To Us A Child Is Born: A service of Scripture, song and symbol

The traditional service of nine lessons and carols traces the story of our salvation from the disobedience of Adam and Eve to the birth of Christ. In this service, following each carol, a symbol is brought forward. (You'll find the symbols in boldfaced type in the leader's readings.) Each of these symbols recall the lesson just read and also point to our redemption in Christ.

The symbols serve to remind participants that the meaning of Christ's incarnation is not understood apart from his passion and resurrection. The infant in the manger is none other than the one who died on the cross and rose from the grave, bringing light and life to all.


[Let the first note of the organ be a call to quiet meditation in preparation for worship.]

Processional Hynm: "Once in Royal Davids City" (IRBY)
[PsH 346, PH 49, RL 201, TH 225]

st. 1-2: junior choir
st. 3-4: congregation joining

The Lighting of the Tour Candles of the Advent Wreath

Jesus is the Hope of the world.
Jesus is the Prince of peace.
Jesus is the Joy of our hearts.
Jesus is the King of love.

The time of our salvation is drawing near.
The day of our redemption is at hand.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son.

He was born of a woman born under the law, in order to redeem those under the law, so that we might be adopted as God's children.

Prayer and The Lord's Prayer

The Nine Lessons

Genesis 3:8-15,17-19

God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the blessing of paradise and that his offspring will bruise the serpent's head.

Carol: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" (HYFRYDOL)

[PsH 329, PH 2, RL 183, TH 196]

We bring thorns, reminding us that because of Adam's sinfulness the ground was cursed, and in toil he ate of it all the days of his life.

The thorns also remind us of the crown of thorns placed on Jesus, who suffered on the cross to redeem us and all creation.

Genesis 22:15-18

God promises to faithful Abraham that by his offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.

Carol: "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" (MENDELSSOHN)
[PsH 345, PH 31, RL 196, TH 203]

We bring sand, reminding us that God promised Abraham that his offspring would be as many as the grains of sand on the seashore and that from his descendants would come one through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

The sand also reminds us of the desert where Jesus resisted the temptations of Satan and chose the way of servanthood and suffering.

Isaiah 9:2-7

The prophet foretells the coming of the Savior.

Carol: "The Race that Long in Darkness Pined" (PISGAH)
[RL 167]

This service was submitted by John Paarlberg, minister for social witness for the Reformed Church in America and RW editorial council member This service was initially conducted at Ponds Reformed Church, Oakland, New jersey.

The yoke reminds us that Isaiah told of one who will come to end oppression and slavery.

We also remember that Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Isaiah 11:1-9

The prophet foretells the peace that Christ will bring.

Carol: "O Come, O Come, Immanuel," st. 1 and 4 (VENI IMMANUEL)
[PsH 328, PH 9, RL 184, TH 194]

This branch reminds us of Isaiah's prophecy that a shoot shall come from the stump of Jesse and bring peace to all people.

The branch also reminds us of the wood of the cross. Through Christ, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, making peace through the blood of the cross.

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel salutes the virgin Mary.

Carol: "Angels We Have Heard on High," st. 1 and 4 (GLORIA)
[PsH 347 PH 23, RL 206, TH 214]

The angel Gabriel told Mary: "Do not be afraid. You will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus."

We also remember the angel at the empty tomb who told the women: "Do not be afraid. Jesus, who was crucified, is not here; for he has risen."

Luke 2:1-7

Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.

Anthem: "Lullaby for Christmas," sung by the junior choir We bring cloth to remind us that the baby Jesus was wrapped in bands of cloth and laid in a manger.

The cloth also reminds us that after Jesus' death, his friends took his body and wrapped it in linen cloths and laid it in the tomb.

Luke 2:8-16

The shepherds go to the manger.

Carol: "Away in a Manger" (CRADLE SONG)
[PsH 349, PH 24, RL 214, TH 205]

The lamb reminds us that the baby Jesus made his bed among the animals of the stable and that his birth was announced to shepherds.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Matthew 2:1-11

The star leads the wise men to Jesus.

Offering and Offertory

Carol: "We Three Kings of Orient Are," st. 1-5
[PH 66 , RL 225]

We bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh, reminding us of the wise men who journeyed by night to present Jesus with their gifts.

We also remember how Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, at the time of Jesus' death brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes to prepare his body for burial.

John 1:1-14

John unfolds the mystery of the incarnation.

The Lighting of the Christ Candle

The true tight, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Carol: "O Come, All Ye Faithful" (ADESTE FIDELES)
[PsH 340 PH 41, RL 195, TH 208]

The Benediction


John D. Paarlberg is Minister for Social Witness and Worship for the Reformed Church in America.


Reformed Worship 33 © September 1994, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.