Today’s post is from Lydia Posselt, Pastor at Family of God in in Buckingham, PA. This is the second of two posts about how congregations will be worshipping this year when the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on Christmas Eve.
I’m coming to the end of my first year as pastor in my congregation, and Christmas is the last “first” of the list. This also happens to be the year when Advent 4 is Christmas Eve. Since the day is so full, I decided to concentrate on Christmas Eve and to adapt an “Advent Lessons and Carols” service from Sundays and Seasons for the morning service. The result is a relaxed service that recognizes Advent 4. Since I know that many of my members will likely come to both the morning service and also one of the two Christmas Eve services we offer (at 4 and 8p.m.), this is a way we can give attention to both celebrations.
This particular Sundays and Seasons template we’re using is called “Savior of the Nations Come” and highlights Advent hymns from around the world. For the most part I’m using the hymns S&S recommends, like “Come Now, O Prince of Peace” (ELW 247) and “He Came Down” (ELW 253), but I made a few small changes to the liturgy: I took out the opening dialogue so that we can still light the 4th candle on the Advent wreath and do our usual lighting liturgy, and I added where each of the hymns come from next to where they are listed in the bulletin. I also swapped out “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” (ELW 265) for the “Canticle of the Turning” (ELW 723) which happens right after the annunciation reading from Luke 1:26-38. That way we hear the text of the annunciation and then we get to sing a version of the Magnificat “along with” Mary.
After I came back from a trip to Namibia in May to preach at the Lutheran World Federation Assembly, I have been introducing a few of the hymns I learned while there in our worship, and my congregation has enjoyed learning them. I think it’s important to highlight that Lutherans come from all over the world, as do great hymns. There are just too many good Advent hymns to include during any given Advent season, and I think this service is a great way to enjoy ones that might not otherwise make it into the rotation this year. Even though they may not be all that familiar to my congregation, they are catchy tunes that are easy to learn and very singable. If this goes over well, it will be something we can keep “in our back pocket” whenever the next time Advent 4 is also Christmas Eve… or really at any point during Advent we want to do something a little different!
Pictures are of members of Family of God painting the back glass wall of our sanctuary, which separates the sanctuary from the narthex (above) and the finished painting all ready for Advent (below).