A delightful reminder of the meaning of Advent and Christmas traditions for use in a Sunday morning worship service or a special Advent service.
Written for 3-12 readers, with Scrooge-type voices (3, 5, 7 and 9) grumbling about traditions and other voices offering meaning.
Easily read by adults without any rehearsal — just distribute a copy to willing readers.
The debut was with a mixed-age cast, with a practice session the morning the drama was included in worship.
Christmas time is here again!
Hear the cries of joy, and woe!
But now we’re all gathered here.
Which direction do we go?
In this time of love and hate,
all the choices that we make,
give the oppor-tun-i-ty
to learn to give and not just take.
In every small tradition,
There occurs a question clear,
Why is it that we do these things?
Why are we gathered here?
I’m sick of writing Christmas cards!
The waste of paper and money!
You never know how much to send.
And the jokes are rarely funny.
Ahhh, in the act of writing,
We get the chance to say
Things we always wish we could,
But don’t, every other day.
It’s the opportunity
To wish happiness and health,
God’s blessing on all of them,
And their spiritual wealth.
That all seems well and good for now,
But what about those Christmas lights?!
Tiny, plastic, fizzling, breaking!?
An electric bill of new heights!
Ahhh, but you have forgotten–
Christmas isn’t bills and ladders!
It’s the light of Jesus Christ!
The gifts He brings that matters!
I am dreading Christmas dinner
It always seems like such a chore
The turkey never seems quite right
And the sprouts are always ignored!
But at the time of eating,
There’s a chance to pause and pray,
To be thankful for our meal,
Not just here, but every day.
What about the buying and greed?
What can we do ‘bout debt and stress?
Where is the gift of Jesus Christ?
Next to the tinsel covered dress?
Beneath greed and shopping ads,
Lies a very different way.
One where gifts offer meaning,
Not always how much is paid.
To give a gift at Christmas
Is not only gifts and toys.
To give a gift is to love,
To show it’s more than just noise.
So stop and chat with a lonely soul.
Make hot drinks for the widows.
Share the joy of salvation.
Share with everyone you know!
So with joy and faith in full,
Let’s go out and tell the world!
Tell all to stand straight and tall
As Christmas day is unfurled!
With one voice we can cry out,
Although greed and sorrow creep,
That this time has more meaning,
Something wonderful and deep.
God bless us in our efforts,
As we listen to God’s son,
Who came to earth as a babe,
To unite us all as one!
So with heads held high, let’s stand!
For the better part of humanity,
Is shown each year at Christmas,
All readers together:
As we declare something grand in unity.
This prayer might be used on the 4th Sunday of Advent, Christmas Day or for a Lessons and Carols service.
When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem
They found there was no room.
We confess that in the midst of all our anxieties
We have not made room in our hearts for others.
We confess that, paralysed by fear, prejudice or apathy
We have not made room in our homes for the stranger.
We confess that, forgetting the welcome we have been shown,
We have not made room in your church for those who are different from us.
We confess that in the busyness of Christmas time
We have not made room in our lives for you.
Gracious God, forgive us and renew us.
Use this advent time to break open our hearts,
throw open the doors, open our eyes to your presence
and open our arms wide to welcome you.
God is good! God is faithful! God is merciful!
And God comes to us, in vulnerability, again and again,
to show us how much we are loved.
We are forgiven; we are freed,
We are beloved; we are blessed,
Thanks be to God!
Las Posadas, a Mexican Advent tradition stretches from 16 December through Christmas, during which actors depict Mary and Joseph looking for lodging. They travel throughout the town or city, followed by a procession of children and other members of the community carrying candles. A song is traditionally sung at each “inn” along the way. Jim Burklo has written new lyrics (pasted below) for the traditional tune. These can also be found on his website Musings.
Click here to hear the tune, see the original lyrics in both Spanish and English, to see a short video and to print the sheet music.
Las Posadas, by Jim Burklo
At each stop (4 inns plus the final destination), everyone sings:
Help us, dear innkeeper, we’re seeking shelter
Mary is pregnant, about to deliver
Help us, dear innkeeper, find a place to stay;
Mary must rest, for the baby is now on its way!
