Virtual Christmas Eve Service

4:30 pm

December 24, 2021

Virtual Service

Welcome to virtual church!

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – video and text.

• View the video below
• read this week’s announcements and complete service on our website
• download and print the service from this document – link

For the latest news and updates from Walton, please check our Facebook page, Instagram and website. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for videos of service, the choirs and more!

Please contact office@waltonmemorial.com if you would like to be added to our email list.

Please Note: This service was pre-recorded by Staff and families on Wednesday, December 8th, before the changes to Covid Regulations, and the pausing of Walton’s live services.Merry Christmas! 

 


Announcements

A Virtual Christmas Day Service will be sent out on Saturday, December 25th, at 8:30 am.
Merry Christmas!
• Happy New Year! On Sunday, January 2nd,  we will send out a virtual service at 8:30am.
• Walton’s 2022 givings envelopes are now available for pickup.  You are invited to drop by the church and ring the doorbell and we will bring your box out to you during the week. On Sunday mornings, you may notice your givings box is sitting in your assigned pew. Yes, if your name is on the top, those are for you.
• Walton’s prayer chain is open. Confidential prayer requests can be sent to office@waltonmemorial.com
If you need Rev. Jim for a pastoral emergency, please email him directly at jamescgillwuc@gmail.com.


Please Note: This service was pre-recorded by Staff and families on Wednesday, December 8th, before the changes to Covid Regulations, and the pausing of Walton’s live services.Merry Christmas! 

Music: “Joy to the World”

 

Welcome

Val: Here we are. I don’t know how exactly we got here, Jim, but here we are on Christmas Eve and we are in his presence.

Jim: Wow, It has been quite the year, hasn’t it? So many changes, so many people are Christmas heavenly angels this year. Not with us in person, but they live on in our hearts and our memories.

Val: Do you remember last year’s Christmas Eve service?

Jim: There was no Christmas Eve service last year Val, it was virtual only.

Val: I know, I know, no in-person Christmas Eve service. It was a beautiful night; the snow was falling, and we were excited about it. We didn’t need to worry about anyone slipping and falling, salting the sidewalks, or worrying if we should cancel the services.

Jim: The snowflakes were big and white and silently falling. There were so very few cars on the roads. “All is calm, all is bright….” It really was!

Val: The luminaries were out on the stone ledge at the front of the church lawn, shining out the words Joy to the World, Jesus is Born! It was an incredibly humbling experience. It was just so simple, just so beautiful. For as long as I live I will remember that night.

Jim: There were only a few of us here, the songs were what we were singing in our hearts and not necessarily out of our mouths. “O, Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.” Remember the bell ringing out in the quiet of that snowy night.

Picture that kind of beauty, God’s beauty, like the manger, humble, simple, but oh so wonderful.

Val: I wouldn’t change last Christmas. It was perfect for 2020, although isolated, it was so meaningful. Having people here tonight this Christmas Eve is a gift like no other too, for we are gathered together in his name. God invites us to come in his presence here virtually and here in person in the Walton Sanctuary.  What a gift!

Jim:  This year, look at the gift we have been given. Not only can we watch the service virtually, but people are here with us. We are gathered in this lovely warm Sanctuary with one another, joining together to praise and worship the birth of that tiny little baby, 2000 years later.

Val: Come let us join together this blessed night and let us worship the King.

Trio:  “O Holy Night”

 

 Call to Worship  – Christmas Litany A Song of Praise for Christ’s Birth

One: In a little town, known for nothing much, God’s holy child was born.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: By the faint light of the moon, Mary and Joseph found their way.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: Shown by a courtyard fire, the open stable door.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: Warm breath of resting beasts, kindly sparkle in their eyes.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: In the shadowy stable stall, Joseph kindled a lamp.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: There Mary gave birth to Jesus, called God-With-Us.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: Angels opened the doors of heaven, sang, “Glory to God in the highest!”
All: Welcome the Light!
One: Shepherds saw the sky ablaze, left their sheep and came to see.
All:   Welcome the Light!
One: In the darkest winter night, God set a brilliant star.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: Magi from the East divined God’s shining sign.
All: Welcome the Light!
One: And on this Christmas night with joy, we greet the Child.
All: Welcome the Light!

(written by Jennifer Phillips, the Vicar of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Kingston, Rhode Island.)

