Gathered around the Christmas Crèche, Manger or Nativity Scene,
All: Make the sign of the cross as the leader of prayer says:
Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
Leader: As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we pause to bless this Christmas manger scene. The practice of erecting such mangers was begun by Saint Francis of Assisi as a means to set forth the message of Christmas. When we look upon these figures, the Christmas Gospel comes alive and we are moved to rejoice in the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God.
Reader: Proclaim Luke 2:1-8
* In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus* that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.* She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. * Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.
Leader: Let us pray.
God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation You have made manifest Your love: when our need for a Savior was great You sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.
To our lives He brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love.
Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our hearts and thoughts to Him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
As the Christmas Tree is lit, those gathered may complete their prayer and praise by singing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”