In the 1979 Book of Common Prayer we have three collects for Christmas Day. From what I’ve gathered, it seems that they each have their own traditional place in the course of Christmas celebrations.
In the evening before Christmas Day, or better yet, a midnight mass or vigil worship service, the following prayer sets the tone for the night:
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known they mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven…
Picking up on the theme of Jesus as the light of the world, this prayer brings the Christmas message straight to our hearts: “Grant that we may enjoy him in heaven.” This is not an evangelistic opportunity, but has the tone of a prayerful gathering of God’s faithful people.
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge…
This prayer almost sounds like it’s going out of its way to make a “reason for the season” statement. It’s very much attuned to the Gospel narrative, how the Christmas holiday fits into it, and sets up for an evangelistic sermon to remind those twice-a-year church-goers why they’re there, and why they should come back more often. Familiar Christmas themes of joy and redemption are given front row seats in this collect alongside judgment; it’s a brilliant juxtaposition if you ask me.
Finally, there’s this more spiritual and theological collect:
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit…
The evangelistic opportunities seem less prominent in this one, compared to the previous. Considering the “we” saying the prayer consists of those who “have been born again” etc. there seems to be little awareness of non-believers in the congregation’s midst. But this isn’t devoid of evangelistic opportunity! There is still a treatment of redemption from multiple angles – the Son of God taking on human nature, our rebirth and adoption, God’s grace, and the need for daily renewal in the Spirit. It reflects a celebration geared more towards Christians (like the Eve/vigil collect) while still having something to say to non-believers (like the Morning collect) who so often attend Christmas worship services.
May God grant us all a blessed and holy Christmas.