Community of Christ

COVID-19  Ongoing Response

Christmas Day Ideas

Christmas Story

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

Prayer

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

The Annunciation

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

The Birth

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

  1. Organ only
  2. Men
  3. All

Hymn "Away in a Manger"  CCS 426

  1. Children and youth
  2. All

Ministry of Music: "Mary, Did You Know"

Hymn: "Joseph, Kind Joseph"  CCS 414

  1. Men
  2. Women
  3. All

The Shepherds

Reading

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.
                 -Anonymous

Hymn: "Angels We Have Heard on High"   CCS 427

  1. Men
  2. Women
  3. All

Hymn: "Jesus, Our Brother Kind and Good”   CCS 412

The Magi

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

  1. All
  2. Left Men
  3. Right Men
  4. All Men
  5. All

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

  1. Organ
  2. All
  3. All
  4. All

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)

*Invocation

*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.

Music Interlude

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.

Music Interlude

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.

*Music Interlude

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

*Sending Forth

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

*Benediction

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.”

*Recessional


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.

Small-group Worship Suggestions (2019)

Christmas Day

Luke 2:1–20 NRSV

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


Gathering

Welcome

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

Dear Lord God,

After a year’s journey we again have 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 may have come through pain and grief. Some may have had a year better than past years. Others may have had the happiest and most fulfilling year. Regardless of the journey, we are grateful you have had us gather before you in this beautiful place to experience your presence.

Today a joyful noise is being heard in many parts of the world. The children are singing carols in choirs. The youths are giving the Christmas pageant in their churches. We see the joy and twinkle in the children’s eyes and happiness glowing in their parents’ faces as all gather by the Christmas tree.

O Lord, we are so grateful for this joy, happiness, and peace. We pray the children’s eyes will not be clouded by fears of wars, and that tears of sadness will not be shed on their parents’ faces. Our memories are so vivid that we cannot forget—the tears of innocent children crying for hunger and thirst, the pains in mothers’ faces with no milk to feed the babies. We have seen scarcity amid affluence, tragedy amid peace.

We shall remember, O Lord, these cries as those of our own children and these pains as those of our own companions, even during 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. 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.

—Hiroshi Yamada

Spiritual Practice

Praying the Psalms

Light all the Advent candles and the Christ candle in the center of the wreath.

I will read Psalm 100:1–4 NRSV, adapted, pausing after each verse. When I pause and open my hand toward you, we will say aloud together: “The Lord is good. God’s love endures forever.”

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
  come into God’s presence with singing.

(Open hand toward the group)

All: The Lord is good. God’s love endures forever.

Know that the Lord is God.
  It is God who made us, and we are God’s;
  we are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture.

(Open hand toward the group)

All: The Lord is good. God’s love endures forever.

Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving,
  and God’s courts with praise.
  Give thanks to God, bless God’s name.

(Open hand toward the group)

All: The Lord is good. God’s love endures forever.

Amen.

Sharing Around the Table

Luke 2:1–20 NRSV

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also 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.

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. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 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.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
  and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Jesus was born in a stable to poor, unmarried parents in an overcrowded village far from home. The angelic proclamation of Jesus’ birth was not to the rich and powerful, but to shepherds, lowly field hands. Certainly not the obvious choice for such an important message. Yet Luke tells how the shepherds rejoiced and shared this good news with others.

God surprises us by choosing humble people and circumstances to deliver the Messiah to the world. Through the ministry and message of Jesus, it is made clear that God cares for the poor, the immigrant, the outcast, and the marginalized. The Christmas story reminds us that God acts in unexpected ways.

Questions

  1. How does the Christmas story speak hope to the outcast and marginalized of our world?
  2. How has God acted unexpectedly in your life?

Sending

Generosity Statement

“Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:9). The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

God of love and light,

In this season of hope, love, and joy, may the peace of your Son, Jesus, be made real in the world. May our hearts, minds, hands, and resources be useful in the cause of bringing your light where there is darkness and your love where there is despair, anger, fear, and suffering. May our offerings be used toward your purposes, we pray. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 424, “The First Noël”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

Come to Bethlehem (2019)


Christmas Day

LUKE 2:1-20 (A, B, C)

Additional Scriptures

Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14


Preparation

During Advent and Christmas create an arrangement of five candles as the focus of the worship center. Use the candles in a circular wreath or arrange greenery around them. The circle of greenery reminds us that God is eternal, without beginning or end. Choose to use three purple, one pink (for the third Sunday, Joy) and one white candle (Christ candle) or an arrangement of candles of your choosing. Each Sunday the previous weeks’ candle(s) are relit before the service. Light the fifth candle, the Christ candle, during a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service to signify the birth of Jesus.

