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Content about Christmas

August 6, 2019

“Can we please do something different for Christmas Eve this year?”

“Can we try something that will speak to those on the fringes of our community?”

If you plan worship, questions like this might be vying for attention in your own church. While services with traditional structures and themes may appeal to some, others, depending on their age and background, could find such an approach difficult to relate to.

August 22, 2014

This litany was originally written for a Bible study group’s Christmas worship celebration. It could easily be adapted for a larger worship gathering or a small family worship time. Make sure to have someone read the section titles to signal the liturgical moves in this litany. The original intent was for a different person to read each paragraph. However, if you use this in a church setting, it may be best to split the readings between three or four individuals. —JB

August 27, 2012

This Christmas Eve service tells the story of God’s salvation plan from the Garden of Eden to Jesus’ resurrection. It shows how all of Scripture is one big story of God calling his people back to him. The service is appropriate for people of all ages and all stages of the faith journey, and can be used in a wide variety of settings.

September 1, 2009

Many hymnals have a large section devoted to Christmas. In actual practice, this section gets used throughout Advent (thereby shortchanging the character of Advent). If you take a few moments to page through the Christmas carols and hymns in almost any hymnal, you’ll find that narrative and folksy, sentimental lyrics easily outweigh songs with a theological treatment of the meaning of Christ’s incarnation.

September 1, 2009

I admit it. I’m a self-professed worship nerd. I’ve been known to match the color of the runner on my office table to the current season of the church year. In fact, just about all the décor in my office and home is liturgical in nature. I like to surround myself with reminders of who I am in the much larger scheme of God’s plan of redemption. At Christmas, of course, the décor includes a nativity set.

September 1, 2009

The Advent/Christmas/Epiphany cycle is a time of newness: a new liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. A new year on the secular calendar begins before the cycle is done. And let’s not forget the new babies in the stories!

September 1, 2009

This children’s Christmas program, which incorporates questions and answers from the Heidelberg Catechism, follows the well-known structure of “sin, salvation, and service.” It is a celebration of God’s love for us and our response in faith.

September 1, 2009

This children’s Christmas program, which incorporates questions and answers from the Heidelberg Catechism, follows the well-known structure of “sin, salvation, and service.” It is a celebration of God’s love for us and our response in faith.

September 1, 2009

This service is modeled after the renowned “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” heard every Christmas Eve over BBC radio. It was first drawn up by Archbishop Benson when he was Bishop of Truro for use in that Cathedral. In 1918 it was simplified and modified for use in King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England, by Eric Milner-White, who, at age thirty-four, had just become dean of King’s College.

September 1, 2009

This service is modeled after the renowned “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” heard every Christmas Eve over BBC radio. It was first drawn up by Archbishop Benson when he was Bishop of Truro for use in that Cathedral. In 1918 it was simplified and modified for use in King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England, by Eric Milner-White, who, at age thirty-four, had just become dean of King’s College.

September 1, 2008

If you’re like me, you find the cover of this issue of RW thought-provoking. Chris Stoffel Overvoorde’s That Glorious Form stops us short and makes us think. The Christ child in a crown of thorns? It’s not a pretty picture. It’s not the typical picture of Advent and the Christmas season. If given the choice, we would rather focus on the perfect, beautiful baby in the manger with the loving gaze of his mother and father falling upon him. We prefer the pretty picture.

September 1, 2008

Last December, our worship committee was looking for an idea for our annual candlelight service. For our Advent worship we had used the series “The Places of Christmas” (RW 77), which traced the places along God’s story of redemption. To build on this theme, our worship team came up with “People and Places of the Nativity”—a service looking at the significance of the ordinary people and places of the nativity story.

September 1, 2008

Last December, our worship committee was looking for an idea for our annual candlelight service. For our Advent worship we had used the series “The Places of Christmas” (RW 77), which traced the places along God’s story of redemption. To build on this theme, our worship team came up with “People and Places of the Nativity”—a service looking at the significance of the ordinary people and places of the nativity story.

