December 31, 2023

We are happy to know that many people new to worship in the Episcopal Church come to St. Stephen’s, and we welcome you!

Throughout the service, the people’s responses are in italics. If you would like to learn more about the parts of our worship, click on the titles of each section.

Prelude

Announcements

The people stand for the Processional Hymn.

Processional Hymn #109 (Hymnal 1982)

Lucernaria for Christmas

Blessed be God, One Holy and Undivided Trinity.
And Blessed be God’s Kingdom, Now and Forever.

The Word was made flesh, alleluia, alleluia.
The Word was made flesh, alleluia, alleluia.

And dwelt among us:
Alleluia, alleluia.

Glory to the One, Holy, and Undivided Trinity.
The Word was made flesh, alleluia, alleluia.Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God, alleluia:
God has shone upon us, alleluia.

Song of Praise #96 verse 1 (Hymnal 1982) Angels We Have Heard on High

Collect of the Day

God be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray. 

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The people sit.

A Reading from Isaiah

I will joyfully exult in God, who is the joy of my soul! My God clothed me with a robe of deliverance and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, the way a bridegroom puts on a turban and a bride bedecks herself with jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and a garden brings its seeds to blossom, so the Exalted One makes justice sprout, and praise spring up before all nations. 

For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent; for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not rest — not until her integrity shines like the dawn, her deliverance like a flaming torch. The nations will see your vindication, and the rulers your splendor; you will have a new name that God’s mouth will bestow. You will be a garland of beauty in God’s hands, a solemn crown worn by your God.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

Psalm 147:13-21

Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem; *
praise your God, O Zion, 

who has strengthened the bars of your gates, *
who has blessed your children within you. 

For the Lord has established peace on your borders *
and satisfies you with the finest wheat. 

The Lord sends out a command to the earth, *
and this word runs very swiftly. 

The Lord gives snow like wool *
and scatters hoarfrost like ashes 

and hail like bread-crumbs; *
who can stand against such cold? 

The Lord sends forth the word and melts them, *
blowing with the wind and the waters flow. 

The Lord declares the word to Jacob, *
statutes and judgements to Israel. 

The Lord has not done so to any other nation; *
to them these judgements have not been revealed. Hallelujah!

A Reading from Galatians

Before faith came, we were under the constraint of the Law, locked in until the faith that was coming would be revealed. In other words, the Law was our monitor until Christ came to bring about our justification through faith. But now that faith is here, we are no longer in the monitor’s charge.

When the designated time had come, God sent forth the Christ—born of a woman, born under the Law—to deliver from the Law those who were subjected to it, so that we might receive our status as adopted heirs. The proof that you are children of God is the fact that God has sent forth into our hearts the Spirit of the Child who calls out “Abba!” You are no longer slaves, but daughters and sons! And if you are daughters and sons, you are also heirs, by God’s design.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

The people stand for the Gospel

Gospel Hymn #115 (Hymnal 1982)

The Gospel

The Holy Gospel of Our Savior Jesus Christ According To John
Glory to You, O Christ.

In the beginning there was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God. The Word was present to God from the beginning. Through the Word all things came into being, and apart from the Word nothing came into being that has come into being. In the Word was life, and that life was humanity’s light — a Light that shines in the darkness, a Light that the darkness has never overtaken. Then came one named John, sent as an envoy from God, who came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through his testimony everyone might believe. He himself wasn’t the Light; he only came to testify about the Light — the true Light that illumines all humankind. The Word was coming into the world — was in the world — and though the world was made through the Word, the world didn’t recognize it. Though the Word came to its own realm, the Word’s own people didn’t accept it.

Yet any who did accept the Word, who believed in that Name, were empowered to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor urge of flesh, nor human will — but born of God. And the Word became flesh and stayed for a little while among us; we saw the Word’s glory — the favor and position a parent gives an only child — filled with grace, filled with truth. John testified by proclaiming, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one who comes after me ranks ahead of me, for this One existed before I did.’ ” Of this One’s fullness we’ve all had a share — gift on top of gift. For while the Law was given through Moses, the Gift — and the Truth — came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; it is the Only Begotten, ever at Abba God’s side, who has revealed God to us.

The Gospel of Our Savior.
Praise to you, O Christ.

The people sit for the Homily.

The Homily

The people stand for the Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed 

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Please stand or kneel for the Prayers of the People.

The Prayers of the People

We pray for your holy Catholic Church;
That we all may be one.

Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you;
That your Name may be glorified by all people.

We pray for all bishops, priests, and deacons;
That they may be faithful ministers of your Word and Sacraments.

We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth.

Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake;
That our works may find favor in your sight.

Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble;
That they may be delivered from their distress.

Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy;
May we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom.

Let us pray for our own needs and those of others.

Celebrant: Most merciful and loving God, you have made this day holy by the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, and by the child-bearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Grant that we your people may enter with joy into the celebration of this day, and may also rejoice for ever as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Please stand for the peace.

The Peace

The peace of God be with you.
And also with you.

Offertory Hymn #112

Doxology

Praise God from whom all blessing flow, Praise God all creatures here below, Praise God above, ye heavenly hosts, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

The Holy Eucharist

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Because you gave Jesus Christ, your only Son, to be born for us; who, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, was made perfect Man of the flesh of the Virgin Mary his mother; so that we might be delivered from the bondage of sin, and receive power to become your children. Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

The Sanctus

Glory and honor and praise to you, holy and living God. To deliver us from the power of sin and death and to reveal the riches of your grace, you looked with favor upon Mary, your willing servant, that she might conceive and bear a son, Jesus the holy child of God. Living among us, Jesus loved us. He broke bread with outcasts and sinners, healed the sick, and proclaimed good news to the poor. He yearned to draw all the world to himself yet we were heedless of his call to walk in love. Then, the time came for him to complete upon the cross the sacrifice of his life, and to be glorified by you.

On the night before he died for us, Jesus was at table with his friends. He took bread, gave thanks to you, broke it, and gave it to them, and said: “Take, eat. This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

As supper was ending, Jesus took the cup of wine. Again, he gave thanks to you, gave it to them, and said: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is poured out for you and for all for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Now gathered at your table, O God of all creation, and remembering Christ, crucified and risen, who was and is and is to come, we offer to you our gifts of bread and wine, and ourselves, a living sacrifice. Pour out your Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Body and Blood of Christ. Breathe your Spirit over the whole earth and make us your new creation, the Body of Christ given for the world you have made.

In the fullness of time bring us, with all your saints, from every tribe and language and people and nation, to feast at the banquet prepared from the foundation of the world. Through Christ and with Christ and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, to you be honor, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia.

The Celebrant offers the gifts to the people, saying

The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

The people are invited to come forward for communion.

Communion Hymn #79

Postcommunion Prayer

Eternal God, you have graciously accepted us as living members of our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Savior. Amen. 

Hymn #111 (Hymnal 1982) Silent Night

Blessing

May Christ, who by his Incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, fill you with his joy and peace; and the blessing of the One, Holy, and Undivided Trinity, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.

Closing Hymn #105

Dismissal

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Postlude