Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes

December 24, 2017 (Year B) | Morning Worship Service


Order of Worship Preaching Hymns Music Planning Additional Resources

Reading Notes

NRSV texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé

Calendar Notes

The colors for this service (Advent 4, December 24 in the morning) remain blue or purple. Change the colors after this morning’s service(s) to the Christmas colors of white and gold. Christmas season begins with sunset tonight. 


December 24    Christmas Eve (evening)
December 25    
Christmas Day
December 26    Kwanzaa
December 31    Watch Night/New Year’s Eve


January 1        New Year’s Day/Holy Name of Jesus
January 7        Epiphany Sunday AND Baptism of the Lord
                         Season after Epiphany Series Begins (Forthcoming)
January 11      
Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 14      Human Relations Day (Special Sunday with Offering)
January 15      
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday
January 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 21      Ecumenical Sunday

All Month       Black History Month
February 11   Transfiguration of the Lord
                        Scouting Sunday

February 14   Ash Wednesday
                        Lent Series Begins (forthcoming)
February 19  
Presidents Day

March 2         World Day of Prayer
March 11       UMCOR Sunday
                       Daylight Saving Time Change Song (Spring) (USA)

For your Planning Team

In the Series

This service marks the conclusion of Advent. It is not yet Christmas. That is still to come, beginning with Christmas Eve services later in the evening or night. Though the season changes at sunset, this series creates a strong continuity between Advent and Christmas. This morning is part one of a what is intended to be a two-part service, concluded with this evening’s Christmas Eve Communion service(s), and joined by the Las Posadas journeys we invite you to help your congregation take this afternoon.

This morning marks the bold, courageous hope of Mary, and so our hope, in anticipation of the birth of her child. Tonight marks the simplicity and wonder of that birth. This morning, we join with Mary in singing of the revolution that birth will unleash. Tonight, we join with Mary in pondering everything that has happened in our hearts around the Lord’s Table. This morning takes joy and directs it toward the transformation of the world through God’s incarnation in Christ. Tonight begins to take in all Incarnation may mean.  

This Week’s After Church/Afternoon Activity: Las Posadas

Las Posadas (“The Inns”) is an Advent/Christmas tradition that captures the pathos and eventual joy of the journey of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem as Mary is about to deliver her child. Normally, it would be observed for the eight nights leading to Christmas Eve, with different processions going to different homes each night. (Read more about it from the Book of Worship here). The purpose of the service is both celebrative and evangelistic. It is customary to invite friends and neighbors to participate in the Las Posadas processions and celebrations in one another’s homes.

For today’s use, we suggest an adaptation. Select 8 (or some other number) of homes to be “hosts” at different times in the afternoon. Create the same number of procession groups, including friends and neighbors whom you invite to Las Posadas AND Communion at the church afterward, and have them meet at a walking distance from the host’s home, then begin their procession. Use the Christmas Eve Service of Las Posadas (BOW 281-2-3), concluding with the reading or singing of the Canticle of Mary, as the beginning of the fiesta. Continue the fiesta in the home, concluding with the breaking of the piñata. Then walk or caravan to church for the Christmas Eve candlelight Communion service. If your church has scheduled multiple shorter services (as we have provided for in this series), select the time that works best for your group. 

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Japan, North Korea, South Korea


Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Year B, Fourth Sunday of Advent — December 24, 2017