Hilary Plowright
Slideshow image

                Christmas Eve 

Hybrid Church 

December 24, 2023 10:00 AM 

Rev. Deborah van der Goes PLUS 

Christ Church Gabriola musicians  

We acknowledge these lands upon which we worship are the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. 

Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here! 

* please stand as you are able 

Prelude: A Medley of Carols   

Away In A Manger                                                                    CP #126 
1Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. 

2The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes. I love you, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky, and stay by my side until morning is nigh. 

3Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay close by me for ever, and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in your tender care, and fit us for heaven, to live with you there. 

O Come, All Ye Faithful                                                             CP #118 
         1O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem; come and behold him, born the King of angels: 


O come, let us adore him, 

O come, let us adore him, 

O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord. 

2God of God, 

light of light, 

lo, he abhors not the virgin's womb, 

very God, begotten, not created: [Refrain] 

3Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation, sing, all ye citizens of heaven above; 

Glory to God in the highest: [Refrain] 

4See, how the shepherds summoned to his cradle, leaving their flocks, draw nigh with lowly fear; we too will thither bend our joyful footsteps; [Refrain] 

5Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy season; Jesus, to thee be all glory given; word of the Father, now in flesh appearing: [Refrain] \

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear                                             CP #140  

1It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold, "Peace on the earth, good will to all, from heaven's all-gracious King!" The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing. 

2Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurled; and still their heavenly music floats o'er all the weary world; above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing, and ever o'er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing. 

[1]Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long; beneath the angel strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong; and warring humankind hears not the love song which they bring. O hush the noise and cease your strife, and hear the angels sing. 

[2]For, lo! the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old, when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold, when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendours fling, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing. 

Centering Stillness; We follow the sound of the bell into silence  

One: I bring greetings in the name of the One born this night: 

          May the hope, peace, joy and love of Christ be with you. 

All:  And also with you. 

Lighting the Christ Candle   

Today, with the wreath aglow, we celebrate this night God taking on flesh and joining life in the struggle – this is what radical solidarity feels like. Lives and souls and bodies entangled. Risks and possibilities shared. We’re in this together. The mess, the beauty, the work. Don’t be afraid to feel hopeful. God’s promises are kept. God won’t opt-out or turn away. God won’t give up when things get tough. God won’t defend power, or privilege, or institutions, or tradition at the expense of freedom, or love, or liberation, or your worth. God’s with-ness is birthed at the margins. God knows what’s at stake. Let all who are weary, rejoice! All of evil’s deceptions will be revealed and fear of unjust powers will cease. The Liberating One now dwells among us, calling upon hearts from all walks of life to open . . . to take courage . . . to soften . . . to release. Behold, the Sacred enfleshed reveals the way of Love. 

We Engage the Story  

*Once in Royal David’s City                                                        CP #12 
1Once in royal David's city stood a lowly cattle-shed, where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his bed. Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ her little child. 

2He came down to earth from heaven, who, with God is over all, and his shelter was a stable, and his cradle was a stall. There among the poor and lowly lived on earth our Saviour holy. 

First Reading: Genesis 17:1-8                        Reader: Paddy Waymark 

   When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blame- less. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.’ 

O Little Town of Bethlehem                                                      CP #120

1O little town of Bethlehem,                                                 vs. 1, 2 how still we see thee lie! 

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by; yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. 

2For Christ is born of Mary; and, gathered all above, while mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the King, and peace to all on earth. 

Second Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7                                       Reader: George Westarp 

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.  You 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.  For 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.  For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.  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 onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

O Little Town of Bethlehem                                                      CP #121   vs. 3, 4
3How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is given as love imparts to human hearts the blessings of God's heaven! No ear may hear his coming but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in. 

4O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel. 

Third Reading: Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)                            Reader: Paddy Waymark 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to  be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. 

What Child is This                                                                      CP #137
[3]What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping? 


This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary. 

2Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear: for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. [Refrain] 

2So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh; come, peasant, king, to own him. The King of kings salvation brings; let loving hearts enthrone him. [Refrain] 

Fourth Reading: Luke 2:1-7 (The Message)            Reader: George Westarp

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. 

