Pastors well remember that Christmas fell on a Sunday two years ago. In some traditions, a Christmas morning service is par for the course, but it’s not the norm for Presbyterians. What to do?
At Tiny Church we had a “come as you are” service in which people could wear PJs or other casual wear. We did not have a printed bulletin, which gave our administrative assistant a break from the copy machine during a busy time of year. Instead, I announced each element of the service. We read the psalm for the day from the pew Bibles as the call to worship. And the hymns that morning were the organist’s choice.
For the sermon/proclamation time, I had prepared a series of questions, each of which was printed on a slip of paper. These I placed in a Christmas-themed gift bag which people passed around. They were invited to pull out a slip of paper and answer the question, or choose a new one, or they could pass.
It was such a fun, low-key mode of worship that we did it again last year, and we’ll do something similar this weekend. (This time around we have the new “Glory to God” hymnal that has ready-made liturgies in the front!)
The gift-bag “proclamation” will be an experiment—Sunday is December 29, and it could be a good-sized crowd, much larger than Christmas Day two years ago—and people may come expecting an actual sermon. I may preface the sharing time with a short story or poem. But one of the great things about Tiny Church is how willing they are to do different things in worship.
Below are some of the questions I’ve used in the past. Have you done something similar? What questions would you add?
This Sunday’s gospel text is about Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ flight into Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous paranoia. We’ll be hitting that story harder on January 5, but if I use this text on Sunday, I’ll need to supplement these questions with some tougher ones that tease out the incredible sense of danger and drama in the story.
Tell about a favorite gift you’ve received—tangible or not.
Tell about a favorite gift you’ve given—tangible or not.
What is your most beloved Christmas carol and why?
“Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without ____________________.”
Which character from the Christmas story do you most admire and why?
Tell us about someone you think of especially this time of year.
Tell about a great surprise you have received. (not necessarily at Christmas)
Tell about an important Christmas tradition, now or in the past.
“For me, the Christmas season tastes like _______________________”
“For me, Christmas season smells like _______________________”
Jesus is the “prince of peace.” What’s one situation (personal, or global, or in between) in which you’re longing for peace?
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Why or why not? If so, will you make them this year?