Fredsville Lutheran Church – Christmas Eve @ Home Worship – December 24, 2020

hmm my so welcome and merry christmas my dear ones this is an at-home worship service for christmas eve from fredsville lutheran church in rural cedar falls iowa i am pastor lisa dietrich who is blessed to be the pastor here at fredsville and in this service you will see that i am joined by my intern andy graves and special music by meridith sandlin jean loger and sawyer loger a great gratitude of thanks also goes out to our technician jeff sandlin you know it goes without saying that 2020 has been a really difficult year for everyone and i don’t know where or when you’re watching this service whether you’re watching it at noon by yourself in the evening sitting by your christmas tree with a few loved ones gathered round whether you’re in your pajamas and slippers and curled up or in your christmas finest my hope for you as you watch this service that you will be reminded that no matter what this year has brought us in frustrations and disappointments in fear and in deep loneliness that this service reminds you that god is with you no matter where you are and no matter who is with you and i hope that you hear the message that you are loved that you are valued and that you are enough and that god has deemed you worthy to send his son to live and breathe to set you free from sin and despair may this service today bring you great hope and joy in the promise of god with you always merry christmas my dear ones so the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light

those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined for a child has been born for us a son given to us authority rests upon his shoulders and he is named wonderful counselor mighty god everlasting father prince of peace i am angels indeed so i attended one of those financial seminars you know the kind that um teach you the importance of a 401k yeah wow i’ve had so much time at home lately you know i was working at this little startup downtown oh man i i loved that job i really loved the people that i worked with yeah and then march came and the virus hit and my job was furloughed and the truth is um if something doesn’t break loose here pretty soon i may be looking at the reality of having to move back in with my parents well ever since i was furloughed i’ve been searching every job board i can find looking for anything anything that might pay and and any little tip that might teach me how to save money or better yet even to make some i went down one of those rabbit holes you know what i’m talking about where i searched how to pay off a mountain of debt well after watching far more hours of youtube videos than i want to admit i found myself signing up for this seminar i mean they were talking about compound interest and how you can build wealth over time just by squirreling a little bit of money away each month apparently the italians invented this in the 17th century and well wall street has perfected it i read it on the internet so it must be true i like the thought i mean supposedly you deposit 200 a month into an account at a certain interest level and that money collects interest and and then you deposit more and then that collects interest oh no no no no no don’t worry i’m not trying to sell you a mutual fund heck i don’t even have one of those i’m not even sure if i know what one of those is i do know what i have though i have student loan dot rent utilities car payment uh food internet and oh yeah my personal favorite taxes the idea is though that 200 each month and the interest off of it if you

can do that month after month for 30 years all of a sudden voila you’re a millionaire wouldn’t that be amazing well i bet you can guess exactly how i felt after sitting there for hours listening to that sales pitch i mean here i am without a job and a mountain of debt i’m afraid i’m gonna have to move back in with my parents i was feeling pretty discouraged no i was depressed you know there’s nothing quite like having a whole lot of time and the internet at your fingertips i never done this before but i was feeling pretty low so i typed a four-letter word into the search engine want to guess h o p e enter where do i find hope it’s kind of embarrassing really because i know where i’ll tell you what i didn’t find hope in my google search but before i got too far down and deep into regret i i stopped my pity party and decided you know what i could use a little fresh air so i grabbed a jacket and as it turned out probably not as heavy of a jacket as i probably should have grabbed and decided that i was going to go out and check the mail not typically the highlight of my day considering my circumstances but there i was checking the mail and in the mail that day was this christmas card from my grandma and just like every card or note she’s ever sent me there was this beautiful little handwritten note and in the card a ten dollar bill the front of the card said the hope for the world and when i turned the card over there was a sweet little image of mary holding the baby jesus and then that quote from um you know luke’s gospel that said and mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart i stood there in the cold holding the car in an envelope in one hand and a 10 bill in the other and i just looked up to heaven and and i started laughing i i couldn’t help myself i just laughed and i know i know it sounds a little strange but at that moment i i honestly felt like i was the richest person in the world standing out there by my mailbox ayah i said a little prayer asking god to forgive me for being so discouraged when i know

that his spirit lives right here within me what a gift that is what a gift god’s spirit living in in each of you in in each of us no matter what this year has thrown at us mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart is what luke says mary treasured all the things that god was doing in her circumstances and she pondered and she cherished them in her heart this miracle story that god sent his only son to be born of a woman as a tiny little baby to live a life to set us free from sin and despair you and me and the whole world how crazy is that it’s just remarkable this miracle story has been treasured ever since mary born of that baby that god child emmanuel god with us and it’s been cherished and treasured in hearts for century after century after century generation after generation after generation passed from one person to another to another and i think imagine imagine the compound of interest that was accumulated on the hearts of the believers what a gift we have been blessed with what an amazing amazing gift the glory of god in in all of us in this whole world it’s it’s easy just to to store it up right to to let the truth of god’s love just multiply and multiply and multiply within ourselves and store up this whole reservoir of hope until your heart wants to just explode but i have to tell you my dear ones i i have this thing that i have to tell you that i feel something so deep in the core and the fiber of of who i am we must not hoard this feeling of hope to ourselves we are called you are called to spend it give it away i don’t care throw it in wild abandon out there go ahead throw open your door step out on your front porches sing joy to the world at the top of your lunge off key call call a neighbor and really listen send them a card giving them some hope this year have a cup of coffee with somebody over zoom and really listen really listen to them and their loneliness spend it give it away all the hope that you can i mean seriously if you and i believers in god get discouraged can you imagine how people who have never heard this word of grace and hope must feel in these days they deserve to hear that message of hope and love and forgiveness and that they are not alone you know this day we light all four candles on the advent wreath grace love peace and hope and in this year of pandemic

