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Christmas Ideas & Tips for Advent, Christmas Worship Planning

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Knowing that many of our visitors are in the midst of Advent and Christmas season worship planning, we searched our affiliate group sites for great resources and articles to help stimulate creative thinking and generate fresh Advent and Christmas worship ideas.

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Advent and Christmas Resource Guide The Calvin Institute offers an expanded list of excellent planning resources, including music, videos and sermon help, from the Calvin site and its worship partners.

Planning for Advent and the Christian Year in Worship Suggestions and advice for planning Advent worship and looking ahead to the entire Christian Year, by Howard Vanderwell.

Ancient Christmas Sermons: Making the Old, Old Story New Again  "Reading ancient Christmas sermons and carols can yield remarkably relevant insights into how the Christmas message connects with our own lives." It can also provide preachers and teachers with new perspectives from which to proclaim the Gospel.

Introducing Advent  In our rush to get to Christmas, we are tempted to downplay or ignore the Advent themes that the Church has long believed are necessary preparation for arriving at the cradle in the right spirit.

Christmas Resources


The Text This Week (TextWeek)

This site has extensive, excellent resources for Advent and Christmas worship services.

Resources for the Season of Advent and Resources for the Christmas Season include Scripture lessons, study links and resources for:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day


Huffington Post An Interfaith Calendar Of The Religious Holidays In 2016


The African American Lectionary

The African American Lectionary provides lectionary commentary, cultural resources, and music and worship resources for key moments in the Church Year as marked by and celebrated in many African American churches. Although the material is from previous years, it is still relevant.


Faith & Leadership

Faith & Leadership has a range of articles, sermons and reflections that can stimulate creative thinking and new perspectives on Advent and Christmas:

Moving From Darkness To Light  Jan Richardson, an artist, writer and minister, explains in this intriguing Q&A how she uses her art to encourage contemplation during the Advent season.

Samuel Wells: Never Mind the Width In Advent, dare to feel the depth. Never mind the width. If you're tired of waiting, go deeper, says the noted preacher.

Resources for Advent and Christmas  Begin your preparations for Advent and Christmas with resources from Faith & Leadership. These sermons, essays and stories invite you into the wonder, challenge and messiness of first a season of waiting and then a season of light and joy.

Is it 'The Holidays' or Advent? Christians can reclaim Advent with several small practices that create space in the midst of the busy “holiday season” to re-focus on Christ.

Why Advent is the Hardest of Times for Faithful Christians  "To put on the joy of the Christmas season, first there are things we have to take off."

Spiritual Practices to Help During Advent "The tyranny of responsibility and routine can rob me of wonder, joy and gladness at the very time when my heart should be full. What am I to do? What spiritual practices might help me be attentive during Advent and Christmas?"

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ Is More Than A Christmas OratorioAccording to music historian Calvin Stapert, Handel’s great oratorio is both the result of a series of remarkable and unlikely events, and the most effective evangelism tool of Christianity, second only to the Bible in its reach. In a question-and-answer article conducted for Faith & Leadership, an online offering of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, Stapert explores the religious and cultural influences that led Handel to create the oratorio, and the impact "Messiah" has had on Christianity and world culture.
Enter Deeply Into The Christmas Tradition And Season: The infancy narratives of Jesus are structured narratives that result from his disciples reflecting on Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for 40 or 50 years, and contain all of the elements of his life, ministry, and mission. "The Holy Spirit, angels, stars and dreams point to the divinity of Jesus," reflects Catherine Maresca, founder and director of the Center for Children and Theology, while "his family, the stable, and swaddling point to his humanity. His humble circumstances, in stark contrast to Herod's, point to the nature of the kingdom of God, while the shepherds and foreigners who visit him proclaim its universality." What it is not, is cute. These stories invite hearers to enter into the mystery of the faith in Jesus Christ, and lead believers to wonder about Jesus' earthly life and to ponder how he is incarnate in our lives. Maresca's reflection is a good discussion starter for church communities and study groups seeking a deeper encounter with the Christmas holiday season. 

Other Advent Resources  and Additional Christmas Resources


Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

Festival of Lessons and Carols  The contemporary service of Lessons and Carols has its origin in ancient Christian vigils, but its current format was first held in the aftermath of World War I, at King's College in Cambridge, England, as a special way to remember those who did not return home. This video news story explores the history and content of the Festival.

The Poetry of Christmas  Christmas poetry is nearly as old as the Church, pre-dating hymns. This article provides examples across history of profound Christian poetry, and traces the development of the Christmas poem from highly sacred to secular.

Saint Nicholas Tradition  St. Nicholas was an actual person, a Christian and a bishop who was known for his generosity. This video news story examines the man and the myth whose life story, like the secularized Santa Claus his deeds spawned, points to the manger.

Blue Christmas  For many, the Advent and Christmas season is a reminder of the loss of someone dear. This video news story chronicles a special service that provides space for mourners to acknowledge their pain in a community of mourners for whom Christmas always has in it a touch of deep sorrow.


