"Midnight" Campfire Communion

Welcome! Here are some helpful things to know beforehand

What you need to bring

  1. Suitable clothing for the weather - wrap up warm!
  2. [Optional] A mobile phone with this page open for the words - we will also have print outs available

Where, when, and how

  • Please arrive for a prompt 11.40pm start, ensuring we share communion not long after Christmas Eve has tipped into Christmas Day
  • Our service will last  between 30 and 45 minutes
  • We will gather out the FRONT of The Pathfinder CofE  Primary School (unless extreme weather moves us into the school hall)
  • Please let us know in advance if you need gluten free bread, or need a chair provided.
Today’s liturgy is from the Church of England, but this Table is shared by those from many traditions. As an ecumenical partnership in Northstowe we seek to honour the range of practices held precious by our partners.  Many traditions share communion among those who have been baptised. Some may save eating the bread and wine until after they’ve made a public faith commitment (“believers baptism” or perhaps “confirmation”), others have been receiving since they were children. Some traditions have an ‘open table’ Tonight, we offer hot mulled wine and hot grape juice. If you would rather not receive wine or grape juice, be assured that the Church has always taught that we receive the fullness of God’s Grace even if we only take one element. If you would rather simply receive a blessing – let us know.  PARENTS – we will follow your lead on whether your children are in the habit of receive: talk to us if you need guidance: we are happy to help prepare anyone (of all ages) for their first communion.. 

Holy Communion on Christmas Eve


Gathering and preparing to Worship God


After some opening words, we take 30 seconds of silence to notice how we are feeling: to name this before the God who tangibly understands our humanity

Poem: There is a Silence tonight

There is a silence tonight:
that holds the worry and fear
of a mother… giving birth
that holds the hesitation of God
letting go of divinity… and moving into flesh
that holds the anxiety of a father
whose wife is quickening with a child…not his own
that holds the angel chorus
waiting for their first note in a song…of revolution
that holds the stars in place
and leads the wise ones to the place…of birth
that holds the shepherds’ excitement
first with the news…the prince of peace is born.
There is a silence tonight
that holds each one of us
in expectation, wonder, and hope


Let us break the silence and proclaim the ancient promise: Immanuel is on the way!

[Published in  Spill the Beans, Issue  49]

SING: O come O come Immanuel

O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

Opening responses

          Light looked down
          and saw darkness.
All:   ‘I will go there,’ said Light.
          Peace looked down
          and saw war.
All:   ‘I will go there,’ said Peace.
          Love looked down
          and saw hatred.
All:   ‘I will go there,’ said Love.
          So he, the Lord of Light,
          the Prince of Peace,
          the King of Love,
          came down and crept in beside us. 

Words of confession and forgiveness

Christ the light of the world comes to dispel the darkness of our hearts.
Let us turn to the light and [in silence] confess our sins

30 seconds silence

You were born for our salvation: Lord, have mercy.
All:   Lord, have mercy.
You came as Saviour to bring wholeness and peace: Christ, have mercy.
All:   Christ, have mercy.
You come to bring light into the darkness of our lives: Lord, have mercy.
All:   Lord, have mercy.

The minister prays for absolution

Listening and responding to the word of God

The first Bible reading
– The ancient prophetic words found in Isaiah 9

2b 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.
3 You have multiplied the nation,
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden,
    and the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
    and all the garments rolled in blood
    shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

At the end:
          This is the word of the Lord
All:   Thanks be to God. 


POEM: The Impossible becomes Possible

Now, the impossible becomes possible
and its the possibility that frightens the dark,
the possibility of light that makes night restless.
It is the possibility that the promise is true
that frightens Mary and disturbs Joseph
as the son of God is born.
It is the possibility that in the next few minutes
justice will be renewed and reshaped
by divine love found in human skin
and that disturbs parliaments and princes
as this impossible child comes into the world.
It is the possibility that tonight
something actually shifts
that changes everything
as word moves into flesh.
What was impossible
is about to become possible my friends
if we believe
that what we hope for tonight
is found in us tonight.

Published in Spill the Beans Issue 49

A reading from one of the Gospels

Luke 2:6-7 from The Message by Eugene Peterson:

While they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for [Mary] to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.


All:   Be born in us, Lord, this night.
Be born in our hearts.
Be born in our minds.
Be born in our souls.
Christ is born.
Love has been birthed.
God’s promise fulfilled.
How blessed we are.