Prelude

Gathering Hymns

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”     CCS 434

 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”  CCS 27

“like a child”   CCS 403

Welcome

Call to Rejoice

Leader:  O come, all who are faithful, and rejoice in this day.

Congregation: Let us lift up our hearts and let the cup of our joy spill forth songs into the world.

Leader: Rejoice! For unto us a child is born.

Congregation: Unto us a son is given.

Leader: And the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful.

Congregation: Counselor.

Leader: The mighty God.

Congregation: The everlasting Father.

All: The Prince of Peace.

Leader: Come, let us rejoice, for this is the day of joy.

—John Horner, Prayers and Readings for Worship Volume 2 (1996), p.10, adapted

Carol of Rejoicing

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”     CCS 431

Christmas Prayer

Response

Lighting the Christ Candle

Today we light the Christ candle. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, which brings us hope, peace, joy, and love.

Light the Christ candle.

Focus Moment: The Christmas Story

Tell the Christmas story in your own words OR read Luke 2:1-20. Since the story is so familiar, consider leaving out a key word, pausing, and asking the congregation to fill in the blank.

Finish setting up the Nativity scene that you began on the first Sunday of Advent. Add Baby Jesus this week. You could have a group of children or a family, include grandparents if available, to bring the baby to the front.

Carol of the Birth

“Away in a Manger”   CCS 425/426

Or “What Child is This” CCS 432

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

Lord, we come to you on this day of celebration and we must pause. We pause in our joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus to come to you in prayer for peace. Although many of us feel joy and peace today because of the Christmas celebration, there are many who do not know this peace. We take time today to ask you to bring Christ’s peace throughout the world and we ask for your guidance to help us share Christ’s peace every day. Amen.

For additional ideas, The Daily Prayer for Peace service offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA, can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Ministry of Music OR Congregational Hymn

“Lovely Child, Holy Child”    CCS 428

OR “Holy Night, Blessed Night”     CCS 410

OR “How Far Is It to Bethlehem?”  CCS 417

OR “In the Bleak Midwinter”     CCS 422

Christmas Sermon

Based on Luke 2:1-20

Disciples’ Generous Response

Statement: At Christmas it is easy to get caught up in gifts; beautiful, shiny, exciting gifts that we put under the tree and unwrap with our families on Christmas morning. Children are excited about new toys they’ve wished for and perhaps requested from Santa. As adults, we may be looking for that next new gadget, a fancy phone or smartwatch, or maybe a beautiful piece of jewelry we’ve been admiring.

It’s important to remember that we can give different kinds of gifts at Christmas as well; some perhaps more meaningful than the new gadget or piece of jewelry. We can think about giving gifts to those without any gifts under their tree or no Christmas tree at all.

We can give our gifts of time and money to community shelters and soup kitchens.

We can give a gift through Christmas cards or caroling. We can give the gift of prayer. Think of the many ways we can give to others in our community and throughout the world on this special day and look for creative ways to give more often in the New Year to come.

During the Disciples’ Generous Response we focus on aligning our purposes with God’s purposes, aligning our heart with God’s heart. 

As you share your mission tithes or if you give regularly through eTithing, use this time to express gratitude for God’s many gifts in your life and to reflect on how we respond faithfully to those blessings. When we understand God’s love and grace are given freely to us, we respond out of gratitude and are liberated to share freely in return.

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.

Hymn of Going to Bethlehem

“Angels We Have Heard on High”     CCS 427

OR “We Would See Jesus”     Stanza 1     CCS 35

Sending Forth

Go spread the word that Jesus Christ is born this day in Bethlehem. Go share hope, peace, joy, and love with all that you meet. Go in peace.

Postlude

For Unto Us a Child Is Born (2020)

Christmas Day

ISAIAH 9:2-7 (A,B,C)

Additional Scriptures

Psalm 96; Luke 2:1-20; Titus 2:11-14; Doctrine and Covenants 163:10b; 164:9b


Although this service was written for Christmas Day, it can be adapted as a Christmas Eve service by choosing hymns that would be more suitable and substituting the Message with a Time of Sharing.

Preparation

The Advent Wreath should be prepared with the Hope, Love, Peace, and Joy candles lighted. The Christ candle will be lighted later in the service. Provide small tea-light candles or battery-powered candles for congregants to pick up as they enter the sanctuary.

Congregants should have access to their “Journey Through Advent” booklets. Have extra booklets available. Online worship participants can access the booklet at www.CofChrist.org/worship.

Prelude

Carol of the Season

“Once in Royal David’s City” CCS 429

Invitation to Continue the Journey

Welcome

We gather on this Christmas Day (Eve) as one of many congregations from around the world. We have journeyed together in song, prayer, scripture, praise, and worship throughout this season of Advent. We have been assured of the hope, love, peace, and joy that exists because of the birth of a child—Emmanuel—God with us. May we experience this Christmas Day (Eve), not as the end of a journey, but the continuation of one as a disciple of Jesus Christ, the one we celebrate! Welcome!

