December 24, 2020, Christmas Eve Service

Candle painting

Original artwork by Martha Knouss

Bethesda United Church of Christ Worship Service

“We welcome all without exception as we worship God together, journey in the spirit, and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world.”

For Your Reflection:

“Christmas is a bridge. We need bridges as the river of time flows past…”–Gladys Taber, 1899-1980, American author

Question:  In what way is Christmas a “bridge”?  What does it connect?  How might the story of Christmas connect you to the ideals of love, peace, justice, and hope for the future?  In what way does Jesus’ coming form a bridge to God?  What makes this night “holy” and special for you?

Pre-Service Music

Please join us at 6:45 pm as we enjoy pre-service music, “Christmas Improvisations,” from guest musician and harpist, Mary Abbott, and our Music Director, Kay Krekow, on piano


Rev. Dee

God’s Light Grows 

Call To Worship  (responsive)

“Earthed,” written by Jeremy Williams, adapted and used with permission

Ring a bell,
call a parade,
get this on the evening news.

Let everything on earth,
and beneath the earth and above it,
and everything in the sea too,
from the oak to the octopus,
bees, bears, birds, buffalo, bacteria, virus,
and human beings,
take notice.

We have an announcement.
The waiting is over.
The gap is breached.

Tell the lame they will dance
and the blind they will see rainbows.
Tell the oppressed they will be free
and the poor they will be rich.
Tell the meek their earth is ready.

Tell evil its days are numbered
and its minions to flee,
tell the warmongers
that peace will overtake them
and cover their battletanks in dust.

Let the wind shake the forest,
and ripple praise across the grasslands.
Let the mountaintops sparkle with joy.

Your God is for you; your God is with you,
Let all creation sing his welcome.

But whisper it,
the baby is sleeping.

Gathering Carol

#135  O Come, All You Faithful  (verses 1-3)

Music and lyrics to O Come All Ye Faithful

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Passing The Peace

Leader:     The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

People:     And also with you.

Lighting Of Advent Candles And The Christ Candle  (responsive)

The Klotz Family You are invited to light a candle or candles as you worship with us. 

We have gathered with candles in our homes
and in our hearts.

We claim that Emmanuel, God with us
is the Light of the World,
and that there is no darkness,
no sadness, no fear, no grief,
no illness, no loneliness, no violence,
no word of unkindness, act of war,
not even a pandemic,
that can quench the Light of the World.

Let us light these candles again on this holy night.

I light the candle of hope,
Now there is no place hopelessness can hide.
(light candle)

I light the candle of peace,
and expose hatred as fear turned inside out.
(light candle)

I light the candle of joy,
and suddenly everyone can find a smile,
a moment of beauty or laughter.
(light candle)

I light the candle of love,
and hands are clasped around the world.
(light candle)

My friends, we all light the Christ candle.   Let us pray:

O Holy God, we light the Christ candle.
It shines on smiles and tears.
It shines and we hear angels.
It shines and we see a manger.
It shines and we remember the story.
This light cannot be extinguished,
because, Emmanuel, you are the candle tonight,
and we promise to be your candles tomorrow.

Sung Response

#756 Gloria

Music and lyrics to Gloria responseA Message For The Child In Each Of Us

Rev. Dee


“Once in Royal David’s City” from, used with permission by creators (words are in video)

Responsive Prayer

written by Sam Hargreaves, used with permission

Shared by Mary Bahrs, Jean Thompson, Bodhi Crist, and Sophia Neufeld

One: God, today we choose to “Hark”,
to listen to your voice,
to be still and know that you are God with us.

Sung Response: Hark! The herald angels sing; Glory to the newborn King!

Two: God we hear your promise of “peace on earth”,
but we know that the nations have not yet embraced your peace.
God we pray for Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan,

[pause…please silently add other places and situations]
and all other places where there is war, anger and broken lives.

Sung Response:   Hark! The herald angels sing; Glory to the newborn King!

Three: God we hear about the “incarnate Deity”,
that you were pleased to dwell with us in flesh and blood.
May we know you as Emmanuel, God with us,
and may we share your presence with those around us.

RESPONSE: Hark! The herald angels sing; Glory to the newborn King!

