Worship Planning – Christmas – The Feast of St. Stephen

December 26
Color of the Day is Red
GATHERING

Confession and Forgiveness – omit; include bid for forgiveness during the intercessions.  As one of the twelve days of Christmas it is certainly appropriate to sing Christmas carols. Use them as Gathering Hymns and Distribution Hymns.

A possible Greeting:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

And also with you.

Hymn of Praise — “Angels We Have Heard on High” or “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

WORD

The lessons recall the suffering and martyrdom of Zechariah, Stephen, and Jesus. The Greek behind the word ‘martyr’ means witness, and we are reminded that our discipleship and witness may be a path of sacrifice and suffering. The focus of the day is set by the Prayer of the Day:  Pray for those who persecute you.

The Christ-Mass is a perfect opportunity for a Gospel Procession. The Procession is visible sign of the “Word becomes flesh”, as the Gospel (=Christ) moves into the midst of the assembly. ELW 427 may be sung during the procession, using stanzas 1-3 on the way out and stanzas 4-5 as the procession returns.

Hymn of the Day — ELW 420 (using stanza 4) is appropriate.

You might use this for the bids in the intercessions:

A  God, in your mercy:        C  incline your ear to us and hear our prayer.

MEAL

An introduction to the Peace might be:

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name is Prince of Peace.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

And also with you.

Offertory — “What Shall I Render” is appropriate with its reference to Jerusalem.

SENDING

For the dismissal:

Jesus has gathered you today as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Go forth in the ways of peace, knowing that in God’s paths your feet will not stumble. Pray for those who persecute you and serve the Lord with gladness.  Alleluia, alleluia!

Thanks be to God!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Where every member is a missionary, every pastor is a mission director, and every congregation is a mission center.