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Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas

Carol :


As we gather again to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will hear from Scripture about why he came, what he achieved, and how he might change our lives today. We will learn of God's purpose in creating us and reflect on the consequences of humanity's rebellion against God. We will listen to prophecies that speak of the coming of a saviour and hear from the Gospels about the way in which Jesus fulfilled those predictions. Each lesson is followed by a prayer and a carol or some other song, to help us respond to what we have heard. Please join me now in asking God to speak to us through this whole experience, so that we might truly know his Son and serve him for ever.


Loving God, open our hearts and minds to the truths revealed in your Word. Help us to understand your plan for humanity and the salvation that you offer us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Make us grateful for his coming and enable us by your Spirit to find joy and peace in him. Amen.

First lesson

God creates human beings to be uniquely related to him and to rule over the rest of creation as his image and in his likeness.

Genesis 1:26-28


God our Creator, we give you thanks for the wonderful gift of life, with all its challenges and opportunities. But we so often worship the things you have created, rather than glorifying you. Turn our hearts to praise and serve you as you deserve, through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : Of the Father's love begotten

Second lesson

Human beings fail to live in trust and obedience to God, with disastrous consequences for ourselves, our relationships with one another, and our care for God's creation.

Genesis 3:1-15


Almighty God, we confess that we have turned away from you, bringing judgment upon ourselves and upon the world in which we live. Thank you for the promise in Scripture of ultimate victory over sin, death and all the powers of evil. Amen.

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : The holly and the ivy

Third lesson

God begins the process of restoration by calling Abraham to trust him and promising to make a great nation from his descendants. Israel will become the channel of blessing for all peoples on earth.

Genesis 12:1-3


Merciful God, we praise you for revealing yourself to Abraham, promising to bring salvation to the whole world through his offspring. Give us a deeper understanding of how this has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : Come thou long expected Jesus


Fourth lesson

The prophet Isaiah predicts that God's plan of restoration will be accomplished by a king in the line of David, who will reign wisely and justly, bringing God's salvation to Israel and the nations, and reversing the effect of sin in the world.

Isaiah 11:1-10


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of God, we acknowledge you as the Spirit-filled king, sent to establish God's righteousness and faithfulness in all creation. May your kingdom come in all its fullness and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : Hail to the Lord's anointed

Fifth lesson

An angelic messenger tells the virgin Mary that she will bear the promised Son of David, and that the child conceived in her by the power of the Holy Spirit will be the Son of God.

Luke 1:26-35


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, yet born of Mary, ruler of an eternal kingdom, yet living as one of us, help us to ponder this great and mighty wonder and to worship you as the King of kings and Lord of Lords. Amen.

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour

Sixth lesson

Jesus is born in Bethlehem, the town of David, and his identity as Messiah and Lord is first proclaimed to shepherds by a host of angels.

Luke 2:1-14


Son of God, born in a stable, laid in a manger, no place is too low or mean for you to enter. Come to us and dwell with us, filling us with your love, your peace, your Spirit, now and always. Amen

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : A child this day is born


Seventh lesson

The shepherds find the newborn king lying in a manger, as the angels predicted, and glorify God for what they have heard and seen.

Luke 2:15-20


Father, the shepherds believed the word that was spoken to them and hurried off to find their saviour king. May we who have come to Jesus be like them in spreading the message about him, glorifying and praising you all our days. Amen.

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : While shepherds watched their flocks by night


Eighth lesson

The prophet Simeon recognises the Lord's Messiah and praises God for keeping his promises. At the same time, he warns that the child will cause division in Israel and bring pain to his mother when he is despised and rejected by his own people.

Luke 2:25-35


Sovereign Lord, with Simeon we greet your Son as the Suffering Servant, who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. Thank you that he willingly took the punishment due to us, so that we might find pardon and be reconciled to you. Amen.

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : Once in royal David's city

Ninth lesson

After his suffering and death, the risen Jesus explains from the Scriptures that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead to fulfil God's plan of salvation for the nations. The disciples worship him as he is taken up into heaven, and prepare to be his witnesses.

Luke 24:44-52


Living God, when the powers of evil had done their worst, crucifying your Son and burying him in death, you raised him to life again. Thank you that this mighty act, fulfilling your promises in Scripture, gives us the hope of sharing resurrection life with him. By your Spirit, change us into the likeness of your Son and make us witnesses in our own time to your plan of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Carol :
Alternate Hymn : Angels from the realms of glory

1. The prayers following the lessons invite us to respond to the particular message of each passage. These prayers could be progressively read by the leader who introduces the service or by each of the Bible readers in turn.
2. The lessons have been chosen to give the broad sweep of biblical teaching, from the creation and fall of humanity to redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ through his incarnation, death and resurrection. Many of the passages emphasise the theme of prom}ise and fulfilment, leading those who believe to worship the Saviour.
3. Carols and songs have been chosen to draw out as much as possible the relationship of each biblical passage to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Contemporary wording for carols and songs should be chosen wherever possible. Choral items could be substituted at various points, as appropriate.

This service is © 2009 The Archbishop of Sydney's Liturgical Panel and used by permission. See for details.