Advent -- Come Just as You Are!
Service Prayers for Christmas
24 or 25, 2011
9: 2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2: 1-14, (15-20)
Seed Thought: Christmas Eve/Christmas Day
is the season of the year when the C&E (Christmas and Easter) folk arrive.
Some truly only visit church twice a year, others may be re-entering church
after a long absence; still others might be coming for the very first time. This
service gives space for the telling of the sacred story through scripture,
anthems, and hymns, while introducing new or unknown traditions. An optional
candle-lighting ceremony for Christmas Eve is included. As you plan for
worship, imagine you are entering a church for the first time on Christmas Eve
or Christmas Day. What would you hope to take away from the experience?
Procession (Optional): During the gathering music or a reading of
Luke 2:8-20 a small band of shepherds
walks from the back of the sanctuary to the front. They may come down one aisle
or different aisles. They carry small bundles of straw, spun wool, sheep pelts.
A few times, the shepherds pause, look heavenward, point (as if to a star) and
then continue on their way. No words are spoken, but they motion to each other
to come. When they reach the altar (perhaps where a crèche or manger is located)
they kneel as if in homage. Then quietly they stand and leave placing their
straw or wool bundle near the Advent table. (Option: consider have small
bundles of straw or wool tied with purple or blue ribbon for congregants to
hang on the church tree or take home with them.)
Eve: “While By My Sheep, I Watched at
Christmas Day: “Angels
We Have Heard on High” TNCH
Call to Worship: After Psalm 96 and Luke 2: 1-14
Leader: Sing to our God a new song;
to our God all the earth.
to God in the highest heaven,
Peace on earth to all!
Leader: The heavens are telling the glory of
the earth rejoice, let trees of the forest sing for joy!
Glory to God in the highest
Peace on earth to all!
Come, All Ye Faithful”
O God of the Baby of Bethlehem,
We come into your presence with praise and thanksgiving.
We hear the glad tidings of the angel voices,
We come to experience this good news of great joy for all the people.
As the shepherds traveled to Bethlehem,
We have traveled here – excited, expectant, hopeful; a bit skeptical.
Let the words of sacred scripture seep into our hearts,
to be treasured and pondered anew.
We are here; we are ready, O God!
Let the light of your love break forth! Amen.
Lighting of the Advent
Candles: (After Titus 2: 11-14)
family processes to the Advent Table as the congregation sings. One or more
voices read the following words as all candles are lit. The white Christ candle
is lit last. The family returns to their seats on the singing of the hymn.)
Hymn (seated) La
Paz Sea Contigo Sing!
Prayer and Praise 197
Verse 4: El
júbilo sea contigo, el júbilo sea contigo,
May God’s joy be with you, now and forever.
El júbilo sea contigo.
One: We relight four candles representing
the four weeks of Advent
awaited the blessed hope of our Savior,
Two: These candles symbolize gifts of
Jesus Christ to us:
paz, peace; amor, love; espiritu, spirit; júbilo,
Three: Today we light
the Christ Candle:
candle of Hope made real in the Son of God
to earth at Christmas.
Christ, the grace of God has appeared
bringing the Good News of salvation
Hymn (Suggestion) Star
Child Sing! Prayer and Praise 174
(If this is a new hymn, the choir or
soloists sing the verses with the congregation joining in on the chorus.)
Call to Confession:
Come just as you are. Come
to meet Jesus.
As Mary and Joseph welcomed strangers
and a host of heavenly guests to the stable,
so God welcomes us with open
In these silent moments,
give yourself over to the counsel of God
as you confess your failings
God loves you. God is
of Silent Prayer)
Leader: God is faithful and just. God judges
all people with equity.
people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
who lived in a land of deep darkness -- on them light has shined.
the glow of God’s grace, you are forgiven!
this revelation brighten your soul!
and forgiving, carry the light of Christ’s love
an aching and ailing world! Amen.
Hymn (Optional, seated) In
the Bleak Midwinter (Verses 1-3) TNCH
Call to Offering:
be sung or spoken from In the Bleak
Midwinter verse 4, TNCH 128)
What can I offer, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I
would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise one, I
would do my part…
What can I offer: all my heart.
As we open our purses and
our pockets, may the gifts we bring
be in proportion to the
gratitude of our hearts at Christ’s birth.
Prayer of Dedication:
Christ comes! Our hearts are full,
our joy is boundless.
May this offering be a living message
of peace, love, spirit, joy and hope
to this church, to this community, to this nation and world. Amen.
for Christmas Eve
candles with drip guards are passed out to worshippers as they arrive for the
come to a special portion of tonight’s service.
As Christ comes bringing the
light of God’s love,
we light our individual
to signify our individual
and collective commitment
to live as Christ’s faithful
in the world.
The light will be brought to
the end of each row,
tip your unlit candle into
the flame so that it may take hold.
Do not tip your lit candle!
Pass the light along your
row until every candle is lit.
As the candles are lit we
will join in singing.
Hymn (seated as candles are lit) Silent Night, Holy Night TNCH 134
Leader: As the lights are dimmed (usher dims the lights) let us hold up
candle is but a flicker, but together, we create a bright flame
of Christ’s light in the
Consider the beauty of our
lights shining together.
Jesus is the light of the
Jesus is the hope of all our
May we be witnesses of the
light Christ brings, Amen.
you gently extinguish your candle, carry the light of Jesus’ love with you.
music plays softly as lights are extinguished.)
Benediction (After Isaiah 9:6)
Child is born to us! A Son is given!
is named Wonderful Counselor,
God, Prince of Peace!
is born! Merry Christmas to all!
People: Christ is born! Merry Christmas to
Hymn Joy to the World TNCH
Come Just as You Are, Service
Prayers for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, was written by the Rev. Penny L. Lowes, an
ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a free lance writer. She
has served two UCC congregations, most recently for seven years as the Senior
Pastor at the Congregational Church or Birmingham, UCC in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Copyright 2011 Local Church Ministries,
Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ,
700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this
material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.