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I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

…And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"


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Gathering Before God
December 24, 2018
 Christmas Eve
 Main Line Campus

Opening Sentences

Leader: The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together! 

—Isaiah 40:5


God rest ye merry, gentlemen / We Three Kings


God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day;
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

From God our heavenly Father
This blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

Chorus:
O, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a king on Bethlehem's plain;
Gold I bring to crown Him again;
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Chorus

Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Worship Him, God most high.

Chorus


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Greeting & Preparation

Leader: The Lord be with you. 
People: And also with you!


Call to Worship 

Leader: O sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
People: Unto us is born this day a Savior,
who is Christ, the Lord!

Leader: The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. 

People: Unto us is born this day a Savior,
who is Christ, the Lord!


Leader: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
People: Unto us is born this day a Savior,
who is Christ, the Lord!

Leader: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
People: Unto us is born this day a Savior,
who is Christ, the Lord!

from Psalm 98

Prayer of Invocation


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Hark The Herald

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!"

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 men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"
 
Hail, the heav'n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail the Son 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 us second birth.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!" 



Lyrics by Charles Wesley


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Scripture Reading
Isaiah 9:2-7, NRSV

2 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness —
    on them light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation,
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden,
    and the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
    and all the garments rolled in blood
    shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.


Leader: This is the word of the Lord.
People:  Thanks be to God!

Gloria Patri

Glory be to the Father
Glory be to the Son
Glory be to the Spirit Three in One
As it was in the beginning
It will be forever
Amen, Amen, Amen

Passing the Peace & Announcements


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The Word of God

Prayer for Illumination & Scripture Reading
Luke 2:1-20, NRSV

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And 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.

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying. 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 15When 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.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Minister:        This is the gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you, O Christ!

Reflection
Speaker: Jared Ayers


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Nicene Creed

Minister: Let us say what we believe.
People: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
  he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped
and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic
1 and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen. 
(1that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places)"


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The Lord’s Table 


The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts now!  
We lift them to the Lord.

    Let us give thanks to the Lord our saving God.
   It is right and good, always and everywhere.
To give thanks, to the Lord.


Minister: With joy we praise you, gracious God… we join our voices with all the saints and angels and
the whole creation to proclaim the glory of your name, saying:                                       


Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest!
(2x)

Minister: You are holy, O God of majesty… together we proclaim the mystery of the faith:


Your death, O Christ, we proclaim.
Your rising celebrate! 
Your coming Lord we await, to make all things new
(2x)

                                                      

Minister:  Lord, our God, send your Holy Spirit…Gather your whole church, O Lord, into the glory of
your Kingdom.

Praise to the Father,
praise to the Son, 
praise to the Spirit, 
Our God the Three in One. 


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Words of Institution

Minister: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
People: Therefore, let us keep the feast. 

Holy Communion

Minister: The gifts of God for the people of God.

Gluten-free communion wafers are available at the welcome table in the front lobby of the church. Please pick one up prior to coming forward to take communion. Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the family meal of Christians. We invite all committed followers of Jesus Christ to partake of this sacrament: those who are baptized members of a congregation that proclaims the Gospel, who are at peace with God and their neighbor, and who seek strength to live more faithfully for Christ.


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Prayers For Reflection

If you are not a Christian, or if you are not prepared to share in this meal, we encourage you to spend this time in prayer. We hope that this time is helpful to you as you consider your relationship with Jesus Christ and with his people, the church. If you are unable to receive Communion, we invite you to meditate on one of the following prayers:

Prayer for those searching for truth…
Lord Jesus, you claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. Grant that I might be undaunted by the cost of following you as I consider the reasons for doing so. If what you claim is true, please guide me, teach me, and open to me the reality of who you are. Give me an understanding of you that is coherent, convincing, and that leads to the life that you promise. Amen.

Prayer of belief… Lord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through you I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross, and offering forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as Savior and Lord. Amen. 

Prayer of commitment… Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you in baptism and in a life of committed discipleship in your church. Grant that I may take the necessary steps to be one with your people, and live in the fullness of your Spirit. Amen.  


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O Holy Night  

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need - to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim! 


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Sending into God’s World

Offering

Away In A Manger

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

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

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

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.


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Candle Lighting

Scripture Reading

John 1:1-14 NRSV

 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Leader: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
People:  Praise to you, O Christ!


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Silent Night

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 Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the savior 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.





Music by Franz Gruber, 1818. Lyrics by Joseph Mohr, 1816;
trans. by John F. Young, 1856.


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Benediction

Leader: May the joy of the angels,
the eagerness of the shepherds,
the obedience of Joseph and Mary,
and the peace of the Christ child be yours
this Christmas.
And the blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you always. 
People: Amen.

Dismissal

Minister: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. 
People: Thanks be to God!

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