Dec 24, 2020
Isaiah 52: 7-10, Luke 2:1-20
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Call to Worship:
In this season leading up to this night, we have been hearing the Good News from all the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John because we have needed good news and that’s what “Gospel” actually means. We have heard stories of courage all along our journey–of people who have sung out songs of hope, love, joy, and peace. Our luminaries and candles tonight are a witness to the light we believe has come, and is coming.
Tonight we return to the story of Jesus’ birth as it is told in the Gospel of Luke. This account is the narrative we read again and again on this holy night, for this author gives us the most beloved detail. We yearn to see the scene play out, to hear the music of the angels, to feel the rush to the manger to see what this star that pierces the night sky has come to proclaim. This year the world even gets a tiny glimpse of what that star might have been like. We so desire to believe the Good News of the messengers that is the culmination of humanity’s pain of birth: “don’t be afraid” for unto us a sign has come that will be to all people… “on earth, peace.”
I believe in the sun, I believe in the sun,
even when, even when it’s not shining.
Over the last four weeks, our theme song has helped us remember that we can believe that God is with us, even and especially in the midst of hard times.
Even when the sun is hidden from sight
Even when love feels so remote
Even when love feels so remote
Even when God is silent
Even then…We believe
We believe in the presence of Emmanuel–God with us.
This is the night we celebrate that the Holy came in human form
to be light in our lives…
to speak to us, touch us, comfort us, and call us.
we thank you for the glimpse of heaven on earth
In the faces and the light of those around us.
Even in the midst of fear,
of challenge, of struggle–
even when our view is obscured
by clouds of doubt,
You have ignited the flame of hope, love,
joy, and peace within us.
Let us glow with its brilliance
from the inside out. Amen.
Scripture: Isaiah 52: 7-10 (CEB)
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of a messenger
who proclaims peace,
who brings good news,
who proclaims salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God rules!”
Listen! Your lookouts lift their voice;
they sing out together!
Right before their eyes they see the Lord returning to Zion.
Break into song together, you ruins of Jerusalem!
The Lord has comforted his people and has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm in view of all the nations;
all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory.
Opening Hymn: Joy to the World — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqi8aphPtNQ
Scripture: Luke 2:1-5
In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.
Hymn: O Little Town of Bethlehem — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uLELfqlntI
Scripture: Luke 2:6-7
While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
Hymn: Away in a Manger — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WisMfuTZva0
Scripture: Luke 2:8-14
Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
Special Music – unable to share online
Scripture: Luke 2:15-18
When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.
Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3egGjeiWEA
Scripture: Luke 2:19-20
Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.
Hymn: What Child is This? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jroBAl3WW8
Message: What Now? — https://youtu.be/-eTmaFbwbpk
Take this time to exercise the privilege of sharing in the work of God by giving your tithe to the church. You have options:
First United Methodist Church of Herkimer
127 N. Prospect Street
Herkimer, NY 13350.
Morning Star United Methodist Church
36 Second Street
Ilion, NY 13357
Online Giving for HFUMC (safe and secure)
You can use this link or download the Tithe.ly app from the app store https://tithe.ly/give?c=1695306
During this time the church is especially challenged to meet payroll and pay bills. We are unable to hold our fundraisers -rummage sales, etc. We still count on you to help us meet our commitments. We have folks among us who have reduced income as a result of the COVID-19 guidelines who may not be able to give as they have in the past.
Use this time to brainstorm ideas in how you can reach out tangibly to others to show God’s love to the people around you this week even while living in a self-quarantine state.
Prayer of Dedication:
Great God, our Redeemer, we sing your praises. Your glorious love shines in the face of Jesus, born a babe in this dark world. We marvel that he generously humbled himself to bring salvation. How precious is your gift of love! Let the light in our sanctuary and our songs of praise spill through the windows to neighbors dwelling in darkness. May our gifts and offerings reflect the light of Christ and, as beacons in the night, draw people far and near closer to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Hymn: Silent Night — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyY36DJmIcs
We come to the classic moment of every Christmas Eve… the moment to light our candles and sing, “Silent Night.” We have wondered this year how we could possibly recreate a sense of normalcy in this moment. We wondered how we could get through it with the joy we usually feel on this night, having lost so much this year.
No, it is not the same. And we know that because of the people we have lost, the jobs and security we have lost, that it will likely not ever be the same. Surely every year, we will remember this moment when we thought perhaps light and song would elude us. But here we are. We will light our lights and we will have our song. Just like those soldiers in World War I sang across enemy lines. Everything stopped for a short while as the message that all is calm and bright prevailed above the violence and dark night of the world. We have been sorely divided on many things. We are devastated by our losses. We are tired and we are not so calm. But for this moment, this night, let us remember that we are not alone. And that we believe that the music and light of God’s promises come again and again: hope for a better tomorrow, love that works for a more equitable world, joy that wells from a place deep within us, and peace that offers us the assurance we need.
I invite you to raise your candle high for the Benediction:
We wait for justice
but we do not wait to work for change;
We wait for restored health
but we do not wait to work to heal;
We wait for wholeness
but we do not wait to work at binding brokenness;
We wait for peace
but we do not wait to work to eliminate hatred.
And so, my friends, like bells ringing out the news
that Christ is born among us,
fill the night left by sadness with messages of hope,
love, joy, and peace. Go into your lives humming
the tunes that keep that light alive in you
and that spur you on in your work of
justice and reconciliation.
Raise your voices and repeat after me…
“do not be afraid!”
“do not be afraid!”