Audio, Video and Text are all available below for the Candle Light Service

December 24, 2020

Hymn Prelude

Welcome and Announcements

Confession and Absolution

Salutation and Collect of the Day


First Reading



Verse - Holy Gospel




Apostles' Creed

Prayer of the Church

Lord's Prayer














Welcome and Announcements

Lutheran Service Book Divine Service Setting One


379 O Come, All Ye Faithful                                       LSB 379 sts. 1, ref, 2–4
Text and tune: Public domain


The sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their Baptism.

P     In the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen.

P     If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
C     But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Silence for reflection on God's Word and for self-examination.

Confession of Sins
P     Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.
C     Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

P     Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen.

368 Angels We Have Heard on High                                           LSB 368
Text and tune: Public domain


Salutation and Collect of the Day
P     The Lord be with you.
C     And also with you.

P     Let us pray.
O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C     Amen.


Psalm                                                                               Psalm 110:1–4
The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The Lord sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
    on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

First Reading                                                                    Isaiah 7:10–14
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.

Epistle                                                                               1 John 4:7–16
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.


Common Alleluia and Verse                                                    John 1:14
Alleluia. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Alleluia.

Holy Gospel                                                                         Luke 2:1–14
P     The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, the second chapter.
C     Glory to You, O Lord.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

P     This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C     Praise to You, O Christ.


380 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing                                             LSB 380
Tune and text: Public domain

Sermon                                                                            Pastor Eric Ash


Apostles’ Creed
C       I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
     maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
     who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
     born of the virgin Mary,
     suffered under Pontius Pilate,
     was crucified, died and was buried.
     He descended into hell.
     The third day He rose again from the dead.
     He ascended into heaven
     and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
     From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the holy Christian Church,
          the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body,
     and the life T everlasting. Amen.

(each petition ends with the following response) P Lord, in your mercy,    C Hear our prayer.

Vocal Solo, What Child is This                                                                     Deirdre Roeske
5:00 PM &:7:00 PM
5:00 PM Only – Lord’s Prayer                                                                                                 
(7:00 p.m. Only)

Proper Preface
P     It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord; for in the mystery of the Word made flesh You have given us a new revelation of Your glory that, seeing You in the person of Your Son, we may know and love those things which are not seen. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:


The Words of Our Lord
P     Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My T body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My T blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Lord's Prayer
C     Our 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 trespasses
          as we forgive those
          who trespass against us;
     and lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
     and the power and the glory
     forever and ever. Amen.

P:  Come for all things are now ready, the gifts of God for the people of God.
C:  Amen


Distribution                                                                                 164
Take, eat; the body of Christ, given for you.

Take, drink; the blood of Christ shed for you.

364 Away in a Manger                                                                  364
1     Away in a manger, no crib for a 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.

2     The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

3     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 take us to heaven to live with Thee there.
Text: Public domain

361 O Little Town of Bethlehem                                               LSB 361
1     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.

2     For Christ is born of Mary,
And, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the king
And peace to all the earth!

3     How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

4     O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel!
Text: Public domain

388 Go Tell It on the Mountain                                                 LSB 388
ref   Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and ev’rywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

1     While shepherds kept their watching
O’er silent flocks by night,
Behold, throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light. Refrain

2     The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo, above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Savior’s birth. Refrain

3     Down in a lonely manger
The humble Christ was born;
And God sent us salvation
That blessèd Christmas morn. Refrain
Text: Public domain

Candle Lighting Ceremony

363 Silent Night, Holy Night                                             LSB 363 sts. 1–3
Tune and text: Public domain


Post-Communion Collect
P     We give thanks to You, almighty God, that You have refreshed us through this salutary gift, and we implore You that of Your mercy You would strengthen us through the same in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C     Amen.


387 Joy to the World                                                               LSB 387
Text and tune: Public domain

P     Christ is born.  Come let us worship Him!
C     Praise be to God!



Christmas Eve   December 24, 2020   Luke 2:1-14  Trinity, Wellsville, NY

The Gift

True story.   In the Washington, D.C., subway, a scruffily dressed young man opened a violin case and took out an old violin.  He threw some change into the case as seed money and began playing.  Over the course of several hours, thousands of people walked by him.  None stopped for more than a few minutes; most didn’t stop at all.  His receipts for the day?  Less than fifty bucks. 

What the people passing by and throwing change, or not throwing change, didn’t know was that the young man was a world-famous concert violinist incognito, an artistwho regularly commanded over $100 per ticket for people to hear him play.  Even the violin itself was a rare antique worth a fortune and the pieces being played were well-love classical standards.  The passersby there were being offered a tremendous gift, and they truly passed it by. 

Why wouldn’t passersby stop to hear a great violinist play for free?  Not a single person recognized the musician, and few appreciated his talent. Obviously, the subway denizens were busy; they had to go to work or school.  But moreover, no one expected to find a great violinist there.  Had he been in a concert hall instead of a subway, had he worn a tuxedo instead of jeans and a work shirt, the result would have been different.  As it was, the gift was wasted. 

That story makes a lot of different connections with the themes and our thoughts on this Christmas Eve.  Gift giving and receiving is a long-standing Christmas tradition, frequently practiced even by people with no connection to Christianity, just showing the long reach of our faith.  The tradition’s origins are related to the presents the Wise Men brought the Christ Child and, or perhaps, the idea that Jesus is God’s gift to the world.  Exchanging presents should be a happy event, but gift buying is for many one of the hardest, most stressful parts of the holiday season.  How do we find the perfect gift that tells someone how we feel about them?  What kind of present can adequately express appreciation, or friendship, or love?  We agonize over presents for those we care about.  We might agonize even more over presents for people we are less than fond of.  And what do you get for the person who already has everything? 

