Listen! Can you hear the angels singing? Take a moment and breathe deeply the wonder and awe of this holy night. Still the busyness and listen. For the song of the angels is not exclusively for the shepherds. But to hear it you need ears attuned to the unexpected undertones of hope. The invitation to join the shepherds and see the baby in the manger is for everyone.
Listen! Can you hear the angels singing? It is an eternal song, but right here and right now, it is sung for you. For in this moment, heaven and earth touch, and we share in the wonder and the worship with angels and shepherds and with one another.
Opening Carol O Come, All Ye Faithful #60
Call to Worship
This is the night when heaven touches earth.
This is the night when we watch the stars.
This is the night when peace and justice somehow seem a bit more real.
This is the night when we listen to hear the songs of the angels.
This is the night when hope shines out even in the darkest moments.
This is the night when the sound of a newborn child touches our hearts.
This is the night when heaven touches earth.
And so, on this holiest of nights we come to worship.
Lighting of the Christmas Eve Candle
Throughout Advent we have lit candles to help us prepare for this night.
We lit the hope candle as we searched the sky for signs of a star.
We lit the peace candle as we listened to the angle’s song of Peace on Earth.
We lit the joy candle as we remember to Taste and See that God is Good.
We lit the love candle as we remembered the strong smells that ignites memories.
Tonight, we light the Christ candle as we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel.
Tonight, we open all our senses to the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch of Christmas.
Tonight, we open our hearts to the touch of the Divine.
Tonight, we welcome Christ into our hearts.
Candle Lighting Response #82
A light is gleaming, spreading its arms
throughout the night, living in the light.
Come share its gladness, God’s radiant love
is burning bright, living in the light.
Christmas Eve Prayer
In the spirit of hope, peace, joy and love, we come, Holy One, on this Christmas Eve. We come to hear again the story of angels and shepherds, of stars and songs, and of a child born to show us your love. May these stories come alive for us today, so that we may experience again all the wonder of that first Christmas. May the One born in Bethlehem truly be born in us today. Amen
The Christmas Story
Listen an hear Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus.
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 terrified. 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 all people!”
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.
Carol Angels We Have Heard on High #38
The Touch of Christmas
It wasn’t easy for me. Mary had been promised to me and all the arrangements had been made. She was young, but she was from a good family and seemed to be a fine girl. But then, she told me she was pregnant. I know how these things can happen to such an innocent girl and I was sure it was not her fault, but I certainly couldn’t marry her given what had happened.
But then, I had the strangest dream. It was so real. I heard the Almighty telling me that Mary’s child was from the Holy Spirit and that I should go ahead and marry her. And I did.
But things just got more complicated. The decree came out forcing me to travel to Bethlehem and to take Mary with me. I did as I was told. When her time came, I struggled. This child was not mine. How could I possibly fully accept him.
And then it happened. I saw him lying there so helpless and yet so perfect. I reached out my hand to touch him. He reached back. And as his tiny fingers closed around mine, I realized something. This tiny stranger was Mary’s and God’s but he was also mine. He was mine because he was born for me and for everyone else.
As I touched him his tiny hand, he touched my heart.
I was so scared. I was so far from home and although I had been told what to expect and how to prepare, I really had no idea what to do. He had been growing inside me all this time, but somehow it still seemed so unreal. And now the time had come and here I was, in a barn, surrounded by straw and animals.
When the pains began, I thought I was going to die. But then I remember the words of the angle who had announced to me that I would bear a son. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Everything has happened just as that angle had told me, and I knew I had to trust in God. This was God’s son and I had to believe that God would not let anything happen to me as long as I remained faithful.
I honestly don’t remember all that much about the actual birth. I remember the pain and the fear and the fierce determination not to let anything bad happen to God’s son.
And then he was here. So tiny and so helpless. They put him into my arms and something extraordinary happened. He was no longer just God’s son. He was my son. As I touched his tiny face, I finally understood that he didn’t just belong to God. He belonged to all of us. He was born for all of us.
As I touched his face, he touched my heart.
I didn’t know what to think. An angel doesn’t just appear out of no where. And yet it did. If it hadn’t been for the others, I would have thought it had just been a dream. But we all saw it. We all heard the message.