September 1, 2008

Imagine standing in the arrivals area at the airport, your heart pounding. Your beloved has been away on a long trip, and any second he or she is going to walk through those doors. In your mind you can already see the dear, tired face lighting up as your eyes meet.

What a sense of excitement there is when something eagerly anticipated finally arrives! That same kind of anticipatory joy characterizes our waiting for Jesus in Advent. In fact, our sense of joy during longed-for events in our lives is mild compared to the joy of what God has done, and is still doing, in Jesus.

September 1, 2008

During Advent we wanted to draw all the generations in our congregation into the wonderful messages of hope, love, peace, and joy. To do that, we wrote dramatic scripts to reflect God’s command to tell the children the stories of his faithfulness. Storytellers represented the gospel characters who had received God’s message directly from angels: Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.

March 1, 2007

Our church follows the seasons of the Christian year and the lectionary Scripture passages, changing banners and colors accordingly. When we planned a service called “Singing Through the Christian Year,” it provided us with the opportunity to “walk through” the Christian year in one evening and to reprise many of the choir anthems we had learned and used in services over the past year.

September 5, 2005

How well do you “hear” Scripture?

For some people the spoken or written word is powerful. But others “hear” more clearly through other senses. Worship leaders face the challenge of presenting the Scripture to people who have a variety of intelligences and learning styles. How can we help all these people hear the Word of God with greater clarity and understanding?

September 5, 2005

When our worship committee selected Peter Hoytema’s series “Six Biblical Characters, Six Traditions of Faith” (RW 65) for the 2002 Advent season, I scrambled to find a series of children’s messages that would complement the services. Unable to find what I was looking for, I turned to Hoytema’s article to see what I could glean for use with the children of our congregation. 

September 5, 2005

For centuries churches have played out the Christmas story in drama and song. Todd Farley looks far back into the origins of nativity scenes and liturgical Christmas dramas, and then offers some intriguing ideas for enlivening worship today. His ideas for a complete Christmas service involving the entire congregation are not spelled out in detail; every church would need to consider their own resources and abilities.

September 5, 2005

A mother and father travel to meet their teenaged daughter, who is returning home after a year in Argentina. On the trip the parents snap pictures: (1) the departure, (2) a stop to swim in a mountain lake, (3) pictures of that lake shot from an overlook, (4) the airport, (5) the daughter’s arrival, and (6) the rainbow crowd of passengers disembarking the plane from South America.

September 5, 2005

How often do we really think about “place” in connection with the Christian life?

In our highly mobile culture, many of us know what it means to feel displaced or removed from “home.” When I first returned to my childhood home in southwestern Ontario, I was struck by the sense of solidarity I had with this place—not merely with the people, but also with the topography and landscape that had been part of my childhood background. This place had shaped me.

September 4, 2004

The following monologue was written for a candlelight service at New Era Christian Reformed Church. It is an interpretation of Scripture passages from Mary’s perspective. She becomes the narrator of the gospel story from the first Advent of Christ’s birth to the anticipation of the next Advent, Christ’s second coming. You will want to add the other elements of your worship service such as greeting, offering, benediction, and so on, to what is found below.

September 4, 2004

Imagine the magnificent words and strains of Handel’s Messiah combined with the exuberance and creativity of children’s artwork, photography, music, and movement. The result makes for a memorable and worship-filled Christmas program for all ages.

September 4, 2004

Imagine the magnificent words and strains of Handel’s Messiah combined with the exuberance and creativity of children’s artwork, photography, music, and movement. The result makes for a memorable and worship-filled Christmas program for all ages.

September 4, 2004

Araw, gritty wind swirls through the dark night as I lock my bike on the crowded sidewalk. Turning around, I step toward a cordoned-off area, behind which policemen, their hats pulled down and collars pulled up, bark at the jostling crowds, urging them to stop pushing and stand back. Several thousand people form a line snaking along the sidewalk, funneling down to one person at the narrow gate.