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Worship Materials: An Inclusive Christmas Celebration

On the theme: The Tree, The Carol, the Child


Christmas is a time to move into the world of images and dreams, a time to allow the ‘make believe’ happen. Let us be still and reflective.

O Ultimate mystery,

who comes to us in many pictures,

grant that the story of Christmas may

awaken the child within us, so that we may

experience child-like beauty and joy,

despite the sadness and destruction which

often surrounds us. May we be enabled to

let go of our desire to acquire, to abandon

our misuse of power and cease to view life

in segments, instead of as a whole.

This we pray in the spirit of the Babe of Bethlehem,

symbol of the eternal child. AMEN.




Tiptoe softly, gently

To the Christmas stall;

Space where hope is singing

Peace on earth for all.

Move beyond strict reason,

Dance where wonder dwells,

Join the children’s voices,

Ring the Christmas bells.


Searching fired by wonder

Shows where peace is born.

Mangers filled with caring

Nurture hope’s new dawn.

Charming smiles of babies

Mask defenseless ways

Which despite earth’s troubles

Turn our thoughts to praise.


Sign and seal of Christmas,

God of psyche’s worth, *

To our inner children

You bring love’s rebirth,

Nurturing new growing

Till defenses melt,

Healing all the anguish

Broken hearts have felt.


* Alternative wording ‘God of spirit’s worth’   Alternative Tune: CRANHAM





Luke 2: 1-7

At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. When this first census took place, Quirinius was the Governor of Syria. Everyone, then, went to register, each to their own town.

Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them to stay in the inn.


Leader: The story of that first Christmas is a beautiful, ancient memory. Here is a space for sharing some more recent memories of Christmas:

After each one the following response is used:


May the sharing of our stories strengthen us for life’s journey.



For the music see


Each Christmastide gives us space for a journey,

Journey to places which dwell deep within.

There we find sparkles of night’s silent stillness,

Wombs where rebirthing of spirits begin.

Wombs of our newness hold angels’ sweet voices

Singing the songs which the Cosmos still sings,

Songs of the cattle and all of creation,

Nurturing mangers which nature still brings.


Hearing the songs hidden deep down inside us

Helps us view wonder through shepherds’ bright eyes

Sensing God’s presence on Earth as in Heaven;

God of the wonder and God of surprise.

Journeys beyond all our wombs of belonging

Take us to places where Herods still rule.

After our fleeing to needy dependence

Love gives us strength for confronting the cruel.


God was not absent till Mary bore Jesus,

God did not need to be freed from the skies;

Christ came to waken our sense of God’s presence,

Present in laughter and present in cries.

Each day is Christmas for wonder-filled pilgrims,

Each day holds birthing God calls us to choose,

Birthing within the great womb of God’s myst’ry,

Myst’ry which points to the Gospel’s good news.



Tunes: ERIN or CRANMER see


Within the manger of our mind

Abides a Holy Child,

A sign of goodness and of peace;

Of factions reconciled.


O how we long to live this dream

Of all our life could be;

A dream of hope and great desire

To set our spirits free.


But first we must confront the one

Who lurks within our dream;

The Herod who misuses pow’r

And lacks in self-esteem.


With minds as still as Christmas night

We search with all the Wise

Beyond our systemed ways of thought

To gaze with starlit eyes.


So let us hold the myth as one;

A treasured, healing tale

That frees our sacred inner child

And lets its love prevail.



The image of the tree features in several passages in the Bible.



Genesis 2: 9

God made all kinds of beautiful trees grow and produce good fruit. In the middle of the Garden of Eden stood the tree that gives life and the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad.


Psalm 96: 11-13

Be glad, Earth and Sky!
Roar sea and every creature in you;
Be glad, fields, and everything in you!
The trees of the wood will shout for joy
When God is acknowledged as the Ruler of the Earth,
the God of justice and peace.


Mark 4: 30-32

“What shall we say the Way of God is like?” asked Jesus. “What parable shall we use to explain it. It is like this. A person takes a mustard seed, the smallest seed in the world and plants it in the ground. After a while it grows up and becomes the biggest of all plants. It puts out such large branches that the birds come and make their nest in its shade.”



Words and music: from a traditional German carol (for music see 41 “Carol, gaily carol” A & C Black)


O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

How lovely are your branches.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

How lovely are your branches.

In beauty green they’ll always grow

Through summer sun and winter snow.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

How lovely are your branches.


