December 24, Christmas Eve:
4 p.m. - A family friendly service. As we read the story of the birth of Jesus, children take the parts of different characters. Angels, Shepherds, and Sheep help recreate the scene. We’ll have a real live Holy Family and Wise Men. There will be carols to sing. And everyone will be invited to light a candle as we sing Silent Night together.
10 p.m. - A traditional service of readings from scripture, carols and anthems from our chancel choir. This service includes the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We will also light our candles as we sing Silent Night.
December 25, Christmas Day:
10 a.m. – This year Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. Our congregation has not always had worship on Christmas Day…. Maybe this year God is trying to tell us something. Our worship will celebrate the role of the shepherds in the story and their role of sharing what happened and who it was lying in that manger.
It’s been interesting preparing for Christmas Eve with Christmas Day occurring on a Sunday. (Next year is even more interesting when December 24 is a Sunday.) What’s been interesting about it is the conversation around worship on Sunday, December 25. I’ve talked to many people for whom the Christmas Eve service is the most moving worship of the year and the thought of coming back less than 12 hours later is a bit odd.
I’ve talked to others who grew up in traditions where they always also went to church on Christmas morning, no matter on what day it fell. They are looking forward to this year.
Yesterday I was talking with a few folks who attend churches that are not having a service on Sunday. I looked one up and on the website it says, “Gather your loved ones together in the comfort of your home and watch our online service on Sunday, December 25.” Another church is having additional Christmas Eve services on Friday, December 23. I couldn’t find out for sure if they are worshiping on Sunday morning. The guy who mentioned this said he was really looking forward to being able to go to all the things he had to go to and still be able to attend worship on Friday.
I understand that there is something to learn here about how accessible we are to others. And with Christmas Eve being our largest attended service of the year next to Easter, I suppose we should consider some of these changes to make it easier to fit our schedules into our desire to worship. On the other hand maybe what God is trying to say to us this year with Christmas day on a Sunday is that coming down to be “one of us” was not a matter of convenience, it wasn’t to create an occasion for a family get together, it was not even an excuse for a party with presents. Christmas, in the language of our faith, is a moment to pause and let the deep truth sink into our souls that not a one of us is alone in this universe.
Keep the Faith,