At each of the four stops the innkeepers answer:
We have no rooms and the hour is too late
You are too poor for our high nightly rate
Go down the highway and seek a cheaper place
Maybe you’ll find one that still has some space.
At the final destination, the innkeeper sings:
Welcome, dear travellers, wand’ring so far
Stumbling along by the light of a star
We have no rooms but we’ve got a place to stay
Back in our manger we’ll make you a bed in the hay.
All sing in response:
Jesus was born in a humble little manger
Honour him now as you welcome the stranger
Offer him room in your heart and soul tonight
Join in the spirit of giving and sharing his light.
We pray for our beautiful world.
Yet as we consider your amazing creation, images arise of
global warming, greenhouse gases, climate change, and rising sea levels.
We bring to you in prayer farmers whose land is dry and parched,
And our need for drenching rain to fill our catchment areas and water our land,
Guide our leaders to make responsible water policies for today and the future.
Help each one of us play our part in the wise use and conservation of our water.
God, we pray for your world.
We pray for the people of this world.
Yet as we consider the amazing variety of humanity, images arise of
wars and violence that result in death and tragedy,
Greed that results in poverty, prostitution, oppression and even slavery.
We bring to you in prayer the refugees and asylum seekers, the homeless and the unemployed.
Guide our leaders to be influences of good not evil.
Help each one of us play our part in bringing justice and wholeness to all people.
God, we pray for the people of this world.
Empowering God, when we are tempted to despair for our world, help us to remember
That it is at this very point of hopelessness that you are waiting,
Waiting to transform, waiting to bring new life.
Help us to see the world with eyes of love and yearning.
Let your compassion reach out through us, whatever the cost.
Faithful God, we pray for our Church, here and around the world.
We bring to you in prayer all those who serve in ministry in all its manifestations.
We give thanks for our ministry team, office staff and volunteers.
We commit to you our special Christmas services that they may bring encouragement and hope.
May your light burn brightly through us, that we may light the way for others.
May the words of our prayers truly become our deeds, whatever the cost.
God, in your mercy hear our prayer.
Written in December 2006 during a time of drought in Australia
by Phyl Austin and Ana Gobledale, Anglican and Churches of Christ, Melbourne, Australia
Each Advent season, the Scout International Peace Light travels from Bethlehem around the world. Towns and faith communities hold services for receiving the light and for sending it forth. These resources are for use in an Advent Peace Light Service.
Peace Light Prayer
May the kindly spirit of Christmas spread its radiance far and wide,
So all the world may feel the glow, of this Holy Christmastide.
So may this light of peace today that has travelled many miles,
Bring joy and hope to many, and fill each face with smiles.
So may every heart and home continue through the year,
To feel the warmth and wonder of this season of good cheer.
And may it bring us closer to God and to each other,
With every stranger known as friend, whether Sister or a Brother.
A Peace Poem
by David Roberts, 1999
There will be no peace:
till attitudes change;
till self-interest is seen as part of common interest;
till old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes are deleted from the account;
till the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit
rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain;
till justice and equality before the law become the basis of government;
till basic freedoms exist;
till leaders – political, religious, educational – and the police and media
wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance,
and reconciliation as a basis for renewal;
till parents teach their children new ways to think about people.
There will be no peace
till enemies become fellow human beings.
(shared at the 2015 Scout Peace Light service in Salisbury, United Kingdom)
A prayer of commitment
“We gladly receive the light
as a sign of our willingness to be channels of peace,
by our words and actions.”
Started in 1986, the Peace Light from Bethlehem campaign was originally organised by the Austrian Broadcasting Company – ORF (Linz) – and was part of a large charitable relief mission – Light into Darkness, for children in need in Austria and abroad.
Since 1986 there has been co-operation between Scouts and Guides in many countries which has allowed the light to travel throughout Europe, such that the light is passed on to 30 European Countries and for the past few years, on to North America, Mexico and Canada.
