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Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Sunday, December 24 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Details

Date:
Sunday, December 24
Time:
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:
, ,

Venue

East Shore Unitarian Church
12700 SE 32nd Street
Bellevue, WA 98005 United States
+ Google Map
Phone
425-747-3780
View Venue Website

Join us for a lovely candlelight service with carols and readings that convey the spirit of Christmas. The choir will lead us in carols while Rev. María Cristina shares readings. Will end with the traditional candle lighting.

How to Attend

Tonight’s Bulletin

We encourage masks in all buildings. Read more about our In Person Guidelines here.

• To virtually attend, please Zoom in using  room number 989 3107 9078, Passcode: chalice.
• To phone into the service, call 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 989 3107 9078.

For those joining, please mute as soon as you enter the room, so everyone can hear. Please note, the services will be recorded, but at this time, there are no plans to share the recording.

More Information

If you don’t have a chalice, but want to light one, check out our Making a Chalice at Home page.

Sermon Audio

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

by Rev. María Cristina & guests

Sermon Text

[Script adapted from Rev. Theresa Soto and Rev. Sean Parker Dennison]

For so the children come
And so they have been coming.
No angels herald their beginnings
No prophets predict their future courses
No wise men see a star to show
where to find the babe that will save humankind
Yet each night a child is born is a holy night.
A time for singing,
A time for wondering,
A time for worshipping.

We gather tonight to remember the story of Christmas.  We gather to remember the birth of one small child and to remember what that child came to mean to so many: that love came to dwell with us and that we are not abandoned, nor need we abandon hope for the world.  

Tonight, as we hear the story again, let us lay aside our cynicism, our pain, even our despair, and find our way again to its deepest mystery: We are not alone, for love is born again tonight, here, among us as we gather.  

MARY’S STORY

So much is happening! I’m excited, but also worried. I promised to marry Joseph. He’s such a good person. See, the thing is, I’m going to have a baby, a baby born by the power of God. I haven’t broken my promise to be faithful to Joseph and he is also being faithful to me. I know this whole story seems impossible and I know he is trying so hard to do right by me. I wish he would believe. I know he has had dreams that have helped, but he still struggles to believe. I want him to understand and to rejoice with me!

This is such good news!
I’m bursting, crying out with joyful shouts of God’s news;
I’m dancing the song of God, my Emancipator.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
  I’m the most fortunate parent on earth!
Could the world be about to turn? Yes! 
This is a great blessing for all the people!
What God is doing for me will never be forgotten.
…Mercy flows in wave after wave
to those who respond to God’s invitation.
This is God’s promise of power and peace!
Could the world be about to turn? Yes!
This is God’s kindness and love!
God knocks tyrants off their high horses,
pulls victims out of the mud and robes them with dignity.
Could the world be about to turn? Yes! Yes!

Rev. María Cristina

Mary did you know,
that your ancient words
would still leap off our pages?
Mary did you know,
that your spirit song
would echo through the ages?
Did you know that your holy cry
would be subversive word,
that the tyrants would be trembling
when they know your truth is heard?
Mary did you know,
that your lullaby
would stir your own Child’s passion?
Mary did you know,
that your song inspires
the work of liberation?
Did you know that your Jubilee
is hope within the heart
of all who dream of justice,
who yearn for it to start?
The truth will teach, the drum will sound, healing for the pain
The poor will rise, the rich will fall. Hope will live again
Mary did you know,
that we hear your voice
for the healing of the nations?
Mary did you know,
your unsettling cry
can help renew creation?
Do you know, that we need your faith,
the confidence of you,
May the God that you believe in,
be so true.

Lyrics by Jennifer Henry (inspired by the popular song of the same name)

THE ANGEL

[thinking out loud] I am so excited that I got chosen for this night, to bring such good news to Earth. Of course, I have to start by saying the same old thing, “Do not be afraid. Always with the “be not afraid.” Why are humans so afraid of change? Some change is good, right? Here we go again.

[Announcing] Do not be afraid! I am bringing you good news that will bring great joy to all the people of the world!

The people reply: Good news!

Today, in Bethlehem, King David’s hometown, a Liberator for you is born, one who will lead you to freedom.

The people reply: Good news!

This how you will know: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, with a feeding trough for a cradle. This is the one! This is the good news!

The people reply: Good news!

THE SHEPHERD’S STORY -Amanda Alice        

A lot of people have no love for shepherds. They think of it as a poor person’s job and think of sheep as dumb animals that makes you smell like dirt and wool and sweat. It’s not quite like that. Sheep actually flock together for community-based survival. Sheep find strength in numbers. But now, during lambing season, many births happen at night, some twins, occasional triplets, so I stay near. I look out for the flock and support individual sheep, when they are giving birth, or sick.

Tonight, though. Tonight I had a big scare. 

I know this might sound strange, but it’s true. I promise. I was looking out for the flock and all the sudden, an angel, shining bright, came near us. I could barely breathe. The beauty and strength of God surrounded us, like a blazing light. Maybe God was about to judge us, I thought. We were terrified.

