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12/24/23 Bulletin - Christmas Eve


We respect tradition — and we welcome inclusive language about people and expansive language about God. Please pray using words most meaningful to you.

Open and Affirming of ALL God’s Children


December 24, 2023 – 4:00 Christmas Eve Service

This service will be in-person and on Zoom (Recorded for Facebook and YouTube)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 822 2425 2518

Passcode: 755650


The first pew in front of the pulpit has books and quiet activities for people of all ages.

Please find something that suits you, take it to your pew, and return it after the service.


Silent Prayer

God of hope, peace, joy, and love; God of Christmas morning, of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the magi, the mighty and the lowly: we thank you and praise you, and magnify all that you have done and will yet do. Embolden us to take our place among the great cloud of magnificent witnesses, to sing with Mary a beautiful song, a Magnificat for our own day.

Thank you for Jesus, our Good Shepherd, our cause for joy, our Prince of Peace,

our hope against hope. Welcome, Jesus, Welcome!  Amen


* Indicates points in the service when we stand in body or spirit




Prelude       O, Come, Emmanuel and The Three King                                               Wilbur Held 




*Introit       Joy to the World! the Lord is Come (vs. 1)                                  Red Hymnal #134

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.


*Call to Worship & Advent Candle Lighting

Leader: Because injustice and despair threaten to overwhelm us, we pray for hope… (Light the first candle.)

All: Because so many swords have not yet been remade into plowshares, we pray for peace… (Light the second candle.)

Leader: Because grief and loss weigh so heavily, we pray for joy...(Light the third candle.)

Leader:  Because hatred is still so strong, and because people all over the world are suffering, we pray for love. (Light the fourth candle.)

All: God has come to us as a child, to dwell with us, and to walk with us.(Light the Christ Candle.)

Leader:  May the light from these candles overwhelm the world.

All: May the light and the fire from these candles burn away whatever would prevent the God of hope and peace and joy and love from being born among us.

Leader:  Friends, be not afraid, even now — even now — the light of Christ is illuminating the world, on earth as it is in heaven!


*Passing of the Peace (ASL)    “The Work of Christmas”                           Howard Thurman


*Invocation (in unison)

Loving God, by the gift of your Spirit, teach us, like Mary, to treasure your wordsand ponder them in our hearts; through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh. Amen


Special Music                 Silent Night                                                                         Wilbur Held


Lessons & Carols      

O Come, All Ye Faithful (vs. 1&2)                                                               Red Hymnal #132

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!


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!


Narrator: This night is like no other night. It is a time to dream and sing our way to Bethlehem. The little town that we seek is in the hill country some ten miles south of Jerusalem. For thousands of years the houses have huddled there on the hilltop like a family baking bread. Bethlehem means, “house of bread.” (Bring sheep and cow to Bethlehem) All is still and quiet.


O Little Town of Bethlehem (vs. 1&2)                                                         Red Hymnal #151

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!And praises sing to God the King, and peace to us on earth.


Narrator: As night gathers, the last two travelers come slowly up the road with their donkey. Look, there is a young woman about to be a mother. She is walking with her husband. They are Joseph and Mary from Nazareth. They have walked for six days to come to this place where David the King was born so long ago. They have come, like so many others, because the Roman emperor wants to count each one, so that he can take their money in tax.

(Bring Mary, Joseph, and the donkey to Bethlehem and hold them.) But it is late, and Mary is weary. Where will they sleep? There is no room in the inn. They decide to sleep with the animals. (Place the figures with the sheep and cow.)


Away in a Manger (vs. 1&3)                                                                       Red Hymnal #150

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


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.


Narrator: Stars brighten slowly in the sky. All creation holds its breath. (Bring the baby to Bethlehem and place him with the others.)Suddenly from the stable comes the cry of a newborn child. Mary gently wraps the baby in a blanket and lays him in the feed box filled with straw. (Have a moment of silence.)


Angels, We Have Heard on High (vs. 1&3)                                                 Red Hymnal #135

Angels we have heard on high sweetly singing o'er the plains, and the mountains in reply echo back their joyous strains:


Refrain: Glo- - - - - - ria in excelsis Deo! Glo- - - - - - - ria, in excelsis Deo!


Come to Bethlehem and see Christ whose birth the angels sing; come, adore on bended knee Christ, the Lord, the new-born King.




Narrator: In the hills outside Bethlehem, shepherds watch their shadowy sheep. All at once the dark is lost in light, and in the midst of the light is something even brighter, the faces of angels. The fearful shepherds then hear singing in the sky, and a voice says, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by all people. Today in the City of David a savior is born. He is Christ the Lord.” Then more angels appear, a whole heavenly host of them, praising God and singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all people everywhere.” (The shepherds come to Bethlehem.)



Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (vs. 1&3)                                                    Red Hymnal #137

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!" Joyful all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies;

with the angelic hosts proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King"


Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise all souls on earth, born to give us second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King"


Narrator: The shepherds run with joy across the fields to the barn behind the inn. There they find the Holy Family and creep forward, overwhelmed with mystery, to find Nativity itself in the center of all that love. Three camels plod up the road to Bethlehem. They have come from the East, far beyond the Arabian desert, perhaps as far as the Caspian Sea. The camels carry the kings, the wise ones, the Magi. They are following the wild star, the destiny they had never seen before. They are following it wherever it goes, to find the King its shining shows them. (The star leads the Magi to Bethlehem. Place the figures with the others.)


It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (vs. 1&5)                                                Red Hymnal #149

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 all, from heaven great news we bring.” The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.


