So it’s the Sunday after Christmas (which falls on Dec. 27th this year), you’ve spent all of your creative resources on special music and services throughout the season of Advent culminating in an awe-inspiring service on Christmas Eve celebrating the arrival of the Christ child…and you’re just out of ideas of how to keep the celebration going!
It’s hard for the church not to fall into the rut the rest of the world falls in – we do so much pre-Christmas celebrating and preparing that we’re done with it all by Dec. 26. Tear down the trees. Put the garland away. Give us a Sunday off!
However, unlike the shopping world we celebrate 12 FULL DAYS of Christmas. And this means that no matter how tired we are or how much we’ve exhausted our creative resources, we need to be intentional that Sunday, Dec. 27th be a day of celebration too.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “By this point our musicians are tired, our soloists are on vacation, and we can’t book brass again lest our budget be blown for good.” At the same time, you want the service following Christmas Day to have structure and not become a free-for-all mess. Don’t worry. Take a deep breath. Below is an order of worship I’m calling a “Modified Service of 9 Lessons and Carols” designed especially for the smaller church or larger church with limited resources 2 days after Christmas Day.
Worship Notes: This is designed to be a day of singing and celebrating, and NO PREACHING too. It follows the traditional 9 Lessons and Carols structure (even down to the texts you read) but it takes on a more relaxed feel (a couple of more familiar hymns included). Note that you can turn any of the following carols into a solo or add an Offertory solo if you wish, but you certainly don’t have to. Also, the selected verses allow people to enjoy singing without singing their voices out or turning it into a 90-minute service. In fact, encourage folks to come to worship dressed casually. Make it a relaxed, yet celebratory feel. Don’t wear a robe or vestments – you wore that stuff enough during the weeks of Advent and on Christmas Eve.
Announcements (only if your church does this sort of thing)
Opening Hymn – “Angels We Have Heard on High” (UMH #238)
Opening Prayer – UMBOW p. 285
Carol – “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” verses 1 & 3 (UMH #240)
1st Lesson – Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19
Carol – “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” verse 1 (UMH #196)
2nd Lesson – Genesis 22:15-18
Carol – “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” veses 1 & 7 (UMH #211)
3rd Lesson – Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
Carol – “Angels From the Realms of Glory” verses 1 & 4 (UMH #220)
4th Lesson – Micah 5:2-5
Carol – “O Little Town of Bethlehem” verses 1 &4 (UMH #230)
5th Lesson – Luke 1:26-35, 38
Carol – “Joy to the World” verse 3-4 (UMH #246)
6th Lesson – Luke 2:1-7
Carol – “The First Noel” verse 1 (UMH #245)
7th Lesson – Luke 2:8-16
Carol – “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” all verses (UMH #229)
8th Lesson – Matthew 2:1-11
Carol – “What Child is This” verses 1 & 3 (UMH #219)
9th Lesson – John 1:1-14
Carol – “O Come, All Ye Faithful” verses 1 & 6 (UMH #234)
Closing Prayer – UMH #231
Offering (solo only if necessary)
Closing Hymn – “Go Tell it On the Mountain” all verses (UMH #251)
May the Christ who by his birth gathered us all into divine fellowship, fill you with the sweetness of peace and goodwill; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, remain with you always. Amen.
Go forth in peace and joy!