This service, which tells the entire Christmas story, is led by the organist rather than a presider up front. It is very effective to have the readers read from the back of the congregation as pictures are projected that are reflective of the readings. The words to the songs can be projected on the screen.
Prelude: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
Hymn of Christmas: “Lovely Child, Holy Child” CCS 428
Welcome and Invitation
Incorporate in the welcome a request to follow the instructions in the bulletin or on the screen and the leadership of the organ.
Hymn of Praise "O Come, All Ye Faithful" CCS 431
Read "Come Now, O Prince of Peace" CCS 225
Prophecy and Hope
Reading (adapted from Isaiah 11)
Listen, O people, to the voice of the Lord. The Messiah will come from Israel and he shall be great like King David. He shall come as a branch from the great tree that grows out of the roots of greatness. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear and delight in God....
He shall come with justice and with righteousness and will stand with the meek of the earth. When he comes he will establish his kingdom and it shall be a peaceable one. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them...
People will no longer hurt or destroy on God's holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Listen, O people, to the voice of the Lord.
Hymn: “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” CCS 407OR “All Earth is Hopeful” CCS 392
Reading (adapted from Luke 1)
...the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David...And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you...Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive...and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
Hymn: "Canticle of the Turning” CCS 404 OR “People, Look East” CCS 395
Reading (begin the organ meditation on the last line of the reading)
Angel voices in the heavens
Joyfully proclaim thy birth,
Singing of a promised kingdom,
Reign of righteousness and worth--
Songs of prophecy and promise,
Peace, goodwill have come to earth.
Organ Meditation: "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"
Hymn "Silent Night! Holy Night!" CCS 421
- Organ only
Hymn "Away in a Manger" CCS 426
- Children and youth
Ministry of Music: "Mary, Did You Know"
Hymn: "Joseph, Kind Joseph" CCS 414
This is God's Christmas greeting.
In the beautiful story of Jesus' birth,
it was sung by a chorus of angelic voices.
Heard at first only by Judean shepherds outside the town of Bethlehem,
nevertheless, it is a message that the whole world should hear.
On each Christmas Day,
God repeats His greeting.
Hymn: "Angels We Have Heard on High" CCS 427
Hymn: "Jesus, Our Brother Kind and Good” CCS 412
Reading: ”Wise Men Came Journeying” (stanzas 1 and 3 only) CCS 445
Accepting the Offering
"As with Gladness" - organ
Hymn: "We Three Kings, of Orient Are” CCS 438
- Left Men
- Right Men
- All Men
Our Challenge and Hope
Reading: "Some Children See Him," found in Hymns for the Family of God 181 (organ playing softly underneath the reading)
Hymn: "I Wonder as I Wander” CCS 435
Reading: "If There Is No Cross in the Manger" by Ann Weems, found in Reaching for Rainbows or Kneeling in Bethlehem
Hymn: "Look at This Man" CCS 26
Hymn: "Joy to the World!" CCS 408
Reading: "Christmas Comes Every Time We See God in Other Persons" by Ann Weems, found in Kneeling in Bethlehem
Postlude: "Go Tell It on the Mountain" - organ
Rejoice! Christ Has Come
Following this worship outline, you will find the text for the readings used in this service.
Call to Worship
*Hymn: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” CCS 431 OR : “Go, Tell It on the Mountain” CCS 409
*Call to Worship Reading (from Isaiah 52)
*Response: “I Wonder as I Wander” CCS 435
(Have a soloist or a group sing the first verse)
Prophets Foretell His Coming
Hymn: “God’s Love Made Visible” CCS 411
The Prophet Reading (from Isaiah 11)
The speaker may be in the costume of a prophet and comes forward from the back to speak. The reading should be memorized or well practiced.
A pianist can play one verse of CCS 411
The Angel Announces His Coming
Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn:
“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” CCS 437
The Angel Gabriel Greets Mary Reading (from Luke 1)
The speaker may be in a white robe to represent the angel and may come from the back to speak.
Play the last two lines of CCS 437
The Shepherds Are Sent to Bethlehem to Witness His Coming
*Hymn: “Angels We Have Heard on High” CCS 427
*The Angels Appear to the Shepherds Reading (from Luke 2)
Three or more angels in white robes come forward during the last verse of the hymn, speaking immediately after it.
Play the chorus of CCS 427 as the angels leave.
Wise Men Come from the East to Worship Him
Hymn: “The First Noel” CCS 424
Wise Men from the East Reading (from Matthew 2)
Three Wise Men in costume come forward during the last verse, speaking immediately after it.
We Go as Disciples to Serve the Cause of the Kingdom
*Hymn: “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” CCS 423
All of the characters come forward during the singing of the last verse of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” speaking immediately after it.
Prophet: God’s voice comes to every generation declaring the Good News!