Advent Candlelighting

One: Wonder. Whisper. Wait. Waken.
Two: Wonder. Whisper, Wait. Waken.
(one candle is lit )
Three: With the wise ones….
Four: We wonder.
(one candle is lit)
One: With the shepherds….
Two: We whisper.
(one candle is lit)
Three: With Mary and Joseph….
Four: We wait.
(one candle is lit)
One: With the Christ child….
Two: We waken!
Three: With all who come to the stable, no matter who we are.
No matter where we come from, no matter where we are heading…
Four: We celebrate Christ’s light, born again into the world!
One: Glory in Excelsis Deo!
(Christ candle is lit)
Two: Glory to God in the highest! Alleluia, Alleluia!
All: ALLELUIA!

Opening Prayer

One: Gracious Lord you guided Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, refugees who had been turned away from hospitality.
All: We feel their uncertainty: they are far away from home.
One: Come with Joseph and Mary, as they search for lodgings, eventually finding shelter in a lowly stable.
All: We feel their frustration; there is no place to stay. 
One: Be with the shepherds in their lonely tending of flocks on the mountainside.
All: We feel their fear when they encounter the heavenly messenger.
One: Be with the shepherds as they receive the good news about Jesus.
All: We feel their joy, God’s glory embraces them and  God’s glory is ours this Christmas Eve.
One: Come, let us worship in joy and in hope!

(adapted David Sparks, The Gathering A/C/E/ 2021)

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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Anthem:  “Christmas Dreams”

 

Youth Story:  “The Light in the Darkness”

Here we are on Christmas Eve, and the little Nativity set on the Communion table has a full stable once again. Mary and Joseph are there with Jesus in a manger. The animals, shepherds and wise men look on, while an angel hovers above and a bright star shines its light down on the baby.

Or does it?

We know how special the light from that star was – without it, how would the shepherds or the Magi have learned of Jesus’ birth? They didn’t get a text or see a photo on Facebook. In every Nativity picture we see, the star’s light seems to shine down into the stable and surrounds Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But that’s not right.

Jesus is the Light of the World. The star isn’t shining down on him; his light is shining brightly up into the night, so brightly that it lights up the star and guides people to him.

You can be a shining star too. You can guide other people to Jesus just by sharing the gift of his love and letting his light shine through you.

Let us pray: Thank you, God, for coming to be with us, for living in our hearts all year. But for this special night, you come to life again each year in the birth of that little light, that little baby, shining out for all to see. You invite each one of us to come and find you, to open our hearts and eyes to live life as Jesus taught us. Amen.

Scripture Reading:  Luke 2:1-16

The Birth of Jesus

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 no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

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 he favors!”

When 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.”

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Message:  “What Nativity Character are You?” – The Manger

How do you tell a well-known story from a new point of view? Take, for example, the Nativity story. We know the basic story. It is retold each Christmas Eve. A number of years ago I read to children the Nativity story told from the point of view of a cow in the Bethlehem stable. So this year, based on that idea the theme of our Advent and Christmas series of messages is, “What Nativity Character Are You?” Think about it. The choices are not limited to people but can be animals, places, and objects. Let your imagination wander.

Some of you might want to be the huge star in the sky, or the gold, frankincense, or myrrh. What about the sheep in the fields the shepherds were keeping watch over at night, or even the inn door? For this Christmas Eve message, I chose the manger.

Have you ever seen a manger or even filled one with hay or feed? Some people call them troughs. They are a long open box. “Manger” comes from the Latin word for chew or eat. So what do we know about that famous manger in Bethlehem?

After Mary delivered Jesus he was wrapped in strips of cloth. This calls to mind what the women found early that first Easter morning, lying in the empty tomb with the stone rolled away. Linen cloths that were no longer needed since Jesus had risen from the dead. It is those no longer needed linen cloths that give Christmas such importance. Christmas is not just about Jesus’ miraculous birth, but also his even more miraculous death and resurrection. It all began with Jesus wrapped in those strips of cloth and placed in a manger.

A manger is a feeding trough made of wood or stone in Bible times, but today it can also be made of plastic, fibreglass or some type of metal. A manger is where donkeys, horses, and other animals eat. If you will, a manager was the dining room table for animals. So Jesus, who is described as the lamb of God, had the manger as his crib. It’s certainly a long way from the cribs of today with their custom mattresses, adjustable wooden sides, sleeping sacs and of course video cameras to check on your child’s sleep from anywhere with your phone.

The gospel writer Luke, who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, mentions the crib manger three times in just a few verses as he tells the story of Jesus’ birth. Why is Jesus’ crib so important? Why is it mentioned a trinity of times by Luke?

One reason is the statement of status. Like the significance of Jesus being from Nazareth rather than Jerusalem, the manger points to Jesus’ humble birth. It was not a golden, jewel-accented crib fit for a king, but the place where animals ate.

In Hebrew, Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  Remember how Jesus as a grown man said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry?”  At the Last Supper in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday, Jesus said, “This is my body, which is given for you.” There is this very real connection between being laid in a manger and being the bread of life.

