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  • Writer's pictureLysa Rodriguez

Christmas Eve 6:00 PM Worship (December 24, 2023)


CHRISTMAS EVE 2023

The Holy Eucharist: Enriching Our Worship

December 24, 2023 at 6:00 pm

Celebrant & Preacher: The Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda, Rector

Deacon: The Rev. Ella Roundtree-Davis, Deacon


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The Holy Eucharist: Enriching Our Worship


Note: In Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Seasons, St. Matthew's will use prayers from Enriching Our Worship 1 (1997). Enriching Our Worship is a series of supplemental worship resources for The Episcopal Church. One of its objectives is to honor the experience of women by providing gender-neutral language for God in its prayers, expanding the Church's vocabulary of prayer from other parts of Scripture and Christian Tradition. There are changes, small and great, throughout the service, so pay attention and ask questions during our Christian Education Hour.



The Christmas Service of Light

 

Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. (John 1:1-5)

 

Let us pray:

 

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

Pray the following litany as the Advent Wreath Candles are lit.

 

Tonight, we celebrate the hope fulfilled in the birth of Christ.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come.

Tonight, we celebrate the promise of peace on earth.

Let earth receive her King.

Tonight, we celebrate the joy of knowing a savior has come.

Let every heart prepare Him room.

Tonight, we celebrate the love of God, through Jesus Christ.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!

 

Tonight, we light all five candles on this Advent Wreath. As the flames gleam we are reminded that Christ is the true light of the world, and with the Christ candle in the center, the flames of hope, peace, joy and love burn even brighter. So it is with Christ in our hearts, we can rest in the hope of eternal life, and look forward to the promised peace on earth. Amen.



LEV #26: Silent Night, Holy Night


1 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.

 

2 Silent night, holy night; Shepherds quake at the sight,

Glories stream from heaven afar, Heav’nly host sing Alleluia;

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

 

3 Silent night, holy night; Son of God, loves pure light

Radiant beams from thy Holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace;

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

 

4 Silent night, holy night, All is dark save the light

Yonder where thy sweet vigils keep. O’er the Babe who in silence sleep;

Rest in heavenly peace. Rest in heavenly peace.


[Words: Joseph Mohr. Music: Franz Gruber; arr. Horace Clarence Boyer, Copyright © 1992 Horace Clarence Boyer. Printed with permission under ONE LICENSE #122904. All rights reserved.]



A Candlelight Prayer

 

Let us pray:

 

Gracious God, as we celebrate tonight, we join with the angel choir in proclaiming your glory. We thank you for giving us the perfect gift this Christmas Eve, the gift of eternal life through Christ. We ask that you guide our feet, direct our minds, hear our prayers, and fill our hearts with the hope, peace, joy, and love this Christmas season. We ask these things in the name of Christ Jesus, our savior and Lord. Amen.

 

Dearly beloved, be not afraid; even now the light of Christ is overwhelming the world!



Hymn #100: Joy to the World


1 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.

 

2. Joy to the world! the Savior reigns;

let us our songs employ,

while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,

repeat the sounding joy,

repeat the sounding joy,

repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

 

3. No more let sins and sorrows grow,

nor thorns infest the ground;

he comes to make his blessings flow

far as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found,

far as, far as the curse is found.

 

4. 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.


[Words: Isaac Watts, alt. Music: Antioch, George Frederic Handel; adapt. and arr. Lowell Mason. Printed with permission under ONE LICENSE #BP2263. All rights reserved.]



The Opening Acclamation

 

Blessed be the one, holy, and living God.

Glory to God forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

The Collect for Purity

 

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

The Collect of the Day  

 

God be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray.

 

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.



A Reading from the Book of Isaiah (62:6-12)


Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth. The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink the wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in my holy courts. Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, "See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him." They shall be called, "The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord"; and you shall be called, "Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken."


Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

Thanks be to God.


Psalm 97

Read responsively by half-verse (at the asterisk).


1 The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; *

let the multitude of the isles be glad.


2 Clouds and darkness are round about him, *

righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.


3 A fire goes before him *

and burns up his enemies on every side.


4 His lightnings light up the world; *

the earth sees it and is afraid.


5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, *

at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.


6 The heavens declare his righteousness, *

and all the peoples see his glory.


7 Confounded be all who worship carved images

and delight in false gods! *

Bow down before him, all you gods.


8 Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice, *

because of your judgments, O Lord.