O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

You are the tree most loved.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

You are the tree most loved.

How often you give us delight

In brightly shining summer light!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

You are the tree most loved.


O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

Your beauty green will teach me,

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

Your beauty green will teach me,

That hope and love will ever be

The way to joy and peace for me.

Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

Your beauty green will teach me.



Then I was standing

on the highest mountain of them all,

And round, beneath me was the whole hoop

of the world.

And while I stood there

I saw more than I can tell

And I understood more than I saw.

For I was seeing in the sacred manner

the shape of all things of the spirit

And the shapes as they must live together like one being.

And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people

was one of many hoops that make one circle,

wide as daylight and starlight,

And in the center grew one mighty flowering tree

To shelter all the children of one mother

and one father.

And I saw that it was holy.

BLACK ELK (Native American)




In the ancient and archaic world the tree is a living embodiment of both the center and the whole, and so the sacred tree becomes the Cosmic Tree which by its natural laws of development (its annual ‘death’ and ‘rebirth) embodies the perpetual regeneration of the Cosmos. The branches of the tree of life reach the heavens referred to as the Sky Father and its buried roots link to the Earth Mother. An example of this is the Celtic Tree of Life with its interweaving of its branches and roots signifying the connection between all things both in the Heavens and in the Earth in other words “As above, so below…”


Choir or All           O POHUTUKAWA TREE

(A New Zealand Carol. In the southern hemisphere the summer flowering is in December. For the music see


O Pohutukawa tree

Green as Easter morn,

In the sunrise of your crown

Christmas fire is born!


Red as mother’s blood your flower:

Blood that signs a birth,

Crimson as the prophet’s cross

Planted in the earth.


Prophet child within your flesh

Easter hope abounds:

Green and red become as one

Rising from the ground



As a child the poet William Blake was once walking over the hills of Dulwich when he had a vision of a tree filled with angels. Such a vision does not prove that there actually are angels but it does provide a symbolic entry into the experienceof sacredness. In a similar way when Moses experienced the mystical vision of a burning bush which was not consumed it does not mean that the bush was actually on fire but rather that he was unconsciously projecting the fire in his heart on to the bush.

The message for him was that the place where he stood was holy ground. Spirituality is the realization that every bush is burning, that everything is sacred even the worst experiences of life. It is the silence of our struggles, it is the echo of our cry for justice and the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. The degree of our spirituality is the extent of our harmony with all that is within us and outside of us. We become spiritual when we inhabit our bodies, know our own spirits and insert ourselves gracefully into all that surrounds us. We become spiritual when we discern the sounds of the earth, recognize signs of pending destruction, speak the words of blessing and reconciliation. We become spiritual when we know ourselves as potential sisters and brothers of everything and everyone who has lived. We become spiritual when we find in this moment the message for today and in today the mission for tomorrow. Being spiritual demands the combined investment of our whole heart, our whole mind, our sexuality, our psyche, our sweat, and our very breath.

Based in part on the book “Every bush is burning.” Joan Puls, O.S.F. No 24 Risk Book Series W.C.C.


This process of Self-realization is frequently represented in dreams by centered and symmetrical images, those images of polarity and wholeness which Jung calls mandalas. One which frequently appears in dreams, often in a strangely symbolic and archaic form, is the Tree. Jung interprets it as a ‘symbol of the Self depicted as a process of growth’.

This was what the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke instinctively understood when he wrote:

Oh, I who long to grow,
I look outside myself,
and the tree inside me grows.

PRAYER: God of all greening, through the image of the tree you speak to us of life. Grant that at this Christmastide we may allow your love to flow through us like sap, that with invigorated spirits, we may celebrate life and serve others. AMEN



The word ‘carol’ was originally used to describe the activity of singing and dancing in a circle.  Under the influence of the Puritans it became restricted to singing without dancing.  Now it is almost exclusively used to refer to a Christmas song with Christian content. The Bible readings speak about singing joyfully


Psalm 8: 1-2a

O Lord, our God, your greatness is seen in all the world. Your praise reaches up to the heavens; it is sung by children and babies.


Psalm 150: 3-6

Praise God with trumpets.
Praise God with harps and lyres.
Praise God with drums and dancing.
Praise God with harps and flutes.
Praise God with cymbals.
Praise God with loud cymbals.
Praise God all living creatures!
Praise God, the Lord.


Psalm 100: 1-2

Sing to God all the world.
Worship God with joy;
Acknowledge God’s presence with singing.