and frustration and disappointment and anger and fear and grief loneliness and despair we also are reminded that on this day we also light the christ candle as a reminder that god has come into our world emmanuel god with us and that that hope will always win the day always and that that hope in the middle of whatever you’re feeling it is there and it is with you and it will win this day and tomorrow and all the tomorrows yet to come so go and tell that on the mountaintop tell it to your neighbor to your co-worker that maybe you missed so desperately to the person down the street or in that simple little note card left for a mailman share that gift of hope my dear ones for that hope is real and nothing will ever squelch it merry christmas my dear ones merry christmas all earth is hopeful the savior comes at last to see how god’s truth and justice sets everybody free we first saw jesus a baby in a crib this thing lord jesus today has come to live in our world is present with neighbors we see our jesus is with us and set us ever free joining our voices with the song of the angels let us pray for the church the world and all who are in need the shepherds saying jesus christ is born let your church throughout the world proclaim this good news over the hills and everywhere unite the voices of all your faithful people in songs and praise and rejoicing hear us oh god your mercy is graves heaven and nature sing joy to the world give respite to flocks fields and those who tend them come near to us in the beauty of night time the shining of the stars and the hush of a world at rest may our wonder at your creation rouse our care for all the earth hear us oh god your mercy is good it’s great the angels sing peace on earth come quickly to still the strife of this world hush the noise of war and violence in places of unrest inspire leaders of nations to seek lasting peace and sustainable provision for all in their care hear us oh god your mercy is great mary sings melodies of comfort to her newborn child bring rest and reassurance to those facing struggles this night shelter travelers and those without homes console those who lie awake due to pain or anxiety heal those who are sick or hurting we lift you especially to this day bernice mary sue

jenny don leona jane and jim we lift up to you all those who are suffering from coven 19 for those who are begging for healing for those who are alone in nursing homes shut off from family for fear of spread of this virus and pandemic for those who now have an empty place at their tables or who reach over in the dark of the night wishing to be able to touch once again the one who loved them and they loved holy god we pray for our first responders and those who are on the front lines of this virus protect them keep them safe give them strength and energy to to work with those to bring healing we give you thanks for scientists who bring us a vaccine and holy god we pray for a hurried end to this pandemic so that we can all gather again with our loved ones hear us oh god your mercy is great love sings through the sound of a newborn baby’s cry bless new parents and expectant parents comfort those who long for children especially those running out of hope or options surround families of every shape and size with your love and care hear us oh god your mercy is great the heavenly chorus sings glory to god in the highest we give you thanks for all the saints who have proclaimed your glory in word and deed we especially lift up to you mike jewell who now rests with you give comfort to his family and his friends who now grieve let us join all those saints in a night of joyful praise around your eternal throne hear us oh god your mercy is great god of mercy come quickly to us with grace upon grace as we lift these and owl all our prayers to you in the name of jesus amen foreign oh jesus it came before us is he saves us

the lord be with you and also with you lift up your hearts we lift them to the lord let us give thanks to the lord our god it is right to give our thanks and praise in the night in which he was betrayed our lord jesus took bread and gave thanks broke it and gave it to his disciples saying take and eat this is my body given for you do this for the remembrance of me again after supper he took the cup he gave thanks and he gave it for all to drink saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin do this for the remembrance of me lord remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray 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 to temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever amen at this time you are invited to take the bread or the wafer and this my dear ones is the body of christ broken for you take and eat and after you have eaten the bread or cracker or wafer i invite you to take the wine or juice and drink of it for this is the blood of christ shed for you take and drink in those days a decree went out from emperor augustus that all the world should be registered this was the first generation registration and was taken while quirinius was governor of syria all went to their own towns to be registered joseph also went from the town of nazareth to galilee to judea to the city of david called bethlehem because he was descended from the house and family of david the light the hopes and fears he went to be registered with mary to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child while they were there the time came for her to deliver her child and she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in the manger because there was no place for them in the inn what child is this worth it has brought our king this is christ the king who shepherds god and angels is in that region there were shepherds living in the fields keeping watch

over their flock by night then an angel of the lord stood before them in the glory of the lord shone around them and they were terrified worship worship christians but the angels said to them do not be afraid for see i am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people to you is born this day in the city of david a savior who is the messiah the lord this will be a sign for you you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger jesus jesus i ask you to stay close children in your tender and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising god and saying glory to god in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors joyful new nations rise is when the angels had left them and gone into heaven the shepherd said to one another let us go now to bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place which the lord has made known to us lovers know is oh

so they went with haste and found mary and joseph and the child lying in the manger when they saw this they made known what had been told them about this child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them whose forms with painful steps come swiftly see but mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart the shepherds returned glorifying and praising god for all they had heard and seen as it had been told to them is is foreign hallelujah is holy days

jesus lord a reading from the gospel of john in the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god he was in the beginning with god all things came into being through him and without him not one thing came into being what has come into being in him was life and the life was the light of all people the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it there was a man sent from god whose name was john he came as a witness to testify to the light so that all that might believe through him he himself was not the light but he came to testify to the light the true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world he was in the world and the world came into being through him yet the world did not know him he came to what was his own and his own people did not accept him but to all who received him who believed in his name he gave power to become children of god who were born not of the blood or the will of the flesh or the will of man but of god and the word became flesh and lived among us and we have seen his glory the glory as of our father’s only son full of grace and truth almighty god who sent the holy spirit to mary proclaimed joy through the angels send the shepherds with good news and led the magi by a star bless you this day through the word made flesh amen repeat the sounding joy repeat the sounding joy repeat repeat the sounding joy is is

go in peace share the gift of jesus thanks be to god you