December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve with St. Andrew’s (click here)

Passage: Readings from Isaiah and Luke
Service Type:

Welcome to our Christmas Eve Service.

At St. Andrew’s we have a Christmas Eve tradition of gathering for cookies and coffee before the service.  It is a way of feasting and celebrating together.  This year, as we gather apart to worship together, it seemed fitting to have a time for an Agape meal during the service.  So please join us by having available some cookies or cake or tarts that are a part of your Christmas Celebration and a warm beverage tea, or coffee, or hot chocolate or mulled wine that would be a part of your Christmas celebration.  These will be the food and drink of our Agape Meal, at the end of the service.

An Agape Meal is an ancient tradition of the fellowship of the Christian Church—similar to, but yet not a communion.  A time merely for feasting and celebrating.  Let our Agape this evening be a celebration of the sweetness of grace and the everlasting warmth of mercy.

Also:  we will be lighting the Christ Candle during the service.  I invite you to have an  advent wreath or a candle that you can light during that part of the liturgy.


Call to Worship

The Word of God comes to those dwelling in darkness.

The people who walk in darkness. That's us!
We have seen deep darkness in the world around us.
So we have come to search for the light.

We want the light to shine on us!

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
A child is born for US!

A son is given to ALL of US!

We come to see the child that has been born,
we come to gather in the glow of the stable,

We come to sing with angels and wonder with shepherds.
we hear the song echoing on the hillside: Come and worship, come and worship! Worship the one who is born for us this day...


Hymn:  171 The people that in darkness (click the blue text for YouTube music, sorry there may be advertising)



Prayer of Approach:

O wondrous God of the stars,
we come tonight with breathless wonder
to see the babe who will change our lives.
We hear the names “Wonderful Counselor,”
“Mighty God,” “Prince of Peace,”
and we are in awe.
You have touched the earth this night
with your unconditional love.
Touch us—
touch our hearts and minds and souls.
May we never tire of this story.
May we never take it for granted.
Make this night magical again. Amen.

Isaiah 9: 2-7  God's word is given to a people lost in sin
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.  (NIV)

Because God’s mercy has been extended through the ages, we are bold to come before God in confession:


Prayer of Confession:

God of Joy, we come to celebrate again
the fulfillment of your word of Love.
We have gathered in the light of salvation
which is bright enough to illuminate
every corner of our lives,
yet we still find ourselves shrouded
in worry and doubt.

We have seen the promises of your mercy and
yet we hesitate to confess,
fearing to face what we have done,
and to reap what we deserve.

Yet we confess now,
confident that you will give us what we do not deserve.

Silent Confession
Holy God of Peace,
We seek your peace in these darkening days.

We seek a calm within, yes.

And an absence of conflict between people and nations.

But more deeply, we seek your shalom –

the deep and abiding peace

that will come only through the justice of your kingdom.

And so we affirm O God, that this is your justice and your mercy
that you invite us into the light of the stable
where the overlooked and forgotten have gathered
to celebrate the miracle of your love.
Give us the strength and courage
to join you at the manger. Amen.


Assurance of Pardon
People of God, hear the Good News of this night.  The word of God has come among us.  His salvation bursts forth before us.  Once we were a people lost and alone—now we are a people whose home is found in God, whose hearts are held in his heart.  Jesus comes to live among us, to show us the way into the promised land and eternal joy.

Passing the Peace

Share a sign of peace with those around you, or pray for peace for someone you know, or a place/situation in the world.

Carol:   139 Hark the herald angels sing



We pause to hear the story of Christmas

Can you hear it?
An expectant silence,
a hushed anticipation,
as if the very galaxy
is holding its breath.
There are some truths
even the stars know,
like darkness,
like loneliness
and how the night
can be a living thing.
And how once, long ago,
the night waited in wonder
along with the darkness
and the loneliness,
for the sound of a baby’s cry,
for the miraculous
to come down
to the earth mundane.

The Prayer for Illumination:

O God of love and mercy,
May we grow still enough to hear

the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter,

so that we may grow calm and grounded deep within.

May we grow still enough to hear

the trickling of water seeping into the ground,

so that our souls may be softened and healed,

guided in its flow.

May we grow still enough to hear

the splintering of starlight in the winter sky

and the roar at earth's fiery core.

May we grow still enough to hear

the stir of a single snowflake in the air

so that our inner silence may turn into hushed expectation.

In hushed expectation we listen for your word.  Amen


Luke 1: 26-37  God's word is fulfilled

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”  (NIV)

Carol:  136 The First Nowell



Luke 2:  1-7  Journey to fulfillment

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  (NIV)

Carol:  149 Away in a manger



Luke 2: 8-11  Song of fulfillment

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  (NIV)


Carol:  138 While shepherd’s watched



Luke 2:  15-20  Pondering God's word

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (NIV)

Carol:  143  Infant holy, infant lowly




Message:  The Spirit Awakens our Faith (Click the blue title for the video)

Tonight we read the message from Isaiah,

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

Certainly when people are walking in darkness, light will make all the difference.  It shows the clear path, it sheds it’s light on the rocky places and it prevents people from stumbling.  But what we are talking about here is more than a physical light.

