at Gordonsville Presbyterian Church
by Rev. Peter T. Atkinson
December 24, 2013
Call to Worship
Leader: This night is born Jesus, Son of God, King of glory.
People: This night is born to us the root of our joy.
Leader: How lowly, how gracious is His coming to earth.
People: His love kindles my love in the joy of his birth.
Unison: This night was born Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Special Music "Fum, Fum, Fum" CATALONIAN CAROL
The Story of Christmas
For darkness had covered the face of the Earth.
The cloud of Sin had hidden God’s light,
From the eyes of His people,
And we had gotten lost in the wilderness.
God had promised, through the prophets,
To send His anointed, a Messiah,
A Light to shine through the darkness, (Lift Single Candle from behind pulpit)
Restoring the Light to our eyes,
To show us the way out of the wilderness
To our home with Him,
And God does not forget His promises.
For the light of Hope, (Light the purple candle)
The light of Peace, (Light the purple candle)
The Light of Joy, (Light the pink candle)
And the Light of Love, (Light the purple candle)
To shine again in our world,
At long last.
At that time, the Emperor Augustus,
Set forth a decree stating that a census was to be taken,
All people in the Empire must return to their towns to be registered.
Mary’s Betrothed, Joseph, was from the line of David,
So they had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem,
The City of David.
So they traveled, together,
To that great city,
With Mary expecting,
And the time for the Holy birth approaching.
Carol v.1 "O Little Town of Bethlehem" ST. LOUIS
Christ is Born
When they got to Bethlehem,
No room could they find to stay,
Not even in the Inn, for it was full.
They were given shelter in the stable of the Inn,
And the time came, and the baby was born.
Having no bed, nor cradle for the child,
She wrapped him warmly in cloth,
And laid him in a manger.
Carol v.1 "Away in a Manger" AWAY IN A MANGER
The Shepherds and the Angels
Meanwhile, on the hills outside of town,
In the fields,
Where shepherds were living,
Keeping the night’s watch over their flocks,
There came upon them an Angel,
Shining the glory of the Lord around them,
And they were in awe of the sight.
The Angel said,
Fear not, for I bring to you good news,
For this night was born in the city of David,
A savior, a Messiah, the Lord.
Let this be a sign to you,
He will be wrapped in cloth,
And lying in a manger.”
And suddenly the angel was joined
By a multitude,
A heavenly choir singing,
“Glory to God in the Highest Heaven,
And peace on the Earth.”
Special Music "One Angel Sang" PROSPECT
Soloist: Coralee Atkinson
One Angel Sang
Rev. Peter T. Atkinson
One angel sang a heavenly tune
That Echoed 'neath the valley moon
He sang of a king, born to save the world
A gift to each little boy and girl.
Two shepherds heard the holy sound
As they kept watch on rugged ground
Blessed they would be, the joy they felt
Rushed to his side, bowed low and knelt.
From one then two, to all of us,
The news did spread for us to trust,
Oh hear you today, the joy we sing,
Of Jesus Christ the newborn king.
The Shepherds Run to Bethlehem
When the angels had gone,
The shepherds said to each other,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem, immediately,
And see this wonder for ourselves.”
Carol (chorus) "Go Tell It on the Mountain" GO TELL IT
So they went to Bethlehem,
And found Mary, Joseph, and the Child,
Just as they had been told.
In the sky, shone a new star,
And this star was observed by Wise men from the East,
Who came from their homes to pay homage
To the new king, who had been born king of the Jews.
They followed the star, leading them toward Bethlehem,
Bearing with them gifts for the Child,
Of Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold.
Carol v.1 "We Three Kings" KINGS OF ORIENT
And the star led them to the place where Jesus lay,
They knelt down, paying homage,
And presenting their gifts to the Child born King.
Special Music "A Christmas Secret" arr. Mackenzie
Lighting the Christ Candle
And the light had come into the world, humbly in a manger, visited by Kings and Shepherds, angels, and now each of us. Blessed be the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Carol "What Child is This?" GREENSLEEVES
The Message of Christmas
Gospel Reading John 1:1-14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
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. 
Call for Offering
The Shepherds, the Wisemen, the Angels, and the animals, began the Holy Christmas tradition of Gift Giving. It is now time for us to continue this sacred tradition by presenting our own gifts to God. May the offering be given and received.
