Many of us are still in the thick of Advent 4 and Christmas Eve preparations so I’d like to share some resources and inspiration that might make your life easier and allow you to have some rest post Christmas.
For Christmas Sunday, we traditionally hold a Christmas carol hymn sing. This year we’re calling it Cookies & Carols and encouraging relaxed attire (PJs even!). We’ll be worshiping in our social hall so we can enjoy our cookies, cocoa, and coffee while we sing. It will be a standard worship service for us with a hymn sing in place of the sermon. But I up the ante a little and ask everyone to answer a question as they make their hymn request. This year’s question will be: What is the best gift you received this year, for Christmas or at any point through the year?
We’ll start the service with Joy to the World, read Luke 2:25-38, sing Spirit-Child Jesus from Worship & Song #3062, and close with Go, Tell It on the Mountain in the United Methodist Hymnal #251. It’s a wonderful, relaxed service that doesn’t require a sermon! (yay!)
For Epiphany this year, I’m tying in the new year/new decade to think about what unexpected places God is leading us, just as the magi were led to return home by a different route. We’ll be using the traditional magi scripture Matthew 2:1-12. Our music director made the discovery that the song Shine (Heaven Let Your Light Shine Down) by Collective Soul is actually the perfect Epiphany song! We’ll be singing it as a praise song. I also came across this perfect Epiphany poem just today:
Those Hours by Joyce Sutphen
There were moments, hours even,
when it was clear what I
was meant to do, as if
a landscape had revealed itself
in the morning light.
I could see the road
plainly now, imagining myself
walking towards the distant mountains
like a pilgrim in the old stories—
ready to take on any danger,
hapless but always hopeful,
certain that my simple belief
in the light
would be enough.
It’s become tradition at my church that on Epiphany everyone receives a Star Word (a word to guide your year written on a star shaped paper). It’s been really fun to see what words people get, how it plays a role in their year, and how it might guide them. I give them to the kids first during children’s time and then have the kids pass them out during the first hymn. We pray over them and then just choose them at random. I encourage everyone to take it home and put it somewhere they’ll see it every day. Follow these links for a list of suggested words and more information about Star Words.
Finally, here is a Call to Worship I adapted and used for Epiphany last year (updated for 2020):
Call to Worship (adapted from Rev. Andy Bryan)
God, we come to worship in this new year hoping it will be better.
Guide our thinking and doing and help us remember:
2019 will be kinder,
if I am kinder.
2019 will be more compassionate,
if I show more compassion.
2019 will be less anxious,
if I offer more grace.
2019 will be more just,
if I advocate for more justice.
2019 will be less contentious,
if I speak more gently.
2019 will be less violent,
if I more actively work for peace.
2019 will be more loving,
if I demonstrate love more freely.
Guide us by your Light,
that we may bring your Light to the world.
I know there are lots of great Christmas & Epiphany resources out there so feel free to share your favorites as well! Hopefully in our sharing we can help make worship planning easier for us all during this busy time of year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Planning!