Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cove's Worship Service – Christmas Eve (A Service of Readings and Carols)

Below is a copy of the service I led in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia, on Thursday, December 24, 2015. You can also find a podcast of this service at The Cove Podbean page.

If you found this service meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Our Call to Worship: Psalm 96
Leader: O sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth.
People: Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Leader: Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
People: For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
Leader: For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
People: Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Leader: Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
People: Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Leader: Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.
People: Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
Leader: The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.  He will judge the peoples with equity.”
People: Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it.
Leader: Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth.
People: He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

Hymn: “O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Our Offering to God: “What Child Is This”

Our Prayer of Thanksgiving

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.

Choir: Great Joy Medley

A Service of Readings and Carols

First Reading: Genesis 3:8-15
During that day’s cool evening breeze, they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God in the middle of the garden’s trees. The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
The man replied, “I heard your sound in the garden; I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree, which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”
The Lord God said to the woman, “What have you done?!”
And the woman said, “The snake tricked me, and I ate.”
The Lord God said to the snake,
“Because you did this,
you are the one cursed
out of all the farm animals,
out of all the wild animals.
On your belly you will crawl,
and dust you will eat
every day of your life.
I will put contempt
between you and the woman,
between your offspring and hers.
They will strike your head,
but you will strike at their heels.”

Hymn: “Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus”

Second Reading: Genesis 22:15-18
The Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I give my word as the Lord that because you did this and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, I will bless you richly and I will give you countless descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as the grains of sand on the seashore. They will conquer their enemies’ cities. All the nations of the earth will be blessed because of your descendants, because you obeyed me.”

Hymn: “Angels, from the Realms of Glory”

Third Reading: Isaiah 9:2,6,7
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace
for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it
with justice and righteousness
now and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.

Hymn: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Fourth Reading: Isaiah 11:1–3a; 4a; 6–9
A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse;
a branch will sprout from his roots.
The Lord’s spirit will rest upon him,
a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of planning and strength,
a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
He will delight in fearing the Lord.
He won’t judge by appearances,
nor decide by hearsay.
He will judge the needy with righteousness,
and decide with equity for those who suffer in the land.
He will strike the violent with the rod of his mouth;
by the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
the calf and the young lion will feed together,
and a little child will lead them.
The cow and the bear will graze.
Their young will lie down together,
and a lion will eat straw like an ox.
A nursing child will play over the snake’s hole;
toddlers will reach right over the serpent’s den.
They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain.
The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
just as the water covers the sea.

Hymn: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

Fifth Reading: Luke 1:26–35; 38
When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son.

Choir: Bethlehem Song

Sixth Reading: Luke 2:1; 3–7
In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists.
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. 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”

Seventh Reading: Luke 2: 8–16
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.”
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.

Duet: Birthday of a King

Eighth Reading: Matthew 2:1–12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.

Hymn: “We Three Kings of Orient Are”

Ninth Reading: John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the word
and the word was with God,
and God was the word.
He was in the beginning with God.

All things through him came into being,
and apart from him nothing came into being.
That which came into being in him was life.
And the life was the light of humanity.
And the light in the darkness shines,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

He was in the world,
and the world through him came into being,
and the world didn’t know him.
To his own he came,
and his own didn’t accept him.
But all who accepted him,
he gave to them the ability to become children of God,

And the word became flesh
and dwelt among us,
and we saw his glory,
glory as the first born from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Because from his fullness,
we all received, even grace upon grace.

Hymn: “Silent Night!  Holy Night!”


Postlude: Excelsis Deo

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