Four: God we hear that Jesus was “born that we no more may die.”
Be with those who are grieving at this time.
[pause… please hold in silent prayer those who are grieving]
Help us to embrace your promise of second birth and resurrection,
and live it out even here on earth.

Response: Hark! The herald angels sing; Glory to the newborn King!


#144 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Music and Lyrics to Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

The Christmas Story As Told Through Our Christmas Putz

BUCC Christmas Putz

BUCC Christmas Putz

Our Christmas Putz is a beloved tradition at Bethesda United Church of Christ and was made possible in this pandemic year by the careful, loving hands and hearts of the following members and friends of BUCC: Trent Ross, Shannon Ross, Zeke Ross, Nolan Ross, Russ Damtoft, Linda Cornelius, Eric Damtoft, Sarah Moses, and Tim Graber. This team continued this tradition in spite of social distancing and created a new way of presenting the story of Jesus’ birth using the putz.  We are so thankful for their gift of time and skill to the church!


#132  Joy to the World (verses 1-3)

Music and lyrics to Joy to the World

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Christmas Prayer And Prayer Of Our Savior

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

Musical Meditation

“Musical Improvisations on Away in the Manger,” Mary Abbott and Kay Krekow


Lifting Our Voices In Song       

During the singing of these hymns, we will share, hold, and pass the light from the Christ candle to each another in our homes.  If you are worshipping with others in your home, please pass the light among you.  As we sing the third verse of “Silent Night” please raise your candle to your screen and to your sisters and brothers in Christ to let its light shine!


Angels We Have Heard on High (verses 1 and 2)

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Refrain: Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;

Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

On Christmas Night All Christians Sing  (verses 1 and 2)

1 On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring;
On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring:
news of great joy, news of great mirth,
news of our gracious Ruler’s birth.

2 Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our Redeemer made us glad;
Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from our sin Christ set us free,
all for to gain our liberty.

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear  (verses 1 and 3)

  1. 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,
    great news of joy we bring.”
    The world in solemn stillness lay
    to hear the angels sing.
  2. And you, beneath life’s crushing load,
    whose forms are bending low,
    who toil along the climbing way,
    with painful steps and slow,
    Look now, for glad and golden hours
    come swiftly on the wing;
    O rest beside the weary road,
    and hear the angels sing!

*Silent Night, Holy 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 a-far,
heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior, is born!

(Please raise a candle if safe to do so)

Silent night, holy night, Child of God, loves pure light
Radiant beams from your holy face
bring the dawn of redeeming grace;
Jesus Christ at your birth!
Jesus Christ at your birth!


“Safely Delivered” by Jeremy Williams

Lord of creation,
architect of stars,
Captain of angels,
and son of God most high.

A promise, a prophet,
miracle man, Messiah,
King of Kings,
and Prince of Peace.

Carpenter. Winemaker.
healer, hillside caterer.
Teacher, preacher,
stiller of storms and footwasher general.

Heretic, lunatic,
political schemer,
rabble rouser, rebel,
criminal, martyr.

Escape artist,
jailbreaker, earth-shaker,
destroyer of death
and firstborn of the truly alive.

The hopes and fears
of all the years –

All wrapped up,
seven pounds three ounces
in Mary’s arms,
safely delivered…

Holy One, we welcome you into our hearts and lives.  We join you in your love for this world and our humanity.  May we grow with you and you in us.  Amen.

Sisters and brothers, May God bless you and keep you this Christmas and evermore. And may you go forth and be a blessing to others! Have a blessed Christmas!


Musical Selection

Liturgical Resources/Credits:   Our Christ Candle-Lighting liturgy is from Rev. Maren C. Tirabassi, All resources are used with permission from authors/source.

More about us

Bethesda UCC was founded in 1957 as Bethesda Congregational Church.  United Church of Christ is the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

We are located at the corner of Fernwood and Democracy. Our postal address is:

Bethesda United Church of Christ
10010 Fernwood Road
Bethesda, Maryland  20817

Minister: Rev. Dee Ledger
Music Director: Kay Krekow

Today’s music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

A ONE LICENSE Reprint License grants churches, schools, religious communities, retreat centers, and other worshiping bodies permission to reprint or project music for their congregations from any of our Member Publishers.

Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-726712. All rights reserved.

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