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Roll Call of Light Bearers: A candlelight service based on the Matthew 1 genealogy of Christ

The genealogy in Matthew 1 provides a list of "light bearers," saints whom God used to prepare the way until Jesus, the true Light of the world, was born. In this service, we walked through Matthew's genealogy, highlighting a few of the light bearers he mentions with some Scripture readings and songs that help us see why their particular light shone so brightly. The version printed below does not include the actual Scripture texts; however, we did prepare a script of the service including all the texts for the Scripture readers.

Altogether, forty-six biblical characters were involved, dressed in a variety of colorful costumes. Shepherds wore simple robes tied with a sash (some also had head coverings); prophets appeared in stoles or shawls (a longer cloth that draped down and wrapped around the shoulder). The priests wore turbans, and the women wore a variety of head coverings and colorful costumes. Some of the characters were old, others were young, according to what we could deduce from Scripture about their age.

As pastor, I opened the service with the welcome and prayer, and I closed the service with the reading from the book of Revelation.

CAST AND PROPS

You will need the following persons to present this service:

Narrator (unseen, using a hand-held mike from the back)

Scripture Readers (either one person or a variety of readers would be appropriate)

Light Bearers
Abraham 
Isaac
Jacob
Judah 
Tamar
Perez
Hezron 
Aram
Aminadab
Nahshon
Salmon 
Rahab
Salmon 
Boaz 
Ruth
Obed 
Jesse 
David
Bathsheba
Solomon
Rehoboam
Abijah
Asaph
Jehoshaphat
Joram
Uzziah
Jotham 
Ahaz
Hezekiah 
Manasseh
Amos
Josiah
Jechoniah
Salathiel
Zerubbabel
Abiud
Eliakim
Azor
Zadok
Achim
Eliud
Eleazar
Matthan
Jacob
Joseph
Mary

In addition to the costumes mentioned above, each biblical character will need a candle and a white robe (check with the choirs of neighboring churches). You'll also need a large cross for the final scene (if not available, you can make one from dead tree branches nailed together and mounted in a bucket of sand).

You may also want to provide candles for the congregation to light during the singing of carols near the end of the service (distribute these as the congregation arrives).

THE SERVICE

Prelude

ROLL CALL OF LIGHT BEARERS FROM MATTHEW 1

[At the end of the prelude, dim the lights (allowing just enough light for reading hymn texts) and begin the procession. As the narrator (unseen) reads each character's name, that person walks down the center aisle carrying a lighted candle. Only one or two people should be in the aisle at a time. After processing down the aisle, the characters take their place in front in random order to provide visual balance. Each character should have a service folder containing all the song texts, allowing them to join in the singing.]

Solo: "Find Us Faithful" from 100 Inspirational Favorites (Word 3010331495)

Welcome

Solo: "The Promise," Michael Card, as learned from his recording The Life

REFLECTIONS ON PAST LIGHT BEARERS

[The narrator reads the names again, stopping at various points as indicated below for Scripture and song. As soon as each person's name is read, he or she blows out his or her candle and leaves by the side aisle. However, those characters for whom there is a Scripture reading and song step forward when their names are read, remain there during the reading of Scripture, and leave during the singing of the song.]

Abraham

Scripture readings: Genesis 12:1-4; 15:17-21

Hymn: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" PsH 329, PH 1, 2, RL 183. SFI. 122, TH 196. TWC 135

[Narrator continues reading list of names from Isaac, stopping at Ruth and Boaz.]

Ruth and Boaz

Scripture readings: Ruth 1:15-19; 4:13-17

Hymn: "O Come, O Come, Immanuel" PsH 328, TH 9, RL 184, SFL 123, TH 194, TWC 133

stanzas 1, 4, 6

[Ruth and Boaz leave together, Narrator continues reading: Obed, Jesse, stopping at David.]

David

Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 5:1-5

Hymn: "Once in Royal David's City" PsH 346, PH 49, RL 201, TH 225, TWC 161

stanzas 1, 4, 5

[Narrator continues reading from Bathsheba through Ahaz, stopping at Hezekiah].

Hezekiah

Scripture reading: 2 Kings 18:1-8

Hymn: "Arise, Shine, for Your Light Is Come" PsH 198 (anthem also available for choir and congregation by Davis Folkerts, available from Selah Publishing, 1-800-852-6172)

Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 30:1, 6; 25-31:1

Anthem: "Every Valley" by John Ness Beck (SATB)
Beckenhorst Press, BP 1040

[Narrator continues reading pom Manasseh through Matthan, stopping at Jacob.]

Jacob (the father of Joseph)

Anthem: "How Far Is It to Bethlehem" arr. Robert Shaw and Alice Parker (SATB) Lawson-Gould, LG51017

Joseph and Mary

Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38

Hymn: "Silent Night! Holy Night!" PsH 344, PH 60, RL 216, TH 210, TWC 164

sung by the children's choir in an arrangement by Tom Fettke, Pilot Point Music

Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25

Hymn: "Tiny Little Baby" by Gene Grier and Lowell Everson (SA) Heritage Music (Lorenz; out of print) sung by the children's choir

Jesus

Scripture reading: Matthew 4:16; John 8:12; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5-7

Christmas carols

[Sing carols of your choice, ending with "Joy to the World." During this final carol, all the biblical characters return, now wearing white robes. All characters gather at the front of the church, facing a large cross. If candles were distributed to the congregation, they should be lit at this time. Be sure your bulletin instincts worshipers to tip the unlit candle to the lit candle to avoid dripping wax.]

OUR PROMISE FROM GOD
AS PRESENT-DAY
LIGHT BEARERS

Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-12

[As this passage is read, all those standing in the front raise their arms toward the cross.]

Postlude: Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah

Video stills of the processional of the service at Blythfield Christian Reformed Church.

 

Excerpt

Did you use (a version of) this service? Tell us about it, and we'll let others know how it went.

E-mail: rw@crcpublications.org
Fax: 616-224-0803
Mail: Reformed Worship
2850 Kalamazoo Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49560.

This service was developed by Roger J. Visker, pastor of Blythfield Christian Reformed Church, Rockford, Michigan. Several congregational members were involved in preparing the costumes.