9 For you are the Lord, most high over all the earth; *

you are exalted far above all gods.


10 The Lord loves those who hate evil; *

he preserves the lives of his saints and

delivers them from the hand of the wicked.


11 Light has sprung up for the righteous, *

and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.


12 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, *

and give thanks to his holy Name. Amen.



A Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to St. Titus (3:4-7)

When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

Thanks be to God.



LEV #23: Jesus Came to Earth in Glory (verses 1-2)


1 Jesus Came to earth from glory,

That first Christmas morn.

Shepherds heard the angel story

Christ was born.

 

2. As a child, the purge and lowly

Gave him great delight.

Home and bread and toil were holy

In His sight


[Words: Hugh Sherlock. Music: Doreen Potter Copyright © 1981 Caribbean Conference of Churches.]



The People stand, as they are able, for the reading of the Gospel.

The Holy Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ According to St. Luke (2:1-20)

Glory to you, Lord Christ.


In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph 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. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And 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.

 

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

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!" 

 

When 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." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Christ.



LEV #23: Jesus Came to Earth in Glory (verse 3)


3 Grown to manhood, pledged to duty,

Jess taught and healed.

From the lilies in their beauty,

Truths revealed.


[Words: words: Hugh Sherlock. Music: Doreen Potter Copyright © 1981 Caribbean Conference of Churches.]



The Sermon

“Chains Shall He Break” by the Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda, Rector


I love Christmas music. I don’t think I’m alone. I just love hearing these familiar hymns and tunes, and I love when musicians bring their unique spin to classic songs or add new ones to the cultural library. One of my favorite hymns is “O Holy Night.” And it is really hard to beat Mariah Carey’s stunning, Gospel rendition of that hymn. She just kills it on that track. The melody soars and she soars with it and we’re all blessed for it. 


But Mariah’s version, like most of the popular ones, does not contain all of the original verses of “O Holy Night.” It is missing a radical, liberationist, abolitionist stanza. You may have encountered it in some recordings of “O Holy Night.”] This verse (originally the third) reads like this and it is printed in your bulletins:

Truly He taught us to love one another; 

His law is love and His gospel is peace. 

Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, 

And in His name all oppression shall cease. 

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we; 

Let all within us praise His holy name. 

Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever! 

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim! 

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!”


The lyrics to “O Holy Night” were originally written in the 1840s by French poet Placide Cappeau for use at the Christmas Eve midnight mass in his town of Roquemaure. They made it to the United States when Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight translated the song to English in 1855. Rev. Dwight was an outspoken white abolitionist in Massachusetts. He preached and wrote against the practice of slavery in our nation, calling it a sin against “millions of our human brethren” (Coyne). Dwight brought that abolitionist perspective to his loose translation of the original French.


See, in the 1850s, slavery was already outlawed in France and the French colonies, but it was still legal in parts of the United States. Singing that Jesus will break chains because slaves are our brothers and that he will cause all oppression to cease were radical political statements. And they were and are radical spiritual statements. These lyrics forced enslavers to see our Lord Jesus as a chainbreaker and liberator. Jesus wasn’t just a lowly baby, meek and mild in a manger. He was also the one who would set us free from sin and bondage, both spiritual and literal.


As you might imagine, this portion of the hymn ruffled a lot of people’s feathers, in both the South and the North. It fell out of favor for many congregations to sing beyond the first or second verse. But the message that Jesus loves all people and hates oppression and frees the enslaved is not new. It dates back to the writing of this hymn in the 1800s. It dates back to the life of Jesus 2000 years ago. It dates back to the song his mother Mary sang about God lifting up the lowly and casting down the mighty from their thrones. It dates back to the origins of the universe because God is and always has been Love.


“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). That’s what the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds who were gathered with their flocks in the fields outside of Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus is good news of great joy for all people. He is here to save the world from the great evils we face and the great evils that live within each of us. Like we sang in one of our carols this morning, God is Love. God holds us all in unfailing hands and embraces us all as children. When we are suffering under the iron rod of oppression, Jesus brings us good news. He is here to set us free.


It’s easy to read and sing this verse and imagine ourselves in the right. We see ourselves on the right side of the divide between the enslavers and the enslaved. If we were living in the 1800s, we would stand for freedom, right? We stand for freedom from oppression now, right? I’d like to think so. But we cannot rest on our laurels because we have more freedom than some of our ancestors.


