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Christmas Eve: Lessons and Carols with Communion
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Please join Maureen and Kristin in the congregational responses (in bold).

Advent and Christ Candle Lighting

On this Holy Night, we gather to give thanks for the gift of God’s presence with us, which is not diminished by distance or time.
God comes, in a shining star, to our shadowed and cold world, and brings us hope and warmth.
The gift of Hope has come to us!

God comes, in the stillness of night, to our world full of anxiety and conflict, and brings us peace and justice.
The gift of Peace has come to us!

God comes, in a jubilant song, to our troubled and grieving world, and brings us joy and faith.
The gift of Joy has come to us!

God comes, in a mother’s arms, to our world full of animosity and fear, and brings us love and comfort.
The gift of Love has come to us!

Tonight, we celebrate the Light of the World. God comes, in the form of a helpless child, to our vulnerable world, and brings us hope, peace, joy, love, and the promise of new life. We lift our hearts in praise and gratitude for the gift of Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us.
The gift of Christ has come to us! We welcome Emmanuel! Hallelujah!

Opening Prayer  

Loving God,
we gather to worship,
to prepare ourselves to hear the song of the angels,
to go in wonder with the shepherds to Bethlehem,
to see the loving-kindness of you, our God,
in the babe lying in a manger.  

As your story enters our homes tonight,
may it enter also our hearts, and our lives.
Though we are apart, may we feel united by your Spirit on this holy night,
as together, we celebrate the hope and the mystery
that Jesus Christ is born.
In his name we pray, Amen.

Call to Give Thanks

Glory to God in the highest!
And on earth, peace to all!
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to God.
It is good to give thanks and praise.

Remembering Jesus at Table

Let us remember together that vision of God’s reign shown to us in Jesus at table.
He shared food with followers and friends,
with saints and sinners,
with crowds of thousands on the hillside,
and a few friends in an upper room.

On the night before he died, he had supper with his companions.
He took a loaf of bread, and after giving thanks, he broke it, and gave it to them, saying:
“Take, eat. This is my body, given for you. Each time you do this, remember me.”

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, passed it to his friends, saying:
“Drink. This cup, poured out for you, is the promise of God. Whenever you drink it, remember me.” 

Through this loaf and cup, Jesus lives within us.
In word and deed, Jesus lives among us.
Holy God, we remember your boundless love for us,
shown in the gift of Jesus Christ, Son of Mary.
We rejoice at his birth, proclaim his death,
celebrate his resurrection, and await his coming again.

The Lord’s Prayer

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,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Christmas Creed

(Based on A Christmas Creed by Walter Russell Bowie, adapted by barb janes, M.A.McCartney, and Kristin Woodburke) 

We believe in the promise of Christmas,
and the importance of celebrating it as the church.
We believe in the God at the centre of Christmas,
whose hope for the world was imagined by prophets.  

We believe in Mary,
who sang of turning the world upside down
and who allowed her life to be disrupted by God.
We believe in Joseph,
whose broken heart broke the rules,
in order to do the right thing.
We believe in the smell of the stable –
we believe there is no place where God will not go.
We believe in the shepherds,
those simple ones, open to hear the angels’ song.
We believe in the Magi,
the ones outside the faith,
outside the community,
who searched out the Holy.  

We believe in Jesus,
born in poverty,
fled as a child refugee,
raised in faith,
lived seeking justice,
died speaking forgiveness,
and rose with a love that could not be stopped.  

We commit to seek out the Holy
both in God among us,
and in God beyond us.
We open ourselves anew to the old, old, story
of the Child in the Manger,
whose message of love and justice
is still able to change lives.  

May we be willing! Thanks be to God.