Christmas Eve Service

This year we’re encouraging you to take a moment on Christmas Eve to worship Jesus, the newborn king, with your family, friends, and neighbors. Use the following liturgy as a guide to hold a brief worship service on Christmas Eve. All of it is alterable depending on the setting and age of participants.

Merry Christmas from your Elders!

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for sending your Son to be our Savior. He has changed us and captivated us. So we want to be spend a few moments tonight worshiping you. To do that we’ll need your Holy Spirit. Would you come during these moments and meet with us in worship? We ask in the name of Jesus, amen.

Song of Praise - Joy to the World

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Confession of Sin

Heavenly Father, we have sinned in our thoughts, words, and deeds; by what we have done wrong, and by neglecting to do things we should’ve done. These sins weigh us down and try to separate us from you. We come tonight confessing them, admitting our need, and that we know no other remedy than to run to you and plead for your mercy. Hear us as we pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

Assurance of Pardon

If you confessed your sins and are trusting in Christ alone for salvation, hear God’s pardon from Matthew 1:21, "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Reading from the Old Testament

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. —Micah 5:2, 4–5a (ESV)

Confession of Faith - Question 22 from the NCC

Why must the Redeemer be truly human?

That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.

Praying for One Another

Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for one another. Remember the truth of the incarnation of Jesus, that God drew near to us to sympathize with our weakness, to be with us in trials. This should be a motivation to prayer. At the end of your prayer, pray the Lord’s Prayer together.

Reading from the New Testament

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. —Matt 1:18–25

Brief Devotion

Where the gospel of Luke recounts Mary’s view of the incarnation, Matthew tells the story from Joseph’s perspective. Bewildered and confused at his fiancé’s pregnancy Joseph had chosen to pursue a divorce according to the law of Moses. It seemed like sin had won again, wreaking havoc, breaking dreams, ruining young love, and spewing shame in its wake.

Into Joseph’s sorrow came an angel, a messenger not of God’s wrath but his grace. To Joseph’s surprise, this child was not the result of Mary’s sin but God’s grace. God was doing what he had long promised, bringing about his promised salvation through this child, the Messiah. The promise was so certain that Joseph was commanded to give this infant boy the name that would confirm the promise: Jesus, meaning, God saves.

I wonder if you don’t find yourself in Joseph’s shoes at times, confronted with the reality of sin, its heart-ache and devastation, trying the best you can to mitigate the consequences, longing for it just to be over. Or maybe at the close of 2015 you feel the weight of guilt on your shoulders, heavy and unrelenting. Sin is like that, deadening, numbing, and hope-sapping.

Tonight I want you to hear that name Jesus, the name that Joseph gave that little boy at the angel’s command, and remember that Jesus has done what God said he would do. Jesus has saved his people from their sins. Where sin increases, grace increases all the more. Jesus has come to make his blessings known as far as the curse is found. There is hope, life, and renewal in repentance. Tonight, come to God in Christ and hear his pardoning voice.

We have a tradition in our home that you can open one,minor gift on Christmas Eve. But tonight I want you to open a major gift, the major gift. If you’re a Christian, speak back darkness, dread, and weariness by speaking the gospel to yourself with clarity, joy, and hope. If you’re not a Christian, place your faith in Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus, the Christ. Know God’s love and forgiveness tonight. Know the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come.

Closing Song - 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
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.

Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King.
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Closing Prayer

Great God, thank you for drawing near to us this evening, just as you drew near to humanity in the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus is truly Emmanuel, God with us. Lord, as we wake tomorrow and exchange gifts, remind us that we have already received the greatest gift from you, eternal life in Christ. Give us humility and kindness as we love our family and friends in the coming days. We look to you for all things, knowing that you are the giver of every good gift. Hear our prayers as we pray them in the name of Jesus, amen.