Christmas marks the culmination of the Advent season. The time of waiting is past, and God's people eeiehrate the arrival of their Messiah, who has visited and redeemed his people.
*Everyone who is able, please stand
Glory to God in highest heaven.
And on earth peace for those on whom his favor rests.
In the tender compassion of our God,
the morning sun has risen upon us who lived in darkness.
The Word has become flesh, has come to dwell among us,
and we have seen his glory.
Glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
To us a child is born, to us a son is given.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
*Hymn: "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" (PH 356; RIL 224)
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
The Call to Confession
Brothers and sisters in Christ, draw near to God and he will draw near to you; humble yourself before him and he will lift you up. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. The Lord will not despise a broken and contrite heart.
Almighty God and Father in heaven
who also makes his home with those
of a humble and contrite spirit:
Before you and our Lord Jesus Christ
we confess the sin
of ignoring your presence in the Spirit,
of failing to look for the return of our Savior and Judge.
We also confess our blindness to your coming
in those who are lonely, hungry, cold, poor, and sick.
In your great goodness,
put away our offenses
and cleanse us from our sins,
for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Declaration of Pardon
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
(1 Tim. 1:15)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
*Hymn: "On Jordan's Bank," st. 5 (PH 327; RIL 187)
Now let us dedicate ourselves to live in obedience to the wiil of God. (Here follows Philippians 2:1-7.)
*Hymn: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" (HB 163; PH 345; RIL 196; TH 168)
THE PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
Let us pray.
O God, whose glory fills the skies,
O Christ, the true and only Light,
shine on us with your light and truth
through the Word that gives light to all people.
Empower us by your Spirit to walk
In that light and to reflect your glory. Amen.
Prayer for Blessing on the Word
Let us together confess the faith of the church at all times and in all places:
(Say or sing the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed.)
The Intercessory Prayer
Let us present our gifts to God.
(Offerings are received.)
*Hymn: "As with Gladness Men of Old," st. 1 & 3 (HB 174; PH 358; RIL 228; TH 154)
THE LORD'S SUPPER
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the gospels tell us that on the first day of the week, the day on which our Lord rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples in the place where they were gathered and was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. Come, then, to the joyful feast of the Lord.
(If the communion elements are not already on the table, they may be brought forward, at this point.)
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up unto the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right for us to give thanks.
It is our joy and our salvation
at all times and in all places
to give thanks to you,
O Lord, holy Father,
almighty, everlasting God,
through Christ, our Lord.
Because the light of your glory
has shone with splendor in our world.
For you gave Jesus Christ, your only Son,
to be born for us of Mary
that we might have power to become your children through
who existed before the world was called into being,
but came down to save us
by being born of a humble virgin,
lying in a crib, walking on earth as a man;
who became poor that by his poverty
we might become rich;
who was humbled that we might be exalted;
who gave us peace and joy
when we were without hope and without God.
Therefore with the whole company of saints
in heaven and on earth
we proclaim and celebrate the birth of our Savior
and we sing with joy:
*Hymn: "Joy to the World" (HB 161; PH 337; RIL 198; TH 149)
We give thanks to God the Father that our Savior, Jesus Christ, before he suffered, gave us this memorial of his sacrifice, until his coming again. For on the night of his arrest he took bread and, after giving thanks to God, broke it and said, "This is my body which is for you; do this as a memorial of me." In the same way, he took the cup after supper and said, "This cup is the new covenant sealed by my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me."
His death, O God, we proclaim.
His resurrection we declare.
His coming we await.
Glory be to you, O Lord.
Prayer of Consecration
Heavenly Father, be present with your life-giving Word and Holy Spirit, that we may be nourished and strengthened through this supper. Grant that all who share the communion of the body and blood of your Son may be united in him. And may we remain faithful in love and hope until we feast joyfully with him in his eternal kingdom. Now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Preparation of the Elements
(as the minister breaks the bead and pours the cup)
The bread which we break
is a sharing in the body of Christ.
We who are many are one body
for we all share in the same loaf.
The cup for which we give thanks
is a sharing in the blood of Christ.
The cup which we drink
is our participation in the blood of Christ.
"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what
is not bread,
and your labor on what
does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me,
and eat what is good,
and you soul will delight
in the richest of fare." (Isa. 55:1-2)
We praise you, Lord,
for these your gifts of bread and wine.
We offer you ourselves
as your people in your service.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
We will receive the bread of heaven.
We will drink the cup of salvation.
The gifts of God for the people of God.
(when the people are ready to eat the bread)
Take, eat, remember and believe that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was given for a complete remission of all our sins.
(when the people are ready to think the cup)
Take, drink, remember and believe that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for a complete remission of all our sins.
During the distribution of the elements the people may sing some of the following hymns; "Deck Thyself, My Soul, with Gladness" (PH 305; RIL 536); "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" (HB 148; PH 341; RIL 188); "Of the Father's Love Begotten" (HB 7; PH 342; RIL 190; TH 122); "I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord" (PH 311; RIL 534)
Congregation in Christ, since the Lord has fed us at his table, let us praise his holy name with thanksgiving.
*Hymn: "O Morning Star"/"How Bright Appears the Morning Star" (HB 415; PH 357; RIL 367; TH 434)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).
This service is adapted from Service Book, Part Three, Services of the Word and Sacraments, pages 2-1-30, CRC Publications, 1981.