This weekend we drove home through the Blue Ridge mountains covered in melting snow. The sun set behind us, and a full moon rose in the rosy evening glow. It was quiet in the car. It was a weekend full of beauty and sadness.



We met a new precious baby but also mourned with yet another set of friends that their little one could not be carried to full term. We watched two dear friends say “I do” under the glow of a hundred candles but also heard that someone’s cancer is back.  We saw the beauty of our words spoken in love but also the injury of our words spoken in carelessness. We embraced friends who have moved away, and felt the emptiness of upcoming separations.

Advent contains both. It holds the beauty of Christmas and the pain of the world in need of Christ. It holds the promise of new life and the reality of sin and death.



For the past 5 years on Christmas Eve or before we open presents on Christmas morning, my family has ended Advent with A Liturgy for Christmas Eve.  We pour glasses of champagne or whatever wine we have available, set out candles, and read verses that meditate on the prophecies of Christmas that center on the vineyard and the coming of light.  There is a beauty in its repetitiveness.

We are drawn into the longing in Genesis and Isaiah for the savior as well as the fear and wonder of the Christ child in John and Luke. Again and again we hear the light is coming. Do not be afraid. The light is coming. The people were walking in darkness, but that time is over and the light is here. Do not be afraid because we mourn and celebrate in the light. We apologize and forgive without fear. We drink the new wine that abides in our bodies as the newborn Jesus comes to abide in our hearts and minds and souls.

So where ever you are as Advent is drawing to a close, may you feel the warmth of light and the words of comfort: do not be afraid. Whether you are waiting in sadness or waiting in joy, may the wait of your Advent be full of Jesus even as it is he for whom we are waiting.

A Liturgy for Christmas Eve

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

genesis 1.1

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light

genesis 1.3a

Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil

john 3.19

The people walking in darkness

isaiah 9.2

I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit

isaiah 5.1

The people walking in darkness

isaiah 9.2


“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?

isaiah 5.3

The people walking in darkness

isaiah 9.2

The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah and he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress

isaiah 5.7


The people walking in darkness

isaiah 9.2

“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit

matthew 21.33

The people walking in darkness

isaiah 9.2

“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them

matthew 21.35


The people walking in darkness have seen a great light

isaiah 9.2

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

isaiah 9.6

Wonderful Counselor

isaiah 9.6

Mighty God

isaiah 9.6

Everlasting Father

isaiah 9.6

Prince of Peace

isaiah 9.6

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid

luke 2.9

“Do not be afraid, Joseph son of David, to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”

matthew 1.20

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel

isaiah 7.14

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end”

luke 1.30

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned

isaiah 9.2


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord

luke 2.8

The true vine

john 15.1

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

john 15.1

In the beginning was the Word

john 1.1

And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

john 1.1

May you keep a holy Advent and celebrate a joyous Christmas! Here’s a printable version of the liturgy with suggestion for when to light candles and offer a toast: A Liturgy for Christmas Eve.



Do you have special readings for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?


4 Responses to A Liturgy for Christmas Eve

  1. Cjhaab says:

    Lovely and a thoughtful meditation while reading and savoring the photographs. Thank you for sharing. I will pass this along to family and friends. God bless you.

  2. Deborah Rogers says:

    Beautifully portrayed Amy. Scripture comes alive and is reflected in the photos through this litany. Thank you!


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