It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Though, for church professionals, this often seems like the most stressful time of the year, or the most filled with funerals, or the time that carries the most expectations that we cannot possibly fulfill. How goes this Christmas for you? How is the balance of professional and personal, of business and pleasure? Even in the midst of a busy season, remember that self-care is important!
The Revised Common Lectionary gives a little less direction on Christmas than during the rest of the year, with three possible options for readings to celebrate The Nativity of the Lord. My guess is that congregational, cultural, or denominational traditions will guide worship planning at least as much as the RCL.
*Note: If you’re looking for discussion on the lectionary texts for Advent 4, see this page.
What is important to your congregation? Candle lighting on Christmas Eve, a pajama party on Christmas morning, a live nativity, something else? Please share your favorite Christmas traditions, so that perhaps we can borrow from one another and all be enriched by new ways of celebrating the birth of Jesus!
Which readings are you using? The Gospel choices are various portions of Luke 2:1-20, or John 1:1-14. While Luke shares the birth narrative, John tells us about Jesus from a theological point of view. The Hebrew Bible choices are all from Isaiah: chapter 9, 52, or 62. All of these have been interpreted as prophesying the birth of Jesus, though of course they would have had a different meaning in the time when they were originally spoken or written. The Epistle options are from Titus or Hebrews, and the Psalm can be 96, 97, or 98. Does your community rotate between the various readings, or hear the same ones every year?
Many preachers are preparing two or three separate worship services for this weekend – Advent 4, Christmas Eve, and/or Christmas Day. Blessings to you whether you have to write one brief reflection, or three full sermons along with three children’s messages! Please share your ideas, resources, and questions below. Happy preaching!
Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor in Madison, WI. Now that the lakes are half-frozen, she’s finally admitting that she’s probably been out in a canoe for the last time this year. After Christmas, Katya hopes to finish updating and re-launching her blog – stay tuned!
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