Discovering God’s heart through Christmas celebration
Since moving to Columbia, SC, we have had a family tradition of our own interactive Christmas Eve worship service, usually after the evening church service, if there is one. When we started, our children were 11, 9, and 5 years old. Now they are grown with children of their own. Each year we pick a different theme, decided by the ages of our children/grandchildren and what relatives might be visiting or living with us at the time. Starting in early November, Mom and Dad discuss the “theme” for our Christmas Eve family worship time and let the rest of the family know, so those who will be at home on Christmas Eve can be prepared to take part in worshipping. These ideas each require some preparation from each family member. Depending on the theme, the leader (Dad) will ask for a general idea of what each person will be doing, so he can organize the informal service to have a natural flow before we start.
After prayer, we usually read the Luke 2 Christmas story and the leader (Dad) makes a brief comment about some part of it with application to our family. Many times we have chosen and read a meaningful (touching) Christmas story that illustrates the concepts of the deeper meaning of Christmas.
Then we go around the room sharing what each family member has chosen, to go along with the theme of the service.
Here are some of the things we have done over the last 25 years:
1. Each person will write an original verse for a traditional Christmas carol; we print them out and all sing the songs together.
2. Write a “gratitude list:” 100 things you are grateful for in this past year. Share the entire list or the top 10 items with the family.
3. Choose a Bible verse or passage, memorize it, recite it for the family and tell why you chose that verse and what it means to you.
4. Gift boxes: we hand out a small cardboard box to each person (2 to 3 inches on each side, that can be folded flat, from Hobby Lobby or Michaels). On the inside of his/her box, each person writes what he/she wants to give to God, as a birthday gift to Jesus this coming year. Put name on outside. Then decorate the outside of the box to look as if it is wrapped. Then all the boxes are placed around a little Christmas tree, to be presented to Jesus on His birthday. If agreed by the participants, the contents can be read out loud. But usually we let it be personal, just between the family member and God. Option: collapse the box, save in safe place for a year or two, then at a future Christmas Eve service pass them out to the owners. Decide ahead of time if they are going to be kept confidential, so the writer will be comfortable to write personal things.
5. Artistic expression: each person chooses a way to express worship/gratitude/celebration of God’s gift. May include writing a poem, painting/drawing a picture, singing a song, etc.
6. Musical instruments: each person picks a meaningful song/hymn/carol and play it on their instrument (could include using their vocal cords if they don’t play an instrument). Fun to do it in duets, trios, etc.
7. Make a birthday card for Jesus’ birthday. Should be a personal expression. Read them out loud to Jesus. Pass them around.
8. Each person give their testimony of how they came to Christ. Especially good if several generations are present. Very moving experience when in-laws are added to the family and we hear for the first time how God has led in their lives.
9. Each share the most important thing God taught you in the last year.
10. Musical variations: Play a recording or sing –
- The song that has meant most to you in the last year and tell why.
- Your favorite Christmas carol and why it is your favorite.
- The song you want to sing/play as personal worship of God
We always end with praying around the circle. We keep a box of tissues available, because we rarely get through a worship time without tears as we hear our loved ones talk of what their relationship with God means to them and what the Lord has done for them in the last year.