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly                                                           CP #125      

1Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall; oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the babe is Lord of all. Swift are winging angels singing, nowells ringing, tidings bringing: 

Christ the babe is Lord of all, Christ the babe is Lord of all.           
 come and worship, come and worship worship Christ, the new-born King   

  2Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new; saw the glory, heard the story,  tidings of a gospel true. Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,   praises voicing, greet tomorrow: 

Christ the babe was born for you, Christ the babe was born for you! 

Fifth Reading: Luke 2:8-20 (CEV)                             Reader: Paddy Waymark

That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord’s glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David’s hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.” Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: “Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.” After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay. When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. Everyone listened and was surprised. But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant. As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said now proclaim Messiah's birth:  

*Angels, From The Realms of Glory                                         CP #143

3Sages, leave your contemplations; brighter visions beam afar; seek the great desire of nations; you have seen his natal star: 

come and worship, come and worship worship Christ, the new-born King. 

4Saints before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear, suddenly the Lord, descending, in his temple shall appear: 

come and worship, come and worship worship Christ, the new-born King. 

5Though an infant now we view him, he shall fill the eternal throne, gather all the nations to him; every knee shall then bow down: come and worship, come and worship worship Christ, the new-born King. 

Meditation: “The Creche in your Hear                

*Joy to the World                                                                    CP #154      vs. 1,2,4
1Joy 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. 

2Joy to the world! the Savior reigns: 

let all their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains, 

repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy. 

4He rules the earth 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.   

Prayers of the People                                                   Deborah or Marvin 

For the prayers of the people, please feel free to sit, stand, or kneel 

One: Christ, for whom there was no room in the inn, 
            give courage to all who are homeless; in your mercy 

All:  hear our prayer. 

One: Christ, who fled into Egypt, give comfort to all refugees; in your mercy 

All:  hear our prayer. 

One: Christ, who fasted in the desert, give relief to all who are starving; 

in your mercy 

All:   hear our prayer. 

One: Christ, who hung in agony on the cross, give strength to all who suffer; 

in your mercy 

All:  hear our prayer. 

One: Lord of the Church All: hear our prayer. 

and make us one in heart and mind to serve you with joy for ever. Amen.  

Lord’s Prayer    VU p.959                                                  
Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come,  your will be done,  on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Save us from the time of trial,  and deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom and the power,  and glory are yours now and forever.   


We Respond to God’s Love

Invitation for Offering 

God takes on flesh and joins life in the joy and the struggle – this is what radical solidarity feels like. Lives and souls and bodies entangled. Risks and possibilities shared. We’re together in this beautiful and messy life. In this Christmas Season, let us offer our gifts as an expression of our togetherness. 

Mission & Service-United Church  1-6-308-7973 https://united-church.ca/donate  

Primate’s World Relief Fund 1-800-268-3781 ext. 2738   https://pwrdf.org/give-today/                                                 

*Doxology                                                                                 CP #669 

Praise God the Source of life and birth,                          

 Praise God the Word, who came to earth. Praise God the Spirit, holy flame. All glory, honour to God’s name. 

Candle Lighting                         (candles to be distributed for final carol)

You’re invited to light and hold a candle (at home you might hold the Christ candle from your wreath) while we sing together Silent Night.         

Silent Night                  

                                                           CP #119        vs. 1, 2 
1Silent night! Holy night!                                                   

All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother and child. Holy Infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace. 

Instrumental Interlude 

Silent Night

[1] For he is our lifelong pattern; daily, when on earth he grew; he was tempted, scorned, rejected, tears and smiles like us he knew. Thus he feels for all our sadness, and he shares in all our gladness.

[2] And our eyes at last shall see him, through his own redeeming love; for that child who seemed so helpless is our Lord in heaven above; and he leads his children on to the place where he is gone. 
[3] Angels, from the realms of glory, wing your flight o'er all the earth; you who sang creation's story,


One:  Christ is born among us in flesh like ours: 

All:   Tender and vulnerable. 

          Resilient and collective. 

           Yearning for care and connection. 

May we be open to perceiving, moving humbly through the world with awe and wonder, always ready to bless and proclaim the glory of God-with-us made known in every child.