Home Equipping Leaders CONTENT LIBRARY When Advent 4 Falls on Christmas Eve: An Online Option

When Advent 4 Falls on Christmas Eve: An Online Option

By Lisa Hancock

Thumbs Our Spirit Waits W04

This year, the liturgical calendar presents us with a conundrum: what do we do when the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve fall on the same day? One option is to offer an online-only service on the morning of December 24 and an in-person and/or hybrid Christmas Eve service in the evening. Below is a worship guide to help clergy and worship leaders imagine how you might put together a simple online liturgy for the Fourth Sunday of Advent that is either livestreamed or pre-recorded and premiered the morning of December 24.

The Love that Transforms Us: Online Worship Guide

Depending on your church’s setup and available recording equipment, consider having no more than two to three different camera shots in your pre-recorded service. We encourage having each shot provide a sense of intimacy so that the worship leaders and preacher appear more like they are sitting at a table with online congregants than standing on a stage or chancel. One shot should center around the Advent wreath if that is a tradition your congregation observes. Also, consider leading the prayers and offering the homily from the Advent wreath. A second camera shot should center on the musician(s) who are leading congregational song. If you choose not to deliver the prayers and/or the homily from the Advent wreath, select another recording location that will be familiar and meaningful to most people who attend your worship services in person and online. Be sure to provide an online copy of the order of service, even if you are also able to include subtitles within the video to assist with congregational responses and congregational singing. When you record responsive liturgies, either raise your hand when you read the communal responses or have a second liturgist on screen who leads the congregational responses. This sets up an expectation that online congregants will participate in the responses from wherever they are and helps them feel more comfortable doing so.


Wherever you are, whether you are by yourself or surrounded by family, preparing food for the Christmas feast or spending this time in quiet rest, welcome! We are glad you are joining us online as we join Mary in the final stage of preparation for the arrival of the Christ child, our Messiah, whom we will celebrate this evening. As we prepare to worship, we invite you to find a candle or a flashlight to use during the lighting of the Advent wreath. Now, let’s take a deep breath…as we worship the God whose love transforms us.

Call to Worship

Stop. Listen. Pay attention. Love is coming near.
We wait in the love of the coming Messiah that transforms us.

The Hope-Bringer, Peace-Maker, Joy-Sustainer grows in a womb, preparing to be born among us.
We wait in the love of the coming Messiah that transforms us.

With Mary, we long for the coming of the Child who will transform the world, bringing justice where injustice reigns, fullness where hunger persists, and favor to the ones the world calls lowly.
We wait in the love of the coming Messiah that transforms us.

So let us join our voices and our lives in magnifying God, our Savior!
We come to wait and to declare the coming of the Love that transforms us! Amen.

Written by Dr. Lisa Hancock, Discipleship Ministries, June 2023.

Hymn Suggestions:

  • “To a Maid Engaged to Joseph” (United Methodist Hymnal, 215)
  • “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” (United Methodist Hymnal, 196)
  • “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” (The Faith We Sing, 2098)
  • “My Soul Gives Glory to My God” (United Methodist Hymnal, 198)
  • “Tell Out, My Soul” (United Methodist Hymnal, 200)

Lighting the Advent Wreath

Reader 1: When the angel Gabriel visited Mary, announcing God’s plan for her to conceive and give birth to the Messiah, “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’” (Luke 1:34) And yet, only a few months later, Mary sings to Elizabeth,

My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name (Luke 1:46-49).

Reader 2: We, like Mary, hear God’s call to be part of making God’s dream for our salvation and flourishing a reality, and we question, “How can this be? I am only…” Yet, like Mary, the “onlys” that make us hesitate are gifts God can and will use as God’s love transforms us into bearers of good news.

Congregation: We wait as people who have encountered divine Love that disrupts the status quo and ushers us into abundant life marked by mutual love and peace that flows from the flourishing of all people.

Reader 1: We light the candles on this wreath, and we illuminate the candles or flashlights in our homes, as signs of our shocking hope, our just peace, our fierce joy, and the love that transforms us. May Love grow within us, transforming us into bold witnesses of God’s salvation with our voices and our lives. Amen.

Light the four outer candles of the Advent wreath.


Luke 1:26-38 (46b-55)


The Love that Transforms Us

Prayer of Confession

Every notion we have about power, success,
wealth, and achievement,
God takes and tosses out the window.
More importantly, God comes to us,
to upset our notion that we have to save ourselves.
In Jesus, God comes to us,
removing our sin, our failures, our expectations,
so we might have new life.
Please join me as we pray, saying,

We confess we are not the people you hope us to be, Advent God.
The very ones you favor, we too often ignore or ridicule.
The ones you knock off their pedestals,
we admire and emulate.
We are so focused on having more and more,
we risk being sent away empty.

Forgive us, Mighty God,
and look with grace upon us.
We would live secure in your love;
we would be the ones of peace for our world,
we would seek to do your will,
as did Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
in whose name we pray.

Silence is kept

Even now—yes, even in this very moment,
God comes to us,
bringing hope,
bringing forgiveness,
bringing grace as freely offered gifts to us.
May we open our hearts to the God who is with us,
and receive the gifts which have been offered to us.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

Written by Thom Shuman and posted on Lectionary Liturgies. http://lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.ca/. Reposted on the re:Worship blog at https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/12/confession-luke-1-46-55.html.

Hymn Suggestions:

  • “Amen, Amen” (The Faith We Sing, 2072)
  • “Blessed Be the God of Israel” (The United Methodist Hymnal, 209)
  • “Jesus, the Light of the World” (Worship and Song, 3056)
  • “Like a Child” (The Faith We Sing, 2092)
  • People Look East (The United Methodist Hymnal, 202)


Beloved, the wait for the Messiah is almost over and has only just begun. Go from this space carrying the love that transforms us in your hearts, so that your lives may give birth to hope, peace, joy, and love wherever you go. Amen.

Written by Dr. Lisa Hancock, Discipleship Ministries, June 2023.

Dr. Lisa Hancock, Director of Worship Arts Ministries, served as an organist and music minister in United Methodist congregations in the Northwest Texas and North Texas Annual Conferences, as well as the New Day Amani/Upendo house churches in Dallas. After receiving her Master of Sacred Music and Master of Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology, Lisa earned her PhD in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University wherein she researched and wrote on the doctrine of Christ, disability, and atonement.

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