Christmas Sunday… What should we do?

December 4th, 2015

So it’s the Sunday after Christmas (which falls on December 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 December 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 Nine Lessons and Carols” designed especially for the smaller church or larger church with limited resources two 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 Nine 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 solos 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

Beloved in Christ,
this Christmas Season it is our duty and delight
to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels,
and to go in heart and mind to Bethlehem,
and see this thing which is come to pass,
and the Babe lying in a manger.

Therefore let us hear again from Holy Scripture
the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our sin
until the glorious redemption brought us by this holy Child;
and let us make this house of prayer glad with our carols of praise.

But first, because this of all things would rejoice Jesus' heart,
let us pray to him for the needs of the whole world, and all his people;
for peace upon the earth he came to save;
for love and unity within the one Church he did build;
for goodwill among all peoples.

And particularly at this time let us remember
the poor, the cold, the hungry, the oppressed;
the sick and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved;
the aged and the little children;
and all who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not,
or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

Lastly let us remember all those who rejoice with us,
but upon another shore and in a greater light,
that multitude which no one can number,
whose hope was in the Word made flesh,
and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven,
in the words that Christ himself has taught us.

   — from The United Methodist Book of Worship p. 285

Lord’s Prayer

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 – 

Eternal God,
by the birth of Jesus Christ you gave yourself to the world.
Grant that, being born in our hearts,
he may save us from all our sins,
and restore within us the image and likeness of our Creator,
to whom be everlasting praise and glory,
world without end. Amen. 

   — United Methodist Hymnal #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!

Ben Gosden blogs at

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