Intergenerational family friendly Christmas Eve Worship Service

18 12 2016

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!

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Christmas Eve Family Worship
Written for Lake City Presbyterian Church
by Jackie Brotnov and Leena Prindle, December 2008

Welcome Greeting

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

Benediction

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.





The Five Things I need from White People Right Now

21 09 2016

Because Black Lives Matter …

derricklweston

Another day, another unarmed black man dead. Terence Crutcher’s SUV stalled as he was coming back from community college classes. He was studying music appreciation and was very active in his church choir. Seeing his picture reminds me of any number of big dudes I know who can sing their lungs out. From his view in a helicopter, a Tulsa police officer thought he looked like a bad dude. Instead of trying to help the man with the stalled car, two officers made him put his hands up as he approached them for help. As he reached into his SUV, probably to grab some form of identification, which again, should not have been necessary because he was the one in distress, he was tased and then shot. He was unarmed. He was the father of four.

I feel like ranting and raving about how angry and scared this makes me…

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To “Take a Break” or Not to Take a Break? That is the Question. 

13 06 2016

Sometimes I think – “Ugh, I need to ‘take a break’ and ignore some certain social media Groups or posts and get away from the anxiety, stress, and angst I feel because of it.”
And then I remember that there are people for whom the “isms” behind these awful occurrences are a reality every day – walking into work, school, community spaces, even their own family – and they are normal everyday oriole just trying to live life like me these people don’t get to choose to take a break – ever.

So I choose to stay connected and pray and see what is the best way I can participate in being a voice or act in a way that can be supportive in breaking down the ‘isms’. Sometimes I mess up and it hurts because I thought I was doing the right thing. So I ask forgiveness, correction, and guidance and keep going. 

There are so many privileges I am granted as a middle class heterosexual white woman living in the Seattle area. I didn’t ask for them – just as others who do not fall in my categories did not ask for their categories. (A few like money and location may be negotiatiable, but that is not the case for those who are oppressed while living in those conditions). I don’t need to break myself out of my categories but I need to embrace those in different categories with love and with equity rather than pity, hate, and disgust. 

This is because I am a Christian but also Not because I am a Christian. Because I am human and they are too, because I am valuable and they are too. What will it take for us to understand that we all have value? What will it take to treat one another as valuable persons – and definitely not in the sense of valuable to bring me power, money, or pride like slavery, sex trafficking, concentration camps, and child marriage and more. I’m talking about value that says “I am here to work and live side by side with you and others so we all may have the dignity to live out our hopes, dreams, and full purpose and potential for life”. 

I can’t take a break until everyone is allowed a break. 





A Pondering and Praying Heart …

20 11 2015

I haven’t forgotten about Paris, Lebanon, Nigeria and Surian Refugees, I still mourn the loss of our family’s cat and I stand with students in Missouri because #blacklivesmatter. But today was a day that many other causes pressed and needed attention. 

My heart, soul and mind are full today. I began the morning praying for my brother and his family – it is my nephew Reed’s birthday and anniversary of his death. One of the hardest days of my life that I know was waaaay more difficult for David & Ashley. I’ll never forget having to break the news of a baby brother’s death to my almost 10 year old niece, then playing with my 4 year old nephew at the hospital who had little idea of what was going on, and holding my brother and his dead son, who only lived for four hours. I was the sole physical representative for our side of his family and was asked to break the news to my parents because my brother was too heart broken. They are still heart broken two years later. Contribute to research for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) if you are able. 

Then I spent the morning at Trinity Lutheran College in Everett for a Child,Youth, Family Studies Dept advisory board meeting – heard stories about how the campus recently dealt with a student’s suicide and then listened incredible presentations of current students regarding the Imago Dei (image of God in and through God’s people and the persons of the trinity- God,Jesus, Holy Spirit). I think other alumni would have any lost hope restored in witnessing these presentations. 