Perhaps a more accurate reading of Isaiah, would be, The people who didn’t know they were  walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
even on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

How can people who don’t know they are walking in darkness be aware of the great light that has come to them?

How does the light penetrate to the heart of deep darkness?

There is a spiritual component to this message.  The dawning of salvation is not as simple as turning on the switch when entering a dark room.  The dawning of salvation penetrates to the depth of our souls, cleanses us and makes our eyes, our ears and  our hearts ready for the news that our God has come to live among us.

From the dawning of creation, to the dawning of salvation in Bethlehem and on the cross, the one who opens our eyes, and reaches within to the very depths of the darkness within us, is the Holy Spirit.

When we encounter all the miraculous interventions of God from creation to salvation, we see the essence of the Holy Spirit at work.

It began in creation, where the Spirit hovered upon the face of the deep.  As God spoke the words, “let us create” the Spirit breathed upon creation and worked with God to bring it into being.

It is that same Spirit that hovers in all of the revelations of God to his people.  That hovering, Spirit was an essential part of making the people aware that God was breaking into their lives.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

That Spirit is most active at the moments of redemption, and the moments when God reveals his intentions for the people of his heart.

The Spirit opened the eyes of Moses.  Moses, tending the flock in the dark of the night, grew aware of a bush on fire.  It was unusual enough to catch his attention.  But what really captured his attention was when the bush kept burning.  It never burned up.

Carefully Moses approached the bush, and from within the Angel of the Lord spoke to him.  Humans are not normally able to see miracles unfolding around them, not usually able to see the Angel of the Lord, or to hear God speak.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

Usually people do not see at all.   That is what the story of Balaam and his donkey is all about.  That our eyes are not open to see, and our ears are not open to hear.  Indeed our hearts are not open to be healed.

The miracles we encounter in Scripture are not the angels that come and go, but that the humans were able to see and hear and understand. This is a direct result of the work of the Holy Spirit.

We see this again in Samuel, who trusts that the Lord will tell him which one of Jesse’s sons to anoint as king.  When he had rejected all of the sons presented to him, he didn’t doubt, but rather asked “where is your other son?”

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.


The Spirit opens eyes, ears, and hearts, but also brings wisdom and understanding.  This helps us to see differently, to see as God sees.

Certainly, Samuel saw differently to what God saw in David whom he anointed as King.  The King through whose line the Messiah would come.

Why David?  Just a young boy, with the young boy swagger and confidence.  Why David, who was human and made mistakes, huge mistakes?  Even in human terms unforgivable mistakes.  And yet the Spirit informs us that David was a man after God’s own heart.  Yes imperfect, but David loved God with honesty, humility and obedience.  David had a teachable heart and a reachable heart, even at his darkest moments.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.


We see this same revelation of the Spirit all over the Christmas story.  From the prophets like Isaiah who prophesied about the coming of the Messiah, to Mary and Joseph; to magi and shepherds.

The Spirit hovered over a world mired in sin, struggling under Roman occupation, a people who were discouraged and lacking hope.  At this time the Spirit came and hovered around the lives of some key people in the Miracle of the Messiah.

Like Zechariah, to open his eyes to see the angel in the holy of holies and to help him hear the announcement of the birth of a son.  An encounter that was a pivotal part of the Miracle of the Messiah.  A miracle that Zechariah affirmed when he named his Son as the angel directed.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.


The Spirit hovered around Mary, making it possible to over come her fear; to see and hear the angel, and then to proclaim with faith, “how will this be possible” … thus the Spirit created in her the miracle of conception.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.


The Spirit hovered around Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah and Mary’s cousin.  His presence was so profound that the sudden leaping of the baby in her womb alerted her to the knowledge that Mary was also having a baby, a miracle baby, a holy baby, the coming Messiah.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.


The Spirit opened Joseph’s heart, when he was resolved to quietly divorce Mary to avoid a scandal.  Not only did he agree to take Mary as his wife, he took her along on a difficult journey that would surely have been much more difficult with a wife due to give birth at any moment.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

Surely the Spirit hovered by the magi, so that they saw in the sky what others did not.  They followed the light and found the baby in a manger, where the light shone brightly.  Yet many others did not see the light or the baby.

