We’ve talked about Hope, Peace, Joy and Love
God’s Christmas gifts to us from above.
With help of the stories of dear Dr. Seuss
We’ve explored all these themes to discover the truth
That Christmas is not in a gift or a toy
It’s all about Mary’s newborn baby boy.
So tonight, as we hear of the Grinchy old grouch,
Let’s remember what Christmas is really about.
It’s praising our God for the gift of a king
So now let us listen to hear angles sing.
Opening Carol O Come All Ye Faithful #60
Call to Worship
Christmas Eve is finally here
The child of Bethlehem grows near.
We celebrate with Hope and Joy
The Prince of Peace, Love’s tiny boy.
With angels, sages and shepherds too
We welcome Christ, our Saviour, who,
Was born for us, to show the way
To God’s promise of a brand-new day
When peace shall reign and hope abound
And love will everywhere be found.
For on this day, with Jesus’ birth
Heaven came down to touch our earth.
And so, we gather here to say
Thank-you God, for Christmas Day.
Christmas Eve Candle Lighting
The candles are lit and the tree is aglow
It’s Christmas Eve, and I wish there was snow!
But we gather to worship and praise on this day
As Christ’s birthday we mark in this most special way.
So, we light all the candles of hope, peace, and joy,
As in love we now welcome brave Mary’s wee boy.
(relight Hope, Peace, Joy and Love candles)
But now as we light this one last shinny flame
With all that we are we now honour his name.
As the Christ Candle burns, we’re reminded of how
God came to be with us, Emmanuel, now
But not just for now, but forever to stay
So we worship the Christ Child this Christmas Eve day.
Christmas Eve Prayer
Tonight, is the night that heaven and earth meet
In the babe who was born on a Bethlehem street.
Tonight, we remember heaven could not contain
The Love that burst over us and with us remains.
And so on this night in deep humble prayer
We tell you we’re grateful that you have come here.
Help us to remember that you came here to say
You’re here with us always, not just Christmas Day. Amen.
Christmas Carol Good Christian Friends Rejoice #35
Story Time How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Christmas Carol It Came Upon the Midnight Clear #44
Scripture Readings Luke 2: 1-20
So, now listen as we hear another Christmas Story
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Connecting the Stories
There is one line in the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas that has always been my favorite. You can likely guess which one it is.
“Maybe Christmas, he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”
I’ve done a lot of thinking about this one line over the past few weeks and I have come to look at it a bit differently than I have in the past. Over the years I have heard so many people lament the commercialism of Christmas. They lament the excess, the extravagant gifts, given not because they really want to give them, but because they have to “outdo” the gift they received from that person last year, or because they worry that they will look “cheap” when their gift is compared to other people’s gifts. They lament the cost of excessive power bills caused by trying to outdo the neighbours with Christmas Lights. They resent spending so much money on decoration that will last less than a month.
I have to admit there were times that I found myself agreeing with them, times when I felt like a bit of a ‘Christmas Grinch’ myself. The problem is that I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love the lights and the decorations. I love the gift giving, especially when those gifts can be homemade. And I have a lot of fun trying to figure out what to make for who and how I’m going to do it. I love receiving a gift that is unexpected and shows that the person giving it really knows me and has put a lot of thought into what they have given. And I certainly love the Christmas Feast, even if it is turkey instead of “roast beast”.
But I am also very aware that all too often, these things become the sole focus of Christmas. The birth of Christ seems to almost be an afterthought. I remember a cartoon that my father had cut out of a newspaper and saved. It showed a family madly trying to get coats and boots on as they were obviously preparing to head out the door. The father, with a very irritated look on his face was saying, “Why would the minister schedule a special worship service of a busy day like Christmas?”
Now I have a confession to make. One of my “guilty pleasures” during this time of year is watching all those cheesy Christmas movies, and trust me I have seen some very cheesy ones! And the reality is that very few of these movies ever mention Christ. But what almost all of them do seem to focus on is caring for others, prioritizing family and friend above work or money, trying to help someone in need, or simply learning how to open your heart to others.
And I began to wonder what if it didn’t have to be the commercialism of Christmas vs the sacredness? What if it didn’t have to be either/or? What if it could be both/and?
