a worship as you go service
The Good News of Christmas comes to us exactly where we are. We do not have to feel a certain way–there is no demand that we manufacture joy or hopefulness or peace. Some of the participants in the drama of Christmas had prepared for long arduous journeys, but for others the good news arrived suddenly like a bolt from the blue,
Below are some optional recommendations for preparing yourself for a time of Christmas Eve worship. A service of Christmas Eve Candle Lighting begins here.
Preparing a Space
Many of you will have received a Christ Candle from Shalom this Advent season. We have asked you each week to anticipate Christmas by preparing Advent charms to accompany your candle. Here are the instructions in case you missed a week or would still like to participate.
Receive a candle/ prepare a space. We anticipate the coming of Christmas by preparing a space in our homes to begin marking Advent. (If you for some reason didn’t receive a candle we invite you to find a simple white candle and choose a place to display it in your home.)
Alternative: You may also choose four small tea lights to surround your Christ candle.
Journaling or Discussion
Preparing your minds
Choose one of the Advent themes, Hope, Joy, Love or Peace and ask the following question:
1. Am I lacking in hope (or joy, peace, love) this Advent season?
2. When have I experienced joy (or love, peace, hope) this Advent season?
(This exercise can either be in the form of journaling or it can be a discussion with a friend or family member.)
Preparing your spirit
God, we ask you to keep watch with those who work or weep this holy night.
We pray that you would tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, and shield the joyous.
We remember on this sacred night the 800,000 people who have died in the US during the pandemic.
We remember our own friends and family who have died this year.
We remember those who will be alone this Christmas or who struggle with mental health or addictions.
Hear our prayer for those who have no homes or whose homes are not safe.
Hear our prayer for doctors and nurses who must work long hours caring for the sick and the dying.
Hear our prayer for frightened and anxious people and for families in distress.
(Here you may include your own prayers and intercessions.)
God, we thank you for your promise to bring light to dark places. Give us the courage to be loving, peaceful, joyous and hopeful for the sake of this world you love so very much.
For many of us Christmas 2021 will not be as restrained as Christmas 2020. Vaccinations and boosters have made it easier to celebrate Christmas with loved ones. However, for others, 2021, will be another year of pared down family celebration and other restrictions.
This year we will once again miss the opportunity to sing carols together. Throughout this Advent season I have often returned to a song by the group Sleeping at Last entitled Snow. One line in particular sticks out as we prepare to worship quietly at home instead of packing into sanctuaries this Christmas Eve.
So we sing carols softly
As sweet as we know
A prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
Like young love still waiting under mistletoe
We’ll welcome December with tireless hope
Let our bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
And may the melody disarm us
When the cracks begin to show.
Let us take a moment to think of particular friends who are worshipping in their own homes on Christmas Eve and pray a blessing over them. Here are two options:
May you experience the particular sweetness of family and friends this Christmas season
May you experience the sturdy knowledge that God is with you even in this time of darkness and uncertainty
Christmas Eve Candle Lighting
Dim the lights
Light the Christ Candle
Away in the Manger
Angels We Have Heard on High
Sing or listen to a recording of Angels We Have Heard on High
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see this event that God has made known to us.” They hurried and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger; once they saw this, they reported what they had been told concerning the child. All who heard about it were astonished at the report given by the shepherds. Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. The shepherds went away glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as they had been told.
The Inclusive Bible published by Sheed & Ward.
Sing or listen to a recording of Silent Night
Feel free to send a picture of your Christ Candle or Christmas Eve celebrations
to everyone at shalomcc dot org
Candle, charms and instruction by Laura Meyer
Text by Jo Hatlem
Design by Trevor Bechtel