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Merry Christmas to You!

Just come as you are – in PJs, housecoat, slippers, whatever!

Please brew up a pot or mug of the Christmas Morning tea we’ve provided and enjoy the flavour and fragrance.

The Light of Christ

Service of Memories @ Walton United Church, Oakville, OntarioOffer these words as you light the tea light or a candle special to you, or turn on your Christmas tree lights.

We light this light and remember you, Jesus, are here. We welcome you, Jesus, into this place just as your Mom and Dad welcomed you in the stable. We treasure your great gifts of love and peace. Shine on us, you who are light in the darkness, and help us remember and celebrate your birth. Amen.

Let’s Sing (or say) “O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Oh, come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant!
Oh, come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him, Born the King of angels;

Chorus:
Oh, come, let us adore him; Oh, come, let us adore him;
Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ, the Lord.

2. Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above!
Glory to God, Glory in the highest

Chorus

3. Yea, Lord, we greet thee, Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n, Son of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing.

Chorus

The Birth of Jesus – Luke 2:1-20

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 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.

Christmas @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario8 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. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

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.

A Prayer to Thank God Today

Dear God,
We thank you for this wonderful Christmas Day, when we celebrate your birth as a little baby boy. You welcome us to the stable and invite us in to see you and know you. Let us feel the wonder of your birth, for you are God who has come to us, as one of us. Whatever this day will bring – help us feel your presence in the quiet or noise, the simplicity or the bustle, on the road or at home, in sadness or joy. Let our day be brightened by your love like this little candle shining before us now.
Amen.

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Many years ago, a candy maker wanted to make a candy at Christmas time that would serve as a witness to his Christian faith. He wanted to incorporate several symbols for the birth, ministry and death of Jesus. He began with a stick of pure white hard candy: white to symbolise the Virgin birth and the sinless nature of Jesus; hard to symbolise that Jesus is the solid rock, the foundation of the church, firmness to represent the promise of God.

jesus_seasonThe candy maker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. He thought it could also represent the staff of the Good Shepherd, with which he reached down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received, by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life. Unfortunately, the candy became known as a candy cane – a decoration seen at Christmas time. But the true meaning is still there for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Let’s Sing (or say) one More Carol: “Joy to the World”

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders,…wonders of His love.

A Christmas Blessing to Share

Offer to those present or say aloud knowing that others from this congregation are offering the same blessing this morning:

“Let us celebrate this wonderful Christmas Day. Let us accept the gift of love for others. May God bless us all. Amen.”

Hallelujah

Hallelujah - Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: jlwelsh

Merry Christmas! Hallelujah, Christ is born! Whether today is busy and chaotic, or quiet and contemplative, may your heart know the love of God.


Dear Lord, Supreme Father,
On this day of great joy, we worship your name. In this holy time, we give thanks for all we have and all we are. Let all that we do bring you praise and honour and glory, now and forever.
Amen.

John 1:14

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2017.

Celebrate

The waiting is over. The time is here. May the celebrations and festivities of the coming days fill you with joy and peace, may the Holy Spirit grant you hope for the future, and may the love of God shine in and through your life.


Dear Lord, Everlasting Father,
We lift up our hearts and voices to worship your name, giving thanks for the glorious gift of your Son, our saviour. Mighty God and Prince of Peace, grant us courage and strength to follow Christ, with deepening faith and ever-grateful praise.
Amen.

Isaiah 9:6

6 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.

Worship

Embrace - Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: stuart anthony

Promises from the past and signs in the present led the wise men to seek God and to worship Jesus. Those same promises are shared with us, signs also exist to guide and lead us, and likewise great joy awaits us when we come to worship God. All that remains is for us to pay him homage.


Dear Lord, Immortal God,
Connect us with the signs of your love and care in our lives. Let us share in the great joy brought about by the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. And support and encourage us to give you praise – Lord above all things, divine God, immortal Saviour.
Amen.

Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Embrace

Embrace - Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: Lawrence OP

As much as God’s love and the story of Jesus’ birth is all-encompassing, bringing great joy for all people, it is also individually bestowed for you. As it did for Simeon, the Holy Spirit works in each of us. God’s light and peace are yours to embrace.


Dear Lord, benevolent God,
Help me to recognise your love for me and to see your light shining into my world. Let me find joy in my everyday comings and goings and help me bring peace to those I work, play and rest with, living always for your glory.
Amen.

Luke 2:13-14

27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Glory

Glory - Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: Pixabay

No limits are to be applied when it comes to giving God praise and glory. The awe-inspiring spectacle of a multitude of angels worshipping God can be both our starting point and our aim. Take a moment today to honour and glorify God, even while we attempt to dedicate all the moments of our lives to his praise.


Dear Lord, omnipotent God,
Inspire us to see your glory all around, in the crowds and the rushing, in the ordinary and our everyday. Slow us to make the time to give you praise. Encourage us to commit our lives to living out your teachings and sharing your love.
Amen.

Luke 2:13-14

13 And 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 favours!”

Wonder

In four short verses, the radical paradox of God’s love is fully displayed. News of majestic importance is announced to ordinary shepherds, while they work. The promised saviour, the messiah, is a baby in a stable. And instead of terror and fear we are to revel in great joy.


Dear Lord, astounding God,
Thank you for loving each ordinary one of us. Thank you for the astonishing and surprising ways you move in our lives. Help us to delight in and share the great joy of Jesus’ birth, freely given to us all.
Amen.

Luke 2:8-12

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before 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; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

Deliver

Deliver - Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: Lawrence OP

The simplicity of Luke’s words of the birth of Jesus make them easy to rush by; whether dashing off to an appointment or just eager to get to the angels in the next few verses. Today, take a minute to pause and savour them. This most humble beginning is the manifestation of the greatest love we will ever know.


Dear Lord, delivering God,
Because of your boundless love, we are saved from our sins, delivered from our limitations. From such humble beginnings radiates your radical glory and majesty. Free us from our material and passing worries that we may share your eternal holy peace.
Amen.

Luke 2:6-7

6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 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.

Love

Love - Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: Saint Joseph

This is ultimately the crux of the Christmas message. Away from the stable and the angels, alongside the shepherds and the kings, God loves us and we are saved. There is no punishing or condemnation, but unexpected, unmerited mercy and forgiveness, born of the most exceptional love.


Dear Lord, loving God,
Your love is greater than anything we can ever know. Let us join all heaven and earth in giving you praise, thanksgiving and glory. Our lives are full of opportunities to share your love, if only we would see. Open our eyes and our hearts to see the world as you do.
Amen.

John 3:16-17

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Calling

Calling - Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: Karin Dalziel

We may be watching the birth of Jesus across a gulf of centuries, but we are not merely to be spectators in this story; in the living out of our Christian faith. God has called us and Jesus commissions us, just as he did to the disciples after his resurrection.


Dear Lord, enabling God,
Inspire us with your love and pervade our complacency with the astounding glory of Jesus’ birth and life and death. Show us how to live a life that is pleasing in your sight, reminding us that you are with us always.
Amen.

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”