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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Whole Lotta Churchin Goin On Edition

So. How's it going?

Are you avoiding the cold the kids brought home from the end of school party? Getting a little sleep? Eating at least an occasional meal that consists of something more than lukewarm coffee and Mrs. Whatzit's Christmas cookies?

It's Christmas week, Ground Zero for preachers. In the midst of all the self-care you are undoubtedly seeing to, there is worship to plan for - so very much worship. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. Oh, yeah, and there's a Sunday coming up, too.

What do you have planned for the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Several services of worship, or just one? And have you thought ahead to Sunday yet?

Looking ahead even to Sunday can be sort of stunning. Everyone tells you they grow up so fast, but the short distance between Tiny Baby Jesus on Thursday and Smartypants Teenager Jesus on Sunday is still pretty breathtaking. Maybe you'll look to Samuel (turns out little Samuel is growing up, too.) Does a word of praise from Psalms or encouragement from Colossians seem like a better direction to go?

Let us know in the comments what you have planned for this week. Which of Christmas Week's several services are you feeling the most good energy around? Let us know your best ideas and favorite moments. Also, which services still need some tweaking? We'll all pitch in to help out, if you let us know in the comments.

You can find links to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and December 27 texts here.

Image from here.


  1. We planned Sunday a few months ago. We will do Christmas L&C so we have a chance to sing all those carols we don't usually have time for. And there's no sermon.

    This is the first time, I think, that we haven't had a children's presentation at the early service Christmas Eve. No kids to do one and we didn't work one up for the youth group, either, who would have been most reluctant to do anything that smacked of "pageant." So there's music before both services but I'm not off the hook for two sermons. My new deacon will preach Christmas Day, though, so that's a break. He probably knows what he wants to say about John 1:1-14 but I haven't a clue about Christmas Eve. I'm thinking about retelling the story and setting it here in today's time. ANyway, my plan is to read all the stuff I pulled off textweek and FOTW this morning. My daughter and her husband arrived late last night and I'll take the afternoon to be with them.

  2. It is a strange feeling to be off staff at Christmas time... my first time in years. The church has planned a Christmas Eve service at a larger rented venue. We may go. We may not. I don't think Baby Jesus will cry if we don't...

    Praying for all of you as you prepare, plan, print, edit and serve. May it be a joyous weekend!

  3. Christmas Eve will be at 6 pm with communion and candlelight. The sermon title is "Faces at the Manger"...sort of 1st person type.

    Sunday...wisdom and nurture.

    Here is the kicker. We are dead center in the path of monster snowstorm. 99% chance Christmas Eve will be cancelled as we will be in a blizzard watch.

    If that happens thinking about doing the Christmas Eve service on the 27th. Comments, suggestions...all welcome.

  4. we are expecting snow too--a lot. Here's hoping we don't have to cancel!
    We have Christmas Eve at 3.30 (children sing, storytime for a message), 5.30 (Christmas Unplugged--acoustic guitar accompaniment for trad. carols), 7.30, 9, and 1030 (traditional with organ/choir).
    That's right, 5 times.
    With communion all 5 times, and candlelight Silent Night at the last 4.
    This year we planned Christmas Eve to have no preaching--instead we are having the message presented in what I'm calling a "tableau"--a sort of "photograph" of Mary/Joseph/Shepherd where each character in turn breaks free of the still to deliver a monologue about their experience seeing/holding/meeting God Made Small in a baby. It's going to be excellent--can't wait!

    I'm out the 27th, but preaching John 1 on the 3rd, so I look forward to seeing what y'all do with it so I can be inspired in my post-vacation brain. :-)

  5. Teri, that tableau idea sounds fabulous. Good thing, too, with that many services :-o

    We did our first Blue Christmas service last night; many thanks to those here who helped me with sample liturgies. It far exceeded our hopes; we would've been pleased with 25 people...68 attended, many of whom we didn't know, and it clearly met a need in the community. Thanks be to God! It didn't involve any preaching, either, a real bonus this week!

    I'm preaching the family service on Christmas Eve; still tossing ideas around and I'd better hurry up and decide on one of them soon. On Christmas 1, we're doing lessons & carols at one service and a regular sermon at the early service. At the family service, I'm doing a Keynote presentation I put together that uses verses from 6 hymns to tell the Christmas story; the words have artwork from around the world to illustrate them, and we sing along. Lets people sing more of those favorite Christmas carols, with plenty to look at for even the littlest ones.