Angel Gabriel: The Christ is now within you as he promised. You are the body of Christ.
Angels: As the body of Christ, you are called to bring peace on earth and good will to all.
Wise Men: (This section may be divided among the Wise Men.)
Seek the Christ. Bring your best gifts to honor and serve the Christ in one another and in those he came to heal and teach. Search for signs of God’s kingdom among you. His star has risen and has come to rest over this place.
Presider: Jesus came to reveal the presence of God in our world. Jesus, Son of God is born again in our hearts today. Let the light of the Holy Spirit grow in your hearts and in the heart of this congregation until the whole world knows the presence of God.
*Hymn: “Joy to the World” CCS 408
Remember that a benediction is a simple statement of blessing. There are many examples in the writings of Paul. From Galatians 6:18: “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.” Or you might add something like: “And, on this Christmas morning, may you be blessed to grow in your discipleship in the Community of Christ. Amen.”
Christmas Day Readings
Call to Worship, Adapted from Isaiah 52:1–8
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion!
Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city;
…My people shall know my name; …in that day they shall know
that it is I who speak; here am I.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Come and worship the Lord
who sends his messenger to announce peace on earth.
The Prophet, Adapted from Isaiah 11
Listen, O people, to the voice of the Lord. The Messiah will come from Israel and he shall be great like King David. He shall come as a branch from the great tree that grows out of the roots of greatness. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear and delight in God.…
He shall come with justice and with righteousness and will stand with the meek of the earth. When he comes he will establish his kingdom and it shall be a peaceable one. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…
People will no longer hurt or destroy on God’s holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Listen, O people, to the voice of the Lord.
The Angel Gabriel Greets Mary, Based on Luke 1
Reader: When Mary was just a young woman, engaged to Joseph, an angel appeared before her.
Angel: Mary, I greet you in the name of the Lord God who has chosen to bless you above all women. Do not be afraid! You are in God’s favor. And now, you will conceive and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David, and of his kingdom there will be no end. The child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.
The Angels Appear to the Shepherds, Based on Luke 2
One of the angels may be the Angel Gabriel from the previous reading.
Presider: In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should register for the tax. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Angel 1: Do not be afraid!
All Angels: Do not be afraid!
Angel 1: Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people. Listen. To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
Reader: And suddenly the sky was filled with light and there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God.
Angel 2: Glory to God!
Angel 3: Glory to God!
All Angels: (Louder and more intense.) Glory to God! Glory to God in the highest!
Angel 1: And on earth peace.
Angel 2: On earth peace.
Angel 3: Peace.
All Angels: Peace on earth, good will to all people.
All Angels: (Loudly) Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to all.
There is silence for two or three seconds. Nobody moves. Then the piano (music interlude) begins with a loud chorus of CCS 427
Wise Men from the East, Based on Matthew 2
Wise Man 1: (to the congregation) Where is this child that has been born to be your king?
Wise Man 2: We have come for many days seeking a child.
Wise Man 3: We know from studying the stars that a special child has been born among you. We have been waiting for many years for this wonderful birth.
Wise Man 1: Where is this child? Is he here among you?
Wise Man 2: Tell us what you know!
Wise Man 3: We know that this child will grow and become your king. We have seen his star. We have brought our finest gifts to give him.
Wise Man 1: We have come to worship him.
Wise Man 2: Please tell us where to find him.
Reader: They asked Herod the king where to find him, but it frightened Herod. He believed that the child would take away his throne. The Wise Men realized this and left, promising each other not to tell Herod what they found. They set out to find the child and there, ahead of them, went the star they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; they knelt down and worshiped him. Then, they opened their treasure chests; they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
God's Love Made Visible
God’s Love Made Visible
Isaiah 9:2–7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11–14; Mosiah 2:27; Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f, 6a
Continue with the five-candle arrangement from the four Advent Services as the focus of the worship center. This can be embellished with greenery or other decorations in keeping with your meeting space. You may choose to use three purple, one pink (joy), and one white candle (Christ), or an arrangement of candles of your choosing. Light all five candles during the Lighting of the Advent Candles below.
Gather the following supplies for the Focus Moment: scissors, hole punch, glue, markers or crayons (pastels). Each stable will need a sheet of white card stock, four craft sticks, cord or ribbon for hanging the stable, and a small star.
Opening Christmas Hymns
“The First Noël” CCS 424
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” CCS 431
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” CCS 423
Lighting of the Advent Candles
Congregational Reading of “Hope Is a Light” CCS 398
A candle will be lit after each stanza. The congregation or one reader can read all five stanzas, or the left side of the congregation can read stanzas 1 and 3, the right side stanzas 2 and 4, and all can read stanza 5, or five readers can each read one stanza. Following each stanza, everyone joins in with “Jesus Christ is born.”
