Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service -

Going on 6 years at the hospital where I serve, is our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Last year, and tonight, I'm in charge, with the assistance of 2 lovely families and mine - who see tonight as an opportunity to serve those who can't leave the hospital to be with family - employees and patients and their guests. There are 2 services this evening, to accommodate schedules.

Typically I write a Christmas Eve sermon and prayer. Today I was blessed with a visit from a friend, whose Christmas gift to me was a loan of her book, Ceremonials of Common Days, by Abbie Graham, published in 1923.

Thankfully - tonight's sermon will come from this book and by poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson and Mabel Jones Gabbott.

For your enjoyment:


Christmas Prayer
by Robert Louis Stevenson

"Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake, Amen!"

When Love Came Down
Mabel Jones Gabbott

1. The night was still, and then a song awakened shepherds ’round their fire,
And hastened them to Bethlehem! Hosannas from a heav’n-ly choir!
[Chorus:]
This was the night when Love came down, as promised in God’s holy word.
The angels heralded in song the blessed birth of Christ, our Lord.
2. This was the night the King was born, as stars foretold in distant space;
And three who watched the skies were led to Bethlehem, that holy place.
[Chorus:]
This was the night when Love came down, as promised in God’s holy word.
The angels heralded in song the blessed birth of Christ, our Lord.

3. This was the night, that holy night, when Love came down to bless the earth,
And men and angels worshipped Him this night, the night of Jesus’ birth.

[Chorus:]
This was the night when Love came down, as promised in God’s holy word.
The angels heralded in song the blessed birth of Christ, our Lord.



On Christmas Eve love is clothed with visible vestments, with gifts and written words, with wreaths and flowers and candles. The love that through the years is silenced by busy-ness is expressed in terms of tangible beauty. Christmas Eve is for the gifts that are given to explain something the heart cannot say.

As we watch the Christmas candles burn, we see in them a symbol of the Great Love which dipped a lustrous spirit into human form that the world in its darkness might be illumined and made beautiful.

And if tonight, Father of Light, there are people standing out there in darkness, may we be to them the shining symbol of your light, a winged flame that shall rekindle in their hearts the light of joy and hope and love.

We pray for those who are walking through the intricate patterns of life. Wilt thou watch over our safety throughout the night.

We would not forget that there may be tired, hungry, hurting, lonely, hard-working ones amongst us tonight. Some face great sorrow; others face joy. Use our hearts to illuminate the birth of thy Son, and to reveal the reality of His presence. May we understand each other’s suffering, and each other’s joy.

Wilt Thou, in thy love remember the loneliness of our own hearts. How didst Thou trust us to give us the loveliness of human presences? Our hearts are gladdened by thy trust.
And before we usher in the calm of the darkness, we thank Thee for the stars, for the light that calms our fears, accompanies us when we are alone, guides us to Thee.

Lead us into light – where we can be joyously aware of life, of beauty, and of the spiritual presence of those whom we love.


Amen



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