December 24, 2022




“The Babe of Bethlehem”

Van Denman Thompson





Erik, Kim, Maddie and Penelope Hill


Advent Wreath – CHRISTMAS EVE

December 24 – 5:00pm


Reader 1:         Watch and wait for Christ’s coming!


We light candles of hope, peace, joy, and love, remembering the promises of God with prayer.


Hear these words from the prophet Isaiah:


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.



Reader 2:         For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.


We light this candle in hope.

Light the first purple candle.


We light this candle in peace.

Light the second purple candle.


We light this candle in joy.

Light the pink candle.


We light this candle in love.

Light the third purple candle.


Now our redemption draws near!

Light the Christ candle (white, center).


Glory to God in the highest!  Alleluia! Amen!

INTROIT                    “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”



Let us go, in heart and mind,

to see what has come to pass.

Let us go with the shepherds:
Let us go to find the Savior!
Let us go with the wise ones:
Let us go to find God’s promise, born for us!
Let us go with the poor and humble:
Let us go to find our King, born in a lowly manger.
Let us go with all the world,

with all the peoples of the nations.
Come, let us worship;

come, let us adore him:
Christ the Lord!


*HYMN No. 133

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”                vs. 1-3

1 O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant;
O come ye; O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come, and behold him,
born the King of angels!
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!

2 True God from true God,
Light from light eternal,
born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;
very God, begotten, not created!
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!

3 Sing, choirs of angels;
sing in exultation;
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all
glory in the highest!
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!



We come to adore you, little one.

On bended knee, 

with hopeful heart, 

and eyes stretched wide with wonder and awe.

The gentleness of your gaze 

draws us into the mystery of all that lies beyond, 

and in that place of falling into joy 

we yield all that we are to you.


And we pray.

For those who are broken,

Those who seek,

The trembling and the rumbling tummies,

The haggard spirits and the ragged lives.

For those who cling to the last best thing,

and those whose hearts pine for love.


Bless us, O Lord, whom we adore,

and turn our faces ever toward you.

For peace,

for mercy, 

for the sake of all that is holy.

We come to adore you, O Christ.


*HYMN No. 147

“The First Nowell”                vs. 1 & 2

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.

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)



God of light, you have revealed your very self to us in your son Jesus Christ, your one Word made flesh, who lived among us, full of grace and truth. Open us to your revelation once again, that in the words of your holy scripture we might know your presence and follow in your light always.  Amen.



“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

Michael Praestorius


SCRIPTURE                                       Cameron Mixner

Luke 2:1-7


2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 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. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 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 in the guest room.[a]


SCRIPTURE                                       Megan Brown

Luke 2:8-14


Now in that same 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. 10 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: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[b] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[c] praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”


HYMN No. 113

“Angels We Have Heard on High”

1 Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply
echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

2 Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
which inspire your heavenly song?
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!


SCRIPTURE                                       Eric Campo, Jr.

Luke 2:15-20


15 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.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, 19 and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.






ANTHEM                   “Run Shepherd Run”            Lloyd Larson



Christmas, as we all know, is a time for traditions. Even the most avant-garde among us probably have favorite Christmas recipes, favorite Christmas songs, and maybe even a favorite Christmas sweater. Most of us also have favorite Christmas stories, stories we know so well they become a part of us. There might be a movie you watch year after year, a beloved Christmas classic like It’s a Wonderful Life or even Die Hard. Your family might have an annual reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Most of us also have family stories about Christmas—sometimes sad or moving stories, but sometimes very funny ones, often involving a mishap in the kitchen or the mischief that happened at the children’s table one year. Experiencing and re-telling these same stories year after year helps us to connect to our own history, our own stories.


One of my favorite stories occurred on Friday, November 17, 2023, I parked on Hunter Street and entered the Gloucester County Judicial Center.  The security team asked me to empty my pockets and take off my belt before walking through a metal detector to head to court.  As I walked up the flight of stairs to the second floor, I heard laughter and the rumble of excited conversations – something that I didn’t expect in a courtroom setting.

I had entered a room filled with balloons, signs and lots of wrapped packages.  You see friends, I was with families preparing to complete the adoption process for a child.  As I looked across the room, there were parents, grandparents, soon to be siblings, friends, and social workers – all filled with joy about a child being adopted into a loving family.  I was there for my friends, “Homer and Marge,” who has cared for “Bart” since his birth as a foster family.  “Bart” was surrounded by his soon to be – siblings – all four of them were excited.  They were hugging and kissing him with wild abandon.  The joy in that room was overflowing.

