Advent, Christmas Eve

Engaging Christmas

I love Advent, and the idea of preparation and waiting and all that, but when you’re a pastor, some of the preparing is of necessity the choosing of music and texts and themes for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the putting together of Christmas Pageant bulletins, and that’s how I’ve been engaged the past few days.

We have a late service on Christmas Eve that does not include the choir or the choir director, and just like last year, I’m calling on my two younger children to help fill in the gaps with some music. LP and I spent a car ride talking about it. Last year she started the service by singing “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” after a reading from John 1. I loved it. The words and music set the tone for a grown-up church service. I had a message planned that included a story about having vertigo while singing in a Christmas pageant, and it preached. There are no harsher critics than LP and her mother when it comes to the quality of a worship service, especially including the ones in which we participate, so when we can both say, unreservedly, that a service felt mystical and electric, we wonder how to follow that?

The copy at our house is more well-worn.

I have a more earthy message planned, with a touch of the real world and a different kind of manger scene, and will intersperse readings from Luke with carols and special music. We’re looking for ways to set the tone, poring through carol books and hymnals. I suspect we’ll end up with something that points to the manger, the humanity of a baby and his mother, but the search is just beginning. If you have a thought, please share it in the comments, especially if it’s something that would suit a 16-year-old mezzo-soprano who switch-hits to sing first alto.

Meanwhile, LP has Handel’s Messiah open and is playing through it and even singing it a little. And I think I might be ready to engage the feeling of Christmas a little earlier in Advent than I was last year.

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