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Trinity United Church
Contemplative Christmas Eve Communion Service
11:30pm December 24, 2020  

We Gather  


Prelude: Nativity Montage          CLICK HERE for video.

Acknowledgement of Territory
We humbly acknowledge that even as we gather digitally, we gather and live and work on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People, Trinity United Church rests on the unceded territory of the Kwikwitlem First Nations.  

I invite you to take a deep breath. I invite you to take another deep breath and let it go. And one last time I invite you to take a deep breath and let it go.   [screen share, start video with narration:]  

In the four Sundays of Advent, we have lit the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.  

Tonight we relight the Christ Candle, signifying Christ’s birth, and the return of light to a dark world.  

Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship by singing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:  

Hymn: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”              VU 1  
CLICK HERE for video.

Reconciling Our Hearts for Contemplation:           
I invite you to for a moment, focus on your breathing.
Don’t try to control it.
Just observe how the breath enters into your body.
Where are you most aware of your breath?
Some people feel the breath on their upper lip, others in their nostrils, their sinuses, the back of their throat, in their shoulders, back, chest, belly… where are you aware of your breath?
Once again, don’t try to control your breathing, just let it be comfortable and relaxed.
Our breath is a gift.  The ability to breath, the air that fills our lungs, the release of toxins as we exhale, these are all gifts we receive right here, right now.  

It is too easy to deny ourselves the opportunity to slow down, but if we don’t slow down, we cannot hear the word of God.
If we cannot hear the word of God, we cannot receive the Christ child.
Let our hearts be reconciled to God, to God’s Promise, and the Good News we celebrate this night.


We Listen  

Lessons and Carols:
 Isaiah 9:2-7
2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. 3You 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. 4For 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. 5For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6For 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. 7His 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.   

Hymn “It Came upon the Midnight Clear”       VU 44
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Psalm 96

Titus 2:11-14
11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.  

Hymn “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”                     VU 58  
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Luke 2:1-14
2In 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.

8 In 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 Saviour, 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 favours!’  

Hymn “Still, Still, Still”                VU 47  
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Guided Meditation:
We have already practiced breathing intentionally.  Let yourselves relax.  Let your body be heavy.  Trust the chair or sofa to support your weight.  Maybe let your eyes rest closed, or half shut.  If you become distracted during the guided meditation, simply return your focus to your breath, and the weight of your body on your chair.  

Imagine it is a clear crisp winter night and you are out among the hills and fields.  There is seldom snow in this part of the world, but it does get cold.  You may need to wrap in a woolen blanket.  The wool is course and smells strong.  But the strong smell also comes from the sheep.  You aren’t alone, but are surrounded by hundreds of sheep.  You and your fellow shepherds are watching the flock. This time of year, wolves can be a problem.  The starlight is bright enough in this part of the world, that it casts something of a shadow on the ground.  You can hear the wind in the dry winter grasses.  And the wind is cold, cold, cold…  

Suddenly, there is a light.  It starts as a warm glow.  Some of the shepherds are startled.  You see a shape forming in the glow of light.  As the shape becomes more distinctly a human form, you notice that the light is not just something that you see with your eyes.   

Inside your chest, you can feel the warmth of the light, glowing in you, as if something in the light of the angel is touching a light shining in you.  You can see that there is light, the glory of the Lord, shining all around you, the sheep and the other shepherds. 

Do not be afraid,” the angel says, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day, a Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”   

the angel speaks, the light coming from your own heart shines brightly.  When you look into your hands, you are holding a gift.  You may know what the gift is.  If you wish, you may ask the angel what it is.  This is the gift the angel has given you, the gift that is you, the gift you will be able to offer the child.  

Now the sky is full of angels and they are singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favours!”

And then, just as suddenly as it happened, all the angels are gone.  

You and the other shepherds are walking to the town of Bethlehem, each holding your gift for the child.  How do you feel about this gift?  Is it enough?  Is it too much?  Do you want to give it?  Does it bring you shame, or fear? Whatever the gift is, that is your gift, it is what the Christ Child wants from you.   

You come to the stable.  It is small, warm and dry, lit only by a little light.  

In the soft glow, you see a mother, a father and a baby lying in a manger.  

Gaze on the each of the faces of the parents.  What do you see?  What do they look like?  What do the expressions on their faces reveal?  Are they expecting you?  How are you received by them?  

Now look to the infant, sleeping in the manger.  How does it feel to be looking down on one so small, so vulnerable, and yet, one who is foretold to bring such promise?  Does the infant stir?  Offer the child the gift you have brought, given to you by the angel.  How does the child receive the gift?  How do Mary and Joseph receive the gift?  How does it feel to hand it over?  

Rest here with the holy family for a moment.  Study the details, anything you might want to remember later.  How does it feel to be in the presence of the Holy Family?  


Thank Mary and Joseph for their time.  Say a prayer of gratitude for the angel and your companions on this journey.  Thank God for this time with the Holy family.

  Return your attention to your breathing, maybe take few intentional deep breaths.  Open and close your hands, wiggle your toes, stretch your neck, roll your shoulders and open your eyes.  

Instrumental Reflection

Hymn: “’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime” VU 71
CLICK HERE for video.

We Respond with Gratitude  

The Great Thanksgiving:
We have sung the story and heard the invitation to receive the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour; let us now participate in the feast of juice and bread that reminds us of Christ’s presence.

All are welcome to this table.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or how young, how great your faith is or how small; it doesn’t matter if you go to church several times a week or if you’ve never been to church before, you are welcome to participate in this meal.  

Loving God on this most holy of nights we pause to give you thanks.  We praise you for creating all things, for making us in your image, and for seeking us out and bidding us to return when we turn to destructive and unproductive paths away from you.

We thank you for the birth of the Christ child in those humble surroundings long ago: an extraordinary event in ordinary circumstances.
We thank you for the example this child, Jesus, will become, the love he will reveal, the lessons he will teach and the good news he will proclaim: You are with us.
We share this meal in remembrance of him, offering you our lives in praise and thanksgivin.  May our hearts prove suitable for the continued birth of the Christ child.  May our words and actions reveal your presence as his life did.
Fill us with your Spirit, to make us one in Christ, and one in love for you and for all people – as in word and in deed, we seek your reign of peace and justice on earth. 
Glory be to you, eternal God, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

The Disciples’ Prayer “The Mallote”  
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The bread of new life.
The cup of promise.  

Prayer after Communion:
Rod of Jesse, Key of David,
Dayspring, Desire of Nations,
We express our gratitude for this feast.
Keep us faithful to your hopes for us.
with us to the streets,
to our homes,
and to our places of labour and leisure –
that, whether we are gathered or scattered,
we may reveal the Christ Child in the world.
In the name of the child born in a manger, we pray.  Amen.  

We Depart, Proclaiming the Good News  

Hymn: “Silent Night”                VU 67  
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Sending Forth:
Go, tell everyone, Christ is born today.
Thanks be to God!  Amen.