Slavery and apartheid and oppression are still realities in this country and around the world. There are women and children and men, civilians and soldiers who die every day in wars and in acts of violent aggression. We have seen a lot of that death and suffering in the news about Gaza and Israel. But God loves people of every race and nationality, Black and white, Israeli and Palestinian, Jew, Muslim or Christian alike. This Christmas, we must rededicate ourselves to following our Savior who breaks chains and ends oppression, whose birth is good news to all people everywhere. We must continue to learn to love all one another, on Christmas and all year round.


So let us pray and sing “O Holy Night” together…


O holy night! the stars are brightly shining;

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope - the weary soul rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

O night, O holy night, O night divine!


Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;

Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!


Bibliography



The Nicene Creed

[EOW1, p. 53]


All standing as they are able, the People pray:


We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven,

was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

and became truly human.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father,

who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.



The Prayers of the People

Let us pray to God, who came among us in the birth of Jesus:

 

Gracious God, as a star rose, and drew people from great distances to Bethlehem that they might greet the Christ-child; Draw us, your Church, and all of your people to you, that we might be the Church and the People who you call us to be. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As you gave Mary your Holy Spirit, filling her with the delight of your Presence; Fill us with your Spirit, and renew our lives. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As Gentiles streamed to Jesus’ Light, and Kings to the brightness of his rising; Draw our nation, our President, and all in authority, to His brightness. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As angels sang glory to you and proclaimed peace on earth, and goodwill among all peoples; Bring us your peace and bring an end to all terror and strife. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As shepherds were drawn away from their flocks by night; Draw those who do not know you yet to the knowledge and love of you. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As Jesus was born in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn; Be especially present with those who have nowhere to lay their head, those who are vulnerable, and those who are hungry. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As the Holy Family gathered together in Bethlehem and traveled together to far off lands; Bless all families, especially the families of our parish, and protect those who travel. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As your son came to proclaim the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of Life Eternal; Give to the departed eternal rest and let Light perpetual shine on them. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

Let us pray for our own needs and those of others, especially for those on our Parish Prayer List, and those we remember now... Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

The Celebrant prays:

O Lord our God, may the Light and Hope of this season, and of your Son’s Incarnation, reassure our hearts that you are among us, that you hear our prayer, and that you will be with us always, even to the end of the age. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior born in Bethlehem, we pray. Amen.



The Peace

[EOW1, p. 56]


The peace of the Christ be always with you.

And also with you.



Parish Announcements


Christmas Season Worship Schedule:

  • Sunday, December 31, 2023

    • 9:30 AM 1st Sunday After Christmas - Holy Communion

    • 6:00 PM Eve of the Holy Name - Ecumenical New Year’s Eve & Watch Night Vigil (in partnership with Holy Spirit Lutheran, Butler Memorial Presbyterian, and First Congregational Churches; the Rev. J. Jacob Sanders of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church preaching; collection for JUST)

  • Sunday, January 7, 2024

    • 9:30 AM 1st Sunday After the Epiphany - Holy Communion


Angel Tree Donations: Deacon Davis and others organized an “Angel Tree” to collect donations for partner ministries and charitable causes relevant to our community, such as Emmaus House, St. Mary’s Community Center, ALD research, JUST, and more.


Savannah MLK Jr. Day Parade on Jan. 15: The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and St. Matthew's Episcopal Church and Day Care invite you to join us for the annual Savannah Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade on Monday, January 15, 2024 at 10:00 AM. The parade route begins at East Broad Street and Liberty Street and ends in front of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 1401 M. L. King Jr. Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415. We will have a walking group and a trolley-riding group. Marchers and riders may park cars at St. Matthew's beginning at 8:45 AM (enter the parking lot behind the church from Burroughs Street and W Anderson Street) and get dropped off at the parade starting point. The last shuttle will leave at 9:45. After the parade, St. Matthew's will host a brief worship service and a lunch reception. 


Grow and Glow in Grace Gear!: St. Matthew's is producing branded clothes and other merchandise with our new Grow and Glow in Grace mission logo! Order T-shirts for $25, embroidered Polo shirts for $40, Mugs for $15, Pens for $2 each, and more! All proceeds will go to the Building Capital Campaign (for remodeling the kitchen, preserving the stained glass windows, replacing the roof, and more)! Order forms are available in church now.

***Mugs, pens, shirts, polos, and more have arrived!***


T/W/Th Evening Prayer on Zoom/Facebook: On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, St. Matthew's invites you to pray Evening Prayer with us over Zoom at 5:00 PM. If you want to be in the Zoom call, please join by 4:55 PM using the link in the e-Newsletter.