On Being with Krista Tippett

The Halting Inelegance of Advent by Paul Elie December 23, 2016, Paul Elie navigates the winding path of Advent, and finds quiet ways to start anew in the meeting of ritual and the rhythms of everyday life.

Introverted Advent and Postcards for Hanukkah: Letting Thankfulness and Light Prevail by Trent T Gilliss December 15, 2015, A dispatch from Austria as our team interview Br. David Steindl-Rast in the Alpine setting of St. Gilgen, a contemplation on the quiet character of Advent, and reminders for us to continue seeking light where we can as Hanukkah comes to a close.
The Shoulder Season of Advent by Siri Liv Myhrom December 6, 2015, Christmas is an extrovert; Advent is an introvert’s season. A reflection on the expectant, hopeful, solemn season of waiting.
Memories of Advent: An Invitation to Reflect and Share Your Stories by Mariah Helgeson November 29, 2015, As we enter the contemplative season of waiting, an invitation to join us in reflecting on the myriad experiences of Advent.
Finding Ancient (Pagan) Meaning in the Darkness of Advent by Caroline Oakes December 23, 2014, Through learning about Advent’s ancient connection to the Winter Solstice, the author rediscovers the “silky silence” of December’s darkness and the “nascent light” inside each one of us.
Triumphant, But Scarred: An Advent Reflection on Life, Sorrow, and Loss by Jay Blossom December 14, 2013, The season of Advent is not only a time of preparation, but one of sorrow and mourning. It’s a time for reflection + remembrance of those loved ones we lost. Jay Blossom reflects on letting go of his father — and the necessity of finding the time to lament and hope for a better world ahead.
Advent Hymn Elaborated and Acts of Kindness, Poetry Performed, and Geniuses Depart Us with Some Wise Words by Trent T. Gilliss December 9, 2012, An NYPD officer’s act of kindness with an Advent duet. Love from Mr. Matthew Crawley, pieces recommended for reading, and quotations from Krista Tippett. A round-up and a reminder that this joyous season be filled with acts of kindness.


Religion Newswriters - ReligionLink - Religion News Service

ReligionLink provides resources to help religion news writers prepare quality articles on a range of themes related to religion and faith practices. Many of the site's extensive resource collections can provide perspective, support, and insight for faith community leaders, preachers, and teachers.

Eighteen Story Ideas for the Holidays  From Hanukkah to hajj, from “green” gifts to school celebrations, ReligionLink offers story ideas for the holidays ahead that offer insight into the range of religious celebrations that take place during December.

The Growing Appeal of the Mother of Jesus


Practicing Our Faith

Hospitality - Ways to Practice - Ideas  During Advent, children, and adults of the Mission District of San Francisco re-enact the story of Joseph and Mary seeking lodging by going house to house down the street. On the ninth night, a homeowner, acting the part of "innkeeper," offers the couple the use of his stable, and the entire community rejoices.


Reformed Worship Resources for Planning and Leading Worship

Keeping the Christmas sermon fresh, and finding new personal inspiration as a preacher, can be challenging. Here the task is addressed in an article by David Vroege, pastor and co-editor of Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel, a collection of Christmas sermons spanning the 1200 years from Jerome to John Calvin. The article covers worship planning tips, approaches to the material, and a list of potential alternative Christmas preaching texts culled from the ancient church.

Academy of Preaching and Celebration

Encouragement for the Holidays By Joyce Thomas | The holiday season is upon us and clergy families will start their usual march to the many celebrations and worship services from now to the end of the year. Clergy families will be invited by different ministries, boards, and church members to different holiday gatherings. For many, there will be invitation after invitation – maybe even three or four a week – to celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Emmanuel, God with Us By Verity A. Jones | I used to spend the Advent and Christmas seasons preaching. When I was a congregational pastor, I would be completely immersed in the biblical stories of preparation and birth, the central theme rising on the wings of those beloved carols and prayers—Emmanuel, God with us. In the birth of Jesus, God becomes one of us, to live and love like us and to suffer and die like us. I’d say it everyday: We are not alone. God is with us.
Advent, Seminary, and Preparation By Sarah Frische-Mouri | The season of Advent is upon us. It’s that special time in the church year when we ideally create space in our lives to prepare ourselves for the arrival of the Christ child, the liberator born into the form of a vulnerable baby.
Why excellence? By Willie Sordillo | At a recent denominational gathering we asked the question, “What does pastoral excellence look like?” People were invited to respond in a few words on a Post-It note, which they attached to a cardboard human silhouette. Answers ranged from “good listener” to “calm in the midst of conflict.” But how comfortable are you, as a pastor, in thinking of yourself as “excellent,” and what do we mean by excellent anyway?
Christmas pageant. It was fairly chaotic, as these things often are, but in addition, there were low expectations for rehearsal attendance, as well as for learning lines. 
Advent Leaning By Christina Braudaway-Bauman | During the season of Advent, my congregation worships under a makeshift midnight sky. Our deacons hang strings of tiny white Christmas lights underneath a hundred yards of sheer dark blue fabric. Swathed across the ceiling and coming from all four corners, the blue rivers meet in the center over the communion table.
Celebration and Social Media: Searching for beauty By Elizabeth Myer Boulton, guest blogger | Social media is ubiquitous. According to Nadia Bolz-Weber, pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, “It is the very air we breathe.” And it’s true: we love scrolling through status updates, sharing over-exposed photographs on Instagram, re-Tweeting quotes, and perusing Pinterest for cute birthday cake ideas.


