Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.


We often behave as though Jesus is only interested in saving and loving a romanticized version of ourselves, or an idealized version of our mess of a world, and so we offer to him a version of our best selves. With our Sunday school shoes on, we sing songs about kings and drummers at his birth, perhaps so we can escape the Herod in ourselves and in the world around us. But we’ve lost the plot if we use religion as the place where we escape from difficult realities instead of as the place where those difficult realities are given meaning.

                            — Nadia Bolz-Weber


     Wrapped in every breath, song, and action is God’s direct connection with the earth and earth’s peoples. This night counters voices and theologies that view God as distant and unengaged with humanity and the world. From old, the promise of God drawing near has been uttered; in the gospel we witness the birth of God’s yearning presence through a teenage girl; throughout we are invited to join the song of creation, hope, and salvation. Tonight, we pulse with the exhilaration of Mary and the shepherds, and those who have lived at the margins, as we experience and proclaim, that “God dwells with us.” While people may often talk of the “magic” of Christmas, it is our call to speak to the incarnation of Christmas. As people hear a familiar story and sing familiar hymns, the blessing and challenge is to witness again to God’s promise and promise-keeping with vitality and to join the chorus of joy in what God has done and continues to do in being made real among us.

     Into the lights and presents, the music and gatherings, even the wars, poverty, little empires, and tumult of the world, God meets and claims us in that spirit of hope. God calls us to dream and live into a new reality as we encounter this babe at Bethlehem and find this Christ-child born in our lives again. Christmas speaks to our greatest longing, and turns the “humbugs” to carols of joy.


Advent hope moves us; Advent love leads us; Advent joy stirs us; Advent peace stills us, that we might affirm our King Jesus.  It is time we set flame to this Advent affirmation by lighting the Christ Candle.

We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judea. He was the long-awaited Messiah whose coming was prophesied. The same Jesus lives today in our hearts. He deserves our highest loyalty and total commitment. In Jesus Christ our hope is fulfilled; our love is consummated; our joy is complete; and our peace is sealed.

Rejoice, a Savior is born.

A savior is born, indeed!


All may make the sign of the cross, the sign marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.

Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, who was in the beginning, who makes a dwelling among us,

who covers us with justice and mercy.


Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.

     God of goodness and lovingkindness, we confess that we have sinned against   you and our neighbors.  We have turned away from your invitation to new life.  We have turned away from the lowly and downtrodden.

     In your abundant mercy, forgive us our sins, those we know and those known   only to you, for the sake of the one who came to live among us, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

     Hear the good news of peace and salvation!  God forgives us all our sins, not through our own work, but through ☩ Jesus Christ, made known to all people.  With all who come to the manger, rejoice in this amazing gift of grace.


GATHERING SONG  Voices United #59  Joy To The World


Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.



First Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7

This poem promises deliverance from Assyrian oppression, a hope based on the birth of a royal child with a name full of promise. While Judah’s king will practice justice and righteousness, the real basis for faith lies in God’s passion for the people: The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!

2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.

3You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 

4For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 

5For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 

6For 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. 

7His 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.

Psalm: Psalm 96

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad. (Ps. 96:11)

1Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2Sing to the Lord, bless the name of the Lord; proclaim God’s salvation from day to day.
3Declare God’s glory among the nations and God’s wonders among all peoples.
4For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, more to be feared than all gods. R
5As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; but you, O Lord, have made the heavens.
6Majesty and magnificence are in your presence; power and splendor are in your sanctuary.
7Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord honor and power.
8Ascribe to the Lord the honor due the holy name; bring offerings and enter the courts of the Lord. R
9Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; tremble before the Lord, all the earth.
10Tell it out among the nations: “The Lord is sovereign!  The one who made the world so firm that it cannot be moved will judge the peoples with equity.”
11Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that is therein.
12Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy at your coming, O Lord, for you come to judge the earth.
13You will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with your truth. R

Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14

The appearance of God’s grace in Jesus Christ brings salvation for all humanity. Consequently, in the present we live wisely and justly while also anticipating the hope of our Savior’s final appearance.

11The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Gospel: Luke 2:1-20

God’s greatest gift comes as a baby in a manger. Angels announce the “good news of great joy” and proclaim God’s blessing of peace.