We can learn a lot about gift giving, and one Great Gift, from the Greatest Giver of All, God our Heavenly Father. God had already given humanity everything we needed.  He had given us life, one of the greatest gifts of all, and He gave, and still gives, us everything necessary for life, such as food, water, and shelter.  There is definitely enough of these necessities to go around.  God has created more than enough of them so that everyone can have all they need.  If anyone has less than they need, if anyone is in want, it is because of human greed and corruption.  Don’t blame poverty and such on God, blame humanity. 

Precisely because humanity is blameworthy, precisely because of greed and corruption, God found it necessary to send us yet another gift, a gift that would put us right with him.  That was the gift of His Son.  Jesus is the Son of God.  He is the Word made flesh.  Jesus is the Greatest Gift because he alone can reunite us with God the Father and make us at one with him.  How does Jesus do all that exactly? 

Jesus is not a self-improvement plan.  Do you ever get gifts that seem to come with a hidden message about some area of your life you need to do better at?  I strongly suggest that you never give anyone, especially your spouse, a piece of physical fitness equipment and tell him or her you are trying to help that person shape up.  (Take it from a man who knows!)  I also know a man who received some cologne and said to the giver, “I take it that you like me, but don’t particularly care for the way I smell!”  Ouch!

Jesus didn’t come to teach us personal hygiene, or raise our IQs, or even to make us theologians.  Jesus came to die in our place and grant us God’s pardon, which is our salvation.  There is a kind of divine poetry in that.  Adam and Eve sinned the Original Sin by breaking God’s commandment and eating from the fruit of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Jesus undid their sin by following God’s commandments and dying on a tree called the cross, and in that way becoming our Savior granting us new life.  Now we celebrate the birth of our Savior with a Christmas Tree that reminds us of the Tree of Life in Adam and Eve’s Garden of Eden, that same holy tree being found in the new Kingdom over which Jesus our Savior will reign when he comes again in power and might.

The bizarre thing is that not everyone recognizes that Jesus is our Savior, even on this Christmas Eve, even in God’s church.  Why not?  What’s wrong with us?  Maybe it’s because Jesus comes to us incognito.  Like a concert violinist playing in a subway wearing scruffy clothes, Jesus was born in a stable and wrapped in bands of cloth.  The press wasn’t all over the Birth of the Messiah story the way the paparazzi are all over celebrities today.; Jesus only had the shepherds to tell his story.  Still, the birth of this little Jewish boy, so long ago and far away, touches us all in ways that words cannot fully express because our joy is beyond words. 

In our culture etiquette tells us that we should respond to a gift with a gift or a “Thank you” of some kind.  How can we respond to the gift from God that is Christ?  Jesus is a gift so unique and precious that any gift we could offer back to God would never be enough, even if we spent eternity saying “Thank you” to God.  God truly already has everything.  What can we possibly give him that would matter to him?  A diamond?  He can make them out of dust.  A star?  He already has galaxies full.  But maybe there is one thing…

God gave us our hearts.  He gave us our free will.  He made them, He gave them to us, and although He could do with them whatever He wanted, He has imposed a strict “hands off policy’ on Himself regarding them.  He lets us do with them whatever we please.  We can give our hearts and our allegiance to whomever we want to without interference from God.  But God wants them.  Oh, how he desires them!  God won’t force us to love him, but he wants our love. 

Once there was a young woman I loved.  One Christmas Eve, 40 years ago, I wanted to tell her how I felt about her, so I gave her a ring and asked her to marry me.  For some reason I’ll never understand, other than God’s grace, she said, “Yes.”  The ring wasn’t my love; it was only a symbol of my love.  And I’m pretty sure that she loved me, not the ring (it really wasn’t that great a ring!).  Melanie later said I took a real chance proposing on Christmas.  “Christmas,” she said, “would have been really awkward, had she said ‘No.’”  But love takes chances.

God’s gift to us is similar but different.  Jesus is God.  He is God’s love.  God gives us Himself; He can do that.  If we love the Son, we love the Father.  If we love the baby in the manger, we must love the agonized man on the cross too.  God took a real chance sending Jesus.  Don’t let God’s precious gift to you be wasted.  Don’t pass Jesus by unnoticed.  Don’t make Christmas meaningless for you by rejecting Jesus.

When we think about Christmas deeply:  The present of Christ himself is what gives us faith, and we can accept that gift, or so it feels, but it’s really God creating that faith in us, so it’s all absolutely about Him and not so much about us at all, and we get all lost in this divine mystery that is so confusing and convoluted we’d be totally confounded, except that it’s all joy and wonder, so that we really don’t care because it’s all so great.  That’s Christmas! 

Does that make sense to you?  If it doesn’t totally, then you’re perfectly normal!  Maybe Christmas cannot be explained adequately in prose, only poetry will do.  Try this classic from the poem  In the Bleak Mid-Winter:

What can I give Him, Poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. 
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part. 
Yet what can I give Him?  Give my heart.

God loves us and has saved us by sending His Son Jesus.  Let us love him in return and give Him our hearts.   Merry Christmas.  Amen.