It is 2014 and in 2009 I posted a note on Kidology.org forums regarding an intergenerational Christmas Eve service we had put together for our smaller congregation. Every year since then I have received requests to access a copy of the service order and this year I’ve received three requests! I know I am one who is always on the search for resources and I realized the link on my post at Kidology is no longer accessible (from dropbox way back when!) so I’m simply going to post the service here for folks to freely borrow and edit to adapt to your congregational settings – if you think it is something you’d like to use. Here is the message I left in the forums in 2009:
I have a family friendly worship service we put together for 2008 involving telling the story of Jesus’ Birth using Christmas hymns/carol with some call and response and interactive. I’ll testify that it is very user friendly and can be done with minimal staffing because it ended up being a really bad snow & ice year in Seattle where we almost cancelled Christmas Eve worship and we had 15 or so folks show up. I had no idea who was even going to be able to make it so I could barely assign parts and we just went with the flow. The Charlie Brown clip didn’t happen due to technical difficulties but it all went along smoothly and it was a wonderfully intimate Christmas Eve service for children and adults alike!
I’d like to add that the ideas of telling the nativity story through hymns and history of hymns came from a wonderful LCPC congregation member, Jackie Brotnov. I loved that she approached me with her idea, wondering whether it had any value… and of course it did! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve Family Worship
Written for Lake City Presbyterian Church
by Jackie Brotnov and Leena Prindle, December 2008
Lighting of the Advent Candles
One: We are a people of hope. Our hearts are full of anticipation for the coming of our beloved Christ Child. For God is to be among us and we will see a great light in the midst of our night. Let us light the Candle of Hope. (Light the first purple/blue candle)
Two: We are a people who seek peace. We know that God has told us to turn our weapons of war into instruments that benefit all humanity. In the name of that Child who was born long ago to become the Prince of Peace, we now light the Candle of Peace. (Light the second purple/blue candle)
Three: We are a people who seek to be brought together by the love of Christ. Our faith teaches us that God gives us unconditional love and forgiveness. Acknowledging God’s free gift of grace, we light the Candle of Love. (Light the third pink candle)
Four: Joy to the world! Our God is now coming to bring us “good news.” May we sing songs of praise and gladness. We know that our Savior reigns. Let us light the Candle of Joy. (Light the fourth purple/blue candle)
Call to worship:
Leader: Come all who are faithful and all who seek join in your lives.
People: It is the season to sing praises to God for the Christ Child is near.
Leader: The symbols of hope, peace, love, and joy shine brightly in our hearts.
People: May they remain with us through the year.
Leader: We now share a promise that was fulfilled by God:
All: Than our beloved Child is born and will call us to new lives of love, joy, and faith in action. Amen.
“Peanuts- A Charlie Brown Christmas” Clip (approx. 2 mins)
Voice: Long ago, in a far away land, a baby boy was born. We celebrate his birthday on Christmas Day. Because he was such an exceptional baby, many stories have been written about his life, death, and resurrection. The stories are important because they tell us how much God loves us and why we need to follow Jesus.We can find all this written in the holy Bible and even in cartoon Christmas specials on television.
Voice: Another way to learn about this baby, Jesus, is through songs telling us about him. Almost all of Jesus’ birth can be told through music, by musicians and composers who took the stories from the Bible. They had read their Bibles and wanted people to have another way of learning about Jesus.
Voice: But if you didn’t have a Bible to read, you would still know through songs where Jesus was born, and who he was. In the Old Testment, prophets spoke about the coming of a Messiah – they were talking about Jesus.This song was written in anticipation of a Messiah, a Savior, who would come and help the people. Let’s listen:
Hymn: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
Voice: We also know what happened when Jesus was born. Do you remember reading in your Bible where he was born? Who was there? What was the name of the town? What happened whe the shepherds saw the star? All of these answers are found in the Bible and in music and poems people have written.They are also found in music, like in the hymn “Once in Royal David’s City” and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”. Royal David refers to King David.
Once in Royal David’s City stood a lowly cattle shed, Where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his head. Mary was that mother mild. Jesus Christ her little child.
Hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
The holy family enters. Mary, carrying the baby, and Joseph, come behind the lectern and go to the large pulpit and just sit down, quietly, peacefully, as Mary cradles the baby.
Voice: So what have we learned through these songs? People were looking for a Savior. Jesus was born – in Bethlehem. We learn the name of his mother, Mary,and the baby king’s name – Jesus.
Voice: Let’s continue traveling through familiar songs and see what else we can discover. “Away in a Manger” is a favorite of children and grownups alike, and it was written by Martin Luther for his own children. This used to be called “Luther’s Cradle Song” and sometimes children would make a ‘cradle for Jesus’ with their arms when singing. Some folks sing it very softly, so they don’t wake the baby. Can we sing it together?
Hymn: “Away in the Manger “
Voice: We have learned the shepherds were frightened that night, and the angels calmed their fears. They wanted to see for themselves, and so came to the manger, which also had animals keeping warm.
Hymn: “The First Noel”
Voice: Later, some people brought gifts to Jesus. Do you know what they were? Gold, frankincense and Myrrh – gifts for a king. If you could bring a gift to Jesus what would you bring? Write it down in words or draw a picture on the gift wrap card you received. You can bring it forward during our offering time and give your gift to baby Jesus.
Leader: Our offering tonight is for……fill in the blanks but not your own church – someone else instead. After our Prayer of Dedication of the offering, please come forward and place your offering in the bowl provided and take a taper. If you have not brought anything with you, don’t worry, just come and take a taper. Form a large circle around the church instead of returning to your seat.
Prayer of Dedication of Offering
L It was cold and Mary and Joseph were fearful.
P But that did not stop the birth.
L They were poor and had no place fitting for their child.
P But that did not stop the birth.
L They were uncertain about what God wanted from them.
P But that did not stop the birth.
L Today we are still sometimes cold and fearful, certainly poor in many ways.
P We often feel we have no place and are unclear about what God wants of us.
L But these things did not stop the birth of Jesus then, nor will they now.
P Lord Jesus be born in us today.
L Like Mary and Joseph, who trusted in your grace, we offer ourselves and our gifts to you. Bless our offering and our every thought and our every action, that Christ may be revealed through them to the world that is yet in darkness. Amen.
Offering (Adults and children come forward to offer their gifts, take a taper and join in circle around sanctuary)
Offertory/offering Hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful”
Lighting the Christ Candle and Prayer.
Leader: “Tonight is the night we have all been waiting for. Our Advent wreath will now be completed by the lighting of our Christ candle. “For unto us a child is given, unto us a Savior is born and the order of the world will be upon his shoulders.” With the birth of Jesus, our lives will be forever changed. We will be transformed by his model and message. We light this candle to represent that Christ is truly the center of our lives.”
(Light the Christ candle, leader lights taper off the Christ candle and light the tapers of the people on each side of them. Encourage those persons to light the taper of the person next to them and so on).
Leader: As Jesus’ light travels around the circle, we pray that God’s love and songs of the birth of Jesus will be in everyone’s hearts tonight and always.
Voice: Our story told through music and song continues, with many more Christmas hymns that take us all the way, from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany. It’s a wonderful journey we can take together and use to bring the light of Jesus to our friends, family, and the rest of the world. There is one more song for us to sing, and everyone can sing together: “Silent Night”. Let’s just stay here while the candles are lit, be very, very careful and sing “Silent night”.
Hymn: Silent Night
May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.