Christmas Day 1, the First Eucharist of Christmas, is also known as Midnight Mass

December 25, 2007 at 11:49 am | Posted in Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Day, Church, Gospel, John 1: 1-14, Luke 2: 1-14, Luke 2: 15-20, Readings, Services | Leave a comment

It seems to me that my earlier reference to “The Gospel reading for Christmas Day” implied the reading is the same for all Christians, of all denominations, at all times, and in all places. Well, it does vary: a little. But the common core of the Good News as proclaimed in the Christian Gospel readings for Christmas has many more similarities than differences.

Within the past week or two, we attended services in Roman Cath0lic churches in Bavaria, though Church of England services are my local tradition and it was an Anglican service in England that we attended for Midnight Mass. I grew up completely within the Church in Wales and have since worshipped in churches in the Church of England and Episcopal churches in California. Within the Anglican Communion, services usually vary more in terms of local traditions and cultural expectations rather than specific religious beliefs, in my humble opinion. It was striking in Germany that my children could follow regular church services in German, even though they are only just beginning to learn the language 😉 So, in our limited experiences, Christian services have much more in common than many people realise.

To shed light on the Gospel readings for Christmas Day, here are a few examples from different denominations and times of day:

  • Roman Catholic reading for Midnight Mass: Luke 2:1-14
  • Roman Catholic reading for Mass at Dawn: Luke 2: 15-20
  • Roman Catholic reading for Mass during the day: John 1:1-14 and 15-18 or John 1:1-5, 9-14
  • Episcopal reading for Christmas Day 1: Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)
  • Episcopal reading for Christmas Day 2: Luke 2:(1-14), 15-20
  • Episcopal reading for Christmas Day 3: John 1:1-14
  • Lutheran reading for Christmas Eve: Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)
  • Lutheran reading for Christmas Dawn: Luke 2:(1-7), 8-14 and 15-20
  • Lutheran reading for Christmas Day: John 1:1-14
  • United Methodist reading for Christmas Eve: Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)
  • United Methodist reading for Christmas Day: John 1:1-14


So, you can see that whichever church you attend, the Gospel readings for Christmas Day will centre around these key Bible excerpts, depending on the time of service you choose, in this sequence:

Here are those key texts or core readings, courtesy of Bible Gateway (a useful resource, and great for looking up texts when teaching Sunday School!):

Luke 2: 1-14 (New International Version)

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”


  1. Luke 2:11 Or Messiah. “The Christ” (Greek) and “the Messiah” (Hebrew) both mean “the Anointed One”; also in verse 26.

Luke 2: 15-20 (New International Version)

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

John 1: 1-14 (New International Version)

The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.

6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.[b]

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


  1. John 1:5 Or darkness, and the darkness has not overcome
  2. John 1:9 Or This was the true light that gives light to every man who comes into the world
  3. John 1:13 Greek of bloods
  4. John 1:14 Or the Only Begotten

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