The manger that feeds the animals points us all to what Jesus will do for each of us as his sheep, since Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus feeds our hungry souls, our hungry aching souls. When I worked on a farm, as soon as the sheep, goats and horses heard me enter the barnyard or stable, they would head immediately to their manger, knowing I would soon feed them. Even with this Christmas’ supply chain issues there is no gift you or your family members will open up tomorrow morning that will ultimately satisfy the hunger of your soul’s heart more than the babe in the manger.

Living out our daily lives for more, and bigger, and better, and faster, and newer does not quench our inner soul’s hunger. It is often the opposite. The more we have, the less we are truly satisfied. More toys are not the way to more inner peace. Rather, we need to be loved, have meaning and purpose in order to know grace, live with hope, and experience inner peace and inner contentment. Amazon does not deliver those blessings to us to put under the tree.

In this life, we wrestle with the temptation to believe that if we just had enough… you fill in the word after “if we just had enough…” we would be happy. Luke, by the sign and symbol of the manger in the Bethlehem stable, is reminding us that Jesus is the only one who can truly satisfy the hunger of our hearts. Jesus is the only one who can fill the hole in our soul.

Luke is the only writer in the Bible who speaks of the manger, though the manger is an essential element of any Christmas pageant. How many babies over the decades have been laid in Walton’s manger that sits in front of the Communion table this evening? Are you one of those babies? I pray next year the storyteller’s service on Christmas Eve can return with lots of kids in the congregation and a recently-born Walton baby in the manger.

Who first heard of the manger? Not those who already had found rooms in inns around town there for the census. Not Herod. Not Caesar. Not the Temple priests. It was the shepherds. Of course, it was the shepherds. When sheep are inside in the winter and not out on the fields where would they be fed from? A manger. Who feeds them? Shepherds. The angel said, “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

You and I are the sheep of the Good Shepherd Jesus. Thanks for joining us this Christmas Eve as Jesus feeds us from this manger called “worship.” Merry Christmas.

Soloist: Virtual – Video  “Mary Did you Know”

 

Christmas Prayer of Thanksgiving & Intercession

God of angels and strange messages, we lift our hearts to you as Mary did.
Calling ourselves your servants, we dare to offer the fullness of our lives into your care and keeping.
We ask that our trust may increase so that we also believe that everything is accomplished according to your word.

Hear us  as we pray a word of thanksgiving, as we pray with deep gratitude for the goodness in our lives:
For some it is family,
For some it is love,
For some it is health , or peace, or friends.
We give you thanks.
Hear us as we pray for strength in our struggles.
For some it is heartbreak,
For some it is loss,
For some it is illness, despair, or failure.
We ask for strength.

Hear us as we pray a word for others, lifting the power of our prayers to help to mend the world.
For some it is poverty,
for some it is violence,
for some it is catastrophe, loneliness, or pain.
We ask that you be present.

God of angels and strange messages, messages of hope reborn and love come close, as we draw close to Christmas, help each of us to sense you near, for you have promised to be with us, Emmanuel.

God with us. Amen.

(adapted from Kate Crawford,  The Gathering  A/C/E2014/15)

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

Everyone knows the peace, hope, joy and love of holding a newborn baby. That’s not just me, right?  Everybody likes holding a newborn baby right? To see that perfect little face look up at you, love emoting from that tiny little vulnerable baby.

It gives me goosebumps when I think about how God made himself so close, so helpless to enter into oneness with each one of us. ( Video of Lara & Baby)

What a gift!  What a blessing!  We now offer what we have to renew that relationship, to hold God so close that we feel his breath, and his love bubbles in and through each one of us.

The offering will now be received.

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Offering Prayer

All:  Loving and gracious God, you have given the world this wonderful baby,  the most precious gift – yourself in Jesus Christ.  You came here to Earth to live, redeem, heal,  teach and grow in each one of us, to soften our hearts and share your love and peace with others. May our gifts and our lives be a reflection of that gift. As the wisemen brought their gold frankincense and myrrh we bring our gifts to the Christ Child. In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Anthem:  “Glorious Light”

 

Benediction

In the mall someone was selling “Keep Christ in Christmas” window stickers.  I didn’t buy one.
We have this one that sits on the lawn out front.
I don’t think it’s important to keep Christ in Christmas.
He’s pretty harmless there…. So tiny, beautiful and vulnerable.
I think we ought to turn him loose in the world!
Let him run wild through our lives, upsetting and shaping our thoughts and actions.
Only then, will we know we are living in the reign of Christ.
Go into the world with courage, knowing whom you serve.
Amen.
(Author unknown)

In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for December 22nd