Christmas morning falls on a Sunday this year. Just a few hours after the good news of Christ’s birth is shared at the late, late service on Saturday night, a few of the faithful will gather again to share in the old, old story on Sunday morning.
I shared another complete service for Christmas that might work for your planning but I wanted to try something new especially after publishing these candelighting prayers for Advent. It made me wonder how we step out of the shadows and tell the story again for every generation to share in the good news of this birth. Like the other fireside service you’ll find in these pages, it goes back to relish in the story we usually hear on Christmas Eve. It’s the same readings in the Revised Common Lectionary for both days and I hope that this telling is just a tiny bit different.
Invitation to Worship
The sun has risen and it is a new day. It is Christmas Day and the world feels different. We come together to notice what twinkles. We gather to share the light of love. A child has been born to us! Endless peace is here. Justice moves forward. Light shines as it never has before.
Provide prisms and mirrors that might catch the light to be played with during this prayer.
O God, it all began with a star that stopped above that manger where the baby cuddled and cooed. It all began with a star that changed how we see light. This newborn child, our Emmanuel, the tiny baby Jesus, was light. That light was love. It is love that we find here again and again in this old, old story. O God, show us the shimmer and shine of your love today. Sparkle for us in the wonder of Christmas again. We pray in the light of your love. Amen.
Listening for the stars to twinkle
The song might be sung instead but I wondered about the familiarity of this song for young and old and this adaptation of it to invite us to expand our wonder on that star and the light that we find in Christ. For busy hands, there might be more opportunity to play with light. Flashlights, battery-powered tealights, sequins and other reflective wonders from your supply closet might be gathered on a table along with those mirrors and prisms for those prayers that go beyond words.
Starry words of praise
Though another version of the Psalm 96 or 98 might be chosen, I would opt for Michelle Torigian’s gorgeous adaptation in the Living Psalms Project of the United Church of Christ. I would invite several voices to share in a choral reading. The sixth and eighth stanzas might be spoken in unison by the congregation.
Lighting the Advent and Christmas candles
Christmas has come again. The sun has risen and the good news of that newborn hope is being felt in each sunbeam dispelling the shadows.
It is a hope that has flesh, like yours and mine. It emerges from the shadows to announce that your flesh and your whole life are a part of this good news. This will be who you are and what you could be.
A new birth has come and the world will look different even if it is only the light that shifts. We remember all that we have hoped and prayed for in the shimmering lights of Advent.
Light for Advent candles.
On Christmas, we notice how it shines in the world and within each person. We look for the light of the world to restore and renew us for more love, greater peace and immense joy. What do you notice about the light this Christmas?
Together, we light one candle for the good news of Christ's newborn hope.
Wondering under the stars
This Christmas story might be introduced in this way:
Today we will hear the hope of this newborn hope told in Sally Lloyd-Jones' children's story entitled Song of the Stars. Those who know this story well of Mary, Joseph and their baby boy know there was one star that rose above that manger. It caught the eye of the shepherds and caused the sheep to sing a new song. It would lead the wise people from faraway lands to sit beside Mary and Joseph in wonder and delight. From the shadows of Advent, what do you wonder about this star? How might it be leading you?
Consider how Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones might come alive for every generation. It will be tempting to use the beautiful illustrations by Alison Jay but copyright won’t allow duplication.
The story might come to life with a slideshow of starry skies sharing in the delight, “It’s time! It’s time!” (Hi-res photos might be collected from within your community.) Puppets might be used or perhaps while the story is read pieces of the manger move through the worship space encountering worshippers and other friends before they take their place in front of the worship space.
You can hear the author read this story aloud here. Not using the illustrations might allow for a darker complexion in the holy family just as the narrator might opt for some more inclusive language.
Starry words of prayer
Tea light candles might be used in the intercessory part of this prayer to make that visual of more light come alive. If this is preferred, stick with that first line for each person to say with their prayer and invite the congregation to respond “Light of the World, hear our prayer.”
Light of our World, Radiant One, you bring new wonder into our lives again. There is a fresh hope and a hint of possibility that we feel shift within us. All heaven rejoices and earth sings as we twinkle, twinkle with the wonder of your stars. Shine with us and bring light into our hearts and hands because this world still needs more light. We pray for light to shine in... We pray for your radiant hope to come in... We pray that we might find this little light of mine within us and in everything so that it is not only the stars that shine but the whole world is illuminated with love. We pray into your good news, O Light of our World. Amen.
Blessings of the stars
Worship might include with Jan Richardson’s How the Light Begins a blessing. Please note that Jan requests (and deserves) credit in her post and offers instructions for how to do so without asking permission. I would be tempted to give each person some starry symbol (tea light candle, glow stick, tiny container of biodegradable glitter or even a prism) and encourage them to let light begin with them as Jan’s blessing ends.
If you choose to use this order of worship, I pray its a blessing. I also appreciate credit however you have become used to sharing that information. I’m still praying for you, dear pastor.