Photo: Christ Candle. Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021; Worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021
It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate.” – Howard Thurman
Live Singing Outside Before the Service
Carols “The First Noel” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (Pastor Bladimer, guitar; Vicky, song leader)
Prelude “Believe” (Everett, piano solo)
Welcome and Acknowledgements (Pastor Kathryn)
Advent Wreath Invocation (Esther and Hai Ying; in Cantonese and English)
This Advent, we waited for the rebirth of Jesus Christ listening to St Paul’s teachings about the Christian community embodying “Love in Action.” We lit Advent Candles honoring Jesus’s Relatives, St. John the Baptist, Jesus’s Mother Mary, and His Father Joseph. On Christmas Eve, we light these four Advent Candles with great hope. Christ will soon be reborn!
Light all Four Advent Candles (Esther and Hai Ying)
Welcoming Those Not Physically Present (pastor)
Votive Lighting Music “Away in a Manger” (Vicky, piano solo)
Scripture Narrative: Jesus’ birth (David, liturgist)
Jesus Christ was born about two thousand and twenty years ago during the reign of Emperor Augustus. Caesar Augustus decreed that all residents of the Roman Empire should be registered. So Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary of Nazareth, went to Bethlehem – the royal city founded by King David. While in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger. The child was born in a stable because there was no place for them in the inn. (from Luke 2:1-7)
Christ Candle Reading (Esther and Hai Ying; in Cantonese and English)
Surrounded by the shining faith, hope, and love of those who have gone before us, those with us, and those who will come – we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!
We light this new Christ Candle deeply moved by God’s greatest gift – our beloved Jesus Christ, the Messiah – God’s finest example of Love in Action!
Light the New Christ Candle (Esther and Hai Ying)
Special Music “Silent Night” (Everett, piano solo)
Scripture Narrative: Shepherds and Angels (David, liturgist)
Beyond the city of Bethlehem shepherds were grazing their flocks carefully watching over them throughout the night. A heavenly light appeared – an angel glowing with the glory of God. The shepherds where were terrified! The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people. Today in the city of David, the Messiah – humanity’s savior – is born. Go to Bethlehem and look for a child wrapped in bands of cloth, lying in a manger.” A host of heavenly beings joined the angel. They praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors!” (from Luke 2:8-14)
Special Music “Christmas Time is Here” (Everett, piano solo)
Scripture Narrative: Shepherds and Holy Family (David, liturgist)
After the angels left, the shepherds quickly went to Bethlehem where they found Mary and Joseph. Their newborn baby was wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. The shepherds told the new parents everything the angels had said. Everyone who heard the shepherds speak was astonished, except for Mary. She treasured these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned to the fields, rejoicing. They glorified and praised God for all they had heard and seen – just as the angel had described. (from Luke 2:15-20)
Passing the Peace (pastor, all) Offer joyful gestures and words of peace: “Peace be with You.”
Special Music “Let There Be Peace on Earth” (Everett, piano solo)
Scripture: Titus 2:11-14 (Common English Bible translation; pastor reads)
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.
Sermon “Liberating, Empowering Love in Action” (pastor)
Special Music “Canon in D” Pachelbel” (Vicky, piano solo)
Pastoral Prayer, Silent Prayer, Lord’s Prayer (pastor)
Offering of Praise “Doxology” (Vicky, piano; sing softly)
Special Music “A Thousand Points of Light” (if moving outside; Vicky, piano solo)
Holy Communion (Pastor Kathryn and Pastor Bladimer)
Invitation, Gathering Souls, Words of Institution, Prayer of Consecration, Sharing the Elements, Prayer of Thanksgiving
Carols “Joy to the World” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain” (singing outside or humming indoors. Pastor Bladimer, guitar; Vicky, song leader)
Merry Christmas! May God bless everyone!
The service is concluded.
(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.
Residency Acknowledgement: This content was written in Huichin Village, unceded territory of the Lisjan- Ohlone people, where I dwell and serve as a local church pastor. Please support indigenous rematriation efforts, the #LandBack movement, and give to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust Soghttps://sogoreate-landtrust.org/ and other non-profits that reform, balance, and heal relationships with our indigenous hosts. Thank you!
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Online Publishing Date: December 19, 2021.
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Donation: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!
For Online Content: Please see Facebook pages: “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” and “Living Liturgies”; as well as my website: www.inthebiglove.com and YouTube channel: “Kathryn Schreiber”