One liturgical practice little practiced by United Methodists is the gospel procession. On Christmas Eve, however, it fits perfectly. After the epistle is read, a gospel acclamation is sung. During the acclamation, the Book of the Gospels is brought from the chancel down the center aisle to a spot in the middle of the congregation. A cross, candles and perhaps incense can also be part of the procession, Now, from his position in the midst of the people, the celebrant reads the appointed lesson from the Gospel Book.
The Gospel’s physical movement to the center of the congregation is a powerful, visual symbol of God’s coming into our world and into our lives in the person of Jesus the Messiah. On an occasion like tonight, I find the practice very moving. When I bow as the Gospels pass by, it’s as if Jesus himself were present in the words they contain.