Bulletin – December 25

Returning to the Manger

A Service for Christmas Day

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay;

The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. CW Hymn 68

December 25, 2020

9 a.m. St. John’s

Pastor’s Greeting

Opening Hymn, CW36, “A Great and Mighty Wonder”,   v. 1-2 sung by soloist                                                                      

A great and mighty wonder,

a glorious mystery:            

The virgin bears an Infant

who veils his deity.           

Repeat the hymn again:

“To God on high be glory       

And peace on earth to men!”

The Word becomes incarnate

and yet remains on high

And cherubim sing anthems

to shepherds from the sky

Repeat the hymn again:

“To God on high be glory       

And peace on earth to men!”

The Invocation                                                               

P:  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C:  Amen

Rise for the Confession and Absolution

P:  We confess our sin.     

C:  Lord, we come before you in prayer today, asking for forgiveness.  We have not loved as we ought to love, we have not given as we ought to give, and we have fallen short of the mark truly being your obedient sons and daughters.  We recognize our sins, and in this moment of silence, we privately remember our shortcomings.

(Silence for reflection and self-examination.)   

P:  God, our Heavenly Father, hears the prayers of his children and answers those prayers.  Our prayer for forgiveness is answered in the person of Jesus Christ, his Son, who died for our sins that we might have a new life in him.  To those who believe his Word of truth, he gives power to be the people of God.  Praise god for his gift of love to us!

Please be seated.

The Lighting of the Advent wreath

Spoken responsively by the pastor and the congregation:

P:  Darkness cannot overcome the light.  Five flames remind us that the light of the Christ Child has been revealed to defeat the deepest depths of darkness and bring life and immortality to light.  The 1st candle of purple is lit to remind us of prophecy, hope and a promise of old kept.

(Light the 1st candle)

C:  The prophets foretold a Messiah to come.  People waited in expectation.  Hope was fulfilled.

P:   The 2nd candle of purple is lit to remind us of Bethlehem and the peace that passes understanding.  

(Light the 2nd candle)

C:  The Prince of Peace was promised.  The Child was peace in human form.  Christ is our peace fulfilled.    P:  The 3rd candle—the pink one—is lit to remind us of the shepherds and the joyous message they received.  

(Light the 3rd candle)                                              

C:  Angels sang, “Gloria.”  Shepherds ran to tell others.  Joy was fulfilled.

P:  Light the 4th purple candle for peace.

(Light the 4th candle.)

C  The peace placed in a manger in the person of the Christ Child brings comfort and joy.

P: One white candle shining brightly in the center is lit to remind us of Christ, the Light of the World, who was sent to earth because God loved us.

(Light the center candle)

C:  God poured out his heart in the form of his Son.  The Child was born of a woman.  Love was fulfilled.

Song of Reflection, Hymn 61, “Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing,” verses 1 & 2 sung by soloist    

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise;

join the triumph of the skies;

With the angelic hosts proclaim,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,

Christ the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold him come,

offspring of the virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

hail the incarnate Deity!

Pleased as man with us to dwell,

Jesus, our Immanuel!

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”

Prayer of the Day                                                            

P:  We glorify you this day, Lord Jesus, and praise you for your birth in a manger so long ago.  Help us keep returning to your manger today and every day in our minds that we might remember the miracle of what happened there.  For through your manger birth, you declared to all the world that you were coming in humility and poverty that we might be rich through your salvation.  Show us day by day how to serve others in humility that you might be glorified through our actions.  Allow us to see in your manger scene that we have a God who loves the lowly and makes his power known through the least and the lost and the little.  Open our eyes to the saving message that you came as one of us that we might dwell with you in the highest places of heaven forevermore through your sinless life and sacrificial death.  Let your Gospel be born in us anew every morning.  Amen.

The Old Testament Reading, Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Listen!  Your watchmen–lift up their voices; together they shout for joy.  When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.  Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

The Epistle Reading, Colossians 3:12-17

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the LORD forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Hymn of Preparation, Hymn 76, “Jesus! Name of Wondrous Love,” verse 1 sung by soloist

Jesus! Name of wondrous love!  

Name all other names above! 

Unto which must every knee

bow in deep humility.

Rise for the Gospel Reading, John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Please be seated.

Sermon Hymn, Hymn 68, “Away in a Manger,”

verses 1-3 sung by soloist

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. 

The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,

the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,

but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes. 

I love you, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,

and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay

close by me forever and love me, I pray. 

Bless all the dear children in your tender care,

and take us to heaven to live with you there.

Sermonette:   “God Made a Way in a Manger”    Luke 2:8-12                                                               

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the LORD. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Hymn of Response, Hymn 58, “See in Yonder Manger Low”, v. 1,3,4 sung by soloist

See in yonder manger low,

born for us on earth below, 

See—the gentle Lamb appears,

promised from eternal years.  

Hail the ever blessed morn;

hail redemption’s happy dawn;

Sing through all Jerusalem,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Sacred Infant, all divine,

what a tender love was thine,

thus to come from highest bliss

down to such a world as this. 

Hail the ever blessed morn;

hail redemption’s happy dawn;

sing through all Jerusalem,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Teach, oh, teach us, holy Child,

by thy face so meek and mild,

teach us to resemble thee

in thy sweet humility.  

Hail the ever blessed morn;

hail redemption’s happy dawn;

sing through all Jerusalem,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Please stand.


Dear Christ Child, born in a manger, we celebrate your birth today and rejoice with the shepherds who returned from your manger glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen as it had been told to them.  Help us return to our lives after Christmas with the same joy and exuberance to praise and glorify you in all we say and do.  Help us treat one another with kindness and love.  Grant us an attitude of gratitude.  Let us embrace everyone as dear ones whom you came to save.  Rid our lives of the dirt and filth of sin and help us be cleansed with your forgiveness by the power of your cross.  Help us be just as forgiving of the sins of others that they, too, might experience the new life you supply through your mercy.  Be with those who are sick or in pain or mourning the loss of loved ones, and grant healing and comfort to them all.  Bless us, we pray, as we marvel at the miracle of your birth this day and every day, O Holy Child of Bethlehem.  Be born in us today.  Amen.    


And in Your name we pray together:

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,

thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen

The Benediction

Go forth in joy.  Love and serve one another.  Be a faithful witness to God in the world and live in such a way that the gracious Spirit of Jesus may be with you in all that you do and say. 

The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.  The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace.  Amen

Please be seated.

Closing Hymn,  Hymn 62, “Joy to the World”, 

v. 1, 4 sung by soloist

Joy to the world!

The Lord is come;

let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing,

and heaven and nature sing,

And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

He rules the world with truth and grace,

and makes the nations prove

The glories of his righteousness,

And wonders of his love,

and wonders of his love,

And wonders, wonders, of his love.

Service by Jeff Shanks with revisions.  ©2017 Creative Communications for the Parish, a division of Bayard, Inc. 1564 Fencorp Dr., Fenton, MO.  All rights reserved.  Copyright released for use of material for worship.