Tag Archives: Christmas Eve

To those who only come on Christmas Eve, “Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.”

WelcomeIs this the only day of the year you come to church?  Please don’t apologize. You are welcome, and I’m thrilled you came.  If you’re only going to come to worship once a year, then this is a good day to pick.  It is a pretty awesome day.  The Christmas tree is beautiful.  The songs are familiar.  The story is simple, and the message is powerful.  Singing Silent Night at the end of the service with the candles lit give me chills every time.  I hope it is moving for you too.

Maybe you’re here because your Grandma insists.  Great.  We love your Grandma too.  I saw her last month in the hospital, and we prayed for you.

Maybe you’re here because you’re looking for your “yearly check up.”  Great.  I’m glad you still feel connected to God through worship.  It might not be a part of your weekly routine, but I’m so glad that you came here to try to encounter something Holy, even if it is only once a year.

Maybe you’re busy every weekend.  You intend to come to worship, but it’s just too hard.  Great. I know that your time is precious. I’m so glad that you were able to carve out some time now. Christmas is an especially busy season.  I’m so glad you were able to be here and worship. Life is hard. I believe that being a part of a worshiping community can help you tremendously.  I hope you are blessed by coming.

Maybe you’re back from college, and this service brings back memories of growing up as you live through a transitional time of your life. Great. We’re proud of you, and what you’re becoming. We hope you remember who and whose you are while away at school. Leave your school address, and we’ll send you a care package.

Maybe you’re trying church with your kids. Great. We love kids, and not just the idea of kids. We love real kids.  Kids that make noise. Kids that get up and climb the steps. Kids that need something to do. Kids that want to participate in worship, and kids that just want to color. Kids that are looking for a smiling face over the pew. Kids that dance in the aisles when the music is just too good to sit still. We know that raising kids is one of the hardest things we’ll ever try to do, so we’ll be in this together.

Maybe this is the first time you could come back since the loss of a loved one.  I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m so glad you’re here. I hope you consider this a step toward healing. I know you miss her. I know that Christmas can sharpen the pain. There is someone here that misses someone too. I hope you sit together, and find comfort and joy in the midst of mourning.

Maybe this Christmas you had a strange feeling that maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. Great. I hope you continue to search, and by the way, I love Dr. Seuss too. I hope you encounter something real with us at worship. I pray that you feel connected to God through the songs, the prayers, the Scriptures, and the message proclaimed. I hope that the power of the eternal Word made flesh resonates with you, and opens up a new way of understanding the world.

Maybe you’re searching for a church home. Great. You should know that this is not a typical worship service, but we hope you can come back. May your search be blessed, wherever it takes you. If you want to come back on Sunday, we’ll be here.  We’d love to have you. I’d love to walk with you as you dig deeper into your faith. I’d love to see you in a Bible study. I’d love to talk with you over coffee about faith, compassion, forgiveness, Jesus, grace, sin, death, and life.  I’d love it if you want to get baptized. I’d love it if you joined us in our mission to transform our community and our world.  But if this night is all you want, I’m okay with that.

Maybe you’re a pilgrim searching for truth. Great. There’s room for your questions. No one here has it all figured out. I believe that doubts, questions, and wondering makes faith stronger in the long run. There’s no need to check your brain, your science, or your logic at the door. Maybe though, there is room for some mystery, and we can go on this journey together.

I celebrate that you are here with us today. Sometimes I hear “church folk” or other pastors talk about “C and E Christians.” You know, people who only show up to church on Christmas and Easter. The term is seldom used with kindness.  Maybe if the people already established in churches stopped talking about C & Eers with such righteous indignation, more of them would come back on December 28.

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Interactive Christmas Eve service: The ABCs of Christmas

I found the original ABCs of Christmas on a website called The Young Clergy Women Project.  I loved the idea of the service, and decided to use it this year for one of our Christmas Eve services.  Every year we have a special “Kid-Friendly” Christmas Eve service.  I love this, because it seems like it will be truly interactive.  Each person coming into the service (or every child) will get to choose to be a Wise One, a Shepherd, or an Angel.  Erin Klassen, the author of the original blog post, suggested making little head gear for kids to wear.  I’m not that crafty.  I’m going to print little paper-sized posters for people to take with these pictures on them:

These are images I took from Microsoft Clip Art.

These are images I took from Microsoft Clip Art.

At the beginning of the service, I’ll tell the people to listen to the Christmas ABCs story, and pay close attention.  Every time I say the word “Shepherds,” the Shepherds are supposed to hold up their poster and say “Let’s go see!”  Every time I say the word “Wise Ones,” the Wise Ones hold their poster and say “Look, a star!”  When I say the word “Angel,” the angels say, “Hallelujah!”

A is for ANGEL. The ANGEL Gabriel began the story by telling Mary,

Luke 1:28-33        “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty.  Beautiful inside and out! God be with you…. Mary, you have nothing to fear.  God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.”

B is for Bethlehem, where our story takes place.  People traveled from far and wide to get to Bethlehem, which was not a very big village.

C is for Census, which means an official counting of all the people.  The reason so many people came to Bethlehem.

D is for Donkey.  A donkey carried the family on their long journey.  Mary and Joseph had to travel 107 miles along the Jordan River to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  That’s a pretty long journey.