    Today I am hoping to get the Christmas tree up and decorated; I really am running out of time for that!

  6. Just one service on Christmas Eve at 7pm. Had some HS inspiration yesterday and wrote that sermon - woohoo!!!

    On for the 27th, but we're doing lessons and carols.

    Then the 28th starts my stay-cation!

    But before that, parents and brother arrive tomorrow so preparations need to be finished at home for them.

  7. we are also in the direct hit zone for the blizzard... 18.8 inches of snow coming! *sigh* i suspect christmas eve will get cancelled here too...

  8. I've posted my Christmas Eve sermon on my blog.

    Now to buy toys for the community ministry center! Lots more fun.

  9. Friends,
    My prayers are with you all, in the path of snow storms. We had to cancel things last year, and it was hard!

    Purple - I ended up doing things later in january I had planned in December and it was ok. we had 2 women, pregnant and due at the same time, (very unusual in this little congregation) who read a Mary/Elizabeth dialog and I think we did it on epiphany when we did a kind of retelling of the Christmas story. It worked.

    Betsy - SO GLAD the longest night went well. Here too. In a way, I think the staff does it for ourselves - it's so very lovely to slow down in that way. And we're always so delighted when others join the party. We had about 30 last night, and it was just really very beautiful.

    Margaret - thanks for sharing - i'm impressed with your planning ahead abilities!

    Now, moving on to Christmas Eve we have one service at 8 (the time that everyone hates...but when we suggest other times, those dont seem to work either...). Teri! You are blowing me away with your 5 services! I would love to look at the tableau idea for next year, if you are sharing.

    We do a traditional L and C, which I'm involved in planning very minimally (music director has been to it at Kings College, so he just runs with it), so I just get to show up and read some great scripture. No sermon. The 27th, we have the spontaneous Christmas Pageant, which is fun. This year we have a father/son team who have been learning trombone, and they have offered to add "sound effects" so I have to re-work the script a little, but not I think, too much from last year.

    DWG - I have staycation starting 28th, too! woot!

  10. After struggling mightily with my "first person narrative/monologue" as Mary this past Sunday, I am SO grateful that there is NO sermon on Christmas Eve. Carols, songs, scripture, prayers, communion & candles. *happy sigh*

    Of course, that doesn't help me prepare for the 12 year old Jesus who's winking at me. I'm trying to weave the themes of celebrating God-With-Us - even as a 12 year old who gave his parents mild heart palpitations. ;)

  11. cws - i join your happy christmas eve sigh. how did your dialog go? I was wondering....

  12. Juniper, thanks for asking! I just posted the text for the sermon here

  13. Alas, Juniper, this is the first time in several weeks I have had a sermon this far ahead. Last Sunday, when the bishop was supposed to be here but I cancelled him in case there was more bad weather (there wasn't), the sermon was exceedingly impromptu. Like on the spot!

    And the only reason the L&C is planned ahead is so the choir can rehearse. otherwise, my secretary might be considering bossicide about now. :-)

  14. I got through my funeral and The Longest Night (after the longest day) yesterday.

    Today the plan has been to knock out the final details of the family Christmas Eve service, so tomorrow I can finalize the candlelighting one. Well, it's 11:40 and I have started because I've spent the morning going back to daycare to pick up my 4 year old because of pink eye, getting her officially diagnosed, and filling a prescription. Now she's on the couch watching movies and I have staff meetings for a while. Argh. Oh yeah - - and I have to go wait for the cable guy 2-4pm. 4pm haircut has been cancelled.

    So, Christmas Eve services will feel relatively normal. The family one will have a children's story/sermon instead of a "pulpit" sermon. We'll have props for the Luke reading that they will find one the steps and put into place on the cancel as we read, then I'll tell a story of some sort around that, or the other way around depending on the story.

    The later service will be ordered much like a Sunday morning service. Usually I do lessons and carols with a short sermon, but taking the cue from many of you last year I decided to save L&C for the Sunday after. LOVE the lectionary for Sunday, though, but I think I'll just move it to the next week. I'm not to keen on preaching the John 1 text the first Sunday in January. I also thought about doing Epiphany that week....ahh, we'll see. I'm just geting through these next 3 services for now. More later. Off to that staff meeting.