The Offertory

[BCP, p. 376]


Giving to St. Matthew's:

  1. Mail us a check or money order at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 1401 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415; OR

  2. Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s and/or automate future gifts at: https://onrealm.org/StMattSav/-/give/now; OR

  3. Text “stmattsav” to 73256 to make a secure online donation through your phone.

NOTE: Donations made online (#2 or #3) through Realm incur a processing fee of about 2.5%. Please consider adding an additional 2.5% to your online gift to cover these costs.


Through Christ let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge the Holy Name. But do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. [Hebrews 13:15-16]



LEV #24: Rise Up Shepherd and Follow


1 There’s a star in the east on Christmas morn,

Rise up shepherd and follow,

It will lead to the place where the Christ was born,

Rise up shepherd and follow.

 

REFRAIN:

Follow, follow,

Rise up shepherd and follow,

Follow the Star of Bethlehem,

Rise up shepherd and follow.

 

2 If you take good heed to the angel’s words,

Rise up shepherd and follow,

You’ll forget your flocks, you’ll forget your herds,

Rise up shepherd and follow. [Refrain]


[Words: Traditional. Music: Negro Spiritual, arr. Copyright © 2000, GIA Publications, Inc. Printed with permission under ONE LICENSE #211111. All rights reserved.]



Hymn #96: Angels We Have Heard on High

1. Angels we have heard on high,

singing sweetly through the night,

and the mountains in reply

echoing their brave delight.

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

 

2. Shepherds, why this jubilee?

Why these songs of happy cheer?

What great brightness did you see?

What glad tidings did you hear?

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

 

3. Come to Bethlehem and see

him whose birth the angels sing;

come, adore on bended knee

Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

 

4. See him in a manger laid

whom the angels praise above;

Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,

while we raise our hearts in love.

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!


[Words: French carol; tr. James Chadwick; Public Domain. Music: Gloria, French carol; arr. Edward Shippen Barnes; Public Domain. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #150646. All rights reserved.]



Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow (Law)


Praise God, Praise God, Praise God!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Circling through earth so all may grow

Vanquishing fear so all may give

Widening grace so all may live

Amen.


[Words: Eric H. F. Law, Copyright © 2015 Eric H. F. Law. Music: Old 100th, attributed to Louis Bourgeois, Public Domain. Reprinted with permission from Kaleidoscope Institute. All rights reserved.]



Eucharistic Prayer 1

[EOW1, p. 57]


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.


It is truly right, and good and joyful, to give you thanks, all-holy God, source of life and fountain of mercy because you sent your beloved Son to redeem us from sin and death, and to make us heirs in him of everlasting life; that when he shall come again in power and great triumph to judge the world, we may without shame or fear rejoice to behold his appearing. Therefore, joining with Angels and Archangels and with the faithful of every generation, we lift our voices with all creation as we sing:


Hymn S-130:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might

Heaven and earth are full, full of your glory

Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna in the highest!


[Music: Franz Peter Schubert from Deutsche Messe; arr. Richard Proulx, Copyright © 1985, 1989 G.I.A. Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #00210. All rights reserved.]


The people stand or kneel.


Blessed are you, gracious God, creator of the universe and giver of life. You formed us in your own image and called us to dwell in your infinite love. You gave the world into our care that we might be your faithful stewards and show forth your bountiful grace.


But we failed to honor your image in one another and in ourselves; we would not see your goodness in the world around us; and so we violated your creation, abused one another, and rejected your love. Yet you never ceased to care for us, and prepared the way of salvation for all people.


Through Abraham and Sarah, you called us into covenant with you. You delivered us from slavery, sustained us in the wilderness, and raised up prophets to renew your promise of salvation. Then, in the fullness of time, you sent your eternal Word, made mortal flesh in Jesus. Born into the human family, and dwelling among us, he revealed your glory. Giving himself freely to death on the cross, he triumphed over evil, opening the way of freedom and life.


On the night before he died for us, Our Savior Jesus Christ took bread, and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his friends, and said: “Take, eat: This is my Body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”


As supper was ending, Jesus took the cup of wine, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said: “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is poured out for you and for all for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”


Therefore, we proclaim the mystery of faith:


LEV #258:

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.


[Music: Hezekiah Brinson, Jr., Copyright © 1990 Hezekiah Brinson, Jr. All Rights Reserved.]