ON Scripture Sermons

First Century Problems, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Keith Anderson with a focus on Matthew 1:18-25 (Dec 22, 2013) On Scripture Video.

It's Time Again: Depression And The Holidays, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Barabra Lundblad with a focus on Isaiah 64:1-9 (Nov 30, 2014) On Scripture Video.

When People You Don’t Much Like Receive God’s Love, An On Scripture Feature. A reflection by Eric D. Barreto with a focus on Luke 15 (Mar 10, 2013) On Scripture Video

Happy Are Those Whose Help Is The God Of Jesse, An ON Scripture Feature. A reflection by Lisa Nichols Hickman with a focus on Psalm 146:5-10 (Dec 15, 2013) On Scripture Video.


Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (PBS)

Combating Consumerism And Gluttony Year-Round:  In 2012, the average family spent about $750 on Christmas gifts, and shoppers spent more on gifts for themselves than in any prior year. That consumption and self-indulgence has prompted increasing numbers of church leaders to speak out against the trend. The Rev. Mike Slaughter, for example, challenges congregants to contribute as much to the church’s community programs as they spend on gifts for themselves; as a result, his Dayton, Ohio, church has built 243 schools and 19 clean water facilities in Darfur and a health clinic in South Sudan. The church also supports local GED and jobs programs and food pantries. In a 7 1/2-minute news video prepared for Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, a source for cutting-edge reporting and analysis of religious news, correspondent Kim Lawton explores several alternative Christmas shopping and celebration opportunities that seek to honor Jesus and give him a birthday gift he might appreciate. The program also provides conversation-starters for year-round stewardship plans.

Celebrating Hanukkah Through Time And Across Cultures


Auburn Theological Seminary

Dreaming of a Dark Christmas By Paul Raushenbush On December 21, 2016 In Voices. Perhaps as never before, the story of the birth of Jesus renders itself uncomfortably vivid and relevant.
A People's Christmas Poem By Auburn On December 22, 2016 In Voices. By Carlos Rodriguez Socks are ok- Sometimes I only have my words to give -feeble-broken-lost-   -I will resist- my words will carry me And they will always say -faith-hope-love- something.
“I Lost Faith in God" ... But I'm Now Pursuing Faith in Justice" By Ilgin Yorulmaz On May 15, 2017 In Voices. In Albany, child sexual abuse survivors lobby for reform.
Blessed by Water - An Epiphany Reflection By Auburn On January 5, 2017 In Voices. By Susan Barnett and Haik Kocharian January 6 celebrates THE EPIPHANY, the ancient Christian feast day commemorating the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Until the 19th century, Epiphany was ... 
The End of White Christian America By Auburn On July 13, 2016 In Voices. Dr. Robert P. Jones talks about his new book and its relation to the current state of politics in America.

Faith and Leadership

C. Kavin Rowe: Why Christmas needs Easter | Faith and Leadership Dec 17, 2012 ... It may seem strange to suggest that part of leading well is helping people see the connection between Christmas and Easter.
Thea L. Racelis: Puerto Rican Christmas means asopao and ...Dec 13, 2016 ... Christmas in Puerto Rico is not a day. It is a season. It is a commitment. It is a way of life. Puerto Rican culture is known for abundance (national ...
A drive-thru Christmas light display put on by residents of a ... Dec 16, 2013 ... The opportunity for senior citizens to help others is particularly relevant at Christmas. If Jesus' birth is about the incarnation -- God becoming ...
Gretchen E. Ziegenhals: Three Christmas gifts | Faith and Leadership Dec 19, 2011 ... We wanted to make our Christmas joyful, and to express our love with gifts. But we found that we needed a set of Christian guidelines -- which 
Greg Moore: Christmas Eve in a Barn | Faith and Leadership Dec 15, 2015 ... All Saints' United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, began holding a Christmas Eve service outside in 2009; the service illustrates ...
Resources for Advent and Christmas. Oct 21, 2013 ... Begin your preparations for Advent and Christmas with resources from Faith & Leadership. These sermons, essays and stories invite you into ...

Fuller Studio Christmas Films

Christmastide COMING: December 25, 2017
The Feelings of ChristmasEvelyne Reisacher remembers the joyous atmosphere of celebrating Christmas in Paris with close friends
The Messiness of ChristmasAlix Riley reflects on the importance of messiness during the Advent season.


We hope you find these links helpful. Have a joyful and blessed Advent and Christmas!




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