The Blessing of a Nativity Scene

This rite is available as a pdf file here: the-blessing-of-a-nativity-scene

All gather around the nativity scene.

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
The Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, the second chapter.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3And everyone went to register, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the town of Nazareth, into Judea, to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was from the house and family line of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, his wife, who was pledged to him in marriage and was expecting a child.

6And so it was that while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8There were in the same country shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified! 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all people: 11Today in the town of David, a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude from the heavenly army, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward mankind.” (EHV)

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise be to you, O Christ.

Let us pray.
God of glory, when the set time had fully come, you sent your only Son to be born of the virgin Mary, and made the good news of great joy about his birth known to shepherds, who then spread abroad the news about the holy Child.

Bless us as we remember his birth. Speak to our hearts with the news of his birth, and continue to renew our faith with the peace of his gospel. Move us to respond and to share this good news with those around us with the message of your love reflected in our lives, and also in word, art and song; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

A Christmas carol reflecting on the birth of Christ may be sung.

This rite is based loosely on The Blessing of a Manger or Nativity Scene from Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers © 2008, USCCB.

The prayers are newly composed, © 2016 Paul C. Stratman, https://acollectionofprayers.wordpress.com/

All Scripture is from The Holy Bible: Evangelical Heritage Version. www.wartburgproject.com

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Prayer for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

O Christ our Lord,
at your coming peace returned to earth.
Keep us always in your peace
until at your return in glorious majesty,
we inherit eternal peace;
through your mercy, O our God,
you are blessed,
and live and govern all things,
now and forever.
Amen.

Source: Freely modified from Mozarabic Collects, ed. Rev. Chas. R. Hale, New York, 1881,  p. 37 #2 (Trinity 22)

“peace returned to earth” is a reference to Luke 2:14

 

Mozarabic, ad.

A General Prayer (Christmas)

wilhelm_loeheBlessed Immanuel, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, we thank you for taking on yourself our nature, coming down from heaven and becoming fully human, and making us partakers of the divine nature. You revealed to us the loving heart of your Father. You brought us peace and quenched his divine anger against us. By your blessed birth we are made new creatures. You are our great High Priest through whom we have access to the Father. Enable us, O blessed Lord and loving Immanuel, to confess your appearing in the flesh, always to be mindful of your great love and humiliation, most heartily to rejoice and comfort ourselves in the same, and evermore partake of its power. Open our hearts and lips that with the holy angels we may ever praise and magnify you. Finally take us into your heavenly kingdom, that we may praise and serve you there, forever and ever. Amen. Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel. Blessed be his holy name. Let the whole earth be full of his glory. Amen.

Source: Freely modified from Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith by Wilhelm Löhe, Christmas Prayer 6, p. 124-125

 

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Direct Our Actions

Almighty and eternal God,
direct our actions with what pleases you,
that in the name of your beloved Son
we may abound in good works;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Amen.

Source: Gregorian Sacramentary, 8th Century, Historic Collect for the Sunday after Christmas

Source of this version: Translation © 2016 Paul C. Stratman

This translation is licensed by Paul C. Stratman under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International LicensePlease contact for permission for any commercial use.

Also found in the Sarum Psalter.

 

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A Sarum Christmas Prayer

old_sarum_cathedral_reconstructionO Dayspring,
Splendor of the eternal Light
and Sun of Righteousness!
Come and enlighten
those who sit in darkness
and the shadow of death.
O King of Gentiles,
you whom they long for,
and Cornerstone that makes all one,
Come and save humanity
which you have formed
out of the clay.

Source: Sarum Rite

Source of this version: Modified from A Book of Prayers: Together with Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Ancient and Modern, Ed. Charles Leffingwell, Morehouse Publishing Company, 1921, p. 91 #3

 

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Glory in the Highest

Lord Jesus Christ,
to you glory is sung in the highest,
while peace on earth is proclaimed to men of good will.
Give good will to us your servants,
cleanse us from all our sins,
and grant constant peace to us and to all people;
through your mercy, O our God.
You are blessed,
forever and ever.
Amen.

Source: Mozarabic Rite

Source of this version: Freely modified from A Book of Prayers: Together with Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Ancient and Modern, Ed. Charles Leffingwell, Morehouse Publishing Company, 1921, p. 71 #1

 

Mozarabic, ad.

You Gave Your Only Son

geertgen_tot_sint_jans2c_the_nativity_at_night2c_c_1490O God,
you looked on man when he had fallen to death,
and resolved to redeem him
by giving your only Son.
Grant that all who confess his glorious incarnation
may also be admitted to the fellowship of him, their Redeemer;
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Source: Ambrose

Source of this version: Freely modified from  Prayers of the Early Church,  ed.  J. Manning Potts,  The Upper Room, Nashville, Tennessee, © 1953 (Public domain in the U.S.)

“by giving your only Son” is a reference to John 3:16

 

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Radiance of the Father’s Splendor

The radiance of the Father’s splendor,
the Father’s visible image,
Jesus Christ our God,
peerless among counselors,
Prince of Peace,
for our sake became like a slave:
in the womb of Mary the virgin,
without assistance from any man,
he took flesh.…

Enable us, Lord,
to reach the end of this luminous feast in peace,
forsaking all idle words,
acting virtuously,
shunning our passions,
and raising ourselves above the things of this world.

Bless your church,
which you brought into being long ago
and attached to yourself
through your own life-giving blood.
Help all orthodox pastors, heads of churches, and teachers.

Bless your servants, whose trust is all in you;
bless all Christian souls,
the sick, those tormented by evil spirits,
and those who have asked us to pray for them.

Show yourself as merciful as you are rich in grace;
save and preserve us;
enable us to obtain those good things to come which will never know an end.

May we celebrate your glorious birth,
and the Father who sent you to redeem us,
and your Spirit, the Giver of life,
now and forever, age after age.
Amen.

Source: A Syriac Christmas liturgy

Source of this version: http://www.faithandworship.com/early_Christian_prayers.htm#ixzz4DB92AvUk
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

After “Prince of Peace” the original has the lines: “Father of the world to come, /
the model after which Adam was formed,”

A Nativity Prayer

Christ is born, glorify him.
Christ comes from heaven, go out to meet him.
Christ descends to earth; be raised up!
Sing to the Lord all the whole earth;
and that I may join both in one word,
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad,
for him who is of heaven and then of earth.
Christ is in the flesh,
rejoice with trembling and with joy;
with trembling because of your sins,
with joy because of your hope.

The people that sat in the darkness of ignorance,
let them see the great light of full knowledge.
The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front.
He who is not carnal is Incarnate;
the Son of God becomes the Son of Man,
Jesus Christ the Same yesterday, and today, and for ever.

Source: Gregory of Nazianzus

Source of this version: Freely adapted from http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310238.htm

Also found here: http://holycrossoca.org/newslet/0712.html

“Let the heavens rejoice” quotes Psalm 96:11

“The people who sat…” quotes Isaiah 9:2

“The old has passed…” quotes 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Yesterday, today…” quotes Hebrews 13:8

Prayer to the Christchild

O good Jesus,
the Word of the Father,
brightness of the Father’s glory,
whom angels desire to behold;
teach me to do your will,
that guided by your good Spirit,
I may come to that blessed city
where there is everlasting day
where all are of one spirit;
where there is certain security
and secure eternity
and eternal tranquility
and quiet felicity
and happy sweetness
and sweet pleasantness;
where you,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit
live and reign,
now and forever.

Source: St. Gregory, d. 638

Source of this version: Modified from  http://catholictradition.org/Christmas/christ-child13.htm

Also found here: The Oxford Book of Prayer, ed. Appleton, © 1985, 1992