Remembering his death and resurrection, we now present to you from your creation this bread and this wine. By your Holy Spirit, may they be for us the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. Grant that we who share these gifts may be filled with the Holy Spirit and live as Christ’s Body in the world. Bring us into the everlasting heritage of your daughters and sons, that with Blessed Mary the Mother of God, Blessed Matthew our Patron, and all your saints, past, present, and yet to come, we may praise your Name for ever.


Through Christ and with Christ and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, to you be honor, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. AMEN.



LEV #264: The Lord’s Prayer

[Compare BCP, p. 364]


And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to sing,


Our Father, which 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.


[Music: Albert Hay Malotte; arr. Fred Bock, Copyright © 1934 (renewed) G. Schirmer, Inc. All Rights Reserved.]



The Breaking of the Bread

Silence may be kept.



The Fraction Anthems

[EOW1, p. 69]


We break this bread to share in the Body of Christ.

We who are many are one body, for we all share in the one bread.


Hymn S-164:

Jesus, Lamb of God: have mercy on us

Jesus, Bearer of our Sins: have mercy on us

Jesus, Redeemer, Redeemer of the World:

Give us your peace, give us your peace!


[Words: Traditional. Music: Franz Peter Schubert from Deutsche Messe; arr. Richard Proulx, Copyright © 1985, 1989 G.I.A. Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #00614. All rights reserved.]


Look! Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Gifts of God for the people of God.



The Distribution of Holy Communion


All baptized Christians of any denomination are invited to come forward to participate fully in Communion. Baptized children may receive at the discretion of their parents.


You may receive Communion kneeling or standing. Please extend your hands forward to receive the Body of Christ (bread). If you would like to receive the Blood of Christ (wine), the minister will take the bread from your hand and dip (intinct) it in the wine for you, then place it in your mouth. If you would only like to receive the bread, you may consume it and return to your seat.


If you need gluten-free bread for Communion, please raise your hand when you are at the altar rail.


If you would not like to receive Communion for any reason, please cross your arms over your chest, and the Priest will say a blessing over you.


If you are worshipping online, you may pray to receive spiritual communion using the following prayer:

In union, O Lord, with your faithful people at every altar of your Church, where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated, I desire to offer to you praise and thanksgiving. I remember your death, Lord Christ; I proclaim your resurrection; I await your coming in glory. Since I cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. Cleanse and strengthen me with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let me never be separated from you. May I live in you, and you in me, in this life and in the life to come. Amen.



Hymn #89: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear


1. It came upon the midnight clear,

that glorious song of old,

from angels bending near the earth

to touch their harps of gold:

"Peace on the earth, good will to men,

from heaven's all-gracious King."

The world in solemn stillness lay,

to hear the angels sing.

 

2. Still through the cloven skies they come

with peaceful wings unfurled,

and still their heavenly music floats

o'er all the weary world;

above its sad and lowly plains

they bend on hovering wing,

and ever o'er its Babel-sounds

the blessed angels sing.

 

3. Yet with the woes of sin and strife

the world has suffered long;

beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled

two thousand years of wrong;

and warring humankind hears not

the tidings which they bring;

O hush the noise and cease your strife

and hear the angels sing!

 

4. For lo! the days are hastening on,

by prophets seen of old,

when with the ever-circling years

shall come the time foretold,

when peace shall over all the earth

its ancient splendors fling,

and all the world give back the song

which now the angels sing.


[Words: Edmund H. Sears, alt. Music: Carol, Richard Storrs Willis. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE # FBC-A027366.]



Hymn #109: The First Noel


1. The first Nowell the angel did say

was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;

in fields where they lay, keeping their sheep,

on a cold winter's night that was so deep.

 

Refrain:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,

born is the King of Israel.

 

2. They looked up and saw a star

shining in the east beyond them far,

and to the earth it gave great light,

and so it continued both day and night. [Refrain]

 

3. And by the light of that same star

three wise men came from country far;

to seek for a king was their intent,

and to follow the star wherever it went. [Refrain]

 

4. This star drew nigh to the northwest,

o'er Bethlehem it took its rest,

and there it did both stop and stay

right over the place where Jesus lay. [Refrain]

 

5. Then entered in those wise men three

full reverently upon their knee,

and offered there in his presence

their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense. [Refrain]

 

6. Then let us all with one accord

sing praises to our heavenly Lord;

that hath made Heaven and earth of nought,

and with his blood our life hath bought. [Refrain]


[Words: English carol, 18th cent. Music: The First Nowell, English carol, 17th cent; harm. John Stainer. Desc. Healey Willan. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE # 84522.]



