Christmas at St Andrew's

Revisit the service for 

Christmas Day

10.00 am Christmas Worship live-streamed on Zoom

or listen to the talks again:

You can listen to Lucy's talk on our YouTube channel

You can also listen to the sermon again on our YouTube channel.

 

‘Born to be King’

 

Luke 2.1-20

Speaker: James Cook

 

INTRODUCTION     

 

Leader: Lord Jesus, on the first Christmas day,

All:        you came to us.

 

Leader: Lord Jesus, on this Christmas day,

All:        come to us…

 

Leader: and be at the centre of our celebrations

All:        Amen.

 

CAROL

O come, all ye faithful 

 

FIRST READING

Luke chapter 2 verses 1-7 

 

The birth of Jesus

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

CAROL

Come and join the celebration 

 

PRAYER OF ADORATION AND CONFESSION

 

Leader:   God of Christmas

we thank you for the gift

and the mystery of Christmas - 

that you would offer the hopes of all creation

in the form of a helpless baby.

 

As we come to worship,

this Christmas day,

we can barely comprehend

all that this means

that your love for us would be so great

that you would want to share our lives.

We can only begin to understand

the price this gift cost you. 

 

We confess we sometimes fail to value

the gift of Jesus for us.

We confess all the Christmas celebrations

to which Jesus is not invited.

We confess the worry over what we will or won’t have,

the frantic struggle to get everything done,

and that, as of that first Christmas,

there is often no room for Jesus.

 

All:        Help us to change, we pray.

Help us to make room,

not only in our Christmas celebrations,

but also in the whole of our lives.

Help us to welcome Jesus,

to start over again,

and to live in friendship with him.

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

 

Leader: May God who loved the world so much

that he sent his Son to be our Saviour

forgive us our sins

and make us holy to serve him in the world,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:        Amen.

 

You can listen to Lucy's talk on our YouTube channel

 

SECOND READING

Luke chapter 2 verses 8-20 

Born to be King

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

‘BORN TO BE KING’ (James Cook)

 

Luke 2.8-20

It was nearly a year ago now, that the BBC ran a story about a man who’d died in China after contracting a newly-discovered virus that was related to the one responsible for the SARS epidemic in 2003. While China had been criticised for attempting to cover up that earlier epidemic, the report ended with the reassuring words that by contrast this time ‘the authorities say they’ve acted early and the virus is contained.’ It’s chilling to watch it now: it probably would have been tucked away at the end of the news bulletin, most of us would scarcely have paid any attention to it. No-one would even have imagined that, just two months later, we would be told, because of that virus, to avoid all social contact and stay at home. 

It’s a strange coincidence that that very same day the BBC ran the story, Stephanie and I came here to visit St Andrew’s and talk with Phil about the possibility of me moving here to be the curate. I still remember now, sitting over there, the church full, with a joyful, happy buzz in the air as people chatted and greeted each other. It fills me with such sadness to see how different the church has been since I arrived: so quiet, all of us masked up, unable really to chat to each other. It’s so strange, so incongruous to think that this tiny virus, this virus that no-one thought much about at all in January, should have so turned our lives upside down this past year. I pray that there have been blessings along the way for us: new relationships with neighbours, greater community spirit as we’ve pulled together, the time that perhaps we’ve never had before to reflect and assess our lives. But there’s no denying the real hardships that most if not all of us have experienced this year in different ways, whether because of Covid or not, in our health, physical and mental, our relationships, our work, and for some, sadly, the loss of those we love. 

Coronavirus literally means the ‘Crown Virus’, so named because it looks like a crown. But the name has proved fitting for other reasons. Despite its microscopic size, it’s appeared to be the ruler of our lives this year, the one wearing the crown, the dictator that has taken control of so many details of our everyday lives.

Just as no-one would have thought it possible for this microscopic virus to so dominate our lives, no-one would have thought much, if anything at all, about that baby born in a manger in Bethlehem. It certainly wouldn’t have made the national news. Maybe Radio Bethlehem would have included a short piece about a disgraced woman, pregnant outside of marriage, being forced to give birth in a cattle-shed. But a baby born to a poor family was not going to attract any attention. And yet, we heard in our reading how this baby’s birth was followed by some shepherds on the hills outside Bethlehem being visited by a host of angels. And these angels came announcing that they had good news of great joy for all the people, the good news that God was sending them a king, and a king to rejoice in because this king would be their saviour. 