Call to Worship

Left Side: A child has been born for us.

Right Side: A son has been given to us;

Left Side: Authority rests upon his shoulders;

Right Side: and he is named

Left Side: Wonderful Counselor,

Right Side: Mighty God,

Left Side: Everlasting Father,

Right Side: Prince of Peace.

—Isaiah 9:6, adapted

Song of Gathering

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” CCS 431

OR “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” CCS 433

OR “Angels, from the Realms of Glory” CCS 436

Invocation

Response

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

Ever-Present God,

As we reflect upon the depth of your love for all of humanity, we are humbled. Pause.
This holy child is the hope for our world that suffers; Pause.
The ultimate gift of love; Pause.
The source of deep joy; Pause.

The path to peace. Pause.
May we, in our day-to-day walk in life, remember to allow Christ to live in and through us.
Pause.
May we forge pathways of peace through our words and our actions; Pause.
May we be the voice of hope; Pause.
The hands of love; Pause.
And the continued expression of joy in the world. Pause.
May all we have, all we are, and all we do contribute to the building of Your Peaceable Kingdom here and now.
We celebrate this day in the name of the One we celebrate this day, Jesus. Amen.

A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Christmas Generosity

Ask a family to share what and how they share with others at Christmas. This could include donations to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering and other charitable donations and activities (for example, ringing a bell for the Salvation Army). Perhaps they sing Christmas carols for shut-ins or provide baked treats for neighbors. Why is this important to them?

Statement

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our purposes with God’s purposes, aligning our heart with God’s heart.

Ask congregants to consider the blessings they have experienced in their lives through being a generous disciple discovering whole-life stewardship that they could share with others. Then in one or two words have them share popcorn-style the blessings they would offer to share.

As you share your mission tithes or if you give regularly through eTithing, use this time to express gratitude for God’s many gifts in your life and to reflect on how we respond faithfully to those blessings. When we understand God’s love and grace are given freely to us, we respond out of gratitude and are liberated to share freely in return.

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.

Reflection on the Christmas Story

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-5 Song Reflection

“How Far Is It to Bethlehem?” CCS 417

OR “O Little Town of Bethlehem” CCS 434

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:6-7

Song Reflection

“Away in a Manger” CCS 425/426

OR “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” CCS 416

OR “Joseph, Kind Joseph” CCS 414

OR “What Child Is This” CCS 432

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-14

Song Reflection

“Angels We Have Heard on High” CCS 427

OR “Angels, from the Realms of Glory” CCS 436

OR “Silvery Star, Precious Star” CCS 419

OR “Holy Night, Blessed Night” CCS 410

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:15-20

Song Reflection

“The First Noël” CCS 424

OR “In the Bleak Midwinter” CCS 422

OR “Once in Royal David’s City” CCS 429

Contemplation of the Road Ahead

Advent Reflection

Each week during Advent we were invited to reflect upon our journey through the season. Each moment we have contemplated has been shaped by our past, informed by our present, and inspired by our future. We are continually challenged to “Come before (our) Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew; to be vulnerable to divine grace.” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:10b)

Have congregants open their Advent booklets to the “For Unto Us a Child is Born” pages. Read the prompt and allow time for silent reflection/writing/drawing/coloring. You may choose to have quiet music playing in the background.

Focus Moment with Ministry of Music

“Jesus, Our Brother, Kind and Good” CCS 412

Ask a soloist to prepare this song, preferably with guitar. Have congregation turn to the song and follow along. Project pictures of the animals as their stanza is sung OR use flannelgraph animals OR place animal figurines in the Nativity Scene. Involve the children in identifying and perhaps placing the animals. At the end of the song, discuss the contribution of each animal and then what we might have offered if we were at the Bethlehem manger scene.

Message: “For Unto Us A Child Is Born”

Based on Isaiah 9:2-7

OR

Advent Sharing

Allow congregants to share reflections on their Advent booklets and any insights they had during the Advent season.

Spreading the Light of Christ

Prior to singing the hymn below, light the Christ candle. As the congregation is singing the hymn, have one person turn on their battery-powered candle with the rest of the congregation following one by one or have the first person light their candle from the Christ Candle and then pass the light on to the rest of the congregation (use caution with open flame). For safety, tip unlighted candles to lighted ones.

Song of Sending Forth Christmas Day service

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” CCS 423

OR “Go, Tell It on the Mountain” CCS 409

OR

Song of Quiet Anticipation Christmas Eve service

“Silent Night! Holy Night!/Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht!” CCS 421

OR “What Child Is This” CCS 432

Pastoral Prayer

Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b

Postlude

Small-group Worship Suggestions (2020)

Christmas Day

Isaiah 9:2–7 NRSV

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


Gathering

Welcome

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

Mother of Peace,

We rejoice on this Christmas day, for Mary has brought new life, new hope, new joy, and new love into a lamenting world in the form of your son, Jesus! 

