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.


“Good news” is a familiar phrase for Christians, but in the world outside the bible the Greek word we translate as “bringing . . . good news” was used to announce a new emperor. The Emperor Augustus commands that the world be counted, and those with the least are required to do the most to fulfill the requirements of those in power. The scene at the manger, however, is anything but imperial. In Bethlehem, God’s power is revealed in weakness, and the people who count include even the migrant laborers keeping watch over their flocks by night.

What does it mean this Christmas for us to hear that God is found in the hidden, the neglected, the immodest places of the world? What does it mean for us this year to know that when God takes a census, all the people of the world matter as much as any citizen of any empire?

The Nativity of Our Lord is the story of God’s reign spilling over the boundaries set by the powerful people of the world and into the margins. Dark nights and fragile infants interrupted by migrant laborers and choirs of angels point to a vision of the world as it should be, where “being connected” to the right people is replaced by being interconnected through a spirit of unity that brings us all out of the margins and into the center of life. In the infant Jesus, God declares a new standard for power, a word of hope, “good news” for all who are fragile, all who are weak, all who are overlooked, all who are despised, all who are abandoned, all who are homeless, all who are hovering between life and death. The festival of the incarnation is indeed “salvation to all”.

LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE – Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries

This night, this night is a night to remember. A night when home broke in on us. A night when we were not forgotten or alone or abandoned. This night. This night is the night when here and there became one, when past and future combined in a breathless present. This is a night when we are home, in ourselves, in this family, in the God who loved us enough to walk beside us.

We gather in the night to proclaim the light. We shrug off despair and embrace hope. We set aside conflict and choose peace. We push away despair by claiming joy. We overcome hate by rising into love. Because this night we know, even in the shadows of our doubts, we know that we are loved. That’s what it means to be home.

We light these candles, hoping to become the light, hoping to radiate light by how we live. We light these candles to create a space called home in this place, in our place, in inner places. We light these candles to declare that unto us a Savior is born, who is Christ the Lord. Welcomed home by angels singing and shepherds kneeling. Welcomed home by those like us who have worshiped for thousands of years. Welcomed home again tonight, right here, right now, in us.

It’s time to be home.

Light the Christ Candle:  VU 74, verse 1, What Child Is This?


In this silent night,
We ponder your mystery with Mary and Joseph.
On this holy night,

We come with the shepherds to worship.
On this night of joy for the world,

We sing praises with choirs of angels.

In the darkness of this night,

We celebrate the Light of the World.

HYMN:  VU 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.  Amen.

HYMN:  VU 35   Good Christian Friends, Rejoice


God of wisdom and life, send your Holy Spirit to open our hearts to hear your promise of new life in the familiar stories of Christmas. Surprise us with new insights. Refresh us with deep wisdom.  And wrap us with the grace of your Good News as we attend to the baby in the manger.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

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 96

R:  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 our 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 king! 
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 he 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.

HYMN:   VU 38   Angels We Have Heard On High


“And Joseph also went up to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…”

The meaning of the name “Bethlehem”, in Hebrew, is “the house of bread”. Think about the ministry and message of Jesus, and then ponder the meaning of the word “Bethlehem”.

Bethlehem is in the midst of a relatively fertile region. That is a rare thing in Palestine, which in large part is a barren land. Around it are great regions which are still more barren. Below it is the long, grim wilderness of Sinai; to the east, beyond the region of the Jordan Valley, rise the harsh, fortified walls of Moab; and beyond these, deserts, inhabited only by the Arab Bedouins, which stretch away toward the heart of Asia. But around Bethlehem the land was of a gentler kind. There wheat ripened in the fields and the figs and olives grew. In Bethlehem and its neighbourhood people might live with reasonable security.

Surely it is not irrelevant that the birth of Jesus was therefore associated with the town whose name is “the house of bread.” The love of God, of which Jesus’ birth was the supreme expression, is not indifferent to simple and basic human needs, which Jesus himself did not ignore. One the of the first petitions in the prayer that he taught his disciples is “Give us this day our daily bread.” Church reformer, Martin Luther, defines daily bread as “everything required to satisfy our bodily needs, such as food and clothing, house and home, fields and flocks, money and property; a pious spouse and good children, trustworthy servants, godly and faithful rulers, good government; seasonable weather, peace and health, order and honor; true friends, faithful neighbours, and the like.” Yet in many respects, Jesus focused on the actual food of daily bread; he liked those familiar and friendly contacts with people which are most instinctively made when people sit down to eat their food together. Have you have your Christmas dinner this evening? Did you notice a change in people once they sat down to share a meal? If you have not already had your Christmas dinner, observe what happens when you do.

