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December 24 — Christmas Eve: Family faith formation @ home



Bring your family’s Advent wreath to the center of your gathering. Make sure you have matches or a lighter.

One:    Our first week we lit the Advent candle that invited us to wait during this special season.
(light the first Advent candle)
Our second week we lit the Advent candle that invited us to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
(light the candle from the second week)
Our third week we lit the Advent candle that invited us to hope for the coming of Jesus our Messiah, Savior.
(light the candle for the third week)
Our fourth week we lit the Advent calendar that invited us to remember the joy that comes from knowing the good news of the Savior who will soon be born.
(light the candle from fourth week)

One:    Our circle reminds us of God’s unending love and presence.
All:      Emmanuel, God with us.
One:    The evergreens to remind us the hope we find in Jesus eternal.
All:      Emmanuel, God with us.
One:    The four candles mark the four weeks of joy and anticipation as we wait for the babe in the manger and the coming of Christ again.
All:      Emmanuel, God with us.
One:   The candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.
All:      Emmanuel, God with us.
One:    Four candles are blue or purple as a reminder to prepare for Jesus’ coming.
All:      Emmanuel, God with us.
One:    One candle is white, in the center of our wreath, a symbol for the purity of Jesus.
All:      Emmanuel, God with us.
One:    Tonight, we light the center candle and give thanks for the love of God made known to us in
All:      Emmanuel, God with us.
(light the center candle)

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Luke 2:1-20

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

If you have a Nativity set in your home, remove all the characters except the basic structures and an empty manger. Then, as the text is read a second time, add each character to the scene as they appear in the telling of the story. If you do not have Nativity set, ask each person to select a character from the story, and when the story is read a second time have each person take their place in the scene creating an embodied nativity.

Connecting through story

Hear and see the Nativity through the illustrations of Julie Vivas.

  • What did you notice in the illustrations that seemed a bit different?
  • How do the artist’s illustrations open you to new thoughts about the story of Jesus’ birth?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why is this story so important in our Christian faith?
  • If you were there at Jesus’ birth, what would you say, ask or do?
  • What hope does it bring to the world? To you?
  • What joy does it bring to the world? To you?
  • What difference does this story make in the world? In your life?
  • How do we know that God loves us?
  • If God is love, and Jesus is God, then in what ways is the birth of Jesus God’s way making love real and concrete? How does it bring love to us?
  • In what ways do you make the love of God in Jesus Christ present in the world today?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Tonight, we celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus Christ — God became flesh and dwelt among us.
  • Throughout the season of Advent, in our opening ritual, we have used one of the names for Jesus: Emmanuel, which literally means God is with us. God is present in the world.
  • The belief in the Incarnation is an important one for the Christian faith. It is grounded in John 1:1-5 and 14. In the beginning was the Word (referring to Jesus) and the Word was with God and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and lived among us.
  • One of the mysteries of our faith is that Jesus was fully God and fully human at the same time.
  • The Incarnation is embodied love — God’s love is manifested in Jesus Christ and God’s love is present with us in the world.
  • We believe that God loved us so much that God came to us in human form. God knew we needed tangible ways of understanding the depth and breadth of God’s love for us, so God chose to come to us as one of us in the person of Jesus Christ — experiencing the ups and downs of life as we do, and facing the pain and the joy. God moved in next door — and into the homeless shelter, the neighborhood, the country halfway around the world, the grocery store, the furthest peak, the closest valley and all the other places in between.
  • The Incarnation is when God moved next door and showed up in our neighborhoods. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is when God moved into our hearts and shows up in our actions and relationships.

Listen and watch “When Love was Born” by Mark Shultz performed by One Voice Children’s Choir. When you close your eyes and imagine the night when love was born, what do you see?



Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world. Extinguish the candle.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.