Christmas Sunday & Epiphany Resources

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.

Cookies & Carols Worship Sunday, Dec. 29 at 10am

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.

star wordsIt’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!

The Great Bethlehem Bake-Off Pageant

I think I’m most excited about this component of our Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series. While this children’s Christmas pageant compliments our theme for Advent this year, I think it would work wonderfully with any Advent theme. Check out this fun and simple Christmas pageant I wrote and feel free to adapt as needed for your setting (you can easily make it longer by adding some carols interspersed throughout). I’d love to know if you do this pageant and see a recording of your version! I’ll share the recording of ours which will be preformed on Advent 4!

Click here to download: The Great Bethlehem Bake-Off Christmas Pageant Skit

Check out my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
All Earth Is Waiting Advent Series
Fear Not Advent Series
The Gift of Yes Advent Series
Advent Wreath liturgy options
Bethlehem Advent Bible Study

Have fun and happy planning!

great bethlehem bake off 3.jpg

Kid Friendly Christmas Eve

istockphoto-1035011946-612x612It’s become common for churches to provide an earlier, kid-friendly Christmas Eve worship service. This year we’re doing our kid-friendly service at 4pm and I was excited to find a wonderful script that tells the Christmas story from the perspective of Michael the mouse. I’ve adapted this script from Cloth for the Cradle: Worship resources and readings for Advent, Christmas & Epiphany, from the Wild Goose Worship Group. My adapted script only requires one reader but allows for audience participation! Check out this delightful story as well as my full order of worship for inspiration. Click the links below to view the files.

Michael Mouse from Cloth for the Cradle – Christmas Eve interactive reading
An Order of Worship for Family Friendly Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas & Happy Planning!

The Gift of Yes – Advent series

As I was preparing for Advent, I was struck by the various characters in the Christmas story and how they all gave us a great gift by saying “yes” to God. God gave us all the greatest gift in becoming one of us. But just like an unopened gift, we have to say ‘yes’ and accept this great gift God gives. Our series this Advent will help us consider how we receive and give the gift of ‘yes’.

Download the series worship plan here: The Gift of Yes sermon series

Check my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series
Fear Not Advent Series
All Earth is Waiting Advent Series

Here’s the series graphic for sharing online:
Copy of Copy of the gift of yes
This will be our bulletin cover image:
the gift of yes (1)

Happy Advent and Happy planning!