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Archive for the ‘Devotionals, Public & Home’ Category

Hark!I love a good hour-long musical devotional, but the reality is, we can’t always get little kids to sit still and reverent for a long time. This very short (10 minutes or less, depending on significant pauses in the narration and whether or not the little angels jab the shepherds, and vice-versa) Christmas program has the feel of the Cousin-Designed-and-Directed Nativity plays put on in the family room of Grandma’s Houses everywhere. And really, the more home-grown, the better!

We’ll be using it for our congregational social this week; it would work for a family party just as well. Enjoy!

Picture a Christmas Tableaux

Remember, it’s a really dreadful time of year to be a jerk about copyrights. I’d love you to share this, but don’t re-host it. Just link back, and the whole Universe will acknowledge your general Decency, Goodness, and Awesome Karma.

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Well-established fact: I adore music. It is my primary mode of worship, and it makes my life happy.

I also really like designing devotionals and programs and special worship services. This particular program hit me upside the brain one day, and I had to get out of the shower to write it all down immediately. (I’m thinking of getting one of those surveyor’s tablets with the write-in-the-rain paper. It could be quite useful.)

I knew I was to use several hymns that are not traditionally “Christmas” songs, but which communicate beautiful messages of the Savior. I knew that Mary and Joseph had a duet, that there was a lullaby at the very end, and that the entire congregation would sing a grand testimony together with the choir, just before a benediction. I knew the narration needed to be scripture, with only a little extra. It was all there, just waiting to be combined into an uplifting celebration.

So here’s a Christmas Eve (or even Christmas Eve Eve) devotional service, totally free to share and use (just please keep my copyright notes intact). The overall PDF file contains notes for the director, the script, and the music arrangements, all together, so it make take a few minutes to load.

Believe, A Christmas Devotional

All the musical selections are taken from the standard LDS hymnal , with one number from the children’s songbook. This allows for maximum congregational participation, and speedy devotional preparation, as many choir members will be familiar with the majority of the pieces. You may download music from LDS.org (go to Resources, Music, and launch the Interactive Music Player.)

I have written a few special arrangements, variations, and descants that are inspired by historical arrangements and harmonies; sheet music is provided in this packet, and is licensed to be photocopied for choir use. Only hymns that are licensed for incidental, non-commercial use have been selected for this devotional.

I have also included a printable program; combine it with Christ-centered art of your choice. If budget allows, consider having the program printed on good gloss cover stock, with the image in full color, and the text in black-and-white on the matte reverse. This allows the program to be framed and displayed in congregants’ homes for the Christmas season and beyond.

Ideally, this devotional should be shared in the evening; there is the unique feature of a postlude hymn, sung as a lullaby from the choir to the congregation, and to send everyone home in the silent, peaceful night, anticipating the joyous celebration of Christ’s birth in the morning… well, it’s just really cool. I dare you to sing the last number without getting a bit verklempt.

It’s Thanksgiving Day. I’m thankful. We are all so, so very blessed.

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I’m thrilled to be invited to join a group of pretty nifty writers over at Real Intent, a brand new blog on faith, family and… well, living with Real Intent! Do come and read…

Real Intent

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The word “lent” stems from the Middle English for “lengthen”, referring to the lengthening of days as dark winter lifts and the re-birth of spring approaches. To the Christian world, the Lenten season is a time of reflection, repentance, and re-commitment as we progress from darkness (being un-reconciled to God) to light (being reconciled and at one with God.)

The season of Lent encompasses the forty non-Sunday days between Ash Wednesday and Crucifixion (Good) Friday. The symbolism of forty days parallels Christ’s forty days of fasting and preparation before beginning His earthly ministry.

Traditionally, Lent is a season to re-dedicate ourselves, using three aspects of practical faith:

  • Prayer: renewing and expanding our relationship with God;
  • Alms-giving: showing compassion and charity to others by giving of our time and resources with an attitude of humility and Christ-like love;
  • Fasting: personal sacrifice and repentance to prepare ourselves for re-dedication to our baptismal covenants. The sacrifice of fasting does not just involve abstaining from food, though that may be a component of your chosen fast. It might include abstaining from a particular activity that has been distracting you from the pursuit of Godly things, or making a concerted effort to replace a sinful behavior with a Godly one.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of they tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:1-3, 9-10

We have been counseled by living Prophets that we should retain all truth, and add to it the light of the Restoration. With that in mind, celebrating the dedicatory season of Lent has the capacity to deepen our appreciation of Heavenly Father’s plan for us, and our commitment to Him.

The Lenten Lights could be done as one reading per week leading up to Easter, or as one reading per day of the week leading up to Easter, depending on the needs of your own household. To complete them in the week before Easter, plan to begin the Saturday before Palm Sunday (eight days before Easter Sunday.) That gives you a few days yet to gather a few very simple supplies, and download the  complete instructions and readings here.

This series of short daily devotionals walks the household through our need for a Savior and an Atonement, and the miracles of God’s love for us. Each reading has three aspects:

  • Foundation: truths established in pre-mortal and early earth times;
  • Foreshadowing: symbols manifest through the experiences of God’s peoples that foreshadow Christ;
  • Fulfillment: Christ’s perfect fulfillment of God’s plan.

The free pdf download of my Lenten Lights readings are covered by copyright; you’re welcome to print or copy extras for household, extended family, or church use.

If you’re looking for last year’s simplified Passover meal and Haggadah, you’ll find it here.

I hope you’ll have a contemplative and joyous Easter season!

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I have a “thing” about worship services, particularly at Christmas and Easter. Since music is my primary mode of worship, on those holy days, I really enjoy a service that’s heavy on sacred and inspirational music, with a bit of scripture tossed in the mix.

In my prior incarnation as a Church Lady Choir Director, with 45 quite talented people under my baton, I got to write several such services. And since this one is just sitting around in my hard drive, why not share it, right? Details after the jump… (more…)

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