Read the Gospels and see how often in the brief story there is mention of Jesus going to this or that house to dine – to Simon Peter’s house in Capernaum, to the wedding feast in Cana, to Matthew the publican’s, to the house of Zacchaeus, to Mary and Martha’s house in Bethany, to the house of Simon the Pharisee, to the upper room where Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples; and even after his resurrection, to the house of the two disciples at Emmaus, where he was known in the breaking of bread. Jesus was never indifferent either to human need or to human happiness. His life had a balance and fullness. He moved in two worlds at once, yet without ever seeming to be less, but rather more, a participant in this one. Jesus had about him the power of endless life, and yet he gave himself so intimately and so completely to human contacts that the simplest matters of everyday existence were made beautiful.

When Jesus wanted to illustrate the meaning of the realm of God, he spoke of the sower scattering the grain that would ripen into the harvest, or of the woman kneading leaven into the meal, of a man at the end of a journey knocking at his friend’s door for bread. As Jesus looked at people’s efforts to gain their livelihood, he said, “Your heavenly father knows that you have need of these things.” He did not want them to be anxious or to struggle as those who think that everything depends on their own sweat and tension. But Jesus himself had lived and worked in Nazareth, and he knew the practical necessities upon which life rests. The love of God understands these things, he said, and God cares.

Bethlehem, which has represented the birth to humanity of the love of God in Jesus, is a house of bread not only in the physical sense. It suggests the house of that living bread which feeds the deepest needs in people.

Why are you at this service this evening? Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t matter! What matters is that you are here, and that while here you have an opportunity to be fed the Good News, the bread of life. While here you are in the presence of love, God’s love as experienced through all of these people. While here I want you to know that you are loved and embraced by God, just as you are. No strings attached. The Good News that I give you this evening is that through the birth of a child, God’s child, you are loved and accepted, forgiven and redeemed all because God loves you.

God knew then, and certainly knows now, that no satisfaction of people’s economic wants, vital, urgent and primary though these are, can ultimately feed the deepest hunger in our human life. If we are able to create, as we must try to do, a social order in which every family can have a decent home and in which every child can grow up in security and contentment and with some sufficient taste of the physical beauty of this earth, even then we should not have appeased our deepest hunger. People may have wealth enough to live on, but if they do not know how to live, life will grow bitter, disillusioned, and despairing. Something inside women, men, and yes, even children, will starve unless they eat from the bread of life, born in “the house of bread.”

This Christmas, as you gather, take a moment to look around you. What gives your life meaning? What is most important to you? My hunch is that it will not be the food on the table or the gifts exchanged and opened. It will be those who have gathered around the table, family and friends, whose love is felt and for whom love is given in return. I also hunch you will discover that even if you don’t eat one bite of food, as you look at those present, you will be full.  Amen.

HYMN:  VU 73  The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy


God of the starry heavens and the good old earth, eternal God, God with us, tonight you come among us in the figure of a baby, a newborn reaching out to us, to bring a smile to our lips and hope to our hearts.  Thank you for your tenderness with which you touch our lives.       

Come, Emmanuel,

Come into our hearts tonight.

Tonight as we remember the baby lying in a manger, we pray for peace:  Peace in all the places where there is anger or war or fear, peace in all the hearts that know sorrow or stress, we pray for people who will not sleep safely tonight because of conflict in their lives.  Cradle all these people and places in your love so the world may sleep in heavenly peace this night.

Come, Emmanuel,

Come into our hearts tonight.

Tonight, as we remember the mother Mary rocking her baby, we pray for all children born this Christmas season.  Watch over mothers and fathers and grandparents, hoping for the best for their newborns.  Help us create communities where every child is valued and every family has enough.  May families rejoice because Christ the Saviour is born for each of us and for all of us.

Come, Emmanuel,

Come into our hearts tonight.                                                               

Tonight, as we remember the father Joseph protecting his little one, we pray for all those watching over the helpless and the hopeless.  Be with all those who must work tonight to keep the world safe and to care for those in need.  Be with those who are sick or sad or lonely so each one will know your comforting presence.

Come, Emmanuel,

Come into our hearts tonight.

God of the starry heavens and the good old earth, eternal God, God with us, tonight as we remember the shepherds coming in haste, and the wise men coming in wonder, open our hearts to reach out to the Christ Child, to receive the gift you offer us in him, even as we offer our love to you in his name.  Bless us in the year ahead so we can share your love with all the lives that touch ours.  And now in one voice we pray the prayer that Jesus taught.


SENDING SONG  VU 67   Silent Night


May the wonder of this night hold a space in you.  Each night and every day may you know your body blessed by the birth of God within it.

May this wonder and this blessing rest in you so that you may be for others, blessing.

May you know the love of God, who comes close to you, the grace of Jesus Christ, this night’s wordless child + and the wild, tender presence of the Holy Spirit.  This night, and every night, may you know it well.  Amen.


Go in peace. Christ is near.

Thanks be to God.


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