I hope everyone has a good Thursday tomorrow, whatever your plans/situation.
Christmas Eve service at UCN
There seemed to be remarkably few people for a Christmas Eve. My brother said it was about as many as there were on Sunday and I said, "But it's Christmas Eve."
The order of worship included "Mary, Did You Know?" and I was like, "Someone sang that at one of my churches recently." My mom said something about how Bev did it recently and then Angie did it at Singspiration; I was like, "Oh yeah, that's what I was thinking of. All this church blurs sometimes. I think I had the UCC in my head 'cause I've been listening to the Strings of Glory CD."
My brother said it was part of the program last Christmas Eve and I didn't think so. He said, "I've been to two church services in the last year, so unless it was Easter..." (I pointed out that he went to Crystal Cathedral with me in California, so that's three.) I think I've been to 5 church services between Singspiration and tonight. (And my brother's the conservative born-again.)
Pastor Bill invoked Jesus as "Savior, Redeemer, Lord," and yeah, I have been assimilated by progressive churches enough that I'm like, "But that's not the important part -- the model of his life and ministry is what's important."
- Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful
I think I've commented before about how in verse 2 I want to say "all ye citizens of heav'n above" and the page says "all ye bright hosts of heav'n above."
- Call to Worship: Isaiah 9:6
- Scripture Reading: John 1:1-14
- Vocal Selection: Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Pastor Bill sings this every year. I like the beginning, but the "Massa" always throws me. Besides that, the bit that stuck out at me this year was when the speaker asks forgiveness because "we didn't know 'twas you" -- it made me think of the "whatever you did for the least of these" idea ... that we should treat everyone like we would Christ.
- Lighting of the Christ Candle
I was loving the directive worship ever since PB first said, "And now we will sing hymn number 249, 'O Come, All Ye Faithful,'" but GeorgeK. just kind popped into the pulpit and said, "And now we have the lighting of the Christ Candle by the Carter Family," and I was like, "Yes!"
Ari, I thought of our conversation when Chris did the Scripture Reading (John 1 ... "the darkness has not understood") 'cause he's not a particularly engaging reader.
- Choral Selection: "Born a King"
- Offertory: O Holy Night [harp&organ, no vocals]
- Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-7
- Hymn: Angels We Have Heard On High
I think I've been influenced by Adelheid's Lessons & Carols post or something, 'cause I was jarred by feeling like it didn't fit in that place in the narrative as established by the Scripture readings -- even though I know it's not a Lessons and Carols service.
- Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-16
3 symbols -- cradle, cross, and crown.
PB said, "Jesus was born to give his life as ransom," and I kind of winced. He said that Jesus said, "For this I have been born, for this I came into the world, that I might give my life for you." This sounds familiar, but I can't think offhand of the specific citation to examine the fuller context. PB said, "The cross means grace, means forgiveness."
- Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- Communion Observance
PB said, "this is not the table of a church or a denomination, but the Lord's Table." He then said that "if you have been redeemed" and if you have recognized(?) him as your Savior ... yeah, I opted to just go ahead and take communion.
I haven't had tiny pieces of white bread in ages. CHPC has been having tearable bread along with the pre-cubed for a while, CWM always has tearable, First Church had tearable iirc, and ELM had tearable. I do enjoy the plastic shot glasses of grape juice, though.
In one of the prayers, PB said, "Your Word reminds us that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood." :/
- Lighting of the Christmas Candles
"Tip your unlighted candle to receive the flame from the person next to you."
- Hymn: Silent Night! Holy Night!
There's a lot to be said for extemporaneous prayer, but I do really like the benediction PB has said for ever and ever.
"Joy to the World" and "Deck the Halls." The lights went on like partway through the second one, I think. This seemed awfully quick to me.