While at lunch scheduled to chat about ministry with a student, the TLC Black Student Union called a Student Body meeting confronting and calling into question words that had been spoken to a black student “this school was so much better before your kind was here”. Yes, that happened at a Christian vocational ministry college. My favorite moments were faculty and the academic dean speaking out to support students of color and call out the racism and offering a place of safety to confide and help confronting. A student spoke to Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to a wall centuries ago to advocate for the marginalized – saying Martin Luther would not stand for this oppression. And Erik Samuelson, campus pastor beautifully closes out the time in prayer, blessing, and sending I. The midst of confrontation, confession, forgiveness and hopefully reconciliation. God truly has the right people there at the right time. 

Next I ventured on to my Foundations of Youth and Family Ministry class at SPU where we talked about homosexuality, dignity in death, and place-sharing in youth ministry – deep topics that two and a half hours was not enough time to cover it all. 

Finally had dinner & beer with several other seminary women learning more about them and sharing life stories and encouraging one another in our studies. 

Now I’m supposed to be reading more but my mind, heart, and soul are so full…
Praying for peace and reconciliation in so many pockets of my life and our world tonight. Amen.  

(Edit: if you made it to the end please excuse typos due to tiredness and typing on a small iPhone keyboard!)

 





I wish bad things did not happen.

17 11 2015

Our kitty of eight years, Selena, died on Saturday. We miss her very much. A friend shared this on Facebook and I curiously clicked through the link. It applies very well to our family’s current feelings about losing Selena, but it also applies to the recent terrorist attacks and anything that is taken away when we least expect it. The blogger is a bear. 🙂

Hello, I am a bear

sticks are good (2)

I had a collection of sticks.

It was a lovely collection. It contained sticks that were long, sticks that were short, sticks that were pointy, sticks that split off into some sort of double stick thing, sticks that had been broken into more sticks, and even a few items that were not sticks but I felt deserved to be in the collection (dirt, a plastic bottle I found, some acorns, etc.).

I kept the collection near my cave and added to it frequently. The collection was growing quite large, and I loved seeing it grow. I was very proud of my collection of sticks (and stick related items), and just knowing that it was there, ever being a lovely collection of sticks (and stick related items), was comforting to me.

Recently, however, it was damaged. I do not know by whom or why, but someone or something ravaged my collection…

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To The Moms: Just Stop It

23 05 2015

This is sooo good! “You are enough.”.

The Accidental Missionary

I got home after midnight from a business trip last night. That’s probably why I didn’t notice it until the morning. This bag. Alone. On the kitchen table.

Moms bag

Normally, getting my kids to the breakfast table is like trying to coax a couple of cats into a swimming pool. As soon as they wake up, they hide under blankets on the couch and make strange noises. But this morning was a different story.

Audrey came out of the bedroom, wiped the sleep from her eyes, and went right to the table. She sat in front of the bag with a smile on her face.

“What’s the bag for?” I asked as I created my super-duper breakfast parfaits. Colorful layers of yogurt, fruit, and cereal.

“We got it for our end-of-year party yesterday.” She reached into the bag.

“What did you get?”

She started pulling out different items and commenting.

“Goldfish…

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Seven reasons church attendance is difficult when kids have mental illness…

5 05 2015

These are very real barriers for families – children and their parents/grandparents/(whoever might bring them to church), making it difficult to attend worship, classes and events. This wasy my family growing up, plus my parents were divorced and dad lived close enough for every other weekend visitation, those perfect attendance pins and rewards in Sunday school were constant reminders of the brokenness and difficulties in our lives. How do we not only include these families, allowing for safe spaces to return when they are feeling bold and able?

Church4EveryChild

depressed teenWe as the church do a lousy job of welcoming and including families of children and teens with mental illness or trauma histories. I’d argue that a major reason why we struggle is the absence of an agreed-upon model for a mental health inclusion ministry for kids.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our team at Key Ministry needs to, at the very least, put forth a conceptual model for a mental health/trauma inclusion ministry that could be implemented by churches of all sizes, denominations and organizational styles. This model would be continually tested and refined through the experiences of ministry partners everywhere seeking to include kids and teens with ADHD, anxiety, attachment issues, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress and difficulties with social communication and interaction. Today, we’ll start by identifying seven reasons church attendance/participation is difficult for families of kids with mental illness.

Barrier #1. Social isolation

Families of kids with many of…

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