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Worship Throughout the Year

A Traditional Service for Advent Part II

The following service is a creative adaptation of the traditional pattern and texts for worship in the season of Advent. It will be of particular help for those who plan more formal Advent worship. For others, the commentary included with this service will provide a guide to thoughtful planning for the Advent season.

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A Creative Service for Advent

This service draws on the historical Advent service to model an Advent worship for the free-church tradition. Adapt this service in a way suitable to the local congregation.

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A Convergence Service for Advent

The service below draws on the traditional Advent service, but incorporates elements of the praise-and-worship and the charismatic traditions to provide a guideline for contemporary churches. The reader should adapt the service as needed to his or her local church.

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The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols

The Service of Lessons and Carols was first developed in the late nineteenth century by Archbishop Benson for use in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. The service, which has as its focal point the coming of Christ, is characterized by a very simple pattern. It is ordered around Scripture readings that pertain to Christ’s coming, followed by songs (both choral and congregational) and prayers.

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A Service for the Hanging of the Greens

The hanging of the greens, or the greening of the church, is the act of decorating the church in the spirit of Advent and Christmas. In recent years it has been recognized that the work of hanging the greens should be done in the context of worship. Therefore it is recommended that the church be brought together in a special time of worship (perhaps on the weekend before the first Sunday of Advent) to green the church and hang the Advent wreath.

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INTRODUCTION TO EPIPHANY AND CHRISTMAS WORSHIP

The waiting of advent soon turns to celebration of Christmas and Epiphany: Christ is born, the Word is made flesh. The communities of worshiping believers can be heard singing the angels’ song: “Glory to God in the Highest.” This is a season of cellebration; it is a season of mystery. For it is during Christmas and Epiphany that Christians marvel at the amazing love of Jesus, who became human for our sake. The secular world ends Christmas on December 25. However, in the ancient church Christmas began on December 25 and ended on January 6, Epiphany. This section introduces the reader to the origins and theological themes of the Christmas season and urges a recovery of this season in the contemporary church.

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An Introduction to the Worship of the Christmas Season

The Christmas season extends from December 25 to January 5 and includes at least one Sunday and sometimes two. Christmas day is the most widely celebrated day of the Christian year. Customarily more people attend the midnight Christmas Eve service than any other celebration of the church.

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The Origins of Christmas and Epiphany Worship

Following the lead of secular culture, many Christians place Christmas as the most important day in the Christian year. This article suggests that a more profound understanding of Christmas arises out of an awareness of the history of the Christian year. Christmas should be understood in light of the events which follow—Epiphany and, eventually, Easter.

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Recovering the Twelve-Day Christmas to Epiphany Celebration

The commercialization of Christmas may be combated by following the suggestions below to recover a full twelve-day celebration that begins at Christmas and ends at Epiphany.

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RESOURCES FOR PLANNING CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY WORSHIP

Christmas worship should be festive and joyous, expressing the themes of Incarnation and birth, themes which inaugurate the special announcement that salvation has come, that God is with us, that the time has been fulfilled. The resources of this section help the church capture these themes and the joy they bring to the people of God.

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