Advent: Creating A Family Liturgy

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I grew up in a foodie home. 

My Dad is a man dedicated to the art of the grill. 

My Mom’s maiden name was Caputo, so it

’s not hard to deduce

 I grew up with lots of pasta, olive oil, and parmesan.

This, of course, lead to my brothers and I spending time in the kitchen and learning how to cook.

I'd sit down with my brothers, look over the recipe and compare it to what’s in the pantry or the fridge. Making sure that we had everything ready. Anything missing meant a grocery store run so that our time in the kitchen could go off without a hitch.

And over the course of the evening, what started as a countertop of ingredients would slowly mix together in to a full meal. 

Within the story of the recipe, we were able to find what we were to cook, build anticipation for the finished plate, and, in the end we knew what we needed to create that plate.

This is why I’ve come to love liturgy, derived 

from

 the latin “public working”

 or simply put

worship with design.

Just like a recipe, liturgy provides us with a realization of our intent, a point of anticipation, and the summation for our time. 

Liturgy is primarily experienced in the weekly gathering or worship of the local church. But over time, I’ve discovered that in the same way the best meals are the ones laid out and planned, so worship in the home with family and friends becomes something special when I’ve put thought into the intent and design of our celebration and thanksgiving.

My wife and I have a liturgy, a design, around the way we kick off our Sabbath or the day of rest and worship each week. Also for a few years we’ve followed a family liturgy after dinner on Christmas Eve. This short time of worship with my family after a great meal and before all the presents has become the highlight of our Christmas season. Like a good meal, I can’t wait for Christmas family worship.

So liturgy, like a recipe, is not only helpful and beautiful, but I would argue that in many ways, it’s a necessity! A quote in the business realm is “plan or be planned.” In other words, plan your day or have it planned for you. The same is true with all of our lives. If we don’t sit down and make room for the important and eternal, then the inessential and urgent will fill in the space. 

Liturgy guides us through the gathered worship of the local church, keeps Sabbath from just being another day off, and helps us keep Christmas from revolving around anything other than the miracle of the eternal God taking on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.

So here’s your assignment: design your Christmas liturgy by following this simple outline:

1)

Why? Who?

What’s the reason for the season? Who are you celebrating with?

2)

How?

How will you celebrate Christmas? 

Your answers to these 

questions

 will greatly impact how you will design your liturgy.

Are you a parent with little ones? Then maybe your liturgy looks like cookies and milk, reading from the 

Jesus Storybook Bible or The Greatest Story

, singing a song about Jesus, and a prayer of thanksgiving before bed Christmas night.

Will you be celebrating with family and friends that aren’t Christians? Will they be comfortable in participating in a brief reading and prayer? If not, how will you get away for a few minutes to prepare your heart?

Think through why you celebrate Christmas, who you

’ll be with, and how to bring those together as you design your worship in celebration of Christ’s birth.

So take some time this week, search the Scriptures for the passages of the promised Savior. Write a prayer for your family. Find a song to sing together or even write a song yourself! 

And then, when Christmas comes. Bake the cookies. Pour the wine. Light the candles. And may you as Charles Dickens wrote of Ebenezer Scrooge

, “know how to keep Christmas well.”

Below is our Family Christmas Liturgy, it is the design for how we worship together after Christmas Eve’s dinner with intention, anticipation, and a foundation for our time. As my Christmas present to you, take our family recipe of Scripture, prayer, song, and reflection for Christmas. Take certain ingredients, add some of your own as you build your own family liturgy.

——

Smith Family Christmas Liturgy

Open & Close with Prayer

(Take turns reading from passages below)

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever

.

Luke 1:31-32

And behold, [Mary] you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

John

1:14

,16-17

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Psalm 95:4-7

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Galatians 4:4-6

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

(Speaker,

Responders

)

Open up your ears! Soften your hearts!

Do you see what God is doing?

Look at the manger in Bethlehem

See the baby there and who he is:

Who is this child? Underneath the great star?

It is The Word, through whom the Creator hung the stars of the heavens. (John 1:3)

Who is this child? Asleep in his mother’s arms?

It is he who holds all creation in his arms. (Colossians 1:16)

Who is this child? Of whom the angels have sung about on this night?

It is him whom’s holiness is being sung of by the angels for eternity. (Isaiah 6:3)

Who is this child? Among the sheep of the stable?

It is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

Who is this child? That the shepherds have gathered to see?

It is the Great Shepherd who has come to gather his sheep (John 10:11-18)

Who is this child? Laid in a borrowed manger?

It is Christ. Laid in a borrowed tomb. (Matthew 27:57-61)

Who is this child? That King Herod has tried to murder?

It is the True King, who has brought his Kingdom of Life. (Isaiah 9:6)

Who is this child? Born on this dark night?

It is the Light. Who has come to strike out the darkness. (John 8:12 )

Who is this child? Born from no Earthly father.

It is he who has shown us the Heavenly Father. (Hebrews 1:3)

Who is this child? Given Gold by wise men?

(Gold is a symbol of royalty)It is the Lord. Who leads us as his people. (Luke 2:11 )

Who is this child? Given Incense?

(Incense: used in the temples, symbol of God’s presence) It is Immanuel. God is with us. (Matthew 1:23 )

Who is this child? Given Myrrh?

(Commonly used as an embalming agent, symbol of death)It is our Savior. Who’s death has saved us. (1 Timothy 3:15 )

God, keep our hearts from growing hard. Keep us from ignoring the hope in Jesus Christ; Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.To him be all glory forever and ever. Amen.

(Sing together)

All Glory Be to Christ,

King’s Kaleidoscope (Available on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc.)

Should nothing of our efforts stand

No legacy survive

Unless the Lord does raise the house

In vain its builders strive

To you who boast tomorrow’s gain

Tell me what is your life?

A mist that vanishes at dawn

All glory be to Christ!All glory be to Christ our king!

All glory be to Christ!

His rule and reign we'll ever sing,

All glory be to Christ!His will be done

His kingdom come

On earth as is above

Who is Himself our daily bread

Praise Him the Lord of loveLet living water satisfy

The thirsty without price

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet

All glory be to Christ!All glory be to Christ our king!

All glory be to Christ!

His rule and reign we'll ever sing,

All glory be to Christ!When on the day the great I Am

The faithful and the true

The Lamb who was for sinners slain

Is making all things new.Behold our God shall live with us

And be our steadfast light

And we shall ere his people be

All glory be to Christ!All glory be to Christ our king!

All glory be to Christ!

His rule and reign we'll ever sing,

All glory be to Christ!

(Closing Prayer, From the Common Book of Prayer)

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully

restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may

share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our

humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 

Amen.