“Peace on Earth, Good Will to All” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, December 24, 2020

Gathering Music

Prelude  

“Christmas in the Trenches”
by John McCutcheon
performed by Pat Eaton-Robb

Words of Welcome (Gina Campellone)

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words

“In Celebration of the Winter Solstice”
by Stephanie Nobel
spoken by Rev. Josh Pawelek

Do not be afraid of the darkness.
Dark is the rich fertile earth
that cradles the seed, nourishing growth.
Dark is the soft night that cradles us to rest.
Only in darkness
can stars shine across the vastness of space.
Only in darkness
is the moon’s dance so clear.
There is mystery woven in the dark quiet hours.
There is magic in the darkness.

Do not be afraid.
We are born of this magic.
It fills our dreams
that root, unravel and reweave themselves
in the shelter of the deep dark night.
The dark has its own hue,
its own resonance, its own breath.
It fills our soul,
not with despair, but with promise.
Dark is the gestation of our deep and knowing self.
Dark is the cave where we rest and renew our soul.
We are born of the darkness,
and each night we return
to the deep moist womb of our beginnings.

Opening Hymn

“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly”
words: Traditional Welsh
music: Old Welsh Carol
led by Jeannine Westbrook

Deck the hall with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Don we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol, fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before us, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Follow me in merry measure, fa la la la la la, la la la.
While I tell of Yuletide treasure, fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Sing we joyous all together, fa la la la la la, la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather, fa la la la la, la la la la.

Reading

Luke 2:1-14
Spoken by Althea Nelson-Woodward and Becky and Sarah Ayers

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius [pronounced cur-i?-ee-us] was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And an angel of God appeared to them, and the glory of God shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes 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, peace on earth and goodwill to all.”

Silence

Carol

“Of the Greatest Love Begotten”
plainsong chant
words ad. by Rev. Josh Pawelek
led by Rev. Josh Pawelek

Of the greatest love begotten;
When the worlds were yet to be;
It is Alpha and Omega;
Love for all eternally.
Source and ending of all things that have been;
And all things that are to be.
Evermore and evermore.
Oh, yea heights of heaven adore him;
An-gel hosts, his praises sing;
Powers, do-mi-nions bow before him;
And extol the new-born king.
Let no tongue on earth be silent;
Every voice in concert sing;
Evermore and evermore. 
 

This is He whom seers in old time;
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets;
Promised in their faithful word.
Now he shines, the promised savior;
Let the words his praises cry;
Evermore and evermore.

Christmas Pageant (by Vanessa Unti, adapted by Gina Campellone)

Music

“Ave Maria”
by J. S. Bach and Charles Gounod
performed by Janet Desmaris and Mary Bopp

Homily “Towards Promise and Magic” (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Silence 

Carols (led by Jeannine Westbrook)

“In the Bleak Midwinter”
words ad. by John Andrew Storey from Georgina Rosetti
music by Gustav Theodore Holst

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Christ a homeless stranger,
So the gospels say,
Cradle in a manger
And a bed of hay

In the bleak midwinter
Stable-place sufficed,
Mary and her baby,
Jesus Christ.

Once more mother and child
Weave their magic spell,
Touching hearts with wonder
Words can never tell

In the bleak midwinter,
In this world of pain,
Where our hearts are open
Love is born again. 

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”
words by Phillips Brooks
music by Lewis Redner

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth.
Let praises ring: from to God they bring
Good will to all on earth.

How silently, how silently
The wonder is made known,
When God imparts to human hearts
The gift that is our own.
No ear may hear that coming,
But in this world of sin
When souls are truly humble then,
The dear babe rests within. 

Carol

“The First Noel”
words: English carol
music: William Sandys’s Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern

The First Noel, the angels 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
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

 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
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

 And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

“Silent Night, Holy Night”
words by Joseph Mohr
music by Franz Xaver Gruber

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

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Circle

May faith in the spirit of life
And hope for the community of earth
And love of the light in each other
Be ours now, and in all the days to come. 

Closing Music

Pageant Blooper Reel