together hymnal as VT 212. You can use the blue hymnbook for the harmonies, but you will want to follow the lyrics below.
Comfort, comfort, O my people, speak of peace, now says our God.
Comfort those who sit in shadows, mourning ‘neath their sorrows’ load.
Speak unto Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them.
Tell of all the sins I cover, and that warfare now is over.
Hark, the voice of one who’s crying in the desert far and near,
bidding all to full repentance since the kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey! Now prepare for God a way!
Valleys, rise in exaltation; hills, bow down in adoration.
O make straight what long was crooked, make the rougher places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble, as befits a holy reign.
For the glory of our God now o’er earth is shed abroad.
And all flesh shall see the token that God’s word is never broken.
Michael P. reads our fourth Scripture text from Luke 1:26-38.
Join in singing In the Bleak Midwinter, accompanied by Michael, Larissa, Amelia, Michael, Matthew, and Adalynne P. You can follow the lyrics below.
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.
Our God, heav’n 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.
Angels and archangels, may have gathered there;
Cherubim and seraphim, thronged the air.
But his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the Beloved with a kiss.
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 can I give him? Give my heart.
Kristy L. H. reads our fifth Scripture text from Luke 2:1-20.
Join in singing HWB 197 Angels We Have Heard on High, accompanied by Michael, Larissa, Amelia, Michael, Matthew, and Adalynne P. You can use the hymnbook or follow the lyrics below.
Angels we have heard on high,
singing sweetly through the night,
and the mountains in reply echoing their brave delight.
Glo-ria in excelsis Deo,
glo-ria in excelsis Deo.
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tidings did you hear?
Come to Bethlehem and see
him whose birth the angels sing.
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.
See him in a manger laid
whom the angels praise above.
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
while we raise our hearts in love.
Lawrence S. reads our sixth Scripture text from Matthew 2:1-12.
Join in singing HWB 212 O Come, All Ye Faithful, accompanied by Michael, Larissa, Amelia, Michael, Matthew, and Adalynne P. The words below are from the new Voices Together hymnal, as VT 241. You can use the blue hymnbook for the harmonies but you will want to follow the lyrics below.
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 of light eternal,
our lowly nature he hath not abhorred;
born of a woman, here in flesh appearing.
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above:
“Glory to God, all glory in the highest!”
Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, begotten, not created.
Michael P. reads our seventh Scripture text from John 1:1-14.
Michael P. offers this Christmas meditation for us today: “God in the Flesh.”
Here is the portrait of God Michael references in his meditation, from Michelangelo’s fresco “Creation of Adam” in the Sistine Chapel.
Join in singing HWB 318 Joy to the World, accompanied by Michael, Larissa, Amelia, Michael, Matthew, and Adalynne P. You can use the hymnbook or follow the lyrics below.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive its 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.
Joy to the earth, the Saviour reigns!
Let all 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.
May you know the hope, peace, joy, and love of Christ
throughout this Christmas season and into the New Year!