  15. I'm preaching at the 6pm service. Being south of the storm zone we have high winds and anticpate rain, snow in the mountains...but services will go on regardless.

    I hope all in the path of the huge snow storm are safe, warm, and well...and that somehow services can be held...

    moving Christmas Eve to Sunday would work for me!

  16. On Christmas Eve we'll be having one service at 8:30 p.m. - lessons & carols, candlelight, brief homily, communion. One of our brilliant musicians is back from college, and right now she and another musician are next door working up some special music. Yay!

    I've already planned the 12/27 service - it helped me to focus on Christmas Eve if I had that one out of the way. We'll be baptizing the infant son of a couple I married last year - my first marriage ceremony, and my first baptism of a child of a couple I married. So when I get around to that sermon, I'll be focusing on Colossians since it that beautiful baptismal language of clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, etc.

  17. We've had snow storms the last few days, so it's been a bit chaotic. School has been cancelled but fortunately one of my children is old anough to look after the other while I do all I must do. Tomorrow I'm hoping to stay home most of the day to pull together the family Christmas eve service and the watchnight. I think I'll do a fun sketch about a busy angel at the family service. I've also been given a wonderful gift of a story for the late service.
    Meantime, I've been reflecting on Xmas or Christmas?
    Thankfully, Sunday is lessons and carols, so it's good to go.

  18. Sorry, that last link didn't work. Maybe this will

  19. I am the one guilty of catching a cold! Thank goodness I spent last week planning the Christmas Eve service which will be scripture reading/carols/candle lighting. I'm off the Sunday after Christmas. It's hard to believe that I'll be looking ahead to January!

  20. Well today I wrote a dialogue between a preacher and God for Thursday night. NOw I just have to work out how it will happen (options are to record the whole thing and play it as a "dream" whilst I nap in the chancel or to record GOd's part only and interact with it using the pause function repeatedly) and how the technical stuff will work best.

    The dialogue can be found at my worship blog (Worship Offerings)

    THat means the only possible writing is a Christmas Prayer--or just use the one I found in a book

  21. Hi,

    Thanks for the suggestions of books for Christmas Eve, found one at the local library. Almost finished planning Christmas Eve, then onto Christmas Day, and then 2 Sundays off. Christmas Eve is lots of carols interspersed with Christmas readings and a story. Christmas morning is a bit more ‘ normal’ liturgy, but try to keep it a bit shorter. No threat of snow here – but fire bans in parts of the state, and a forecast of 32 C, which is about 90F for Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is forecast to hit 100F in Western Sydney, so here maybe 5 degrees cooler.

    Teri, the Tableau sounds wonderful. Now to have a system that helps me find all these great ideas next year. The blessing below is from Uniting in Worship 2.
    Thanks for the community,

    May God bless you with
    the eagerness of the shepherds,
    the joy of the angels,
    the perseverance of the Magi,
    the faithfulness of Joseph and Mary,
    and the peace of the Christ child
    this Christmas and always.

  22. Well, we are sure a creative bunch - thanks for sharing all your ideas. CWS - your monologue turned out amazingly - all the sweat was worth it! I add to my list of things I wish for Christmas (along with being a planner-aheader, Margaret!) that I wish I could sing strongly enough to add that to my preaching. I worked with a preacher who sang from time to time and it was always so effective. leann - hope your cold feels better soon.

    thanks for the great ideas, all. I'm adding them to my worship/December 2010 file :)

  23. Say, for those of you looking for a prayer for Christmas Eve or Day service, found this one via textweek here and think it's lovely:

    At this Christmastide let it be our care and delight to attend once more to the story told of one who was born on this Earth, who ministered to the poor, the rejected, and the brokenhearted, who died speaking truth to power, and whose death signified not the end, but a transformation awaiting all who give their lives, even as he did, to God’s vision for the well-being of this world. Let us recall the original blessing imparted to us, that we are created in the image of God, and we are declared good. Let us ponder anew God’s promise to Noah and all creation to be present with us, no matter what unfolds. Let the much-loved words and songs of this season fill us body and soul, giving us hope and helping us respond to that great plea that permeates this season: for peace, peace on earth, peace on earth and good will to all.

