Text of the Week: This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another. God is love. 1 John 4:7,8,16.
Welcome to our services on the third Sunday of Advent and a special welcome to any who are worshipping with us for the first time. During our services today we shall be lighting the third of our Advent candles and thinking of the love of God. It is that love of God that we celebrate as we share together this morning in our Christmas Communion service and this evening in readings and music for Christmas. On Tuesday we shall be celebrating our Messy Christmas from 5-00 to 6-30 - do join us if you can! At Explore afterwards we shall be exploring the Russian Orthodox way of celebrating Christmas, Ring out those Bells! On Wednesday we welcome the Bethlehem Peace light at our Christingle Service at 6-00 for 6-30. Scouts and Guides from Bethlehem meet a contingent from Austria and light a lantern from the candle that burns in the church of the nativity in Bethlehem. That living flame is passed from lantern to lantern until we welcome it to Highbury. There is something very special welcoming the Peace light with its accompanying message of peace. On Thursday we have something new this year when we shall be having our Community Café in church from 10-00 to 11-30 and welcoming friends from St Vincent’s and St George’s. We’ll be singing favourite carols from 11-00. On Saturday we will be carol singing for Christian Aid at Sainsbury’s, Oakley, from 10-00 to 11-00: come and join us – it’s amazing how much we raise in an hour! And then on Christmas Eve, a Nativity service and carols by candle light and our celebration on Christmas Day at 10-30.
Welcome and Call to Worship
Christmas Praise with Hy-Spirit
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Lighting the 3rd Advent Candle
“Rejoice in Hope, be patient when things don’t go well, and persevere in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.
Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another. God is love.
1 John 4:7,8,16.
Hymn: Your Promises are coming true
Your promises are coming true –
our waiting hopes fulfilled.
Your light has burst upon our world –
the new dawn that you willed.
Your coming gives us hope to live,
and strength, with you, to build.
be with us now,
Come, Jesus, and be with us now!
Our lives are troubled while we wait –
our failure leads to fear.
Great God, we need your healing peace,
both now and ev’ry year.
Come, live and die, that we may live
because you’re always near.
Come, Jesus, …
Failed people living far apart
with selfishness undone,
oh, heal us with your love, we pray,
with loving make us one:
your coming and your sacrifice –
in us new life begun.
Come, Jesus, …
Activities for all over 3 – getting ready for Nativity
Love at Christmas
Reading: Luke 1:39-45
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’
A Hy-Spirit Song
In January we have an invitation for everyone to share.
On the first Sunday of the New year we are going to invite everyone to renew their commitment to the love of God in Christ in the fellowship of our church – if you are already a member we are going to invite you to renew that commitment. We are going to welcome new friends into Church membership.
Then on Tuesday evenings at Explore we are going to focus on prayer – for each of us, for our church family, for our mission and outreach.
And on 21st January – at our next Communion service, we are going to do communion very differently as we gather around the table and reflect on how we can service Chrsit through the body of the church so that all of in the church family can share in Giving for Growth.
We hope as many as possible will share with us.
David is going to be away for a couple of months at the start of the year and so we are going to welcome David and Jim into church membership today .. in anticipation of that service.
It’s quite some while David and Jim have been worshipping with us. We have a simple statement of faith we ask people to make and to commit to play their part as they are able in the life and work of our church.
Do you believe in God and in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.
Ado you promise, as you are able, to play your part in the life and work of our church, in its worship, its prayer, its mission
On behalf of the church an din the name of Jesus, I extend to you the right hand of fellowship, recognizing the grace of God at work within you.
For all of us who belong we are called to share that love of God in Christ that was made so real in the coming of Jesus we celebrate through Advent and into Christmas.
Reading: 1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God;
everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God’s love was revealed among us in this way:
God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.
In this is love,
not that we loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Beloved, since God loved us so much,
we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God;
if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us,
because he has given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and do testify
that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world.
God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God,
and they abide in God.
So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God,
and God abides in them.
Love has been perfected among us in this:
that we may have boldness on the day of judgement,
because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear;
for fear has to do with punishment,
and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
We love because he first loved us.
Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars;
for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen,
cannot love God whom they have not seen.
The commandment we have from him is this:
those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
316 Love came down at Christmas
Where is God’s love made real?
In the joy of those two cousins each expecting a baby they are convinced will make a difference in the world.
