Virtual Worship – December 24, 2020, Christmas Eve

First Presbyterian Church

Delavan, Illinois

Christmas Eve Service

24 December 2020


We’re glad you came to worship with us the birth of our Lord and Saviour. Tonight’s service is an adapted version of the Service of Lessons and Carols which has been celebrated in Cambridge, England for over a hundred years. As in so many events this year, we are meeting virtually to worship and celebrate our Lord and Saviour’s birth. If possible, please have a candle (traditional or battery operated) handy for when we sing Silent Night. We hope you will be blessed in this celebration of the true reason for the season.

Prelude   “Angels, From The Realms Of Glory”

Lighting of the Advent Candles (Roger and Connie Wright)

We light this candle as a sign of the coming light of Christ. Advent means coming. We are preparing ourselves for the days

when the nations shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.

The Lord will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child

and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel (God is with us).

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.

Let us walk in the light of The LORD.

One Candle Is Lit vs. 5  # 128

Come, listen, the sounds of God-with-us ring clear,

    and signs of a cross in the distance appear.

The Word once made flesh, yet the Word ever near.

    One candle is lit for the Christ-birthday here.

Opening Prayer

Good and gracious God, on this holy night you gave us your Son, the Lord of the universe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Savior of all, lying in a manger.  On this holy night draw us into the mystery of your love. Join our voices with the heavenly host that we may sing your glory on high. Give us a place among the shepherds that we may find the one for whom we have waited, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. 

Carol “Once In Royal David’s City” #165

First Lesson     Genesis 3:8-19     (Pastor Jean)

Adam and Eve disobey God’s command, staining the order and goodness of creation

8They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14The LORD God said to the serpent,

      “Because you have done this,  cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

17And to the man he said,

      “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you,‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19      By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem”    #144

Second Lesson     Genesis 22:15-18     (Marie Hopkins)

God promises Abraham that, through him, all the peoples of the world will be blessed

15The angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the LORD: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.” 

Carol   “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” #119

Third Lesson     Isaiah 9:2-7          (Margaret Bridges-Altine)

The people who walk in darkness receive the promise of the Messiah

2        The people who walked in darkness

      have seen a great light;

      those who lived in a land of deep darkness—

      on them light has shined.

3      You have multiplied the nation,

      you have increased its joy;

      they rejoice before you

      as with joy at the harvest,

      as people exult when dividing plunder.

4      For the yoke of their burden,

      and the bar across their shoulders,

      the rod of their oppressor,

      you have broken as on the day of Midian.

5      For all the boots of the tramping warriors

      and all the garments rolled in blood

      shall be burned as fuel for the fire.

6      For a child has been born for us,

      a son given to us;

      authority rests upon his shoulders;

      and he is named

      Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7      His authority shall grow continually,

      and there shall be endless peace

      for the throne of David and his kingdom.

      He will establish and uphold it

      with justice and with righteousness

      from this time onward and forevermore.

      The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Carol   “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” #153

Fourth Lesson    Isaiah 11:1-9           (Jeff Johnson)

The Messiah will come from the root of Jesse to restore creation

1      A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,

      and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

2      The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,

      the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

      the spirit of counsel and might,

      the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

3      His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

      He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

      or decide by what his ears hear;

4      but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

      and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

6      The wolf shall live with the lamb,

      the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

      the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

      and a little child shall lead them.

7      The cow and the bear shall graze,

      their young shall lie down together;

      and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8      The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,

      and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

9      They will not hurt or destroy

      on all my holy mountain;

      for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD

      as the waters cover the sea.

Carol “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” #160

Fifth Lesson   Luke 1:26-35, 38    (Nancy Hopkins)

An angel appears to Mary and announces that she will bear a holy child

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.  38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Carol “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” #150

Sixth Lesson     Luke 2:1-7            (Connie Wright)

Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem, where Mary gives birth to the Child

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Carol “Away In A Manger” #147

Seventh Lesson Luke 2:8-16  (Roger Wright)

Angels appear to shepherds in the fields and announce the birth of the Messiah

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14      “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

      and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Carol “Angels We Have Heard On High”    #155

Eighth Lesson     Matthew 2:1-11               (Carrol Lewis)

Magi from the East come seeking the Messiah and offer gifts to the baby Jesus 

1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6      ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

      are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

      for from you shall come a ruler

      who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Carol “We Three Kings Of Orient Are”# 172

Ninth Lesson     John 1:1-14               (Pastor Jean)

The holy mystery of the Incarnation

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14And 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. 

Carol “Joy To The World” #143

Prayers of the People

Almighty God, you have promised to hear when we pray in the name of your Son. Therefore in confidence and trust we pray for the church.

O God, enliven the church for its mission that we may be salt of the earth and light to the world.  Breathe fresh life into your people. Give us power to reveal Christ in word and action.  We pray for the world.

Creator of all, lead us and every people into ways of justice and peace, that we may respect one another in freedom and truth.  Awaken in us a sense of wonder for the earth and all that is in it. Teach us to care creatively for its resources.  We pray for the community.

God of truth, inspire with your wisdom those whose decisions affect the lives of others, that all may act with integrity and courage.  Give grace to all whose lives are linked with ours. May we serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.  We pray for those in need.

God of hope, comfort and restore all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit. May they know the power of your healing love.  Make us willing agents of your compassion. Strengthen us as we share in making people whole. We especially name all who are battling the Covid virus – including those with the disease, their families and friends, all those caring for them, those working for treatments and cures, and vaccines. We remember those who have died and those who mourn.

We remember with thanksgiving those who have died in the faith of Christ, and those whose faith is known to you alone. Loving God, into your hands we commend them.  Give comfort to those who mourn. Fill the emptiness of their loss with your never-ending peace.  We praise you for all your saints who have entered your eternal glory. May their example inspire and encourage us.  We pray for ourselves and our ministries.

Lord, you have called us to serve you. Grant that we may minister in your name, with your love in our hearts, your truth in our minds, your strength in our wills; until, at the end of our journey, we know the joy of our homecoming and the welcome of your embrace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Lighting of the Candles     (Please light your candle)

Carol “Silent Night, Holy Night”

Silent night, holy night!  All is calm, all is bright

round yon virgin mother and child.

Holy Infant so tender and mild,

sleep in heavenly peace.  Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!  Shepherds quake at the 


glories stream from heaven afar,

heavenly hosts sing alleluia;

Christ the Savior is born!  Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night!  Son of God, love’s pure 


radiant beams from thy holy face,

with the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth; Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Silent night, holy night!  Wondrous star, lend thy 


with the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King;

Christ the Savior is born; Christ the Savior is born.


Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous and strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Benediction (A word of blessing)

May the God of peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being-spirit, soul, and body-free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Alleluia! Amen.

Postlude       “For Unto Us With Joy To The World”