    Prayer: Loving God, open our hearts and minds to the truth made manifest in Christ, that you are with us. You are with us now, in this moment, flowing like a secret spring in our innermost being. May the simple beauty of the birth of Jesus summon us always to love what is most deeply human, and to see your love reflected in those whose lives we touch. May the testimony of creation—in the stable animals and the very heavens—summon us to cherish all life, and to see your goodness in the beauty of this Earth. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

  24. I think I am using Eileen's idea on the two presents and I found little tiny pre-wrapped gifts at the $ store.
    I could not find little boxes or blocks to wrap. So it is less than perfect, but hey it'll work.
    Also, preaching the traditional Luke 2:1-14 and playing on the theme of the Present of Presence.
    This applies(in a short, short homily) to Christ presence in our lives and that which we give to others in the year. This being the most important gift.
    Great story in the What Do You Want For Christmas devotional.
    A young boy writes letter to Santa and requests a red sled(the thing he wants most of all) and mails it off.
    He then gets the Mary from family nativity and hides it in his room.
    he gets on his knees and prays, "Lord, I hate that it has to come to this, but if you ever want to see your mother again, you'd better be sure Santa brings me that red sled."
    Hope this helps in someone's sermon ideas.
    I have my two dueling divas who "have" to sing on Christmas Eve and both like to draw it out and make it long. Very dramatic.
    So, with that, communion, and our candlelighting, it will turn out pretty long. I am guessing i have 5 minutes, tops!
    Poor me...This is the only place, among friends, where i can vent off a little stem.
    Anybody want a soloist for christmas eve?

  25. Gord,
    I LOVE your dialogue! I wish I could be at the service to hear it!

    Do you have someone with a "God"-type voice who could do that part from another part of the church on a cordless mic?

  26. Purple, I think it is important to deliver the Christmas message, even though it might be a few days late.
    Teri, I am jealous. I lvoe acostic guitar and the idea of the characters is excellent.
    Prayers for all who struggle in the path of storms and snow and ice.
    I seriously will be thinkning and praying for your safety, well-being and over all mental health in the face of the uncertainity.
    Much love to all my RGBPs!!!

  27. oh boy 1-4 grace -- not a chance of a duet, i'm guessing?

  28. Nope. The woman has sung O Holy Night since she was a little girl.Then this other guy comes in( yes, a guy and a diva) and sings it as well. So sometime or other he got asked to sing and did so well, people asked that he sing it again and again.
    Then, Lady Diva got upset and pouted. So, we have to allow her to sing as well.
    Oh and neither one like the mediocre organist/pianist, so they both sing acapella.
    Lord, the stuff they just can't teach you in seminary(notice I did not say, the stuff they don't teach). This is the sort of stuff they simply cannot prepare you for

  29. Holy Cow! My Christmas Eve soloist drama centers around "O Holy Night" too! Maybe we should just ban that song

  30. Good to read of all the wonderful ideas out there... and I'll come back and read the sermons later for ideas!
    I've got Crib service at 4pm Christmas Eve (wrote a story to tell in bits) which is here and communion at 11pm. Christmas day is an all age celebration. Think for that one I'll have a wrapped Christmas gift full of tea lights plus one full of chocolates. We'll open the lights present and give one light to everyone as a reminder that for them Jesus' light has come, and another one for them to give to someone else with the message that "the light shines in the darkness..." Then open the other gift and give out the choccies... we often bury Christmas in chocolate and other good things - but when they've gone, the light is still there... so enjoy them, but keep hold of the central message when all the glitter of Christmas has passed!

  31. Eileen,
    the God voice will be recorded today. Unfortunately I didn't come up with the idea soon enough to find a volunteer so my Beloved will do it. ANd with three kids she thinks she'll be a little busy tomorrow night. Right now I am thinking of doing the whole thing as a dream sequence--me sitting in front of the laptop and falling asleep as I prepare the sermon....

  32. Gord...the idea of your Beloved voicing God is my favorite Christmas thing EVER. So, thank you. I hope it works out well.

  33. Very merry wondrous Christmas to the RevGals and friends! And blessings and warm thoughts (from Florida) to all who are snowed in.

    I've recently posted Christmas Eve and Christmas Day art and reflections at The Advent Door. The prologue to John gets me every time...

    Blessings and peace to everyone as you celebrate, and much gratitude for the ways you tend the Word made flesh.


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