     1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
  8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

      14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
  and on earth peace among those whom God favors!”

  15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

SONG  Voices United #38  Angels We Have Heard On High


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

We all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  Sometimes that is just the way life is.  Mary and Joseph were having one of those days!  Mary was about to have a baby and was probably feeling very uncomfortable, maybe even in pain, and they could not find a place to stay!  So many people!  And then, when they did find a spot where she could give birth, it was with a bunch of smelly animals!  Not the cleanest of places.  Yet even though it wasn’t the best place, it was still a place where God was present, mom and baby were ok, Jesus was healthy, and they could lie down and sleep. God promised to look after them and Mary and Joseph trusted that promise.

It is comforting to know that even during terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, God is always with us.  We can complain if we want, rant if we need to, and then, once we get that out our system, we can, with Mary and Joseph, give thanks to God for staying with us, listening to us, and giving us the strength and hope to look forward to a better tomorrow.


     When I was 19, I attended our semi-annual youth retreat at Camp Lutherlyn at Golden Lake, Ontario.  While at the retreat, I participated in a game called Underground Christian.  I was one of the oppressed Christians in Russia who had to find her way to the secret meeting place without getting caught by the military police.  The retreat centre was surrounded by tall pine trees, rolling hills and several fences made of various materials.  We played the game on a cloudy night so the darkness was deep.  Still, we had been to this camp many times and were not afraid of the countryside.

    There were six of us in my group.  We each held onto the pant leg of the person in front of us and literally crawled on our bellies through the bush.   

     At one point, exhausted, we stopped in a small dip in the ground.  Since we didn’t want to get caught, we did not dare pant to regain our breath as the “police” were close by.  Suddenly, a flashlight beam scanned over our heads!  Instinctively, all six of us slid further into the little gully, scarcely daring to breathe.  In the distance someone screamed.  The person with the flashlight began to run in the direction of the commotion, leaving the six of us lying in fear.  Yes, fear.

     When the game finally ended and all had a chance to recount what they had experienced, the six of us discovered that the instant the flashlight beam appeared our first thought was, “Oh God, please don’t let us get caught!”  According to a friend of mine, who was one of the police, some of the people who were caught were in tears!  He said he tried to remind them that this whole exercise was just a game, but they told him, “You just don’t understand!”  For a game it produced some very real and very deep emotions.

     While the shepherds in the fields were not playing a game, they, like our fearful six, were not expecting the unexpected.  I am certain that as shepherds they experienced some fear while keeping watch for various wild life, but this was a job they had done for years so they were probably relaxed and quite vulnerable when the light came. 

     I would guess that the light of an angel from heaven is much brighter than that of a flashlight.  I would also guess that not having any trees behind which to hide, the shepherds forgot about their sheep and ran away in fear, for while society at that time believed in angels, it was a whole different story to have one actually appear!

     Notice the similar attempts made at calming the fear of the shepherds that my friend used on his supposed prisoners, “Don’t be afraid!  True, my appearance has scared you, but you know who I really am and that I will not hurt you.  Listen to me!  Stop running!  I want to tell you something!” 

     I wonder — if the shepherds had been granted a chance to respond to the angels if they, too, would have said, “You just don’t understand!  I perceive who you really are, and, you frighten me!  Please don’t tell me to stop being afraid when I am shaking with fear!  It doesn’t help!”

     The angel does not give up.  The angel keeps talking, like my friend kept talking, assuring the shepherds that there was no harm intended and that there was good news to be heard, a plan of salvation was being lived out, and they were to be a part of it!  “Yes, you with all your fear and doubt, God wants you to participate in the saving history of God’s people.  So just calm down and listen to me!”

     Now, if these poor shepherds didn’t have enough to comprehend with the presence of one angel, suddenly the whole sky was full!  Although, something tells me that by this time they had calmed down somewhat and watched in awe as the heavenly chorus sang.  For no harm did come to them and this host of angels was proof that, indeed, the shepherds were being invited by God to view the Messiah. 

