December 24, 2023 – Nativity of the Lord / Christmas Eve

Lectionary Readings   -   Gathering   -  Word  -   Eucharist   -   Sending   -   Music and Art

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 9:2–7
Light shines on people in darkness; a child has been born for us.

Psalm 96
Sing a new song to the Lord, all the earth; declare God’s glory.

Titus 2:11–14
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.

Luke 2:1–14 (15–20)
Jesus is born in Bethlehem; angels tell shepherds the good news.

— Gathering —

Opening Sentences

Darkness is all around,
but great things happen in the dark.
Seeds planted in the dark bloom into flowers.
Humans formed in the dark are born.
From within the night we see a great light.
That light is the presence of God.
We greet a child, Emmanuel, God with us.
Let us live in the light of the coming of Christ.
Let us worship God!

Prayer of the Day

Great God,
we were on the journey with Mary and Joseph,
afraid and nervous
about what the future would bring.
We were in the fields with the shepherds,
shocked and astonished
at the proclamation of the angels:
Unto us a child is born, a Son is given,
and authority rests on him.
Through our fears we are learning
to sing a new song,
one that declares your glory, honor, and praise.
Help us, O God,
to be active participants in your story,
that we might enact justice
in a society yearning for it
and share the grace offered
in the person and work of Christ.
In the name of the One called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Amen.

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Thanksgiving For Baptism

At the baptismal font:
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

O Lord our God, we give you thanks
for the wonder and love you offer us
through the gift of our baptism—
your Word made flesh among us,
a child and Savior born to us,
good news of great joy for all.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
poured out upon us in baptism,
let us be born anew from above
so that we may give glory to you
and live as your beloved children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Confession and Pardon

At the baptismal font:
Like a great light in a land of deep darkness,
the mercy of the Lord shines upon us.
Trusting in God’s grace, let us confess our sin.

O Christ, you were born in a humble stable,
because there was no room for you in the inn.
Forgive us when we foolishly think
that there is no room for you in our lives.
When we close the doors of our hearts to your word,
forgive us, and burst through them with your love.
When we close the doors of our minds to your challenge,
forgive us, and burst through them with your love.
When we close the doors of our homes, our churches, and our cities
to people you would have us welcome,
forgive us, and speak your angel’s words to us once more:
“Do not be afraid.”

Lifting water from the font:
Hear the promise of the Lord:
See, your salvation has come!
You are a holy people, redeemed by God,
sought out, not forsaken.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!
Thanks be to God.

— Word —

Prayer for Illumination

At the lectern or pulpit:
Gracious God, by the gift of your Holy Spirit
show us the Word made flesh—
good news of great joy for all—
so that we may sing with the angels:
glory in the highest and peace on earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Before the readings:
Treasure these words
and ponder them in your heart.
Luke 2:19

After the readings:
And the Word became flesh
and lived among us.
Thanks be to God.
John 1:14


Ascription of Praise

After the sermon:
Glory to God in the highest
and peace to God’s people on earth! Amen.
Luke 2:14

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Affirmation of Faith

Season of Advent (and Christmas)
The one sufficient revelation of God
is Jesus Christ,
the Word of God incarnate,
to whom the Holy Spirit
bears unique and authoritative witness
through the Holy Scriptures,
which are received and obeyed
as the word of God written.
Adapted from the Confession of 1967, 9.27

Prayers of the People

Rejoicing in the gift of Jesus Christ our Savior,
we pray for this world that God so loves,
saying: Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for the church . . .
For the astounding and joyful news of Jesus’ birth,
we give you thanks and sing with the angels:
Glory to God in heaven and peace to all the earth!
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for the world . . .
We pray for peace where there is no peace.
We pray for wisdom where foolishness now reigns.
As we claim the name of Christ, may we witness to your glory.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for this community . . .
Fill the shadowy places with your light.
Let a joyful song of love be sung in every place,
so that your beauty and strength may be praised.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for loved ones . . .
We give thanks for those you have given to us to love.
As Mary pondered the wondrous events of her day,
may we, deep in our hearts, hold the wonder of your love.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

Holy One, as you have come to dwell among us,
show us how to live as your faithful people,
sharing the good news of your grace with all;
through Christ, your Word made flesh. Amen.

— Eucharist —

Invitation to Offering

At the communion table:
From the fullness of God
we have all received grace upon grace.
Let us offer our lives to the Lord.
John 1:16

Prayer of Dedication

At the communion table:
God Most High, receive the gifts of our lives
as an offering of gratitude for your grace.
Overshadow us with your Holy Spirit
and let it be with us according to your word,
for nothing is impossible with you. Amen.
Luke 1:35–38; 1 Corinthians 1:4

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God:
You keep watch over us, day and night, protecting us from enemies.
By your grace we enjoy our daily bread, and the fruit of our labor.
We are your holy people—redeemed, sought out, and not forsaken.
Therefore we praise you, joining the song
of the universal church and the heavenly choir:
A Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy”) is sung.

Blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior:
Born in a stable, he is our good shepherd, and your holy Lamb.
Lying in a manger, he is the bread of life, food for our souls.
Praised by the heavenly host, he is the hope and joy of all the earth.
The words of institution are included here.
Remembering your goodness and grace,
we offer ourselves to you with gratitude
as we share this joyful feast.
A Memorial Acclamation (e.g., “Christ has died”) is sung.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and upon this bread and cup;
make us one in the body and blood
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Continue to lead us through the waters of renewal and rebirth,
bathed in the blessing of your Holy Spirit and the grace of Jesus Christ,
so that we may be heirs of your promise of everlasting life.
Through the Lord Jesus Christ,
in the unity of the Spirit,
we bless you, God of glory,
now and forever.
An Amen is sung.

Lord’s Prayer

Breaking the Bread

Communion of the People

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Prayer after Communion

At the communion table:
God of shepherds and sheep,
we give you thanks
that you have gathered us here,
revealed to us your glory,
and fed us with your mercy.
Now send us out
with good news for all—
for us a child is born:
Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

— Sending —

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song


Blessing and Charge

At the doors of the church:
The loving kindness of the Lord our God,
the grace of Jesus Christ our Savior,
and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit
be with you all. Alleluia!
Titus 3:4–7

Go and tell this good news of great joy:
to us a Savior is born. Amen.
Luke 2:10–11

Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem

by Portinari Altarpiece, 1475

Additional Materials

Congregational Song


  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (OG) MENDELSSOHN GTG 119
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful (OG) ADESTE FIDELES GTG 133
  • On Christmas Night All Christians Sing (OEG) SUSSEX CAROL GTG 112
  • Once in Royal David’s City (G) IRBY GTG 140


  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (OG) CAROL GTG 123, NOEL CH4 303
  • Love Has Come (EG) BRING A TORCH GTG 110
  • The People Who Walked in Darkness (O) ISAIAH 9 GTG 86
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (G) WINCHESTER OLD GTG 117, CHRISTMAS GTG 118


  • I Come with Joy (E) DOVE OF PEACE GTG 515
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem (G) ST. LOUIS GTG 121
  • What Child Is This (G) GREENSLEEVES GTG 145
  • Where Shepherds Lately Knelt (G) MANGER SONG GTG 120


  • Go, Tell It on the Mountain (G) GO TELL IT GTG 136
  • Good Christian Friends, Rejoice (EG) IN DULCI JUBILO GTG 132
  • Joy to the World (G) ANTIOCH GTG 134
  • Silent Night (G) STILLE NACHT GTG 122

Psalms and Canticles


  • Sing to the Lord a New Song [ES IST EIN’ ROS’ ENTSPRUNGEN]; PAS 96F
  • O Sing a New Song to the Lord [GONFALON ROYAL]; GTG 304, PH 216
  • Sing a Song to God (Ay, Ay, Salidummay) [SALIDUMMAY]; PAS 96E


  • Today Is Born Our Savior [ADESTE FIDELES]; LP 9
  • O Sing a New Song; GTG 639, PH 217, PAS 96H
  • Today Is Born Our Savior; G3 68
  • Today Is Born Our Savior [VON HIMMEL HOCH]; HTP1 98
  • Sing to the Lord; PP 174

    Organ Music

    • “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Love Divine: Six Hymntunes on Wesley Texts, Michael Burkhardt, MSM (ME)
    • “Joy to the World,” Five for the Christmas Season, Kristina Langlois, MSM (M)
    • “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” And There Was a Star, Benton Price, LOR (ME)
    • “Go, Tell It on the Mountain,” And There Was a Star, Robert W. Thygerson, LOR (ME)

    Anthems for Adult Choirs

    • “Silent Night,” arr. Eric Nelson, MSM, SATB, pno (M)
    • “Before the Marvel of This Night,” Carl Schalk, AF, SATB, org (E)
    • “Blake’s Lullaby,” John Rutter, OUP, SATB, org (A)
    • “O Sing to the Lord a New Song,” Michael Burkhardt, MSM, SATB, opt children’s choir, pno (E)
    • “All Earth Is Hopeful,” David Cherwien, MSM, SATB, org (M)
    • “All My Heart This Night Rejoices,” Ebeling/arr. Leavitt, HAL, SATB, pno, orch (M)
    • “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” Chad Fothergill, MSM, cong, stngs, org (M)
    • “How Far Is It to Bethlehem,” Stephen Paulus, AF, SATB, solo, ob, hp (M)
    • “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” Fred Gramann, ECS, SATB, acap (A)

    Handbell Music

    • “Once in Royal David’s City,” Karen Buckwalter, 3‑6 oct, opt hc, BP, HB644, Level 3
    • “Moon of Wintertime,” Jason Krug, 3‑6 oct, BP, HB753, Level 3
    • “Angels We Have Heard on High,” 3‑5 oct, HOPE, 2962, Level 2


    • Annunciation to the Shepherds, Adam Pynacker (VDL)
    • Joseph and Mary Traveling to Bethlehem, Portinari Altarpiece (VDL)
    • Those Who Walked in Darkness, Jan Richardson (JR)
    • Difficult Journey, Fritz von Uhde (VDL)
    • Manger, Liz Valente (VDL)