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This is a collection of Advent Resources I have written over the past few years. These are yours to use for free.
For the season of Advent, I like to create a theme that we build together in all aspects of church life–in worship, in service, in community and in teaching and preaching, with the message leading to the fourth Sunday in Advent, the Sunday before Christmas, and echoed again on Epiphany Sunday, with the message as the wise men left and went back out into the world, so we, too, carry the message back out into the world. For Christmas Eve and the first Sunday of Christmas, I keep to a basic Christmas message since you have family members from out of town and many people who do not attend church any other time of year and from what I have found, generally speaking, people enjoy hearing the traditional Christmas stories of Jesus’ birth and the singing of their favorite carols. But for Advent, I like to build up a theme for the year, as it marks the beginning of the new Church year as well.
Advent truly is my favorite time of year. I love preparing for Christ’s birth for we are truly preparing for Christ to enter our lives in a new way. I love the lights, the preparation, the sounds and smells of Advent, even more so than Christmas day. Advent time is a blessing to me, and it always seems so short. Especially in the ministry, I feel like it just slips by because we spend so much time preparing for the busy worship season that we don’t often get to enjoy it ourselves.
Here is a resource on Advent Themes I wrote for a clergy workshop:
Here are Advent Candle-lighting liturgies that I have written in the past in PDF format::
Some other suggestions for Advent are to change some of the usual aspects of the worship service. For instance, I like to sing “Gloria in excelsis Deo” from “Angels We Have Heard On High” instead of the Gloria Patri. I like to use a verse of a carol after the Candle Lightings as a transition into another part of the worship service. I also have done a theme for the Children’s message, including inviting “characters” from the story to come and tell the children about who they are and why Christmas is important, such as the angel Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, and Joseph.
Advent and Christmas can be a difficult time for people, especially for those who have lost a loved one recently or over the holidays in the past. Some churches do a Blue Christmas or Longest Night service. Here is a service that I wrote that can be used as a template:
For Christmas Eve I prefer not to preach a sermon; I like to let the story be the message. This service is designed to be one hour in length. No need to use my name for permission, as this service developed from borrowing other’s resources here and there and adapting and adding my own. Some of it is based on the Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols services that I grew up with.
The Call to Worship is designed to be read by four different readers, sitting in different places in the congregation, rising just before they are to speak. I also places in this service for special choral music, but if your congregation doesn’t have a choir or a soloist, they can simply be instrumental interludes or replaced with additional carols. Lastly, I have included a Children’s Message: in my previous congregation, there was only one service for Christmas Eve and I liked having a special way to include them (and the parents and grandparents loved it as well!)
This service culminates the preparation of Advent, so I include the lighting of each candle in the service. If you did not use an Advent wreath, you can simply light a candle during each candle lighting.
This service could also be used for Christmas Day. Some ideas for worship on Christmas Day include inviting children to come in their pajamas, doing an impromptu Nativity where children are invited to come up and pose in the roles of the manger scene animals, and invite an adult or two (or teens) to come up and be Mary and Joseph.
I wrote these pageants over the past ten years. Each pageant is about 15-20 minutes long, and can be used with a small or large group. They are simple pageants that require only a few rehearsals. Each pageant uses the same set/backdrop so a set design can be reused for at least three years. I have included an introduction about the three pageants in Word, but the three pageants themselves are PDF’s. Feel free to use, but include my name and copyright information in any printed program.
If you are looking for a short drama for Christmas Eve (could be adapted for Christmas Day as well) without as much preparation and memorization, I am offering for the first time the dramatic dialogue What Can I Give? Written in 2002, this dramatic dialogue includes the children in a special time that could be used in place of a Homily or a Children’s Message.
A Spontaneous Nativity can also be used for Christmas Eve or for a Children’s Sermon. This drama does not require any rehearsal, and can be completely narrated by one person if desired.
Also, don’t forget about the 12 Days of Christmas! Check out this post for a calendar with devotions and activities!