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.

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Insecurities and Being Mom to Active Girls

8 03 2016

I keep thinking I’m getting better at not being  competitive or anxious mother, and then something happens with my daughters and I realize I have all the feelings of anxiety turned up on high and wonder how in the world did I allow myself to get there?

I think I land in a space with other parents who are ramped up for their children and it rubs off on me. Plus, all my own insecurities and experiences from childhood pop up and I reflect them on my girls – despite all the times I tell myself I’m NOT going to do that. It just happens and takes me by surprise!

This month is intense for me as mom and Doug as dad. Some people might ask “why do you let yourself get SO busy” and it just works out that these middle two weeks of March are the moment at which every activity collides and all chaos ensues in our household – including my competitive parenting anxiety.

  • So softball started up last week for both girls – check!
  • It is girl scout cookie selling season – thankfully only for one girl this byear – check!
  • The school play in a week auditions (wondering if they’ll get in or not)/rehearsals/performance – check!
  • Getting close to martial arts testing for one girl – check!
  • School music concerts galore for both girls – check!
  • colds and ear infections keeping kiddos home from school – check!

Then let’s add mom and dad’s list:

  • Final papers, group projects, and take-home essay exams two weeks for my seminary program – check!
  • Structural engineering season in full swing meaning extra pay (yay!) and extra hours for Doug at work – check!
  • Easter is coming in a few weeks (ministry fun times for our family!)
  • Washing machine dead and finding time to bring in a repair person, order parts, bring in repair person again – check! (thank God for generous neighbors sharing their machines!)
  • Doug is semi-acting as interim interim church choir director for our church choir
  • Doug is coaching Katie’s softball team
  • We decided on no nanny this year to save some money, which means Doug is coming home early when I have my classes in the evenings twice a week

Um… there is more, there has to be because that is just how our life works in March! Can I apply the “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” weather metaphor to our family life?

I’m noticing the parent list is a little longer than the kids list – ha! What the heck am I worried about then when it comes to our girls? It is interesting because when I think about my childhood experiences growing up – I tried for several things and I was ‘OK’ but not ever really the best at anything. I was involved in a lot of activities but I was going to places where people encouraged me to try or empowered me in leadership. It wasn’t perfection but I’m glad I had opportunities to learn – sometimes very painfully – about myself. Most of the things I did on my own volition as result of being a child of a single parent family and my mom rarely was able to be a part of my activities either because she worked full time at the hospital or finances. My dad usually lived too far away to participate. Maybe I had to prove myself by just trying and seeing if I could actually do something.

I wonder if because I don’t expect perfection from my children – just want to see them do the best for themselves even if they aren’t the best at what they do? And when they are good at what they are doing, because I have a hard time having confidence in my own abilities, I have difficulty accepting and allowing myself to believe they truly are talented at what they do. I think I also get anxious and competitive when I see it in other parents because I’m a people-pleaser and I want others to accept and like my kids – even if they aren’t the best at whatever activity they are pursuing.

Maybe competitive isn’t even the right word to use, maybe concerned is a better word. I’m concerned that my children get to have a variety of experiences, I’m concerned that they have a positive experience or at least a parent or other trusted adult to fall back on who will still accept and encourage them even when they aren’t the best – I think this is what I missed sometimes in my own childhood activities, even with plenty of mentorship in faith and getting through school. I do remember my mother wanting us to do well and was sometimes sad if we weren’t the best and sometimes upset at the one who did better – usually because of their standing in society. I wonder if I reflect my standing in society  that I sometimes think people don’t know what to do with – mom, church childrens and youth minister, and now forever seminary graduate student – and worry how that affects my children’s abilities in their activities. So I play the comparison and anxiety game without realizing until it is too late.

Goodness, the things we deal with as parents, without even realizing it, when dealing with the rest of our family’s happenings!

Praying for peace for this annual season of chaos. Amen





Bible Stories Book Review and a Giveaway Drawing – Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by Kelly Pulley

15 09 2014

I was given opportunity to review a new a new children’s Bible stories book while it is on a blog tour for David C. Cook.

Here is a video trailer featuring Kelly Pulley’s rhyming Treasury of Bible Stories:

And here are my thoughts and impressions on the Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

Definitely a book for 4-8 year olds… if you have a child ready to snuggle up and read or listen to a story, you can start right in. I have a wiggly 7 year old daughter, she is just learning to read and I asked her to help review the book with me. She read the first page on her own – outloud to me – and then she said “This is good, but I think preschoolers and kindergartners who aren’t reading yet would like it better.” I think it also was the timing – if I had her attention and read it as a bed time story or as a children’s sermon story where I already have her as a captive audience then maybe she would have been more receptive.

I have to say I was surprised by how few stories are covered in this book – the author seems to have chosen quality over quantity, which is not a bad thing – making it easier to read through the book with your children. The stories are more like long poems that are very rhythmic – think Dr. Suess style and fun to read outloud. When I first received the book I had hoped to use it with our upcoming Sunday School lessons on the Jesus feeding the 5000 with a few fish and loaves shared by a young child. Sadly, the story was not in the book. I have tried to figure out if there was a pattern to the stories chosen, and I’m not sure there is – perhaps these are some of the author’s favorites or stories that were designed to follow a set of Sunday school lessons.

So who do I recommend pick up this book??

  • If you or your child like rhyming – this book is for you.
  • If you are looking for a new Bible stories book to share with your young child – give this one a try.
  • If you are wanting to read rhythmic stories to children in a nursery or preschool setting – this is a great book to engage little ears.
  • If you’re wanting to add a book to your church or Sunday school’s children’s ministry library – I’d recommend you consider this for your shelf.

WIN A COPY of TREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES by Kelly Pulley!!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have an opportunity to give away one free Treasury of Bible Stories book to one special random drawing winner.

How to Enter (now through Sept 20th):

  1. Leave your name and reason why you’d like a copy of this book in the comments below for one entry.
  2. Share this post via Facebook, Twittter, Google+, and even pin to Pinterest and then leave a comment telling me where you’ve shared.

I’ll draw a name at 10:00 a.m  on Saturday, Sept. 20th, 2014 – get your entries in and if you think of someone else who might love this book, be sure to share this post with them so they can enter as well.

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase the book you can find it at:

David C. Cook  | ChristianBooks.com  | Lifeway Christian Books

Family Christian Books | Barnes and NobleAmazon.com

BTW – the only compensation I receive for this post is a copy of the book to use for review and promise of a giveaway book to my readers upon review.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment to enter the drawing!!





Please!! Let the Children Lead!!

27 09 2013

I drove into my daughters’ school drop-off zone yesterday morning pnly to drive out angry at how adults sometimes treat children who are trained and designated to be community leaders.

I confess – we were in the “5 minutes to the last bell”crowd. As I pulled up closer to the five designated drop-off-and-drive-off spots, I immediately noticed some heavy drop-off congestion. Five cars were all vying for the same spot. Just beyond the parking lot, safely on the sidewalk and wearing her patrol gear what a child who looked frustrated but kept doing her job – holding out her hand for cars #6 and beyond to wait and directing other cars to pull out. Parents in cars #1-5 and even #6 #7 were ignoring this poor young lady and just driving up to other spots and causing the crazy congestion that stopped the entire parking lot from working as smooth as it could.

Now these drop off spots are very clearly marked by numbers and heavily publicized policies in parent/school  communications). Often there is an adult – parent or teacher – helping out, but these patrol students are well trained. I’m guessing it was “5 minutes to the bell” and the adult helpers needed to get to their classrooms, etc. There really shouldn’t be an issue here. Had the driving “adults” respected the leadership and training of this student – rather than simply dismissing her as “only a child” perhaps the drop-off area would have run more smoothly.

I was really frustrated for this little girl and need to send a note of thanks off to our principal to let them know what I observed. I was so frustrated that parents of a community pledging to come together to raise our kiddos up as leaders in this school system can decide to one-up the system and take things into their own hands. Not only does it clog up our parking lot and drop-off system – it degrades the very thing we are trying to teach and deflates an individual child’s confidence in their abilities.

Here are my thoughts when it comes to children and leadership in churches (or anywhere really):

* When provided training and given responsibility we need to let the children go and let them lead – especially the ones who really get it. Sometimes they may need assistance etc. But let them lead.

* When being led by a child – we need to let them lead. Adults simply need to respect and trust that if another adult has left a child (11,12,13 yr old child) in charge then they likely are responsible enough to lead. IF there is an issue – bring it to the team leader, rather than take things into your own hands [unless it is a viable safety issue of course].

Please let our children and youth be leaders – they need it, we need it, and sometimes they are just better at the job!

And to that young patrol student – this is what I want you to hear: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  – 1st Timothy 4:12





Rest In Peace “Sticker” the Plecostimus – childhood pet death

5 01 2013

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Our eight year old daughter has gone from complete joy to utter disappointment and grief in a span of a week. She acquired her first aquarium from “Santa” at Christmas. A few days later we ventured to PETCO to guide her in choosing some fish for her tank. We talked with a “fish specialist” who was very helpful – and we talked with one at another store when purchasing the aquarium kit. She first chose a Marble Molly and a Common Plecostimus (little tiny catfish that can grow up to 2 feet long!). We have done everything they told us and Ellie has been responsibly caring for her pets every single day. We also have a cat, a box turtle, and have pet sat for neighbors, but this is her first pet she isn’t sharing with family.

Unfortunately, I think we unintentionally starved the plecostimus she affectionately named “sticker” because it just stuck to the ground and side of the tank eating up algae. There likely wasn’t enough algae and I looked up more information to find a few more things Sticker required that we hadn’t been told. This is how we learn.

This is first death of a pet in our household (she is aware of family and friends who have died, so not a first death experience for her). I asked what Ellie would like to do with the fish and she said “bury him”. My husband suggested a “burial at sea” via toilet might be appropriate for a fish and she just glared at him. So with trowel in one hand, and deceased fish in a ziplock container in the other hand, she dug a little hole in our backyard. As Ellie put Sticker’s body in the hole, I asked everyone to share their favorite memories of our short time with this little fish, then we said a prayer thanking God for allowing him to be in our family for a little bit. I mentioned that stickers will help fertilize the yard and bring new life in the spring. My husband tried not to laugh at me, then we walked back up our house with our arms around Ellie. She did very well, and tomorrow we’ll look for another Plecostimus and try again at our new life as fish owners.

Rest In Peace Stickers. Know you were loved by a sweet little girl named Ellie.

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Hairband Holder

1 09 2012

I re-purposed my husband’s big ol’ prescription bottle into a hairband stand!

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Sometimes it is the little things that help me feel accomplished.





Walking Holy ground at Vacation Bible School

9 08 2012

Somedays I feel like I’m not very good at coordinating (usually when I’m tired/depressed), and of course i am not perfect and VERY aware. Then volunteers bring their friends in to help with large events (adults/teens), and kids who were brought as someone’s friend last year bring friends along this year. And there are the kids who have been participants for the past few years who come back as volunteers and are incredible in children’s ministry. This warms my heart and reminds me it isn’t about me – they are being accepted and growing closer to God through the invitation of one another. And even if we aren’t a huge church with 100+ kids, one new life changed will affect so many more than I can on my own. The Spirit is truly working in this place. I am walking on Holy ground, in awe and honored to participate!








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