Each year, a child, the “Peace Child,” from Upper Austria kindles a flame from the “Eternal Flame” from the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem. The light is then flown to Austria and distributed at a Service of Dedication to delegations from across Europe who carry it, with a message of Peace, to their own countries for use at ecumenical services.
Scouts and Guides then carry the light to other churches, hospitals and places of public, cultural and political importance – to anybody or group that appreciates the significance of the “gift.” In past years the light has been presented to Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Mikhail Gorbachov, the former King Hussain of Jordan, European Union President Romano Prodi and other member of the European parliament in Strasbourg, the United Nations Troops in Kosovo and Ground Zero, New York USA.
This time of year invites us to remember the light and the twinkle and the darkness and the humble fragility and beauty of human birth. This time of year reminds us of the miracle that happens when truth and light and love travel millions of miles through time and space to reach us again. Darkness makes lights and stars twinkle. This advent remember what makes you shine. And, then shine or twinkle, or dance like a little star, or stare like a bewildered shepherd, or sing like a happy angel. Christmas preparedness 101: Arise, shine! For your light has come.
Prayer: May the tasks and lists and projects of this season not stand between us and the light. Help us all to shine O God. Amen.
…we have all received, grace upon grace.
Holy and Divine Creator, we thank you for the gift of grace, the eternal spark that was brought into this world through the life of Jesus. Help us today and every day to remember that if we hold on to the spark alone, it will fade and fizz. Help us to remember to share the spark, share the light with all of creation. This is the prayer of Christmas. Amen.
— Angie Combs
God, open our hearts so we are ready for the messengers you may send to us. Help us to find your message in a world that needs it more than ever.
O Source of All Light, inspire us to reflect that light to our communities bringing rays of peace and justice to our world.
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
This is the season of hope, joy, peace, love, and Christ. A time to remember all that we have to be thankful for, and to hug our loved ones a little bit closer. This is Christmas. So it doesn’t matter whether you feel like the kid or the leopard, and it doesn’t matter if you think about this on a national scale or just in an aspect of your life, we should all try a little harder to follow the child that is leading us.
Dear God, let us all take a moment to remember that it doesn’t matter whether someone is a lamb or a lion, we are all made from your love.
John 1: 1-5, 14, 16
The Christmas story…is a story about letting down our defenses, our logic, our fears that keep us from connecting and allowing something pure and grace filled and shining to fill us and heal us. My prayer today is a prayer that you might be filled, healed, connected, desirous and wondering, and that you too might make the leap of faith. Amen.
— Charisa Hunter-Crump
Luke 2: 6-7
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The miracle of birth can happen anywhere. Jesus was born in an unusual place, but he was born in his home because his home was wherever God was, and God was right there, always.
Dear God, please help me to feel at home, no matter where I am, as you will be where ever I am. Amen.
— April Rollins
So just for a moment, just stop!
Turn off the constant thoughts just for a few moments.
Reflect on just being and not constantly doing.
Inhale that deep breath of gratitude for the measure of your days here.
Inhale the love of family and friends.
Embrace your unique impact in the world.
Amen and Amen
— Mark Bails
Matthew 1: 24-25
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
We spend so much of our energy being guided by “what will others think?” Help us listen more closely to “what will God think?” Help us be people of intense faith, welcoming the outcast, affirming all people’s value, and listening to anyone who is different, so that we may discern God’s voice in whatever disguise it takes on.
–Sandy Bish,who writes: “Many of my East Indian friends have arranged marriages. So did my maternal grandparents. I’m guessing that Joseph and Mary’s engagement was arranged.”
And Mary said,‘ My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…
Mary relied on and trusted in God.
God: I give thanks for your presence with me today and always.
May my trust in you continue and grow with each new day!
— Marcie Geissinger
Mary & Elizabeth
God of the world, of fear and of hope, may we remember in this Christmas season, that the most precious gift often comes from the most unexpected places.
— Angie Combs
Prayers written by members of Cairn Christian Church, Lafayette, Colorado USA for daily Advent devotions
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ — Matthew 2:1-2
Light a Little Candle
Light a little candle. It will shine so brightly
When our nights are longest and the darkness so deep.
