Christmas Eve 2020 – ‘What on Earth is happening?’: Order of Service (Rev Fiona Winn)

Armadale Uniting Church

Christmas Eve

Organist – Rowan Kidd;
Reader – Cheryl Mason; Technical help – Robin Ahin
Minister – Rev. Fiona Winn

Welcome and Call to Worship

Advent wreath liturgy

This Christmas Eve as we wonder again at the birth of this Child
we light these candles for hope, peace, joy and love.
Christ is coming! Christ is come!
Hope and peace, joy and love for everyone!

Hymn 312 `Once in royal David`s city`

Once 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.

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

3 And through all his wondrous childhood,
day by day like us he grew;
he was little, weak, and helpless,
tears and smiles like us he knew;
and he feels for all our sadness,
and he shares in all our gladness.

4 And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love,
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

5 Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing by,
we shall see him: but in heaven,
set at God’s right hand on high,
when his children gather round
bright like stars, with glory crowned.

Cecil Frances Alexander 1818-95

Scripture Sentence

`The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us…
and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.`
Isaiah 9: 2, 6


God of strangeness and mystery, our Creator and Father,
God of flesh and blood, Infant lowly, our Saviour and Friend,
God of the hovering, indwelling Spirit of life,
we gather and wonder this holy night
at what You have done in Christ.
In all this year has brought, we are glad to take this time
to welcome Him again.
You are come among us. You are come to save us.
You are come to speak words of comfort, hope and joy
in the Baby born for us,
in the One Who will live and die for us
and for all creation – Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
We bow down and worship.
And we make our confession:
Forgive our half-heartedness and luke-warmness.
May Christ`s grace and truth inspire us.
Lord have mercy… Lord have mercy
Forgive our tendency to prefer darkness to light.
May Christ`s coming among us enlighten us
Christ have mercy….Christ have mercy
Forgive our pride and self-righteousness.
May Christ`s humility touch and transform us…humble us.
Lord have mercy… Lord have mercy
This is how much God loved the world:
He gave his Son, his one and only Son.`
John 3: 16 The Message
As we remember the gift of this Child
we hear Christ`s words of grace to each of us
`Your sins are forgiven`
Thanks be to God.

Hymn 311`Silent night`

Silent night, holy night:
all is calm, all is bright
round the virgin mother and child,
holy infant so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.

2 Silent night!, holy night:
shepherds quake at the sight;
glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing, ‘Alleluia!
Christ the Saviour is born,
Christ the Saviour is born.’

3 Silent night, holy night:
Wondrous star, lend your light;
with the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King;
Christ our Saviour is born,
Christ our Saviour is born.

Joseph Mohr 1792-1848
Trans. John Freeman Young 1820-85

Luke 2: 1–7
The Birth of Jesus Christ

2 It was about that same time that Augustus Caesar sent out an order to all people in the countries that were under Roman rule. The order said that everyone’s name must be put on a list. This was the first counting of all the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone traveled to their own hometowns to have their name put on the list.
So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him. (She was now pregnant.) While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle are fed. She put him there because the guest room was full.

Hymn 318 `Away in a manger`

Away 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.

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

3 Be 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.


Luke 2: 8-15

Some Shepherds Hear About Jesus
That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. 10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you—news that will make everyone happy. 11 Today your Saviour was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.”
13 Then a huge army of angels from heaven joined the first angel, and they were all praising God, saying,
14 “Praise God in heaven,
    and on earth let there be peace to the people who please him.”

Hymn 292 `Infant holy, infant lowly`

Infant 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.

2 Flocks 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 the morrow,
Christ the babe was born for you,
Christ the babe was born for you.

Polish carol (?13th cent.)
Trans. Edith Gellibrand Reed 1885-1933

Luke 2: 15-20
15 The angels left the shepherds and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this great event the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. 17 When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. 18 Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. 20 The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them.

Hymn 319 `Child in the manger, infant of Mary`

1 Child in the manger,
infant of Mary;
outcast and stranger,
Lord of all!
Child who inherits
all our transgressions,
all our demerits
on him fall.

2 Once the most holy
child of salvation
gently and lowly
lived below;
now, as our glorious
mighty Redeemer,
see him victorious
over each foe.

3 Prophets foretold him,
infant of wonder;
angels behold him
on his throne;
worthy our Saviour
of all their praises;
happy for ever
are his own.

Mary Macdonald 1789-1872
Trans. Lachlan Macbean 1853-1931

He came down…a powerful Christmas story

Reflection – What, on Earth, is happening?

Christmas Eve 2020 – for us here in Australia and throughout the world, this is a very good question. What a year it has been:
catastrophic bushfires; a lethal, out-of-control pandemic;
unrest and mistrust among nations and within nations.
What on Earth is happening?
We do not know the answer to that question. But we do know it is a question which is going to be asked again and again in 2021 and beyond, as the world tries to right itself from major global crises.
`…as the world tries to right itself…`
Is that the problem? Can the world, can we, right ourselves?
What on Earth is happening?
Tonight on Christmas Eve, we remember God`s great love in coming among us, to be with us, in whatever we have to go through –
as individuals, as a nation, as a global community of nations.
Tonight we remember and celebrate Jesus` birth.
We rejoice – God with us.
A Baby is born and this Baby is born for the healing of the nations,
the healing of our lives;
to be the Light in our darkness, hope for the future.
Leeva`s mother said that after her little baby girl was born with
Down Syndrome she asked: `Why did this happen to us?
But she came to see…
`There was something wrong in the way I was thinking…`
And when she thought of Mary – humble, calm – she felt reassured that, no matter what, everything was going to be ok…
In these days, this Christmas Eve 2020, what about us and our thinking?
Is there something wrong with the way we are thinking?
What did the poem say?
`He came to our darkness from heaven above.
He stooped to the crib and the cross out of love.
He shared in our weakness, our meekness and mess
and still he embraced us nevertheless.
If you`re feeling rejected, excluded a stranger
remember the one who came down to the manger.`
This Christmas, let Jesus be born into our world, into our lives
and into our hearts.


Hymn 303 `Hark the herald angels sing`

1 Hark! the herald angels sing
glory to the new-born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all you nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic host proclaim,
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
glory to the new-born King.

2 Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a Virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
pleased in human flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.


3 Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings:
mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more need die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.


Charles Wesley


May the song of the angels, the joy of the shepherds,
the light of the Christ Child,
fill you with wonder and gratitude,
with faith and hope and love.
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit
guide and protect you – this Christmas night and always,