Jesus: a baby in need of nurture, holding, cradling, swaddling. 

Jesus: a baby so tiny and soft yet bursting with possibility and strength!

Jesus: the hope of the world!

May the seemingly impossible and yet absolutely ordinary creation of a new baby inspire us to strive for peace in our towns and stables.

Peace: a seedling in need of nurture.

Peace: a seedling so tiny yet bursting with possibility!

Peace: the hope of the world!

May we lean on you the way a mother leans on a midwife. May we guide peace into being the way a midwife guides a mother. And may we rejoice in peace the way we rejoice in the birth of your son Jesus, the Prince of Peace! 

Amen. 

Tiffany and Caleb Brian

Spiritual Practice

Praying Liturgical Prayer

Give each person a copy of the prayer. Invite the group to read the prayer aloud with you.

God of glory, 
Your splendor shines from a manger in Bethlehem, 
where the Light of the world is humbly born 
into the darkness of human night. 
Open our eyes to Christ’s presence in the shadows of our world, 
so that we, like him, may become beacons of your justice, 
and defenders of all for whom there is no room. 
Amen.

https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers.php?id=54

Sharing Around the Table

Isaiah 9:2–7 NRSV

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
    on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
    and the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
    and all the garments rolled in blood
    shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

“For a child has been born for us” (Isaiah 9:6). Of all verses associated with Christmas, perhaps this invokes the tenderest feelings. But, through the exhaustion of Christmas shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, caroling, gatherings with friends and family—of being awakened far too early by children eager for their gifts, it is easy to lose sight. Then, amid torn wrapping paper strewn across the floor, the magic of the season begins as spirited young actors, donning bathrobes and construction paper beards, assemble to offer a passionate rendition of the nativity story underneath a cardboard cutout Star of David—that is, until the family dog, unwillingly dressed as a sheep, knocks the blanket-and-chair manger down and the scene becomes chaos. 

Hope, love, joy, and peace amid the chaos of life is the Christmas message. Through all the commotion (and joy), it’s easy to lose sight of what the nativity meant to those who had nothing—those living under oppressive occupation, awaiting the advent of an anointed king from the House of David who would reclaim the throne of Jerusalem and set everything right.

The coronation ritual in Isaiah 9:2–7 fits perfectly with the circumstances of the nativity centuries later. It is little wonder early Christians applied Isaiah’s announcement of royal birth to the newborn Messiah. The passage references a dark time for Israel and Judah. Assyria had begun systematically taking over the region. Within a few years, Judah would become a resident captive and Israel would be no more. 
The birth of Hezekiah signaled a new period of peace, justice, righteousness, and the restoration of Davidic rule. In both ages, people longed for freedom from oppression and they looked for a king, or Messiah, to rise and restore Israel to political autonomy. 

At the time of Jesus’ birth, Judah was resident captive to Rome. Herod, who was not in the line of David, sat on Jerusalem’s throne. Marginalized people, like the shepherds in Luke, yearn for the kind of liberation celebrated in this Isaiah passage. How fitting that we celebrate this story of new light after having passed through the darkest day of winter. Light is slowly beginning to triumph over our darkest days.

The “great light” represents the presence of God and the approach of hope, love, joy, and peace amid chaos. But the “great light” does not vanquish the darkness from the world. Jesus did not fulfill expectations that he would come to fix everything. Christ’s birth did not free us from the responsibility of doing the hard work of peacemaking and establishing justice. Instead, Jesus revealed the way of God that would do more than restore the throne of Israel—he revealed the way to heal our broken world. 

The incarnation is the mystery of God in a real, human child, birthed into the real world with all its agonies, challenges, and joys. As we look upon the nativity, let us rest our gaze on the shepherds who made their way through the darkness towards the great light, towards the Hope of the world—the Blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ the Peaceful One.

Questions

  1. When have you wanted God to simply “fix things?” In what unexpected ways did you discover God present with you?
  2. We still live in a time of darkness. War, oppression, injustice, poverty, and disease surround us. In what ways do you see the “great light” (God’s presence) in the world?
  3. In what ways have you found walking towards the “great light” to be transformative in your life?

Sending

Generosity Statement

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

This offering prayer for Advent is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God who is faithful, 

Be present with us as we plan our spending. May we use our resources to build healthy, happy relationships with you, others, and the Earth. May we remember the teachings of Jesus that challenge us to make lifestyle choices counter to our culture of accumulation and excess. 

Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 419, “Silvery Star, Precious Star”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

PrintFriendly