It is really hard to pay attention when you’re scared. But the angel spoke to us. In a beautiful voice, like a river, and thunder, and the flutter of bird wings, the angel said: Don’t be afraid. There’s good news.

Good news? I could use that! The angel said that in Bethlehem, a Liberator is born. I am confused and curious about how a baby can be a liberator, but if that fierce and fiery angel was sent by God to tell us, then I believe it. I really want to find out more. My brothers have agreed to come take my place, while I seek out this good news. I’ll be looking for a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, resting in a feeding trough. 

I know [shrugs]. How hard will that be to find? I don’t know, but now I am more excited than scared, more motivated than stuck. I will go. I will find the good news baby.

THE INNKEEPER’S STORY (adapted from Rev. John Cullinan)

When my wife, Miriam, died everything changed. I was by her side as her heart beat its last and at that moment my own heart closed off to the rest of the world. I admit only two things brought me anything like happiness after that. The first was when the inn was full, and I could watch the disappointment on the faces of tired travelers as I turned them away. “We’re full! Go away!”

My other tiny happiness was much more private. I am a stargazer. Each night I stand on the roof of the inn, looking at the stars. If anyone asked why I stare up at the night sky, they would be hard pressed to believe the answer. But whether you believe it or not, my answer is the same. I look for Miriam.

It was the same for a long time: turn people away and stare at the stars.  Then came the month that the coffers of the empire were running low, and the Emperor and his money-counters devised a new source of revenue. And so, everyone was required to return to the city of their ancestors to be counted and taxed. 

The day in question—the day when the story began—was a good one. I’d managed to tell twenty-five people to get lost in a few short hours. To top it off, it was a spectacularly dark night, perfect for stargazing. I stood on the roof staring up at a nearly pitch-black sky. An hour passed—maybe more—before my attention was drawn away from the firmament and down to the street. 

There in the alley was a man, slightly stooped with fatigue, pulling a donkey that was barely getting by on its four legs; with a woman, sitting on the poor beast’s back. I watched them move down the street. Every inn had been full for a week. This pair was going to meet with disappointment, no matter where they went. 

I admit I watched and listened. “Please, sir,” the man would plead. “My wife and I have come so far. We need someplace to rest.”

“No room!”

I moved to the other side of the roof to get a better look. Maybe it was the low light or my own buried longing, but for a moment I thought I recognized the look in the woman’s eyes. I’d seen it on the face of my dear Miriam. 

I watched as the couple moved on to the next inn. And as they walked away rejected again, I could make out a tell-tale roundness in the woman’s belly. I gasped as I remembered Miriam, pregnant with our first son. How proud I’d been! And now, here was this couple, on the streets of the city with nowhere safe and warm. The travelers knocked at the door of another inn. “Have pity,” said the traveler. “My wife, Miriam, is about to give birth to our child. We’ve traveled so far. Some help please?”

The door slammed in their faces.

Miriam! With that, my heart changed. Quickly, I ran down to the public room, gathered a lantern from the common table and opened the door. “Come in,” I shouted. “Come in. Here’s a place to rest. Here’s a place to bring your child into the world!”

Then I suddenly remembered there was no room. I hesitated for a moment and offered the only thing I could think of. “There’s a stable in back. It’s out of the elements and the hay is fresh and soft.” I saw relief flood their faces. We went around back and I piled hay for the woman, Miriam, to lie on, and put more in the animal’s trough. “You can let the baby rest here when it is time.”  

And so it was that the child came to be born in my stable. Later, there would be all manner of stories told about that night.  Did the world begin to turn that night? Some say so, but what I know for sure is that something changed in me and was never the same again.

JOSEPH’S STORY (please note: due to a glitch in the recording, this portion of the story is missing)      

I met a nice woman. I thought we could get married, settle down, and have some children that I could teach carpentry and who could carry our family into the future.

Instead, we haven’t even gotten married yet, still promised to each other and Mary is pregnant. She says the baby came along because of God’s power and blessing. She says it’s good news. [shakes head] And then, Caesar Augustus imposed a tax on everyone. We had to travel to Bethlehem to be counted and pay up. Mary was so uncomfortable with her swollen feet and growing belly. She couldn’t get comfortable on the donkey either, for all those dusty miles. It has been a long journey. I have tried, above all, to be faithful, to let Love guide me. I love her. And I love God. And, I love my son. My son who came into this world just today. I never knew Love could change me like this. I never knew Love could change the whole world.

East Shore Unitarian Sermons (Bellevue, WA)
East Shore Unitarian Sermons (Bellevue, WA)
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
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Details

Date:
Sunday, December 24
Time:
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:
, ,

Venue

East Shore Unitarian Church
12700 SE 32nd Street
Bellevue, WA 98005 United States
+ Google Map
Phone
425-747-3780
View Venue Website