Stanza 1: Hope is a light…light the candle of hope. Jesus Christ is born. One candle is lit.
Stanza 2: Peace is a prayer…light the candle of peace. Jesus Christ is born. One candle is lit.
Stanza 3: Joy is a song…light the candle of joy. Jesus Christ is born. One candle is lit.
Stanza 4: Love is a gift…light the candle of love. Jesus Christ is born. One candle is lit.
Stanza 5: Jesus is born…Christ, the light of the world. Jesus Christ is born. The Christ candle is lit.
Call to Worship
“What Child Is This” CCS 432
OR “Holy Night, Blessed Night” CCS 410
OR “Angels, from the Realms of Glory” CCS 436
Read the story of Jesus’ birth using Luke 2:1–20 with the song “Away in a Manger” CCS 426 playing quietly behind the reading. Simplify the story from the scriptures or read from a children’s Bible or read from a book, such as Where Jesus Slept by Norma Lewis (WorthyKids /Ideals, 2016, ISBN 9780824956790).
Allow the children to move to a table along the side of the sanctuary to create their own stable pictures from the Nativity story. Use the Nativity printout and directions below.
Song of Peace
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” CCS 415
OR “Silent Night! Holy Night!/Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht!” CCS 421
Leader: Celebrate! Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, was born today; leading the walk in the way of truth; showing us how to love and serve one another.
Congregation: We want to come prepared, to love, to serve—but often we are too busy to pay attention.
Leader: Pause today to recognize the great love of God who sent Jesus Christ to Earth.
Congregation: We want to celebrate Jesus’ birth—but too often we are too disengaged to hear the story.
Leader: God calms us and calls us. God helps us hear the story and pay attention; helps us walk in the ways of truth; helps us love; helps us serve one another.
Congregation: We pause,
Thanks be to God.
Leader: Thanks be to God who was born today!
—Mosiah 2:27, adapted
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Dear Lord God:
After a year’s journey, we have once again gathered before you to celebrate the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ.
As we look back at this passing year, the joy and thanksgiving overflow from our hearts. Some of us that are here may have come through pain and grief. Some may have had a year better than past years. Others of us may have had the happiest and the most fulfilling year. Regardless of the kind of journey we may have had, we are all grateful that you have had us gather before you in this beautiful sanctuary to jointly experience your presence.
Today a joyful noise is being heard in many parts of the world. The children are singing the carols in the choirs. The youths are playing the Christmas pageant at the churches. We see the joy and twinkle in the children’s eyes and happiness glows in their parents’ faces, as they gather by the Christmas tree.
O Lord, we are so grateful for this joy, happiness, and peace we are experiencing. We pray that the children’s eyes will not be clouded by the fears of wars and that the tears of sadness will not be shed on their parents’ faces. Our memories are still so vivid that we cannot forget—the tears of innocent children crying from hunger and thirst, the pains in mothers’ faces with no milk in their bosoms to feed the babies. We have seen scarcity in the midst of affluence. Tragedy in the midst of peace.
We shall remember, O Lord, these cries as those of our own children and these pains as those of our own companions, even in the midst of our celebration. You sent us your Son, because you loved the world, you loved us all, that we all would have life, and not perish. And so today, O Lord, we return our thanks to you in our commitment and service to those who are bruised and afflicted so that they may be freed from bondage.
Bless and guide us as we continue our journey into the new year. We pray these things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org /daily-prayer-for-peace.
Invite three people to share short Christmas stories from their lives using the prompts below. Weave the stories throughout the singing of CCS 430 “When the Present Holds No Promise.”
“When the Present Holds No Promise” (stanza 1) CCS 430
Reflection on how the present brings challenges and Jesus brings hope.
“When the Present Holds No Promise” (stanza 2) CCS 430
Reflection on how a past struggle was seen in a new light when comprehended through the understanding of Jesus’ love.
“When the Present Holds No Promise” (stanza 3) CCS 430
Reflection on the how the future is unknown but Jesus promises to be present and bring peace.
“When the Present Holds No Promise” (stanza 4) CCS 430
Disciples’ Generous Response
Project or print the questions for all to see. Ask musician to quietly play CCS 609, “Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” as the congregation reflects on each question.
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a
- How is the community generously sharing as Zion?
- What gifts do you have to share this Christmas morning?
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f
- How can you share for the common good?
- What does that look like in your circumstance as a group or congregation?
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Statement of Commitment
God, we want to honor your generosity by sharing our love and our lives with the world. We want to be generous as you are generous. We want to share your love and live Christ’s mission. We want to be courageous. May your joy be our joy. Amen.
Hymn of Celebration
“Joy to the World!” CCS 408
OR “Silvery Star, Precious Star” CCS 419
OR “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” CCS 433
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:2, 6
Go forth in the name of the Prince of Peace! Amen.