Some wanted to ignore it, pretend it hadn’t happened. But I couldn’t let it go. And so, when someone suggested that we go to Bethlehem to see for ourselves, I went. I had no idea what to expect. I even wondered if I might still be dreaming.
But when we got to Bethlehem, nobody seemed to know what we were talking about. We might have given up, but something just kept drawing us forward. When we finally found the place, we knew. No one had to tell us. There was something amazing happening there. We were all silent as we walked in, and there they were, the mother, the father and the tiny little baby, sleeping in the manger on top of the hay. No one spoke but his mother smiled and motioned us forward.
I can’t describe the feeling I had looking down into his face. He was so peaceful. And as I stood there, he opened his eyes. Now I know this sounds strange, but I know he looked at me, not just at me but through me. I felt it. This tiny baby not only looked at me, but he saw me, he saw me as I really am.
And then it happened. He reached up towards me. I couldn’t help it. I reached back. As my finger touched his tiny, perfect hand, I felt a warmth and a love I cannot explain.
The truth is he touched more than my hand. He touched my heart.
I wasn’t there 2000 years ago. I have never felt the physical touch of that tiny baby or of the man he grew to be. But despite that, he has touched my heart.
He has touched my heart each time I have walked along a beach and marveled at the beauty of nature, when I have looked into the faces of my children or my grandchildren or when I have seen a beautiful nativity scene. He has touched my heart each time I have heard the beautiful piece of music or a particularly moving bit of poetry or prose. He has touched my heart every time I have tasted a juicy red tomato picked fresh from the garden and eaten warmed by the sun. He has touched my heart each time I have smelled the aroma of fresh flowers, warm springtime breezes or turkey and stuffing fresh out of the oven.
But most of all, he has touched me through the touch of other people, those who have offered me comfort, understanding, encouragement and love, but also through those who have needed my comfort, understanding, encouragement and love. He has touched me in those quiet moments when I have struggled with a difficult decision and the answer has suddenly become clear. He has touched me in the sorrow, in the joy and in the humour of everyday life.
I don’t always recognize his touch in the moment, but on a night like tonight, as I see the lights from the advent candles, as I hear the words of the familiar carols, as I smell the scent of the evergreen tree and as I look into the manger, I know that even when I don’t feel it, he is and always will be reaching out to touch me and waiting for me to reach back.
Solo Away In A Manger Lynn Brown
Carol Joy to the World #59
Invitation to Give
The gift of angels singing. The gift of stars dancing. The gift of shepherd’s devotion. The gift of a baby boy. This night, these gifts have been given to us. Here at Beacon, we do not pass the offering plates, but instead as that if you would like to contribute to the work of this church, you place your offering on the plate in the entryway. You can also donate online or through pre-authorized remittance. But our financial gifts are only one of the things we offer. We also offer our time, our talents and our commitment. So whatever gifts we offer today, let us ask God’s blessing upon them.
As angels offered songs, as stars offered light and as those who knelt at the manger offered what they had before the Christ child, we now offer our gifts. Accept our songs, our prayers, and our gifts as our symbols of our appreciation for the gift of the holy child, born this night. Amen.
Carol Il est Ne / He is Born #50
God of stars, of shepherds, and of each one of us, this night the skies are alive with the glow of your heavenly light. This night the earth listens intently for the sounds of a new born child. This night we feel the wonder and awe of heaven touching earth. This night we are filled with an overwhelming sense of your presence with us. Through the birth of a tiny child long ago you have brought new hope into our world. As we celebrate Christmas this year, touch us once again with that hope, so that we may never lose sight of all that you offer us and we may hold on to the possibilities and the challenge born to us in the Christ of Christmas. Teach us to live into that hope, not just at Christmas but each day of our lives, so that we may take the Christ of Christmas with us wherever we go. Amen
Carol O Little Town of Bethlehem #64
Listen to the promise of the prophet Isaiah
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
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. 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. 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.
We have seen the light shining from a stable and from the face of a newborn baby. We have heard the heavenly song of angels. We have come with shepherds, with angels and with one another to bow before the manger. And so, as we go out into another starry night, we take with us that song of peace and goodwill. We take with us that light which offers us both hope and challenge. And we take with us that love, born for all people, the Christ of Christmas, Emanuel … God with us.
Carol Silent Night #67