Offertory "O Holy Night" A. AdamRev. Peter T. Atkinson
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Invitation to the Table
Here on Christmas Eve when we celebrate the birth of the child of promise, it is important for us to also remember the great sacrifice that he made for all of us. Therefore we come to the table, the Lord's Table to remember, and not just to remember in our minds, but to experientially remember as Christ has invited us to do, communing with Christ and with each other. This table is the Lord's Table, it is Christ's Table, and any who believe in him are invited. Come not because you must but because you may, come not because you are worthy but because you are not. Come let us share the holy feast.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Let us pray. . .Holy God we come to you in great thanksgiving for the wondrous works that you have done. From the beginning of time, when you created all, bringing light filling up the darkness with the simple speaking of Your Holy Word. And throughout History where you have continually reached out to us, promising us, teaching us, showing us, the amazing vastness of Your love, and especially in the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, whose holy and yet humble birth we celebrate tonight. Thank you for the life of Christ, everything that each detail of his holy life shows us about Your love. And we sing with the Angels,
Singing, Holy, holy, holy, glory to god in the Highest
Heaven and Earth are full of Your glory,
Hosanna, in the Highest,
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord
Glory to God in the Highest. Amen
Words of Institution
On the night Jesus was betrayed, in the fullness of time he took bread and broke it, saying this is my body broken for you, take, eat, in remembrance of me.
And in the same manner he took the cup saying, this cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, do this in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again. These are the gifts of God for the people of God, let us keep the feast.
Sharing of the Bread
Sharing of the Cup
Prayer after Communion
Let us pray. . .
Almighty father God, we pray this night for the people who surround us that are hurting, suffering, or are in need. May they find hope, love, joy, an peace on this most holy of nights. May they find sheltering and open arms. May they find the strength of Your holy presence. Bless those here tonight worshiping Your holy name, fill us with the special Joy that the celebration of Christmas brings, may the child in all of us be born anew this night in your love. These things we pray in the name of Christ Jesus, who was born in the lowliest of human humility, and has been raised to sit at Your right hand for all eternity, and who taught us when praying to say. . . Our father. . .
Carol "Angels We Have Heard on High" GLORIA
The World in Darkness
The darkness started in the garden
when humans believed the lie
hiding themselves, and their shame,
in the darkness, choosing darkness (Begin by extinguishing the candles on pulpit and table)
instead of light,
the darkness began to spread. . .
And it spread quickly,
Envy, jealousy, then murder, (Extinguish one candle for each sin)
Power, lust, control. . .
Idols. . .
And God reached out
Trying to bring us out of the darkness
Again into the light
Through covenants, promises,
To Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
Moses, Joshua, David. (Extinguish one candle for each human broken promise)
All broken, for the dark appeal of sin
Was strong in us. . .
Love was misconstrued as hatred (Extinguish Candle of Love)
Joy was mired in cynicism (Extinguish Candle of Joy)
And Peace seemed impossible (Extinguish Candle of Peace)
and all hope was dashed. (Extinguish Candle of Hope)
And the darkness seemed impenetrable, (Spoken in total pitch darkness)It seemed as if no light could pierce it,
that the darkness would suffocate
the faintest spark of light. . .
The Spreading Light
But at that time, God again showed what his Love truly is. . . (Light Christ Candle in Darkness)And a light was born in the darkness,
In the small town of Bethlehem
into the world through a virgin,
betrothed to a carpenter
born in a stable, laid in a manger,
because light is more humble
than the darkness, but stronger by far
and eternal. . .
And the angels called him prince of peace, (Light Candle of Peace)
for he would make peace again possible,
And they sang it to the shepherds (Light Candle of Joy)
and they were filled with great Joy
at the wonders that they had seen
And Mary and Joseph understood (Light the Candle of Love)
the new love that God was bringing into the world
And the star shown above, (Light the Candle of Hope)
lighting up the night,
inspiring a hopeful journey
of wise men from the east.
And with the lights (Light the Candles behind pulpit and on Communion Table)
of Peace, Joy, Love, and Hope
all burning, the light could spread.
Inspiring, teaching, sacrificing, (Light one candle for each of Christ's actions)
sharing, giving, healing, trusting. . .
Truth, Friendship, Charity, (Light one candle for each virtue)
Relationship, Forgiveness, Humility, and Faith. . .
Faith in the possibility, that the kingdom of God is at handAnd that light could not be stopped by the darkness again. . . (Light the Elder's Candles)
And would now be spread one by one
to all of the waiting world. . . (Elder's Light Congregation candles)
Carol "Silent Night" STILLE NACHT
While wandering in darkness you have found a great light, so go out into the world and sing the good news to the rest of the wandering world! Christmas is here, it's true, and it's greatly needed. . . Joy to the World, the Lord has Come, let us join with heaven and nature and sing.
Recessional "Joy to the World" ANTIOCH
May the Christmas Peace be with all of you!
The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Jn 1:1-14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.