Bart’s family and friends entered the court room and we listened to the final legal steps for his inclusion in this family.   His parents answered official questions from the judge, were asked for the child’s new legal name, received a stuffed animal from the court, and finally took a picture with the entire family.  There was cheering and applause.  A moment of great joy and celebration.  An act of unconditional love with the adoption of a young child.


The feeling of being loved, unconditionally and forever—what else can we ask for, at Christmas or at any time? The poet Christina Rosetti said it with exquisite simplicity and precision:


“Love came down at Christmas.”

Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, Love Divine,

Love was born at Christmas,

Star and Angels gave the sign.


Love was born at Christmas. Love was born in a stable, in a human body, in a person who would grow into the fullness of humanity, who would suffer and grieve and laugh and delight just like all of us. Love became flesh and lived among us.

Perhaps it feels naïve, given the world we live in today, to look back and tell a story about something that happened to me when I was a little girl, or even to look back and tell stories about a child who was born in a stable and who went on to change the course of history. But our faith teaches us that there is nothing naïve about telling stories, just as there is nothing naïve about love. It is only our desire to be safe, not to be deemed ridiculous or out of touch, that causes us to hide behind labels like “naïve” or idealistic.

The love that was born at Christmas can be called many things—foolish, vulnerable, tender, profligate. Perhaps it is all those things. And still, it is true, and necessary, and in its way the most powerful force for life and liberation that the world has ever seen.

During this past year, many of us have found the way of love, the way of Jesus, a difficult road to follow. Sometimes it has felt like we’ve been stumbling around in the dark instead of walking a straight and narrow path.

But if we look at the story of that first Christmas, the Christmas when love was born, we’ll see that very often the dark is where good things happen. It was probably pretty dark in that stable. It was dark when the angels appeared to those shepherds out on the hillside. It was dark outside when I walked into that softly glowing church and met Jesus for the first time. It is after dark that we tell the best stories, sing the loveliest songs, and whisper the sweetest words of love.

Someday, everything we have been through this year will be just a story, a story of loss and longing and grief, but also a story of courage and self-sacrifice, a story of faithful witness, of community growth, of creativity and innovation. We will all be part of that story, of one another’s stories.  And when we come out on the other side of all this, we will still be able to tell the stories of our faith, and to see with greater clarity how our stories are part of that one great story—the story of God’s longing to be with us, to be one with us, to pitch his tent and dwell among us, sharing in all that it means to be human. Amen.

HYMN No. 115

“Away in a Manger”

1 Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

2 The cattle are lowing; the poor baby wakes,
but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,
and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

3 Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.



The Love of God is born new in the world as often as we embody that love in the works of compassion, peace and justice. Let us offer our gifts in a spirit of generosity and hope.


ANTHEM                   “Christmas Lullaby”             John Rutter


“The First Nowell”                v. 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.


Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
born is the King of Israel.



Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, the savior of the world.
We dedicate these earthly things to your use,
that they and all the world might shine with your light.
We celebrate the gift of life abundant,
in your holy name. Amen.



As the light is passed from person to person down the pews,

Please tilt the unlit candle to accept the light from the upright-lit candle.


Isaiah 9:2-7

[a]The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.

For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders,
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


*HYMN No. 122                     “Silent Night”

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 the dawn of redeeming grace Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth


Silent night, holy night! Wondrous star, lend they light; With the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.


Hum Final Verse of “Silent Night”






The child is born! Alleluia!

Our God has come among us!

Let the whole earth rejoice!

Let us leave the manger and return to our daily routines,

knowing that we have seen the Lord,

and glorifying and praising God

for all that we have heard and seen.


Alleluia! Our God is now here!

Go forth, with full confidence and joy

that you have seen the Messiah.


Alleluia! Our God is now here!

Go forth to spread the Good News wherever you go,

sharing God’s love and promise with all whom you meet.

Go into the world to find the lost,

heal the broken,

feed the hungry,

release the prisoner,

rebuild the nations,

bring peace among people,

and make music in every heart.


Alleluia! Our God is now here!

In the name of our God,

Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit,

we cry out with the angels in the heavens

and the shepherds in the fields:

Alleluia! Our God is now here! Amen.



“Joy to the World!”

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


Joy to the world! the Savior reigns!

Let all their songs employ, While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sound joy


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


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 and wonders of His love






The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury

67 South Broad Street

Woodbury, NJ 08096