Affirming our Shared Faith:
Jesus, The Light of the World, is Lord 

These words are based on a song of praise familiar to the very first believers, recorded by Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi. (Philippians 2:5-11)
Starting loud; gradually getting quieter 
Equal with God:  Jesus is Lord 
Emptied himself:  Jesus is Lord 
Came as a slave:  Jesus is Lord 
Found as a man:  Jesus is Lord 
Humbly obeyed:  Jesus is Lord 
Went to his death:  Jesus is Lord 
Death on a cross:  Jesus is Lord 

now getting louder: 

God raised him up:  Jesus is Lord 
Gave him the name:  Jesus is Lord 
Higher than all:  Jesus is Lord 
Every knee bow:  Jesus is Lord 
All tongues confess:  Jesus is Lord 
The Light of the World: Jesus is Lord 

Preparing to Encounter God in Bread and Wine

Sharing Peace

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,
and his name shall be called the Prince of Peace.”

The peace of the Lord be always with you
All   and also with you.

Blessed be God,
by whose grace creation is renewed,
by whose love heaven is opened,
by whose mercy we offer our sacrifice of praise.
All   Blessed be God for ever.

The Great Thanksgiving (“Eucharistic”) Prayer

The Lord is here 
All: His Spirit is with us. 
Lift up your hearts. 
All: We lift them to the Lord. 
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. 
All: It is right to give thanks and praise. 

Praise is offered, concluding with…

Therefore with all the angels of heaven  
we lift our voices to proclaim
the glory of your name and sing our joyful hymn of praise:  

We might say:
All: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, 
heaven and earth are full of your glory. 
Hosanna in the highest. 

 OR sing
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ The Lord!
The Story is told, and then…
We break the bread of life, 
and that life is the light of the world. 
All: God here among us, 
light in the midst of us, 
bring us to light and life. 

We pass the bread around the circle, offering it to each other with the words “The body of Christ”, and responding “Amen” before eating
We pass the tray of cups around the circle, offering wine to each other with the words “The blood of Christ”, and responding “Amen” before drinking
Words of celebration are shared, then…

We proclaim the Great Mystery of our faith: 
All: Christ has died:  
Christ is risen: 
Christ will come again. 

The minister concludes the Eucharistic Prayers with traditional words

WE SING: Come all ye Faithful

O come, let us adore him, 
O come, let us adore him, 
O come, let us adore him, 
Christ the Lord! 

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,  
born this happy morning; 
Jesus, to thee be glory given! 
Word of the Father now in flesh appearing. 

O come . . . 

after J F Wade, F Oakeley and others 


The Church’s prayer for tonight

Eternal God, in the stillness of this night 
you sent your almighty Word 
to pierce the world's darkness  
with the light of salvation: 
give to the earth the peace that we long for 
and fill our hearts with the joy of heaven 
through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen 

Other suitable prayers may also be offered

We may share in the Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour, The Light of the World, has taught us

All   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,
the power, and the glory
for ever and ever.

Being sent out to live as Lights,
filled afresh by The Light of the World

On this day of days
go out with joy
having met the Christ Child: The Light of the World.
Celebrate, tear open the parcels, eat the turkey, flake out on the couch
and then when the dust settles
the work of Christmas begins.
But know that God is with you,
the Christ Child loves you
and the Holy Spirit will guide you,
this day and every day.

Go in the peace of Christ. 
And celebrate his birth among us. 
All: Glory, thanks and praise to God 

Includes material adapted from ‘The Feast is Ready to Begin’ © 2009, Rachel Nichols. ; ’Cloth for the Cradle’ 1997 ©Wild Goose Worship Publications . Winter © 2016 Ruth Burgess Common Worship: Times and Seasons © 2006, Archbishop’s Council; with Eucharistic Prayer A © Archbishops’ Council 2000.  The poetic reflections on Silence and The Impossible, come from Spill The Beans Issue 49 (2023-2024). The final prayers are adapted from Spill the Beans
Pathfinder Church Northstowe is part of the Northstowe Church Network, an ecumenical partnership of the Baptist Union, Church of England, and United Reformed Church. Read more at www.northstowe.church

Watch a recording made of last year's Communion 

If you want to share this moment with family and friends unable to come and gather around our campfire in person, here's a recorded version, filmed around the campfire outside Northstowe's Stable Scene. For practical and licensing reasons, the music in the streamed service is slightly different.
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