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December 24, 2023: Christmas Eve at 4:00 pm. Light and Bright for All Ages
Rev Dr John Smith
Rev Dr John Smith
Sunday, December 24, 2023
Service and Hymns
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December 24th, 2023 @ 4:00 PM

Christmas Eve Afternoon Service    

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Leading us today in Worship:
      Minister: Rev. Dr. John Greg Smith
      Music Director: Dr. Christopher Burton
      Scripture Reader: Debbie Potts

Leader: regular font ~ All: bold font ~ Sung words: bold italics
Asterisk * Indicates when the congregation may stand if able.

We Gather 

“Once Again My Heart Rejoices/Let Our Gladness Have No End” 


GREETING:  (2 Cor. 13:13)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all!
And also with you!


Grace United Church is situated on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabek, Petun, Huron-Wendat, and Mississauga peoples, located within the boundary of Treaty 18 region of 1818. We humbly acknowledge the First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples of Canada as traditional stewards of the land on which we work and worship and are committed to working actively toward genuine restitution and reconciliation.

At Grace United Church we strive to offer a safer, inclusive and generous space for all who are seeking a faith community – people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, races, ages, abilities and their families.  We honour the holy truth that all people are made in the image of God and are innately entitled to dignity and respect.  We are committed to learning what it means to be an affirming congregation and how we can be welcoming and inclusive in all ways and at all times.

His name was Jesus; he was a baby born in a stable.
O come let us adore him!
They wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid him in the manger to sleep.
O come let us adore him!
Shepherds came with their sheep, and bowed down to worship.
O come let us adore him!
Angels sang Peace Songs in the sky, unable to contain their joy.
O come let us adore him!
Wise Ones brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
O come let us adore him!
So then, people of God, what should we do?
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord, AMEN.

*OPENING HYMN:   VU 60  vs. 1&3
O Come All Ye Faithful”

1) O 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.

3) Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
glory to God in the highest:
O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Here we are at the end of Advent.
We have counted the 24 days.
We have eaten all the chocolate behind the doors on our Advent calendars.
But now what?
Now we give thanks for the birth of Jesus!
Now we give thanks for the new life God gives us.
Now we give thanks for the hope and peace that God gives to us and to our world.
Now we give thanks for the love that fills our hearts,
and the joy in our hearts when we remember the love that surrounds us.
We light a candle for hope: 
we hope for a better year in the year to come.
We light a candle for peace:
we pray for an end to wars in the Middle East,  Ukraine, and other places.
We light a candle for joy:
we will strive to find joy on even the darkest of days.
We light a candle for love: 
we are so thankful for people who love us,  for people who take care of us,  for our circle of family and friends.

And now, we light the Christ candle:
The light of the world burns bright once again.
May the light burn bright within our own hearts.
May we share the light with everyone around us all year long.

Peace be with you.  And also with you!

*SONG:    Mary’s Little Boy Child”    
1) Long time ago in Bethlehem
So the Holy Bible say
Mary’s Boy Child, Jesus Christ
Was born on Christmas Day!

2) While shepherds watched their flocks by night
They saw a bright new shining star
And heard a choir from heaven sing
The music came from afar

Hark! Now hear the angels sing:
“New King’s born today
And we shall live for evermore
Because of Christmas Day!”

3) Now Joseph and his wife Mary
Came to Bethlehem that night.
They found no place to bear her Child,
Not a single room was in sight.

Hark! Now hear the angels sing:
“New King’s born today
And we shall live for evermore
Because of Christmas Day!”

4) By and by they found a little nook
In a stable all forlorn.
And in a manger cold and dark
Mary’s little Boy Child was born

Trumpets sound and angels sing,
Listen to what they say!
That we shall live forevermore
Because of Christmas Day!

We Listen


In those days a decree went out from Caesar 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 in the guest room.


SONG:  VU 69 “Away in a Manger”  
1) 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 the sky,
and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

The Journey of Mary and Joseph,  The Babe is Born

SONG:   VU 62   Once in Royal David’s City” 
1) 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.

Now in that same 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.

The Shepherds Arrive

SONG:  VU 75 ”While Shepherds Watched”
1) While shepherds watched their flocks by night
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around.

2) ‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind;
‘glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and humankind.

The Angels Sing to the Shepherds

SONG: VU 38Angels We Have Heard on High”
1) Angels we have heard on high
sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply,
echoing their joyous strain.
     Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
     Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

3) Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing;
come, adore on bended knee
Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.
     Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
     Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

4) See him in a manger laid,
whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
while our hearts in love we raise.
     Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
     Gloria, in excelsis Deo!


CHOIR:   As With Gladness Men of Old” 

We Respond 

Cloth For the Cradle
At this time, you are invited to bring your piece of cloth to the front of the church and place it into the creche. Together we will weave a blanket to keep the baby warm. Perhaps you might think about what you can bring to the cradle yourselves, what you may wish to offer as a gift of thankfulness. Or perhaps you may wish to leave your burdens or your sorrows there,  perhaps leaving the old year behind. As you place your cloth in the cradle,  you might say a prayer of thanks to God, who carries each of us with a deep abiding love, whose hands hold us like the cradle holding Jesus. Such is the love of God!

Lighting our Candles

*HYMN:  VU 67   “Silent Night”  
1) Silent 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.

2) Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight:
glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah,
Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.

3) Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from thy holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.


POSTLUDE:   “Sleigh Ride”


LITURGY SOURCES: The following are used with permission:
Prayers are written by Rev. John G Smith
- “O Come All Ye Faithful:” Words: English Translation Frederick Oakeley 1841, et al, French translation Claude Rozier 1950. Music: attributed to John Francis Wade, ca. 1743. Public Domain
- “Mary’s Little Boy Child:” Jester Hairston One License #608577
- “Away in a Manger:” Words: Author unknown. Music: William James Kirkpatrick 1895. Arrangement: © 1992 Desmond Hassell, Parkdale United Church, 429 Parkdale Ave., Ottawa, ON K1Y 1H3. Words, Music: Public Domain. Arrangement: Desmond Hassell Public Domain
- “Once in Royal David’s City:” Words: Cecil Frances Alexander 1848, alt.. Music: Henry John Gauntlett 1849. Harmony: © 1957 Novello & Co. Limited, administered by Shawnee Press Inc. Descant: © 1970 Oxford University Press Words, Music: Public Domain. Harmony: Shawnee Press Inc.. Descant: Oxford University Press. CCLI #11203479
- ”While Sheperds Watched:” Words: Nabum Tate. Music: Adapted from Este’s Whole Booke of Psalmes Public Domain
- “Angels We Have Heard on High:” Words: French traditional, translation James Chadwick. Music: French carol melody, arranged by Edward Shippen Barnes. Public Domain
- “Silent Night:” Words: Joseph Mohr 1818. English translation: John Freeman Young 1863, et al. Music: Franz Xavier Grüber 1818 Public Domain
Scripture Passage from the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (NRSVUE) Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
Prelude: “Once Again My Heart Rejoices/Let Our Gladness Have No End:” arr. by John Ferguson/Kristina Langlis
Choir:  “As With Gladness Men of Old:”  Words: W. Chatterton Dix.  Music: C. Kocher, arr. by D. Willcocks
Postlude: “ Sleigh Ride:”   Leroy Anderson.  Arr. Dave McKenna