More than that, the Spirit gave them ears to hear the warning in the dream and not to go back to Herod and tell him where the baby lay.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

And the Spirit hovered in the hillside, opening the eyes of the shepherds to see and their ears to hear the angel’s song.  Then their hearts to believe what the angels had told them.  To report the same to Mary and to all whom they met on the journey back to the hillside, where the hovering Spirit had no doubt kept the flock safe.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

And again the Spirit hovered near Joseph who took to heart the  warning in a dream and took his wife and his baby down to Egypt to keep them safe when Herod in anger and fear killed all the young boys in Bethlehem.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

The Spirit makes it possible to see the miracle that is before us.  To understand how God is present with each one of us, each in our own home and our own little corner.

Tonight where ever we are we see the star, we hear the angels and we listen to the story the shepherds tell about seeing salvation lying in a manger.  WE behold this scene with eyes of wonder.  We hear the echoing on the hillside, and we open our hearts to the testimony of the shepherds.

The Spirit opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

This is the Miracle of the Messiah, the Miracle of the Cross, the Miracle of the Empty Tomb.  That God has dwelt among us, suffered and died for our sins and is risen to redeem us.

May our eyes remain open, may our ears hear the slightest whisper of the Spirit and may our hearts embrace the Good News.

The people who didn’t know they were  walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
even on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

This is the miracle of the Babe in Bethlehem.  Our eyes behold, our ears hear and our hearts are opened.  Our salvation has appeared before us.

Glory to God in the highest heaven.  Amen




Lighting the Christ Candle

Let us join together, lighting the Christ Candle, the sign that the Son of God has come to dwell among us:

Christmas Eve

Reader: Behold, I bring you good news of great joy; for to you is born in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord!

All:        Jesus has arrived in grace and mystery, renewing faded hopes and announcing peace to a weary world.

Reader: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favours!

All:        Jesus comes among us in power and glory, inspiring joy and calling us to lives that are full of God’s love.

Reader: Jesus, the light of the world, is born.

All:        Let Christ’s light shine in the darkest corners of our lives. Let Christ’s light shine in the darkest corners of our world. God is with us.

The Christ candle is lit.

Unison Prayer: God of grace and glory, as we celebrate this Christmas, transform our hearts and our lives so that your Good News is not an old story but a fresh truth lived out every day through the power of Jesus Christ.



A Solo by Gloria Fitt:  O Holy Night


Prayers of Intercession

Heavenly Father, we are not altogether convinced that darkness is a thing of the past. Many people in this world of ours feel their world is one of darkness and gloom. Pressures crowd in upon us and get us down.

The causes are varied: bereavement, illness, worries about family and the issues in our whole world:  war, poverty, the pandemic.   Gracious and loving God, we rejoice that you are with us in our troubles, you know us and you love us – always.

You are eternally faithful.  We rejoice that your Son came not to a perfect world, but to a broken world, our world. To bring light to the darkness, our darkness.

We pray that in your Spirit you would come alongside us and all those for whom we pray, that you would show us Jesus, the light of the world, the one who came to rid us of sin, to give us life and health and peace, peace that passes all.

Hear our prayers, Lord, spoken and unspoken and answer them for Jesus’ sake. Amen


Carol:  159 O Come all ye faithful


The Agape Feast of Celebration:  (click the blue title for the video recording)

As we come to the table, we are reminded that we gather for love, for joy and for feasting.   This Agape Meal reminds us of the sweetness and warmth of God’s love.  Come to this feast, knowing that God desires to fill your life with sweetness and with warmth, with joy and with peace.


Let us pray:

We gather for the feast of Joy
We gather for the feast of Love
Let the love that shaped earth and heaven

dwell within us this Christmas.

Let the love that created humanity

dwell within us this Christmas.

Let the love that overcomes suffering and hatred

dwell within us this Christmas.

Let the love that causes us to rejoice with loved ones

dwell within us this Christmas.

Let the love that forgives and renews

dwell within us this Christmas.

Let the love that brings reconciliation after separation

dwell within us this Christmas.

Let the love that brings the blessing of peace

dwell within us this Christmas.

And may we share that love

with all people near and far. Amen.


We prepare the sweet treats and the warm beverages
We come to the feast

May Emmanuel, God with us,
be with you in all your doings and all your celebrations,
until he brings you into his eternal kingdom.


We take the sweet treat:

May the God of the angels, who heralded Christ's birth,

bring joy to our hearts this day and always.
May his sweetness be forever on
our tongues, and fill us to overflowing.

We eat the sweet treat of Christmas



We take the cup of warmth:

May the God of love, who gave his only Son to be born for us,

fill our life with love and peace.  May he flow through us with tenderness and fill us with sustaining warmth

We raise our cups, and drink deeply of God’s love


Closing Prayer

This Christmas may you have light
to crumple up the darkness
This Christmas may you have love
to pull us closer to one another
This Christmas may you have peace
the same the angels sang
This Christmas may you have starlight
to follow on your way home
This Christmas may you have promise
to keep hope alive for you
This Christmas may you have God
newly born and in the flesh
This Christmas may you have Jesus Christ
born this night light of the world Amen.

Hymn:  Silent Night



A very merry Christmas to you.