Throughout Advent we have looked at the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love through the stories of Dr. Seuss. Nowhere, in any of these stories, does it ever mention Christ. And yet the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are clearly demonstrated in these stories and many of the characters clearly reflect characters and stories in our Bible. But to see these similarities we have to go beyond the manger. We have to look at who the child of Bethlehem became.
Like so many of the Dr. Seuss characters, Jesus taught us the foolishness of judging others based on their appearance, their abilities, their background or their beliefs. He taught that all people are equal and all people are loved. He taught that we have a responsibility to care for and to love those who most need our help. He taught that the most important things in life are not the wealth we accumulate, but what we give. He taught that we should love others every bit as much as we love ourselves and that we should live that love in our actions, not just our words.
This is why the baby in the manger matters. It is not because of that one particular night long ago a baby was born in a barn. It’s because of who he become. It’s because, what we celebrate when we celebrate his birth, is the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that he taught us throughout his life, and through his death and resurrection. The manger is not the end of the story, it’s just the beginning. There is so much more.
And so we come back to the words of the Grinch. “Maybe Christmas, he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.” “Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”
What would happen if, this year, we were to allow ourselves to fully enjoy all the wonderful things about this time of year without feeling the guilt or perhaps even anger that there is not enough focus on the sacred? What if we were to rearrange our priorities so that we could include both? But what if we went even further than that? What if we were to include the rest of the story? What if we were to truly make Christmas more?
I believe that there is room within the celebration of Christmas for both the sacred and the secular. I believe that within the joy and celebration it is possible to not just include the sacred, but to prioritize it. I believe that there is time, even in the busiest moments, to stop and reflect on Christ, not just the baby in the manger, but the man that he grew up to become. I believe there is time to remember the reason we celebrate in the first place, and taking this time should not, in any way, lesson the wonder and joy of the season. It should make it even more.
“Maybe Christmas” I thought, “is not found in a store.”
“Maybe Christmas … perhaps … could be so much more!”
Christmas Carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing #48
We Offer Our Gifts
Although part of our Christmas is the gifts that we share,
We can’t do it the same way, now COVID is here.
So we leave out the plates in the entryway
Or we ask you to give in some other way.
The gifts that we offer with greatest of care
Help us to continue God’s message to share
To love all our neighbours and help where we can
To honor the child, Son of God, Son of Man.
So as we now wait with excitement to see.
The presents we’ll find for us under our tree.
We remember the folks who won’t get a new toy
And those who won’t feel any Christmas joy.
We remember the baby who was born in a stall
And that he is the reason that we’re here at all
So by sharing with others and giving away
We honour the Christ Child who was born Christmas Day.
Offertory Prayer – God bless our Christmas gifts we pray
That all may be blessed this Christmas Day.
And help us remember beyond this one season.
That love is our purpose and Christ is the reason.
Christmas Carol Il Est Ne’ #50
In the wonder of this night, we come to the manger, seeking to find the Lord of all things and it is here that we find a fragile, powerless newborn baby, yet in this baby we recognize the very one we seek. We hear a newborn cry, the cry that we have been waiting for and it calls out, “Make room for me! Don’t shut me out!”
Wondrous, powerful and yet fragile God, born on this night, meet us here at your manger. Meet us as a newborn child meets new parents, changing their lives forever. Meet us as the newborn who insists that we make room, who requires that we reorder our lives to pay attention to what really matters, who demands that we re-center our lives to make you the very center of life itself.
Wondrous, powerful and yet fragile God, born on this night, you come as a tiny light in a vast darkness yet that fragile and flickering light changes the darkness completely. Touch us and warm us with your light and your love so that we can take that light out with us into our world, spreading your light and your love wherever we go.
Wondrous, powerful and yet fragile God, born on this night, there was no room for you in that inn long ago. May we never forget to make room for you, not just on this one night, but always. Amen.
Christmas Eve Blessing It’s not the end, it’s just beginning
For Christmas is a way of living
A way of hope, peace, joy and love
To celebrate our God above.
Not just above, around and in us
For that’s the promise Christmas gives us.
God With Us – Emmanuel
So now rings out the Christmas bell.
Calling us in work and play
To live our faith out everyday
So now go out to Christmas fun
And may God Bless us – everyone