For lo, the days are hastening on, by prophet bards foretold, when with the ever-circling years comes round the age of gold,

when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.


Narrator: The Magi’s journey ends in a new kind of King. Their restlessness rests at last. They fall on their knees and give him bright gold, sweet smelling frankincense, and bitter myrrh, brought so far with so much love. (Enjoy the scene.)


We Three Kings of Orient Are (vs. 1&5)                                                      Red Hymnal #162

We three kings of orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar. field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.


Glorious now behold him arise, King and God and Sacrifice; Al-le-lu-ia! Al-le-lu-ia! Sound through the earth and skies.

O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.


Narrator: So now we come, following the star to find God-with-us. We come as people have come all through the ages, to bring our gifts to this Child, God’s gift to us.


What Child Is This? (vs. 1&3)                                                                     Red Hymnal #153

What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?


This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste to bring him praise, the babe, the son of Mary.


Why lies the child in manger bare where ox and ass are feeding? Give heed, draw near, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.




So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come rich and poor, to own him; the King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him.




Christmas Reflection and Prayer                                                                       Rev. TJ Mack


Invitation to Offering – For the sake of those in need, for the care of the church in proclaiming Christ’s birth, and for all that God calls us to do, let us gather our tithes and offerings.                   


Offertory              A Child Is Born                                      14th Century melody/ Robert Powell 


*The Doxology

     Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise God, all creatures here below;

     Praise God for all that love has done; Creator, Christ, and Spirit, One. Amen


*Prayer of Dedication (spoken in unison)                                                              

We give you thanks, Holy One,  for the world of wonder you have made—forest and field,sea and sky, and for the gift of grace that you have given—a little child, lying in a manger.Receive these gifts of tenderness and love, of gratitude and praise, and use them for your glory; in the name of Jesus Christ, the child of Bethlehem. Amen


*Hymn       Silent Night, Holy Night                                                            Red Hymnal #142

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.




*Sung Christmas Blessing (sung to Eventide)

Go with us, Lord, throughout this Christmas tide: be our protector, brother, friend, and guide.

Give us your peace and keep us in your care: help us your love and grace with all to share.


Postlude               The Shepherds                                                                               Wilbur Held  


(Please remain seated for the Postlude)


If you are visiting with us today, please sign our Guest Book in the back of the sanctuary. 


Support our Church Financially

Please visit Hancock (Maine) UCC on Facebook or our new webpage

or visit this link to our PayPal account:  

or mail offerings to:

Union Congregational Church, PO Box 443, Hancock, ME 04640 (Attention: Treasurer)


Contact Us

                    207.422.3100                                                                          207.323.6743

Resources, adapted

Silent Prayer – Magnify: Mary’s Song and the Magnificent Women of Advent

Sung Christmas Blessing by Jan Chamberlain in Gifts in Open Hands – Tirabassi & Eddy

Lessons and Carols adapted from Godly Play Christmas Eve Liturgy

enfleshed: liturgies that matter and Feasting on the Word: Worship Companion

and Gifts in Open Hands: More Worship Resources for the Global Community

Many thanks to those who make this service possible –

in front of the camera and behind the scenes.


Music Minister – Debbie Riley

Deacons –Mary Angela & Nick Davis

Liturgists – Vicky Espling & Tamara Crowley

Audio-Video Support – Patrice Alexander

Office Secretary – Vicky Espling

Settled Minister – Rev. TJ Mack

The Body of Christ – You


"Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE,                   

License #A-738532. All rights reserved.

Joy To The World

Words and Music - ©1674 Willow Publishing Pty Ltd

Contributors: Isaac Watts, George Handel


O Come, All Ye Faithful

Words and Music - ©1711 Willow Publishing Pty Ltd

Contributors: John Wade, Frederick Oakeley, Unknown Traditional


O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Words and Music - ©2019 Stephen DeCesare / Exultet Music

Contributors: Phillip Brooks, Stephen DeCesare


Away in a Manger

Words and Music - ©2012 Public Domain. Contributors: Public Domain


Angels We Have Heard On High

Words and Music - ©1997 Hal Leonard Corporation (select catalogs)

Contributors: Traditional French carol, James Chadwick, Traditional French carol


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Words and Music - ©2020 Stephen DeCesare / Exultet Music

Contributors: Charles Wesley, Felix Mendelssohn, Stephen DeCesare


It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

Words and Music - ©2020 Stephen DeCesare / Exultet Music

Contributors: Edmund Sears, Richard Willis, Stephen DeCesare


We Three Kings

Words and Music - © OCP Publications. Contributors: KINGS OF ORIENT


Silent Night

Words and Music - ©2018 Hal Leonard Corporation (select catalogs)

Contributors: Joseph Mohr, John F. Young, Franz X. Gruber


2023 Christmas Poinsettias Presented by:


Meredith Akerstein in loving memory of all Loved Ones


 Gary & Jeanne Edwards in loving memory of their

daughter Jennifer; Jeanne’s sister Lynne Josselyn; and

Gary’s parents, Pat and Buzz


Lincoln & Debbie Ehrlenbach in loving memory of

Howard and Katherine Ehrlenbach


Lincoln & Debbie Ehrlenbach in loving memory of Roger and Sylvia Gatcomb


Everett & Vicky Espling in loving memory of Loved Ones


Catherine Genn in loving memory of David Wood


Gertrude Haskins in loving memory of all Loved Ones


Bill O’Meara in loving memory of Jean O’Meara


Jenifer Remick in loving memory of Pedro


David Wildes & Cynthia Wood in loving memory of Loved Ones


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