A Reading from the Book of Genesis
This is the story
of the heavens and the earth
after their creation.
When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
there was neither shrub nor plant growing on the earth,
because the Lord God had sent no rain;
nor was there anyone to till the ground...
The Lord God formed a human being
from the dust of the ground
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
so that he became a living creature.
The Lord God planted a garden in Eden
away to the east,
and in it he put the man he had formed...
and in the middle of the garden he set the tree of life.
Genesis 2: 4-9
Then all pray:
the heavens are
the work of your hands,
the moon and the stars you
the earth and the sea, and every
living creature came into being
by your word. And all of us, too.
May this tree bring cheer to this house
though Jesus Christ your good and holy Son,
who brings life
and beauty to us
and to our world.
Lighting this tree, we hope in His promise.
The lights of the tree are illuminated and a carol may be sung.
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Prayers at a Christmas Manger
The leader may say:
It was St. Francis of Assisi who first popularized the Christmas manger. Wanting to see how Christ was born with his own eyes, he had a stable and some images made before Christmas and then invited his neightbors and friends to come and join him at his "Bethlehem."
As we look on our manger,
may the Christmas story unfold before our eyes, too.
Listen to the Holy Gospel according to Luke:
In those days a decree was issued
by the emperor Augustus
for a census to be taken
throughout the Roman world.
This was the first Registration of its kind;
it took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Everyone made his way
to his own town to be registered.
Joseph went up to Judaea from the town of Nazareth in Galilee,
to register in the city of David called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house of David by descent;
and with him went Mary, his betrothed,
who was expecting her child.
The figures are then placed in the manger, and after a short period of quiet, the reading continues.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her baby,
and she gave birth to a son, her first born.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.
Then all pray:
whose mighty Son was born in Bethlehem
those days long ago,
lead us to that same poor place,
where Mary laid her tiny Child.
And as we look on in wonder and praise,
make us welcome him in all new life,
see him in the poor,
and care for his handiwork
the earth, the sky and the sea.
O God, bless us again in your great love.
We pray for this through Christ our Lord.
A Christmas song may conclude the blessing