Welcoming the Guest

Company's Coming

Christmas Eve, Year B

What a feeling of celebration, what a joy that all this anticipation has come to a kind of fruition. True, there will always be the questions about whether anything will change in the world around us because of this event. Transformation always takes longer than we think it should. And it often begins with something small, a new vision, a stronger hope, a baby in a manger. Something small that will change everything.

Here we are, gathered on this holy night (or special day), remembering how God tore open the heavens, how God redeemed all of history, how the Incarnated Christ came to gather all souls – our souls – into a new kin-dom of love and grace. We have entered into an invitational way of living, an opening of doors and minds and hearts. Company has come to worship with us, serve with us, love with us. Tonight we celebrate the community that we are and that we are becoming.

How should this service sound? Well, that depends. If children are involved, it should be loud and fast and breathless in its excitement. If it is late, midnight candlelight, it should reverent and quiet, listening for the angel wing flapping in the night. You determine how it should sound. You open the door for spontaneity or for practiced ritual. You help shape the experience as best you can. But let there be sound, laughter, and shouts of joy. Let there be excitement. Yes, many have done this over and over for years, and yet it is all new again tonight.

Find ways to be tactile, keeping in mind safety concerns for the virus. But ask people to bring something to hold, something to wave, whether in person or online. It could be a decoration or a gift—something that speaks of connection and community, of invitation or welcome. Provide a hostess gift, if that can be allowed—something that says, “I’m glad you came tonight”. At the very least, let people see smiles and welcome on the faces of those who lead.

Notice that we haven’t made specific suggestions for what scripture should be read in this service. But certainly the Word should be read! Some choose to tell the whole story, from both Matthew and Luke, weaving them together as though they were one ongoing narrative. This is how we have heard the story, and it is the popular understanding. That is why our nativity sets have both wise men and shepherds in them, even though the story doesn’t have them there at the same time. Perhaps it would be better to focus on part of the story. Even though Year B is Mark’s year, we’ve told part of Luke’s story already, so why not continue with that for this service?

The other option is to go to a Hebrew scripture prophecy, Isaiah 9:2-7, perhaps. Or go to John’s prologue as a way of telling the story from a poetic or theological perspective. But present it with a sense of wonder and of joy, not of complacency as though we’ve heard it a hundred times. We may have heard it that often, but it is new. And just maybe there is someone who has gathered or logged on with you who has never heard it before. Present it for that person, let that person have the joy.

Call to Worship

Unexpectedly, the time came! The child was born!
The Savior of the world is here!
Unexpectedly, the angels told the shepherds of the newborn Savior;
The Savior of the world is here!
Unexpectedly, the shepherds went and found the child, lying in a manger.
The Savior of the world is here!
We wait for Christ to come again. We wait for Christ to enter our world and lives in a new way.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Liturgy created/adapted by Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, rev-o-lution.org. http://rev-o-lution.org/2017/12/15/worship-resources-for-december-24-2017-fourth-sunday-of-advent-christmas-eve/

Call to Worship

A New Day Dawnin’!
(Based on Isaiah 9:2-7)

One: We were down in the dark, now we glimpse a great light.
Many: Thank God, we see a new day dawnin’!
One: What was nothing is turning to something. Terror tried us, storms denied us. Injustice angered us, apathy discouraged us. But thank God today that,
Many: We see a new day dawnin’!
One: Oppression giving way to overflow.
Many: We see a new day dawnin’!
One: Burdens becoming blessings!
Many: We see a new day dawnin’!
One: Sadness to salvation!
Many: We see a new day dawnin’!
One: The yoke is broke! A new day is dawnin’! For a Savior is born for us. Wonderful Counselor – guide for us. Everlasting Father – provider for us. Prince of Peace – drawing near to us.
All: It’s a new day! And I thank God for it! Let us worship the Lord our God!

(Joseph W. Daniels, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, 2007, p. 51)


Loving God, moved by the coming of Christ to our lives, we seek to be your people. Help us to live in faithful covenant with you and with one another. Let the peace of Christ guide us, and let Christ’s message in all its richness live in our hearts, that we may praise you without ceasing. Amen.

(Ruth Duck, Bread for the Journey, Pilgrim Press, 1981, p.24.)

Prayers of the People/Intercessions

O God, you are never revealed so completely as in the face of the child of Bethlehem. Hear us as we give you thanks for those who today reveal your love in our world in his spirit.

We pray for those who give you hands by doing their best toward their brothers and sisters; for those who give you a mouth by speaking words of justice and peace for the broken and oppressed; for those who give your poverty the look of hope for your reign, revealing you simply by being your children, reflecting your beauty as did your only Son Jesus.

We hold up in prayer the lonely and hurting, the hungry and homeless, the sick and dispossessed, knowing that your heart has always been nearest those who are poor in spirit and least likely to be thought of as people touched by the hand of divinity.

As we remember how you came to live among us in the flesh, and as we celebrate that moment long ago which lives forever in the hearts of those who believe, and as we long for your fullness in our lives that we too might enflesh the goodness and love of Christ in our day, we ask that you would bless us, your church, to be food for the hungry and hope for those who are lost and alone—a living testament of Christ’s faithfulness to you. May all who drink of your one spirit receive new life to give to those in our world who are thirsty for meaning and belonging.

Pour out your Spirit upon us, your people. Continue in our lives the mystery of Christmas. Let your Son become flesh in us, so that we may reveal you to our world all the days of our lives. Holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today.

(From Life in Liturgy, https://lifeinliturgy.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/christmas-eve-day/)


In our more cynical or despairing moments,
we wrestle with faith
and with the idea of you coming to us, O God;
But, somewhere in our hearts we know,
that we do not need you to come,
because you have always been here
with us,
among us,
within us.

And so now, as we welcome you again,
we acknowledge that you need no welcome;
it is we who need to remember
who need to see again your presence,
who need to allow your ‘with-us-ness’
to flood our hearts and lives.

Welcome to our world, Jesus,
but more importantly, we thank you
for welcoming us
into your ever-coming, always-present world.



Prayer of Confession

We celebrate You and praise You,
God of new beginnings and surprising opportunities

Because You never cease to make Yourself available to us.

We appreciate You and thank You,
God of unquenchable life and irrepressible grace

Because You continue to offer us the resources of Your Spirit.

We love You and embrace You,
God of unfailing compassion and constant companionship

Because You walk beside us and transform us into agents of love.

Forgive us, O Lord,

When we seek to keep You to ourselves
and shut others from Your influence.

Forgive us, O Christ,

When we wallow in our own weakness
and take advantage of the weakness of others.

Forgive us, O Spirit,

When we deny Your friendship
and withhold Your compassion from others.

(Silent Confession)

Heal us, restore and empower us, O God, we pray
For the sake of Your kingdom which has broken into our world.

(Written by John van de Laar Ä 2008 Sacredise, https://sacredise.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/A-Liturgy-for-Advent-and-Christmas.pdf)

Benediction / Christmas Blessing

Behold the Lord proclaims to all the earth, “Your salvation has come! You are my holy people, the redeemed, whom I have sought out, never to be forsaken.” As God delights and rejoices over you, go in peace, rejoicing in the Lord. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

(From Life in Liturgy, https://lifeinliturgy.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/christmas-eve-day/)

In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes First Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes First Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes