Carol 284 – Christ is the light (v5)
We light this candle for the new-born Christ, re-awakening hope and faith
As we receive your promise, you are light, you are hope
Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
Christmas Day is a time for rejoicing!
Arise and shine for our light has come. The time of waiting is over.
Amid all that is still wrong in the world, we proclaim the God comes to us in Jesus Christ.
Arise and shine for our light has come. The glory of God is revealed.
We gather on this joyful day to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s love that will never let us go.
Arise and shine for our light has come. Our Saviour is born.
Carol 306 – O come, all ye faithful
Holy and loving God,
You stir in our hearts and bring joy to our lives;
you stir in our minds and bring wisdom to our thoughts;
You stir in the world and bring hope to our future. You came as a little child, and so we come to adore you with the angels; to bow before you with the shepherds; to kneel in wonder with the magi; to ponder the mystery with Joseph; to have and to cherish you with Mary. We come with humble hearts full of joy, because you came first to us.
O, God, whose glory shines upon us in this season of long nights, whose light flickers in the darkness and cannot be put out, whose love warms even the coldest of hearts, we sometimes lose our way, our bearings, as we journey on your path.
For the times in our lives when we fail to reflect your glory by our words and by our actions: forgive us. For the times we diminish the light of others, pushing ourselves forward instead of encouraging them to shine: forgive us. For the times when we withhold your love from those who make us uncomfortable, forgive us. May the star that shone above the stable in Bethlehem reorient us and lead us back to you. May we be your people of peace, proclaiming your kingdom of justice and righteousness with joy, with hope, and with love in our hearts. And may the message of the child in the manger be born in us this day.
Carol 312 – Away in the manger
Reflection 1 - Christmas gifts
Readings – Isaiah 9: 2-7 (pg 693)
Luke 2; 1-20 (pg 1027)
Carol 303 – It came upon the midnight clear
Lord God, you sent your angels singing " Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests", to bring to shepherds the good news of Jesus’ birth. May he fill us all with joy to bring this good news to others today and into the New Year beyond. Amen.
‘If a house has enough love, there is always space. It is where there is no love that there’s no room’. Stefan’s mother has died and he is sent away to school to develop his talent for singing and the organ. He is bullied and feeling rejected and lonely, but his teacher takes him into their home, even though the family has several children, and he wonders where on earth he will sleep. It is then that the teacher’s wife says that where there is love there is always space. I should mention that it is 18th Century Leipzig, and his teacher was the composer Johann Sebastian Bach. It is from a book by James Runcie of Grantchester fame, which I am still reading, but that sentence jumped out at me. ‘If a house has enough love, there is always space. It I where there is no love that there’s no room’.
At the heart of the Christmas story there is rejection, but also welcome and love. There is the rejection of the message of the prophets about the coming of the Messiah. There is a definite rejection by Herod, who didn’t want any kings-to-be born in his block and he would tolerate no rival, even if they were only newly born. There is also the rejection of Joseph and the heavily pregnant Mary as they sought a place to stay the night. The poor innkeeper – he was only doing his job, and the inn was full, and no doubt he was rushing around doing 101 things, but I like to think he pointed the way to the stable where Mary gave birth to a baby boy.
What if the innkeeper had said, ‘Yes, there is one room left. Come on in’. It would change the Christmas message entirely. A baby born in a hotel room doesn’t have the same ring to it. The Magi would have been welcomed with open arms by the night porter, but I doubt whether he would have let the shepherds across the threshold.
Somehow it seems right that the baby was born in such vulnerability of a cold and draughty stable amid the smells of the animals. It is somehow right that he was born in poverty and rejection, for it means that he can speak to us whatever our situation in life. Being homeless and soon to be a refugee, he speaks to so many in our world today, affected by war or discrimination or threat to their lives. To all, the angel message of peace on earth, goodwill to all resounds clear.
But of course, there is welcome in the Christmas story too – the welcome of the shepherds coming from the fields, the ordinary people; the welcome of the Magi, intellectuals, scientists, people of influence, yet bowing down to worship.
And there is love. For truly love was born at Christmas. This was God’s massive message to the world, that the little baby with the wrinkled face was God’s own son, for God loved the world so much he gave his own son to be born among us and live our lives and speak to our situation. And where there is love, there is room, there is always space, there is always a welcome. Have a lovely Christmas but know that God loves each and every one of us and showed it by being born amongst us.
Carol 316 – Love came down at Christmas
Generous and loving God, your gift to us in Christ Jesus still draws us to the manger and opens our hearts with wonder. Bless our gifts in his name, so that they may draw others to your love and the blessing we have found in the One born for us.
God of beginnings and endings,
O God in whom we live and move and have our being,
In this season of Christmas,
we give you thanks that your love took flesh in the Christ child and that his story still fills us with wonder.
With all the to-ing and fro-ing between family and friends this season, we remember Mary and Joseph and their journey. Watch over all who travel at this time of year. May they find your peace in the midst of their journeys.
As we remember the innkeeper who found space for Mary and Joseph, we are grateful for the spaces we call home, whether simple or sophisticated.
We pray for all those who are homeless,
and those who seek a welcome in strange places.
May they find an open door and kindness within.
As we remember the shepherds watching over their flocks, we give you thanks for those who watch over us this night. We pray for all those who must work on holidays, tending the well-being of others.
May they know a blessing in the services they provide
and our gratitude for their efforts.
As we remember the angels and their message of peace and goodwill, we are grateful for peace and order in our communities. We pray for all those who work to establish and maintain peace in troubled places and troubled lives, knowing trouble rarely takes a holiday.
As we remember the Magi and the gifts they brought to honour the Christ Child, we thank you for the generosity that overflows at this time of year.
May it touch the lives that need it most.
May each of us find ways to offer you what we value most in the year ahead.
Carol 301– Hark the herald angels sing
May the song of the Angels, the joy of the Shepherds, the wonder of the Magi, and the peace of the Christ Child be in your hearts this Christmas and forever. And the blessing… Amen