Christmas Eve at First Church is a traditional service of lessons, Christmas Carols, and candlelight. People of all ages worship together; there is no separate childcare or children's program. Three of four readings are from the Hebrew & Christian Scriptures (often known as the "Old Testament" and the "New Testament"); the fourth is from a modern source. We will sing traditional Christmas Carols and listen to members of the Choir sing other seasonal music. The Minister will pray. We will take a special collection for the Minister's Discretionary Fund, which helps people in need throughout the year.
The Minister will deliver a short sermon, about ten minutes, about the value of the Christmas story from a UU perspective. (Here is one of her favorite reflections by another UU minister).
The service concludes with the lights being extinguished, and then congregation lighting their candles from one common source, passing the flame down the pews, "sharing the Christmas light" with each other as we sing "Silent Night."
There is a short reception of cookies and light snacks in the Parish Hall following the service.
Order of Service
Call to Worship
Lighting the Chalice: the flaming chalice is the symbol of Unitarian Universalism
*Hymn 244 It Came upon the Midnight Clear
Christmas Candle Lighting: a family will light the five candles on the Advent wreath,
First Lesson: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, 11:2-6
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
For 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.
His 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 onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
Second Lesson "Christmas, 1974" by May Sarton
Third Lesson Luke 2:1-14
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph 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. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was had no place for them at the inn or guest room.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom God favors!’
*Hymn: Angels We Have Heard on High
Fourth Lesson Matthew 2:1-15
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’
When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod secretly called for the Magi and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Now after they had left, an angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
*Hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem
Sharing the Christmas Light
Hymn 251 Silent Night
Benediction by Howard Thurman
Extinguishing the Flaming Chalice