The Post-Communion Prayer

[EOW1, p. 69; Enriching our Worship 2 (2000), pp. 56-57]


Let us pray.


For In-Person Worshippers:

God of abundance, you have fed us with the bread of life and cup of salvation; you have united us with Christ and one another; and you have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth. Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit, that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world and continue forever in the risen life of Christ our Savior. Amen.


For Online Worshippers and Those Receiving Spiritual Communion:

Faithful God, in the wonder of your wisdom and love you fed your people in the wilderness with the bread of angels, and you sent Jesus to be the bread of life. Though we cannot consume now these gifts of bread and wine, we thank you that we have received the sacrament of Christ’s presence, the forgiveness of sins, and all other benefits of Christ’s passion. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we embody your desire and be renewed for your service through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.



The Blessing of the People

[BOS, p. 10]


May Almighty God, by whose providence our Savior Christ came among us in great humility, sanctify you with the light of his blessing and set you free from all sin. Amen.


May he whose second Coming in power and great glory we await, make you steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love. Amen.


May you, who rejoice in the first Advent of our Redeemer, at his second Advent be rewarded with unending life. Amen.


And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen.



LEV #21: Go Tell It On the Mountain


REFRAIN:

Go, tell it on the mountain

over the hills and everywhere;

go, tell it on the mountain,

that Jesus Christ is born.

 

1 While shepherds kept their watching

o’er silent flocks by night,

Behold throughout the heavens

there shown a holy light. [Refrain]

 

2 The shepherds feared and trembled,

when lo! above the earth,

Rang out the angel chorus

that hailed the Savior’s birth. [Refrain]

 

3 Down in a lowly manger

the humble Christ was born,

And God sent us salvation

that blessed Christmas morn. [Refrain]


[Words: Luke 2:8-20; adapt. John W. Work, Jr., used by permission of Mrs. J. W. Work. Music: Negro Spiritual; adapt. and arr. William Farley Smith, Copyright © 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #83111. All rights reserved.]



The Dismissal


Let us go forth in the name of Christ! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia!




Christmas Poinsettia Memorials and Thanksgivings

 

Many thanks to all who donated poinsettias to St. Matthew’s Church this Christmas Season in honor of those listed below and for the greater glory of God!

 

Jeannette Outing                              Richard Outing, Walter Butler, Carrie Butler

Eulalee Dandy                                   Loved Ones

Idella Jones                                        Loved Ones

Evadne Roberts                                Loved Ones

Lee and Margaret Pearson             Marion and James Roberts, Lucius and Margaret Priester, James Roberts Jr., Maude Brown, Emma Rawls.

Frieda McDew-Shorter                    Obey Shorter, Dr. & Mrs. Steven McDew

General and Lazola Cope                Loved Ones

Altheria Maynard                              Alfred and Thelma Maynard, Carmelita Maynard, Carolyn Luten, Parker Family

Willie Mae Tennerson                       Loved Ones

Virgina Farley                                     Dorothy Long, Mattie Frazier, Jackie Campbell, Leroy Campbell, Evelyn Campbell, Denise Campbell.

Clemontine Washington                  Richard Washington and Loved Ones

Sheila Jones                                        Gladys Jones, Tonyo Jones, Lavonne Washington

Jessie Stevenson                                Loved Ones

Georgette Kelley                                Loved Ones

Charles & Joenelle Gordon              Gordon and Brown Families, E Cecile Walker

Charles McMillan                               Mr. & Mrs. Armstrong McMillan Sr, Armstrong McMillan Jr.

Berksteiner Family                             Wyndell Simpson

Fr. Charles & Evalene Hoskins         Loved Ones

Joey Blue                                             Walker & Blue Family

Monica Grey William                         Loved Ones, Harry Gray, and Kenna Gray

Marva Johnson and Family               Warren Loadholt

Children and Family                           Gertrude J. Hicks

Harriet Brinson and Family               LaCretia C. Eady

 



Permissions and Credits: This service is reproduced from Enriching Our Worship 1 (EOW1), The Book of Common Prayer 1979 (BCP), The Hymnal 1982 (Hymn), Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African American Hymnal (LEV), and other sources cited. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible.


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