Advent 2016 Worship Series Overview

Christmas Day, Year A

In a Service of the Word today, we contemplate the mystery of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.

In This Series

In the three services of this season, we move from Peace (Christmas Eve) to Word (Christmas Day) to Reveal (Epiphany Sunday, next week). Peace is announced and celebrated as bold good news on Christmas Eve. The focus of the Christmas Day readings on Word moves us toward contemplation. Next week, we pick up the mood of wonder, love, and praise as well as awareness of the threat the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ posed and poses to the powers of this world.


Christmas Eve was just last night. Christmas Day is rarely celebrated at all in our churches. When it is, it may only be when it falls on a Sunday, as it does this year.

Attendance is likely to be low today. People may have stayed up late last evening celebrating with their families and friends, even after late Christmas Eve services. Many others will simply stay home or go out to breakfast this morning with their families and out of town guests. So whatever happens today may need to be in a more intimate mode than last night’s celebration. Today’s simple service of lessons, songs, and prayers with an act of thanksgiving rather than Communion and perhaps with a brief, more conversational homily, if any “sermon” at all, may help fit that bill.

Still, you may have some visitors as well as a few who have returned from or missed the Christmas Eve service and want to attend some sort of Christmas service. So be sure to be just as attentive to inviting all to worship next Sunday as well as the launch of your Season after Epiphany series. And plan to keep the invitations coming through the coming weeks as well.

DOWNLOAD the full Advent 2016 Worship Series [PDF]

Reading Notes

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

Isaiah 52:7-10 The LORD returns to Jerusalem. The exile is over. "All the ends of the earth shall see our God's salvation."

Psalm response: Psalm 98 (UMH 818) A song of praise for God's intervention to save God's people. "For the Lord comes to judge the nations with righteousness, and the peoples with equity." This psalm is also the basis of the hymn, "Joy to the World." If you plan to sing the psalm, sing Response 2 with Tone 1 in D major or use D-C#-B-A; A-B-C#-D" in D major.

Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12) In Jesus, God has given us no mere angel or messenger, but "the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God's very being. . . [who] sustains all things by his powerful word."

John 1:1-14 The mystery of the Word made flesh, dwelling (“pitching tent”) among us, and empowering us to become children of God.

Calendar Notes


Today’s readings are from the Third Service for Christmas Day. Both Easter Day and Christmas Day have traditionally had three worship gatherings—one on the Eve, starting after sunset the night before (Easter Vigil, Christmas Eve), one in the morning, and one in the late afternoon. We use the readings for the historical late afternoon service for our morning service on this day.

The focus of the gospel reading from that service gives us both the focus and the shape for today’s service: Word. “The Word became flesh and came to live among us, and we have beheld his glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Given all the energy and work so many have likely put into Christmas Eve services, we have designed today’s service as a relatively simpler service of the word, with readings and songs or hymns, and a somewhat more laid back atmosphere. Last night, like the shepherds, we had our breath taken away by the angel chorus. Today, like Mary, we ponder all these things in our hearts and offer attentive devotion.

With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, attendance may be substantially lower. Still, be sure to get the word out about your upcoming series for the Season after Epiphany. Our planning helps for that series will be posted soon. The theme for this season historically and in the series we have provided is evangelism— “The Great Invitation.”

Additional Resources

2015 Planning Helps for Christmas Day

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Ghana, Nigeria, Stateless People and Migrants

In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Christmas Eve — Planning Notes Epiphany Sunday — Planning Notes


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In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Christmas Eve — Planning Notes Epiphany Sunday — Planning Notes