Now these shepherds, no more than any of us, were not exactly used to visitations by angels. In the reading we heard that they were understandably terrified by what was happening. How could they be sure that this announcement out of the blue was true, was genuine? Well, the angels promised them a sign, a sign that this new king, this saviour had indeed arrived. And the sign, they said, was that the shepherds would find a baby... wrapped in richly-ornamented garments lying in the royal palace in Jerusalem. No, that’s not quite right: a baby wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger, in an animals’ feeding-trough. This was no sign of power and royal authority. A helpless baby, born into abject poverty, ignored by the world. This was surely a sign, if anything, of weakness. How could this be the sign that God’s king, God’s saviour had come? Just like the virus back in January, it’s incongruous to think that this baby born in poverty and weakness would turn the world upside down, would be the sign that God’s king, the saviour of the world, had come.

And yet, the sign is actually perfectly fitting. For this is the nature of the God we proclaim. The only crown this ruler ever wore was the crown of thorns, placed on his head by his tormenters as he was led to his death. This crown, like his first bed, captures perfectly the nature of this king. One who came in humility, in poverty, in weakness, into the very midst of the pain and darkness of this world. He came not to be served like the rulers of this world, to show off his power, his wealth for all to marvel at, to dominate the lives of those under their authority, indifferent to the struggles and injustices that they face; rather he came to be with his people, to serve them, to love them, to give of his self for them, to give his very life for you and me. 

This is the king whom the angels sung of, the king whom the shepherds went to worship. This is the king whose birth we celebrate. Christmas will be difficult for many of us this year, if not all of us in some way. But we do have good news to celebrate and rejoice in, even in the midst of great pain and sorrow. A light to hold on to even in the darkest night. Good news that this baby, the Lord Jesus, is the king, not coronavirus; he is the king who we proclaim is truly on the throne of this world. He is the king we can trust with our lives, because he gave his life for us.

So, let us come and marvel, adore, worship this king, the king who came to serve. The king who wears not a crown of jewels but a crown of thorns. The king who has such power that he can bring strength from weakness, blessing from evil, victory from defeat. The king who does not remain aloof from the pain of this world, but entered into it at its bleakest. The king whose light always shines and which no darkness can ever extinguish. This is our king, and praise God that he is!

 

You can listen to the sermon again on our YouTube channel.

 

CAROL

Jesus Christ the Lord is born 

 

PRAYERS (Chris Smith)

 

In peace let us pray to the Lord.

 

Father, on this holy day your Son our Saviour

was born in human flesh.

Renew your Church as the Body of Christ.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

On this holy day there was no room for your Son in the inn.

Protect with your love those who have no home

and all who live in poverty.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

On this holy day Mary, in the pain of labour,

brought your Son to birth.

Hold in your hand […and] all who are in pain or distress.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

On this holy day Christ came as a light shining in the darkness.

Bring comfort to…, and all who suffer in the sadness of our world.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

On this holy day the angels sang, ‘Peace to God’s people on earth.’

Strengthen those who work for peace and justice in…,

and in all the world.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

On this holy day shepherds in the field heard tidings of joy.

Give us grace to preach the gospel of Christ’s redemption.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

On this holy day strangers found the Holy Family,

and saw the baby lying in the manger.

Bless our homes and all whom we love.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

On this holy day Christians the world over celebrate Christ’s birth.

Open our hearts that he may be born in us today.

 

Holy God,

All: hear our prayer.

 

A Collect for Today

 

Leader: Lord Jesus Christ,

your birth at Bethlehem

draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:

accept our heartfelt praise

as we worship you,

our Saviour and our eternal God.

All       Amen.

 

The Lord's prayer

 

CAROL

Joy to the world 

 

BLESSING 

 

Leader: When the Word became flesh, 

earth was joined to heaven in the womb of Mary: 

May the love and obedience of Mary be your example.  

May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and homes. 

May you be filled with the joy of the Spirit 

and the gifts of your eternal home. 

And the blessing of God almighty, 

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, 

be with us all, 

this Christmas season and for evermore.  

All:        Amen.

 

FINAL ACCLAMATION 

 

Leader: God sent his angels from glory 

to bring to shepherds

the good news of Jesus’ birth.

All:        Immanuel, God with us. 

 

Leader: You have heard his story,

the story of God’s own Son.

All:        Immanuel, God with us.

 

Leader: May he fill you with joy

to bring this good news to others today. 

All:        Immanuel, God with us. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bishop of Norwich's Christmas video

Bishop Graham has recorded a short film looking to the nativity story, praising the many acts of kindness across the diocese, and encouraging us all with the hope, comfort and joy that we find in Jesus.

 

 


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