Other information :
There are some notes on our production of the service.
A rough plan of the church is available.
A note on copyright.
We welcome you here in the name of Jesus : may the story of His birth bring new meaning into each of our lives.
We also welcome some of the people from "Joy Ministries" who worship here on the first Sunday of each month.
There will be no collection taken during this service. There is a donation box at the back of the church if you should desire to leave an offering.
Some "housekeeping" information :
Please stand for the Carol.
|Narrator||Today as we tell the Christmas story we shall be including symbols which may be used as Christmas Tree decorations.|
|Caller||( Pointing to tree symbol. ) Did you know that our Christmas Tree is a symbol of HOPE ? Wow !|
|Switch on Christmas tree symbol.|
|Narrator||The German custom of decorating Christmas trees was introduced to England by Prince Albert - Queen Victoria's husband - in the 19th Century.
The fir tree is a symbol of HOPE in the European winters, where many of the trees in the woods are leafless and dead-looking. The fir trees, however, show up very clearly in the woods with their green branches, as do the holly bushes with their green leaves and red berries. Both these trees affirm the HOPE that spring will come and the trees will be leafy again.
In the Old Testament section of the Bible there are many references to the promised Messiah, the hoped-for One who would come to save Israel and establish God's rule on earth. The Jewish people were mostly expecting a conquering hero who would come and establish His reign on earth.
But, instead, Jesus came to establish God's kingdom on earth, not as an earthly ruler but as a heavenly ruler. This Ruler's subjects would live on earth but their allegiance would be to their heavenly King, Jesus; they would live their lives in and for Jesus here on earth, and, after death, continue to live with Him in heaven.
Isaiah Chapter 9 verses 6 - 7 tells us a little about Jesus, the promised Messiah :
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Today we tell you the story of this Child's birth.
Please remain sitting for the Carols that are part of the Christmas story - but DO join in singing them ! !
|All sing :||
|( During this carol Mary comes down the centre aisle and sits on a chair in front of the altar. )|
|Narrator||Luke Chapter 1 verses 26 - 38 :
God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee named Nazareth. He had a message for a young woman promised in marriage to a man named Joseph. Her name was Mary.
|( Angel Gabriel comes and stands before Mary. )|
|Peace be with you ! The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you !|
|( Mary looks troubled and puzzled. )|
|Don't be afraid, Mary : God has decided to bless you wonderfully !
You will become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of God.
The Lord God will make Him a king, as His ancestor David was, and He will be the king of the descendants of Jacob for ever; His kingdom will never end !
|Mary||How can this be, for I am still a virgin ?|
|Angel||The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and God's power will rest upon you.
For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God.
For there is nothing that God cannot do.
|Mary||I am the Lord's servant : may all that you have said come true.|
|( Angel leaves, and hides behind altar. )|
|Narrator||Shortly after this, Mary went to see her cousin Elizabeth and told her about the Angel's visit. Mary was so excited about what God was doing that she sang this song :|
|Narrator||Lord, help us to live a life of HOPE that comes from believing in Jesus.|
|All||Help us, Lord, to believe in You.|
( Mary comes to back down hospital side aisle. )
|Caller||( Pointing to angel symbol. ) Did you know that the angel is there to bring peace ? Wow !|
|( Switch on Angel symbol. )|
|Narrator||The angel decoration on our Christmas trees reminds us that the angels appeared to the shepherds to proclaim the Good News of Jesus birth and to acknowledge Him as Prince of PEACE.|
|All sing :||
|Narrator||Luke Chapter 2 verses 1 - 7 :
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
|Mary and Joseph go up centre aisle, the inn-keeper prepares to answer "the door" and show them the stables.|
|Narrator||Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration.
And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judaea, which was King David's ancient home.
Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant, also went with him.
Joseph could not find anywhere for them to stay, as all the inns were full. Eventually an innkeeper offered them his stable.
|( Inn-keeper meets Mary and Joseph in front of the altar on the overhead projector side and leads them to the stable, where they sit down behind the manger which is on the Hospital side next to the altar. )|
|That night the Baby was born and Mary wrapped Him in strips of cloth and laid Him in the manger.|
|( Mother passes the Baby to Mary, who shows "Him" to the congregation and lays Him in the manger. )|
|All sing :||
|( Shepherds come to front, angels ready at side aisle and Angel Gabriel behind altar, ready to appear. )|
|Narrator||Luke Chapter 2 verses 8 - 14 :
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village guarding their flocks of sheep.
Suddenly an angel appeared among them -
|( Angel Gabriel appears from behind altar.|
|Narrator|| - and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord.
The shepherds were badly frightened.( Shepherds look frightened. )
|Angel Gabriel||Don't be afraid ! I bring you the most joyful news ever announced - and it is for everyone !
The Saviour - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born tonight in Bethlehem !
How will you recognise Him ?
You will find a baby wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger.
|Narrator||Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God.|
|( Angels surround the shepherds. )|
|Angels||Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth for all who please Him !|
|All sing :||
|( At end of carol Angels "fly" down centre aisle to the back. )|
|Narrator||Lord, we ask You to fill us with Your PEACE.|
|All||Fill us with your PEACE, Lord God.
|Caller||( Pointing to lamb symbol. ) Did you know that Jesus "The Lamb" died to show us His love ? Wow !|
|Switch on Lamb symbol.|
|Narrator||The Lamb is a symbol to remind us that the shepherds were the first to hear the message about Jesus and also because one of the names for Jesus is "Lamb of God".
The Jewish ritual included much animal sacrifice.