Light a little candle. Drive away the darkness.
Light a little candle and work for Peace!
Light a little candle. Light the way to Justice.
When our days seem hopeless, give light to our ways.
Light a little candle. Share its light with others.
Light a little candle each and ev’ry day!
Light a little candle. Light the way to Freedom.
When our days are dreary and old hatreds are strong.
Light a little candle, lift your voice for Freedom!
Light a little candle and sing along.
Advent*, Channukah, Solstice, Christmass, Kwanzaa, Nullig, Novo Hel, Sada, Yuletide, Zagmuk, Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Saturnalia, Soyal, Santa Lucia…
Joulu, Kronos, Dongzhi, Tet, Sada, Touji, Brumalia, Sviatki, Diwali, Makar Sankranti, Inti Raymi, Joulupukki…
Advent, Christmass, Kwanza, Yuletide,
Give your light and breath and wisdom!
Join in the dance and live in Peace!
Join in the dance be at Peace!
Jeremy McLeod is a member of Cairn Christian Church, Lafayette, Colorado
*A partial list of Winter Festivals the world ’round.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. — Luke 3: 5-6
Every valley shall be filled:
may our low places, our wrong doings of the past, be rectified.
The crooked shall be made straight:
the evil, the injustice that we see or have done be realized and changed.
The rough ways made smooth:
the difficult times, the hurts in our lives be relieved,
and in the birth of Christ to come,
we will learn the strength and the hope that is God.
God, in this Advent season,
guide me to serve you in filling the low valleys,
the hurts that I have caused others, with love.
Help me to straighten the crooked paths
by shining a light on injustice.
Give me the strength and faith to know
that there will always be hope.
Hope is a state of mind. It is a dimension of the soul. It is an orientation of the spirit and the heart. It transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. It is an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. It is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It gives us the strength to live and continually to try new things, even in conditions that sometimes seem without hope.Vaclav Havel, poet
Kay Lowe-Wendling is a member of Cairn Christian Church, Lafayette, Colorado USA
Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.
— Luke 2:4
We all long to find a real home: the place where our pasts and our futures intersect.
As we metaphorically journey through Advent, let’s also be mindful of our physical journeys.
How did we get to where we are?
Who or what equipped us for the life we lead in this place?
How might God be calling us to live here, now?
God, you are a God of movement but you are also a God of place.
Thank you for the many places we have loved.
As we journey through the world,
teach us to love deeply each home we are given.
Amelia Dress is a member of Cairn Christian Church, Lafayette, Colorado USA
Holy God, during this busy season of Advent,
We pray for our World.
We seek your light in the midst of darkness,
Your peace in the midst of violence,
Your love in the midst of discord,
Your courage in the face of fear,
And your wisdom to guide us.
Help us to be messengers spreading your light,
sharing your peace,
and living your love
With courage and wisdom.
You give us Advent, Lord,
and we are grateful and glad
to watch by your light,
candid, yet hidden,
sharp as a truth.
You give us Advent, Lord,
and we are grateful and glad
to welcome your hope,
wholesome, yet fearsome,
child-shaped on straw.
You give us Advent, Lord,
and with your grace
we will keep it,
abiding, watching, welcoming.
We will keep it, with your help,
for our souls’ sake, which you love,
and for the sake of the world,
heart of your heart.
At Advent, it’s easy to only think about lights
And presents and parties.
Help us remember the most important things this season:
The love of our parents and family,
The beauty of the world,
The many things we have to be thankful for,
Friends and food and shelter.
Help us remember that Christmas is not about presents.
It is about love:
Your love coming into the world.
Us receiving your love
And us being able to give your love away.
What would Joseph and Mary have written to each other on Facebook?
A modern conversation from an ancient story…a blend of old and new words. How might these words of Advent be used in worship? Find inspiration in “A social network Christmas.”
A Social Network Christmas video
Bright idea: tip for using with youth…Now…watch this with a group of youth and invite them to create, for use in worship, a Facebook conversation for other Biblical characters.