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Born to Die, Born to Rise 2017

This service of Lessons and Carols from 2017 celebrates Christmas by proclaiming the Easter Gospel: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!"

Despite all appearances, Christmas is not the most important day on the Christian calendar. The Christian year culminates not at Christmas, but in the celebration of the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. Christmas is incomplete without Good Friday and Easter. It is not simply the end of Advent. It is also the beginning of Christ’s passion.

The earliest Christian preachers sensed this. Fifteen centuries ago, Caesarius of Arles preached these words on Christmas Day: “The nativity could not be preached without the passion, nor could the passion without the glory of the nativity. Christ was born in order that he might suffer, he suffered in order that he might die, he died in order that he might descend into hell, and he descended there in order that he might free the dead.” Lewis Smedes concurred: “It is always evident that the cross casts its shadow over the manger, that Jesus was born in order to die, and that God became human in order to do something for our salvation.”

For centuries, hymn writers have followed suit. Several familiar carols, such as “What Child Is This” and “We Three Kings,” speak not only about Christ’s nativity, but also offer allusions to his death and resurrection. Many texts do so by using the rich horticultural imagery of the Bible, drawing on the evocative way that seedlings and branches, winter and springtime, barrennness and fruitfulness depict for us the significance of the cross and the sheer goodness of the gospel.

There is something safe about Christmas without the cross. Who doesn’t like a story about a baby in a manger? Especially in a time of uncertainty and fear, the world needs more than a sentimental story. It needs a savior. So this service is a bit of a time warp, collapsing Advent and Lent, Christmas and Easter, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming and Ah, Holy Jesus. We celebrate Christmas by proclaiming the Easter gospel: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”

Born to Die, Born to Rise

Organ Prelude: Triptych on At the Name of Jesus                                       William H. Bates
I.    Introduction
II.   Variations: At the name of Jesus... At his voice creation sprang at once to sight...
       Humbled for a season... Bore it up triumphant... In your hearts enthrone him...


Choral Introit: Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree                                                Elizabeth Poston

Processional Hymn: At the Name of Jesus                                         Lift Up Your Hearts, 220
                                                                                                                                                     arr. R. Vaughan Williams


           Pastor:       Our help is in the name of the Lord,
           All:             who made the heavens and the earth.

           Pastor:        The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
                              and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
           All:             Amen.

Bidding Prayer

           Pastor:        Beloved in Christ, as we await the great festival of Christmas,
                              we prepare ourselves so that we may perceive its true meaning.
                              We have gathered to hear, in readings from the holy scriptures,
                              how the prophets of Israel foretold that God would visit and
                              redeem his waiting people. We rehearse again the account of
                              the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience
                              to the glorious appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.
                              We rejoice, in carols and hymns, that the good purpose of God
                              is being mightily fulfilled:
                              the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed,
                              the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up.
                              But first, we pray for the world which God so loves;
                              for those who have not heard the good news of God,
                              or who do not believe it;
                              for those who walk in darkness and the shadow of death;
                              and for the church in this place and everywhere,
                              that it may be freed from all evil and fear,
                              and may, in pure joy, lift up the light of the love of God.  
                              These prayers we humbly offer
                              as we meditate on the readings from holy scripture,
                              and also now, in the words that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.

           All:             Our Father, who art in heaven,
                              hallowed by thy name.
                              Thy kingdom come.
                              Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
                              Give us this day our daily bread.
                              Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
                              Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
                              For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.

I. Genesis 3:8-15

           Leader:       The word of the Lord.
           All:             Thanks be to God.

The Frozen December                                                                                     Thomas A. Miller

What Grace Is This!                                                                                Lift Up Your Hearts, 163
                                                                                                                                                                    arr. Larry Visser

II. Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 53:4-6

           Leader:       The word of the Lord.
           All:             Thanks be to God.

Born to Die, Born to Rise                                                                               arr. Greg Scheer

III. Isaiah 53:1-3 and Hosea 14:4-6

           Leader:       The word of the Lord.
           All:             Thanks be to God.

O Vos Omnes                                                                                          Tomás Luis de Victoria

Splendor Is Coming                                                                                          Walter L. Pelz

IV. Isaiah 42:1-4 and Isaiah 55:12-13

           Leader:       The word of the Lord.
           All:             Thanks be to God.

A Stable-Lamp Is Lighted                                                                                    David Conte

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Text and tune pairing: In 1739, an English printer published this then brand-new carol (with its original text “Hark! how all the welkin rings”) to the then thirty-year-old tune we associate with Easter Sunday, a perfect fit for us to proclaim the Easter gospel this Advent and Christmas!

V. Isaiah 49:1-6

           Leader:       The word of the Lord.
           All:             Thanks be to God.

What Child Is This?                                                                                     arr. Grant Cochran

VI. Matthew 2:1-12

           Leader:       The word of the Lord.
           All:             Thanks be to God.

Bethlehem Down                                                                                               Peter Warlock

We Three Kings of Orient Are                                                                 arr. Richard Drakeford

VII. John 1:1-3, 14 and Revelation 22:1-2

           Leader:       The word of the Lord.
           All:             Thanks be to God.

There in God's Garden                                                                         Lift Up Your Hearts, 684


           Pastor:       God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
                              you have sent your Son to be our Savior:
                              our light in the midst of darkness,
                              our hope in the face of threats,
                              our peace amid turmoil.

           All:             In your Word we have seen him
                              and know that your promises are true.

           Pastor:        Send us forth from this place
                              to reflect Christ's light in our lives,
                              and to bear witness to this sign of hope.
                              And as we go, grant us, we pray, your peace.

           All:             Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
                              have mercy on us.
                              Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
                              grant us your peace.

Charge and Benediction

           Pastor:       Go forth into the world in peace:
                              be of good courage;
                              hold fast to that which is good;
                              render to no one evil for evil;
                              strengthen the faint-hearted;
                              support the weak;
                              help the afflicted;
                              honor all people;
                              love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.

                              And may the God of peace
                              make you holy in every way
                              and keep your whole being—spirit, soul, and body—
                              free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

           All:             Alleluia! Amen!

Recessional Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful

Organ Postlude: Triptych on At the Name of Jesus                                    William H. Bates
           III. Finale—Christians, this Lord Jesus shall return again...