Christians believe that these animal sacrifices are no longer needed because Jesus's death on the Cross is the supreme sacrifice and He has opened the way for a new and more intimate relationship with God, a relationship that is based on hope, peace and LOVE.
|All sing :||
|Narrator||Luke Chapter 2 verses 15 - 20 :
When the great army of angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other -
|Shepherd 1||( rubbing his eyes ) Did you see those angels ?|
|Shepherd 2||Yes, wasn't it amazing ! ( Other shepherds nod their heads. ) What should we do ?|
|Shepherd 3||( standing up ) I'm going to Bethlehem to search for this baby. Anyone else coming ?|
|All shepherds||You bet I'm coming !|
|( Other shepherds stand up too, and all shepherds go to the stable; One takes a lamb to give to Jesus. )|
|Narrator||They ran to Bethlehem and found their way to the stable and told Mary and Joseph all about the angels' visit,|
|( Shepherds pretend to talk to Mary and Joseph, give them the lamb. )|
|then they knelt to worship Him,|
|( Shepherds kneel at the manger. )|
|and ran out into Bethlehem telling everyone of their exciting night.|
|( Shepherds go down centre aisle miming to everyone what has happened. )|
|Narrator||Lord, help us to remember Your LOVING SACRIFICE that is symbolised by the LAMB, and teach us to LOVE You more.|
|All||Teach us, Lord, to LOVE You more.
|Caller||( Points to star symbol. )
Did you know that the star is there to guide the wise ? Wow !
|Switch on Star symbol.|
|Narrator||The star which we see on the Christmas tree reminds us of the star of Bethlehem that guided the wise men to find Jesus, so that they could worship Him and offer Him their gifts. God still desires to GUIDE His people and show them how to use their gifts for Him.|
|All sing :||
|Joseph moves manger behind altar, Mary holds the Baby.|
Three wise men come down the centre aisle carrying their gifts in bags.
Herod comes from the organ side and sits on chair in front of altar.
|Narrator||Matthew Chapter 2 verses 1 - 12 :
At about that time some astrologers arrived in Jerusalem and enquired at Herod's Palace :
|Wise man 1||( to Herod ) Where is the new-born King of the Jews ?|
|Wise man 2||( to Herod ) We have seen His star in far-off eastern lands.|
|Wise man 3||( to Herod ) We have come to worship Him.|
|Narrator||Herod called a meeting with the Jewish leader asking :|
|Jewish Leader comes from organ side to stand near Herod.|
|Herod||Did the prophets tell us where the Messiah would be born ?|
|Jewish Leader||Yes, in Bethlehem, for this is what the prophet Micah wrote -
"O little town of Bethlehem, you are not just an unimportant Judaean village, for a governor shall rise from you to rule My people Israel."
|Narrator||After this interview the Wise Men started out again. And look ! The star appeared to them again, standing over Bethlehem. Their joy knew no bounds !|
|Wise men move from Herod towards organ, then in front of rail and across to the manger, Herod returns to organ, Jewish Leader returns to organ side.|
|Entering the house where the Baby and Mary His mother were, they threw themselves down before Him, worshipping.|
|Wise men kneel at the manger.|
|Then they opened their presents and gave Him gold, frankincense and myrrh.|
|Wise men unpack their gifts, display them to the congregation and then give them to Mary.|
|Then warned by a dream, they returned to their country another way.|
Wise men return to back down Hospital side aisle.
|Narrator||Lord, we thank You for all the GUIDANCE You give to us, help us to follow that GUIDANCE and to use our gifts in Your service.|
|All||Help us, Lord, to be GUIDED by You.|
Mary and Baby return to back, Soloist prepares to lead next carol, organist plays chorus of "The stars danced".
|Narrator||Please stand as ( soloist's name ) leads us in this Carol :|
The candystick : a symbol of JESUS
|Caller||( Pointing to candy stick ) Did you know that the candystick helps to illustrate the life of Jesus ? Wow !|
|Switch on Candy stick symbol.|
|Narrator||The candystick which we see on Christmas trees reminds us of J for Jesus and of the shepherd's crook.
Listen to a story about the candystick.
A Candymaker's Witness.
A Candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candystick. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolise the Virgin birth and the sinless nature of Jesus; hard to symbolise the solid rock, the foundation of the Church and the firmness of the promises of God.
The Candymaker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Saviour. It could also represent the staff of the Good Shepherd with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
Unfortunately, the candy became known as the candystick - a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But the meaning is still there for those who "have eyes to see and ears to hear".
I pray that this symbol will again be used to witness to the wonder of Jesus and His great love that came down at Christmas and remains the ultimate and dominant force in the universe today.
|Narrator||Thank you, Lord, for the gift of JESUS. Help us to KNOW Him better.|
|All||Help us, Lord, to KNOW JESUS better.|
|Narrator||Please stand for the Carol "Te Harinui" :|
|Caller||( Pointing to large Christmas tree ) Did you know the lights on the tree are there to shine for Jesus ? Wow !|
|Switch on Christmas Tree lights.|
|Narrator||Jesus came to be "The Light of the World", so we decorate our trees with lights to remind us that Jesus is "The Light of the World" and that He invites us to be lights for Him in our community.|
|Storyteller||Story : The candle.|
|Narrator||Help us, Lord, to be YOUR LIGHT wherever we go.|
|All||May we be YOUR LIGHTS in this world.|
|Narrator||Please sit or kneel for the prayers, which we shall conclude by singing the last verse of "In the bleak mid-winter".
Thank you, Lord God, for the wonderful HOPE that we have in You.
Help to increase our faith so that we may KNOW You more intimately.
Fill us, Lord God, with Your PEACE and Your Love so that we may reach out in LOVE to our families, our friends and to the wider community in which we live.
Together we prayerfully sing :
|Narrator||Please stand for the Carol :|
Grace for the barbecue.
( Several of the groups - for example, angels, shepherds, etc. - can be adjusted in size according to the number of people available. Use your discretion ! )