E is for Exhausted.  That’s how everyone must have felt when they arrived.  It would take about 36 hours of walking to go that far.  That’s three days in a row of doing nothing but walking.

Song: O Little Town of Bethlehem

F is for Family.  Mary and Joseph and their new baby Jesus created a new family, one that would bless the whole world.

Luke 2:6-8       “While they were there, 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 for in the hostel.”

G is for the Good News about to be shared with all the earth.  This is what the ANGELS said:

Luke 2:10-14   “There were SHEPHERDS camping in the neighborhood.  They had set night watches over their sheep.  Suddenly, God’s ANGEL stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.  The SHEPHERDS were terrified.  The ANGEL said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.  This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket lying in a manger.”

            At once the ANGEL was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: “Glory to God in the heavenly heights.  Peace to all men and women on earth.”

Song: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

H is for Hope.  Now we light the Advent candle of Hope.  Hope is knowing that good news is coming, even when things look bleak.  Jesus is the source of our hope.

I is for Imagine.  If we close our eyes and imagine the scene, we can see the beauty and wonder of the ANGELS proclaiming good news to all men and women.  We can see the SHEPHERDS, first terrified, but then overcome with joy as they hear the good news.  If we try even harder, we can imagine a world where God’s peace reigns, where there is no war or hunger.  And if we can imagine it, we can do it with God’s help.

J is for Joy.  Now we light the Advent candle of Joy.  Joy is a kind of happiness that comes from God.  It cannot be dampened, and is always shared.  The birth of Jesus gives us joy.

Song: Joy to the World

K is for King.  Though Jesus would be King, he was not the kind of King people were used to.  Most kings are born in palaces, surrounded by servants.  He was born in a stable, surrounded by dirty, smelly SHEPHERDS.  Most kings rule with power and fear.  Jesus rules with mercy and love.

L is for Lost.  When Jesus grew up he told a lot of stories, and three of them were about lost things that were found.  He loved to find lost things, and when you are with Jesus, you will never be lost.  He is the good SHEPHERD, who do anything to find his lost sheep.

L is also for Love.  Now we light the Advent candle of Love, Jesus summarized his ministry by saying “Love God…” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

M is for Manger.  A manger is usually used to hold food for animals, but this time it held the baby because he had no crib.

Song: Away in the Manger

N is for Noel.  Noel is another word for Christmas.  It means new birth, and that’s what happened in our story.  That’s what happens every year at Christmas time.  That’s what happens every time we decide to follow Jesus – he is born anew in us.

O is for Offering.  The WISE ONES gave gifts to the baby, and we can offer our gifts every day.  We give our time, our talents, and our treasure to God, and pray that as a Church, we are good stewards of all that is entrusted to us.  So we we share our gifts now.

Offertory – Go Tell it On the Mountain


P is for Peace.  Now we light the Advent candle of peace.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and is the source of the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.

Q is for Quiet.  We begin a time of prayer in quiet, allowing God to speak to us, and joyful when the quiet is broken by small voices.

R is for Revealed.  Revealed means “showing us something that was once hidden.” God revealed to us what love looks like by giving us Jesus.  Jesus is love, and reveals to us the way to love one another.

S is for Star.  One special star guided WISE ONES to come to see the baby.  They were mysterious, and they lived far away, but they brought gifts to Jesus because they knew that he would grow up to be a King.

Matthew 2:9-11 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. 

T is for Table.  When Jesus grew up he invited all to his table.  He gave his friends bread and wine, and told them to remember him always.  When we gather at the Lord’s Table today, we call it Communion because we come together.  So at this table, we also remember the next letter:

U is for Unity.  Communion is a time when all people can come together and be one.  Just as many grains come together to form one bread.  We, who are many people, come together to be one body of Christ.

Communion Liturgy

After the Communion liturgy is read, these instructions are given: When you come to Communion, you will be given a piece of bread by the Pastor.  You may take it with you to the railing, where you will  be given a cup of grape juice.  If you are here as a family, then each family will be given one hunk of bread.  You are then invited to kneel at the railing together.  Take the bread, break off a piece, and give it to someone else in your family and say, “This is Christ’s body.”  If you have a little one, tell them “We do this as reminder of how much Jesus loves us.”  The cups will be brought to you at the railing.  You are welcome to pray together as long as you wish.

V is for Vulnerable.  Vulnerable means, “able to be hurt.”  Every baby is very vulnerable, and so are we when we love one another.  God became vulnerable when Jesus was born, and we are called to be vulnerable when we love our brothers and sisters.

W is for Wonder.  Like the WISE ONES, we stand in awe and wonder of the newborn King.

X is for Christ.  X is the Greek letter Chi, the first letter in the word “Christ.”  The X is one of the most ancient symbols of Christianity.  People have been using the letter X to stand for Christ for centuries.  And now we light the Christ candle, symbolizing the coming of light into the world.  Jesus is born.

Y is for You.  You ANGELS.  You WISE ONES.  You SHEPHERDS.  You sons and daughters. You mothers and fathers.  You friends and strangers.  You are all here to worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Z is for Zeal.  Let your zeal for Christ burn brightly.  As these lights are passed out, know that the light of God burns much, much brighter.  Though these lights will die out, the light of God is steadfast, and endures forever.

Glow sticks are distributed by the ushers.  Sometimes these sticks are difficult to crack, so they should be lit before the service and kept in a box.

Song: Silent Night


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