Psalm 96: 1

Sing a new song to God.



“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
and what I assume you shall assume,
for every atom belonging to me as good
belongs to you.”

(from “A Choice of Whitman’s Verse” Donald Hall, Faber and Faber)



(Words and Music © World Library Publications. For the music see Singing the Sacred, Vol 1, 2011. World Library Publications)


Carol my heart, carol myself,

Carol the dancing ways.

Carol the infant newly born,

Carol my spirit’s praise.


Think of the child, filled with great awe,

Meeting the newly seen.

Share the delight that fills its heart

Touching the fresh and green.


Sing of a God clothed in our flesh,

Tent of the Spirit’s flame;

Sing of the God of every child

Signed with their flesh and name.


Christmas outlives rollicking praise

Wrapped for a gifting day.

Christmas is God, the source of life,

Found in the pilgrim way.




Celebrate at Christmas time

Light which only dark can birth,

Light in every baby’s eyes

Gift of darkened realms of Earth.


Celebrate at Christmas time

Sound which only silence births,

Sound of every infant cry

Gift of muted realms of Earth.


Celebrate at Christmas time

Emptiness of birthing space,

Space for growing each new life

Found in mother’s nurture place.


Celebrate at Christmas time

Truth which all the mysteries birth,

Truth in every baby’s heart

Gift of wondrous womb of Earth.



A Contemporary Version of Ding Dong Merrily on High  (Music The Oxford Christmas Carol Book 18)


Ding Dong! ring the Christmas bells

Within the hearts and steeples.

Sing and praise the God who dwells

Within Earth’s many peoples.

Gloria, this Christmas time of wonder!


Dress the Christmas tree with care;

Let tinsel frame our dreaming.

Light the Christmas candles now;

Delight in their bright shining.

Gloria, this Christmas time of wonder!


Sing the carols of this day;

The notes that gild our phrases.

May the dance of Christmas joy

Fill all our life with praises.

Gloria, this Christmas time of wonder!



O great Mystery of the Cosmos, may our carols link us with your song of creation, that we may become joyful agents of healing in this broken world. AMEN.



In the Bible the child is seen as a source of wisdom, liberation and spirituality.



Matthew 18: 3

Jesus said “Unless you become as a little child, you will not enter the Way of wholeness!” (The Kingdom of God)


Mark 10: 13-15

“Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, “let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Way of God belongs to such as these. I assure you that whoever does not receive the Way of God like a child, will never enter it.”





O child within the Christmas scene

Come play with us today;

Melt all the ice within our hearts

And warm us as we play.

Help us to sing the Christmas song

And dance the Christmas Way,

And dance the Christmas Way,

Christmas Way,

And dance the Christmas Way.


O may we hear the cattle speak

For Earth that’s raped for gain.

O may we share its brokenness

And work to ease its pain

Through our compassion’s power to heal

This sacred Earth again,

This sacred Earth again,

Earth again.

This sacred Earth again.


O may we touch the mother love

Of Mary in our hearts,

A Mary with a justice call

Unmasking deadly arts

And in their place creating ways

To heal the severed parts,

To heal the severed parts,

Heal the parts,

To heal the severed parts.



Rachel Carson in her book The Sense of Wonder says:
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” My prayer is that “each child in the world would have a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against boredom and disenchantment of later years.”

(From a web quotation)



The concept of an Inner Child has been around for a very long time. Carl Jung called it the “Divine Child”, Emmet Fox the ‘Wonder Child” and Charles Whitfield the “Child Within.” Some psychotherapists call it the “True Self’. The Inner Child refers to that part of each of us which is ultimately alive, energetic, creative and fulfilled; it is our “Genuine Authentic Self”, who we know deep within us, our “Real Self.” When this child self is not allowed to be heard, or even acknowledged as real, a false or co-dependent self emerges. We begin to live our lives as victims. What is repressed in our lives leads to unresolved emotional traumas. The gradual accumulation of unfinished mental and emotional business can lead to chronic anxiety, fear, confusion, emptiness and unhappiness. So the concept of an inner child and all that it represents can be for each of us an invaluable aid to psychological growth.