     We crawled over rocks, pine needles, wooden fences, wire fences, rock fences, running when we were able, always in the general direction we had been told to go.  We were assured of safety, warmth by a campfire, hot chocolate, the soft strumming of a guitar and most importantly, the presence of our fellow Christians who had made the trek safely when, and if, we found the secret meeting spot.  We stopped and listened for the strumming of a guitar, the crackle of a fire, the soft humming of voices.  Game or no game, our joy and relief were real when we finally found the others huddled around a small campfire enclosed by pine trees.

     Suddenly, our fear was gone.  In fact, we all felt a little foolish that we had been afraid in the first place.  But we soon discovered that others had had the same experience — fear turning to joy at the sight of the haven of which we had been told. 

     While the shepherds may not have been the most educated of people, still, their Jewish heritage would have taught them of the coming of the Messiah.  From childhood on they would have heard the promises from Yahweh.  However, when actually faced with the reality of participating in the Gospel story, doubt and fear took precedence over logic. 

     At this point the shepherds were probably running for joy in search of the child.  No doubt they climbed over bodies like we climbed over fences, such was the magnitude of people come to Bethlehem for the census.   Still, they did not give up.  They stopped, got their bearings, listened, asked, until finally they found the holy family.  And it was there, in the midst of the smelly reality of life in a stable, that these humble shepherds found the gift of the Christ child and the peace of God.

     So often we expect God to appear with a host of angels to give us the details of what we are to do and where we are to go.  Life would be so much easier that way.  But, as the shepherds found out, while God shares with us the promise and gives us the general direction, the leg work is ours. 

     We are to walk among the people of God in search of the Christ.  We are to look into the eyes of every child just in case this one is the one we are looking for.  And as we go, we are to tell the good news and invite others to join us.  We are to tell them that the power of God is to be found in those who are vulnerable, weak and in need of love, just like a baby.

     No doubt the shepherds realized the depth of the gift God gave them – being part of the Messiah’s story – only after the excitement of the evening was over.  Similarly, the six of us youth realized the deep meaning of the word ‘freedom’ only after the game had ended.  The epiphany, for both shepherds and teenagers, indeed, for all of humanity, is that God’s gift means freedom; freedom to worship, freedom to proclaim, freedom to search, freedom to ask questions and the freedom to see God in the ordinary.  Only with God, the ordinary becomes extraordinary!

     The Messiah is here!  Do not be afraid!  We are free!  Glory to God in the highest heaven!  Amen!

SONG  Voices United #60  O Come, All Ye Faithful


Joining our voices with the song of the angels, let us pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

The shepherds sing, “Jesus Christ is born!” Let your church throughout the world proclaim this good news, over the hills and everywhere. Unite the voices of all your faithful people in songs of praise and rejoicing. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Heaven and nature sing, “Joy to the world!” Give respite to flocks, fields, and those who tend them. Come near to us in the beauty of nighttime, the shining of the stars, and the hush of a world at rest. May our wonder at your creation rouse our care for all the earth. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

The angels sing, “Peace on earth!” Come quickly to still the strife of this world. Hush the noise of war and violence in places of unrest. Inspire leaders of nations to seek lasting peace and sustainable provision for all in their care. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Mary sings melodies of comfort to her newborn child. Bring rest and reassurance to those facing struggles this night. Shelter travelers and those without homes. Console those who lie awake due to pain or anxiety. Heal those who are sick or hurting.  We pray for Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn & Douglas; Debbie & Dwayne; Nicole; Sandy Lange, Matthew Grossman, Gordon Fulford, the family of Dave Martens, the family of Gordon Dreger and for all those infected with the corona virus, or whose loved ones have died because of it.  Comfort them in their grief and help them to hold on to the hope that comes this night with the birth of the Christ Child.  Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Love sings through the sound of a new baby’s cry. Bless new parents and expectant parents. Comfort those who long for children, especially those running out of hope or options. Surround families of every shape and size with your love and care. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

The heavenly chorus sings, “Glory to God in the highest!” We give you thanks for all the saints who have proclaimed your glory in word and deed. Let us join them this night in joyful praise around your eternal throne. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, come quickly to us with grace upon grace as we lift these and all our prayers to you, in the name of Jesus.




Almighty God, who sent the Holy Spirit to Mary, proclaimed joy through the angels, sent the shepherds with good news, and led the magi by a star, bless you this day ☩ through the Word made flesh.


SENDING SONG:  Voices United #67  Silent Night


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