Old English: "The Mass of Christ"
The Christmas season celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. It lasts for 12 days, December 24 through January 5, the eve of the Epiphany of our Lord.
- God's presence in human life
- God's love for all of creation
- Paschal mystery of Christ's passion, death and resurrection
Color of the Season
- White, a color associated with the festivals of Christ and suggesting gladness, joy and light
Planning the Liturgy
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the remainder of the Christmas season fulfills the time of Advent expectation.
- Consider beginning Christmas Eve services by singing or saying the Proclamation of the Birth of Christmas from the ancient martyrology. The proclamation proclaims the incarnation throughout history. See the text and rubrics at www.sundaysandseasons.com.
- Blessings for the Christmas Tree and nativity scene suitable for use in worship are available at Sundays and Seasons online or in print. These resources also supply an outline for a service of Lessons and Carols.
- During the 12 days of Christmas, use both the Kyrie and the Hymn of Praise. It is particularly appropriate to use the Christmas song of the Angels, "Glory to God in the Highest."
- Prepare a child to proclaim the Old Testament reading for Christmas Eve.
- There are many Christmas hymns that use refrains and encourage the participation of children in the worship service. Alert families of the presence of these hymns in your liturgy.
- If you congregation does not already do so, provide a Christmas day liturgy. The Revised Common Lectionary provides unique biblical readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day provide a fuller proclamation of the Christmas celebration. See this year's lectionary for the readings.
- Keep the sanctuary decorated for Christmas throughout the entire 12 days of the season.
- Use the Nicene Creed.
- Use the proper preface for Christmas that can be found in the Leader's Edition of Evangelical Lutheran Worship on page 182.
- Use Eucharistic Prayer III found on page 110 of the pew edition of Evangelical Lutheran Worship or page 196 of the Leader's Edition. This Eucharistic prayer contains images and language that are particularly appropriate for the season.
- Be hospitable to visiting families and children in the Christmas season. Prepare ushers and greeters to anticipate their needs and be ready to assist, if necessary.
- Kids Celebrate Advent & Christmas introduces children to the seasons of the church and is available for pre-readers and young readers.
At the close of Christmas liturgies, the assembly is sent out to seek the incarnation of God in their everyday lives.
- Display a crèche scene near the exit of the church building. Add figurines that will encourage reflection on the presence and mission of Christ in the world. Include figurines around the Christ child that represent people who are poor, sick, oppressed, and those who represent a variety of cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.
- In a ritual similar to the lighting of the Advent wreath each week, set up an arrangement of 12 white candles for the Christmas season. Light one candle each day and recall a part of the Christmas story.
- Prepare a brief prayer rite that can be used by families before they open their Christmas presents and include it in the Christmas Eve bulletin. Include the story of the nativity from Luke and prayer petitions that emphasize those in need, sharing of gifts, and the presence of Christ in our lives.
- Have children help place baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds in the nativity scene in the crèche. Add figures as they appear in the Biblical readings. The figurines of magi can approach the scene from a distant location within the sanctuary.
- For Christmas supplies and resources visit Augsburg Fortress.
- Sundays and Seasons online or in print at Augsburg Fortress.
- "Whose Birthday is it, anyway?" A yearly resource offering tips for simplifying Christmas for families and congregations is available at www.simpleliving.org.
- See the list of Christmas resources at the worship website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
- See Christmas at Wikipedia.
- Martin Luther's Christmas Book by Martin Luther, Roland Bainton, Editor
Martin Luther's conception of the Nativity found expression in sermon, song, and art. This beautiful new gift edition of a classic collection combines all three.