(Quoted in part from a web article “Your Inner Child – Divine Child – Child Within” by Pamela Brockman)





If cobwebs fill the corners

That lurk within our mind

Our faith can help us brush aside

Each clinging thought we find

Until we glimpse a garden filled

With wonders unconfined

A garden where children can play,

Children can play,

A garden where children can play


Within that garden crafted

By childhood’s ageless dream

We each can walk a pathway

That leads to self esteem;

A way of life where we can pause

Beside life’s flowing stream

A stillness which nurtures our peace,

Nurtures our peace,

A stillness which nurtures our peace.


We each can build a fence around

Our sacred inner child

Excluding all that only comes

As gentle, meek or mild.

But life is more than cobwebbed silk

And love is bold and wild,

A dancing that wakens new life,

Wakens new life,

A dancing that wakens new life.



Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position and be aware of your breathing. Breathe in and out, in and out, breathing in life and breathing out love. Move beyond all the thoughts that fill your mind and rest in a place of emptiness and peace.

Imagine yourself moving back in time to see yourself as an older child, a younger child and then perhaps as a toddler. Take the outstretched hand of the child and remember if you can what the place you lived in was like. If there was a garden what was in it, what were the scents and colors you liked. What did the walls and the furniture look like? What were the scents and sounds you remember? Who were the people in the house? Parents? Other adults? Other children? How did you feel about them?



Now come to the room that you felt was your very own? What furniture and toys were in it? Did you feel at home in that room? What was wonderful and comforting about it? Does your inner child want to stay there, or come back with you? If the desire is to stay there, promise to visit regularly. At some time your inner child will want to be with you permanently, if given the reassurance of your love, the affirmation of how beautiful and gentle he/she is and that they are a child of God.



Then be aware that in affirming the inner child you are also affirming your adult self, that the two are one and you have the power to love them both if you are prepared to let go of past hurts and surround them both with love. Give thanks that this is a transforming encounter which heralds a new degree of wholeness in which the child and the adult remain separate and yet in some wonderful sense have become one.

(Based in part on a guided meditation by Margot Escott, M.S.W in Guided Imagery, volume 1 by Larry Moen, United States Publishing. The original text is printed at the end of this service)



We celebrate you, O inner child, we love you and open our heart to all the gifts which you can give us which can help make our lives a perpetual Christmas, the feast of the child.




For music see


Within the eyes of every child

We glimpse the babe of Christmas Day;

We see the God of flesh and blood

Revealed in work and play.

Look, think and cast out fear,

For God is always everywhere:

Vision dawns for all who seek

To ponder, wonder, worship.


Within the cradle lies the cross,

The sign of lust for power and wealth,

A Herod killing baby boys

With venom and with stealth.

Look, think and cast out fear,

For hate and greed are everywhere:

Love alone can help us live

With justice, peace, compassion.


Within the cross there lies the love

That liberates the spirit’s power;

It breaks the chains that bind the self

And lets each person flower.

Look, think and be aware,

For people’s power is everywhere:

Linked as one we all shall build

New dreams of Christmas justice.



God of all peace, joy and liveliness may our celebration of the Christmas story empower us to reverence the child within the heart of every human being.

O God of infinite compassion we remember the needs of others,

the lonely,

the depressed,

the homeless and the poor,

the unemployed and the marginalized,

the sick and the psychologically disturbed,

the victims of violence and oppression,

all who are imprisoned in their own thinking or

enslaved by their possessions.

May the spirit of Christmas motivate us to affirm the dignity of all people and work for justice, peace and reverence for the whole of creation. AMEN



Tune: IRBY (Once in royal David’s city)


God is present in each baby

And throughout all time and space,

In the chaos and the order,

In each tender touch and face.

We are called to travel far

And embrace the Christmas star.


Through this journey Jesus lead us,

With the prophets and the saints,

To a world beyond illusion,

Free from power or wealth’s restraints.

As a babe we each have known

Humbleness was our true home.


With amazement and with gladness

We now sing our Christmas song

And with eager expectation

Own the space where we belong.

In the crib we find a place

Filled with wonder and with grace.



May the awareness of the shepherds,

the persistence of the wise men,

the acceptance of Joseph and

the commitment of Mary to her child

and to the creating of a better world for all,

motivate us, now and always.




We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year.

Good tidings we bring

To all humankind

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

(For music see “Carol, Gaily Carol” A & C Black)



The Journey

When you have yourself in a comfortable, safe, relaxed position, begin focusing on your breath — in and out — like gentle waves coming in and going out. As you pay attention to your breath, let go of any thoughts or feelings that you don’t need right now. Just allow yourself to drift into that pleasant state of trance where you feel comfortable and peaceful. See yourself standing in front of an oval mirror. Reflected is a vision of yourself today. This is a special magic mirror. As you continue to gaze, you see that you are getting younger and younger. See yourself five years ago, then fifteen. See yourself getting smaller and smaller until you see an image of a very small child, perhaps three or four, five or six; whatever age feels right to you. This little child is smiling and extending his or her hand to you. As he steps out of the mirror you take hold of that small hand and begin to walk down a familiar road with that child. Feel the softness of that hand. Look at those vulnerable, trusting eyes. You may need to let that child know that you are a safe adult and are there to protect and play with that special child.



You begin to realize that the familiar road on which you are walking is the street where you lived when you were very small. You and the child approach the front door of this dwelling, perhaps a house, apartment or trailer; and, if the child needs reassurance, you let him know that the worst is over and that he is safe with you. As you walk through the front door what do you see? What rooms are you in? Who is in there? What are they doing?


You continue to walk through this place noticing the tex­tures of the floors and walls. Noticing smells that are famil­iar from so long ago. You go into the kitchen. Who is in there and what are they doing? You walk to the family room and again note who is there and what they are doing. Flow do you feel? What does you inner child want you to know about this house and these people?



You now come into a very special room. It is the room of your precious inner child. He may have some things, special toys or objects, that he wants to share with you. Be aware of how full of life and wonder this child is. As you visit with the child, you let him know, that if he wants to, he may leave this house and come and stay with you. Let your child decide what he wants to do. If he chooses not to come today, tell him you will keep coming to visit him and he can leave with you whenever he wants. If your child decides to come, he may want to pack some things in a little bag or he may be ready to go right now. See yourself and the child walking back to the front door. As you start to leave the house, you see Mom and Dad standing in the doorway, waving and smiling good-bye. They seem happy to see you starting an exciting journey. You walk from the house, look over your shoulder and see them continuing to wave. You walk down that old familiar street and each time you turn around Mom and Dad are still there, getting smaller and smaller. You finally turn a corner, and they are no longer in sight. You find yourself in a beautiful place in nature and sit and hold that precious child in your arms. You may want to give that precious child some affirming messages like, “I am so glad that you are here; I will always love you; or You are enough.” Be open to whatever that child has to tell you.



As you continue to hold the child, he becomes smaller and smaller and smaller until he is so small that you could hold him in the palm of your hand. You gently place your magical inner child in your heart, and when you look down you see the eyes looking up at you and you realize that, from now on, wherever you are, wherever you go, you are carrying the precious cargo of that special child. Let yourself be giving to that child and attend to his needs. Let the spirit of that child enter into you as you behold the wonder of each new day and the blessing of each new relationship that comes into your life.

When you are ready, slowly bring yourself back to normal waking consciousness.

“This journey has been particularly freeing for adult children who are letting go of a painful past and beginning to heal relationships with parents.

Margot Escott

(A guided meditation by Margot Escott, M.S.W in Guided Imagery, volume 1 by Larry Moen, United States Publishing.)









Who is this Herod in my heart

That seeks to kill the child?

It is the one who measures life

Till all is weighed and filed;

Who only thinks in terms of power,

Of wealth or of success;

Who worships all the outer things

That bring us untold stress.


Our inner life is like a child

Awaiting to be born –

A child who threatens Herod’s power

With strength that tyrants scorn.

To choose the way of inner growth

Brings all the pangs of birth.

Yet pain can open doors to change –

The change that saves the Earth.


O Christ, the babe, devoid of wealth,

Deprived of outer power,

Help us locate that birthing space

In which our spirits flower,

For in our deepest silent world

There lies a sacred way

To all that frees our inner child

And lets its spirit play.





When the child is at the centre,

When the babe is in the stall,

When the adult nurtures wonder,

When the carols warm us all,

Then the fragments come together

And the vision shines as one

In each particle of being,

In each daughter and each son.


When the angels come as people,

When the wise ones dwell inside,

When the shepherds are the workers,

When the babe our inner guide,

Then our Christmas comes each moment

That our minds perceive God’s grace

Every time our hearts are opened

We see Christ within each face.



Sing and dance the Christmas story,

Celebrate the Child’s great feast,

Be the festive wine and dancing,

Be the joy that grows like yeast

Fill the heart with thankful praises,

Clear the mind of dismal thought,

Celebrate the Christmas wisdom,

Dance the Way that Jesus taught.



Text and image © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

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