In the birth of the baby in a world of rejection where so many make room for him in their hearts.
In the teaching that maps out a way of life that is built on love.
In the healing he brings to people whose lives are broken, whose hearts are broken.
In the words of forgiveness that come from the cross – Father, fortgive them, in the realiation of forgivbeness that streams into our hearts.
In the love of the one who is risen and his command to make that love real – feed my sheep.
But then in the life of love that those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus follow.
It is that life of love and service that makes all the difference.
Life of service … in Hamper Scamper and our support of the Food bank.
Life of service .. in Winston’s wish and its care of bereaved children
In Embrace the Middle East – in the scouting initiative that brings the peace light – in the visit of Paul Clarke
In the tiniest of gestures we make that makes a world of difference.
And in our gathering together in the name of Jesus there is a presence that we feel that is real here in this place.
There’s something special in this communion service as under the table we have our nativity scene.
It is that presence as we break bread drink of the cup that is caught in John Betjeman’s poem, Christmas which Helen is going to read.
Christmas by John Betjeman
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.
The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.
Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.
And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.
And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?
And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
Hymn: The hush of midnight
The hush of midnight here below,
the shining stars above,
a night of wonder long ago
when in the stable lantern's glow
is born God's gift of love.
To all the waiting world belongs
the child now brought to birth,
who comes to right our human wrongs,
his praises told in angel songs,
proclaiming peace on earth.
Judean shepherds stand in awe,
in wide-eyed wonder dumb,
to see amid the stable's straw,
fulfilling all the ancient law,
the Lamb of God is come.
The kings of earth in homage ride
to where the child is born;
a King to whom a star shall guide,
whose throne is at the Father's side,
his crown a crown of thorn.
This child, whose birth the angels tell,
whose death our life restored,
by whom at last shall all be well,
is God with us, Immanuel,
our Saviour, Christ the Lord.
Timothy Dudley-Smith (born 1926)
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Prayers of Concern
An Invitation to Communion
Come, let us follow the light that shines for us and leads us to a stable with a manger and child.
Lord, we have followed the light.
Come, let us listen for the voice that calls us to find new life in the broken corners of the world
Lord, we have heard the voice.
Come, rich and poor, neighbour or stranger, let’s gather round and share a celebration with the Prince of Peace.
Lord, we have gathered here to met you.
Come, like wealthy kings with priceless gifts or poor shepherds with only themselves to bring, for the Spirit has led us to this place where we are offered the promise of new life.
Lord, fill us with new life.
The Story of Communion
From being a child in a manger dependent on his mother’s milk for food he grew to be the Living Word made Flesh offering everyone the bread of life.
He travelled from the manger to the cross where his body was broken, his love poured out, but God held him like a mother and nursed him back to life.
May we see the guiding light
May we find you in a stable
May we follow you to the cross
May we find new life through you
As we gather round the table to celebrate the beginning of a journey
From the manger to the cross and back to life again.
A Hy-Spirit song
"Lord I Lift Your Name On High"
Lord I lift Your name on high
Lord I love to sing Your praises
I'm so glad You're in my life
I'm so glad You came to save us
You came from heaven to earth
To show the way
From the earth to the cross
My debt to pay
From the cross to the grave
From the grave to the sky
Lord I lift Your name on high
O Lord, open our minds to a new understanding of your wonderful Word which is such a mystery but is the root of our faith.
Open our eyes so we can see the Spirit guiding us and open our hearts to share the Christ within us as we continue the journey of faith thankyou you for all that has gone and the future to come:
For the faith of mothers and fathers through history and the sons and daughters who followed them,
For the visions of prophets and dsiciples
Who shared your Word and all who believe them.
For the obedience of Mary and Joseph,
Called to serve you as parents of Jewsus
And for the wise people and shephereds who sawa guiding light and heard angels sing so followed to a stable where they found new life ina manger,
It was the life of a child, born to be King of a Mingdom to come, who grew to be the man of trhe cross who died for living your Word but walked from the tomb to give us the hope and mystery of our faith.
So, thank you, Lord, for the Manger and the Cross and the journey between that gives us new hope when we walk with your Son.
The Lord’s Prayer
A Time of Preparation
Jesus knew what was to come when, in that upper room, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of his disciples with a towel saying, “If I do not wash your feet, you have no part with me.”
Lord, we confess that our lives and the life of the world have been broken by our sins but we come for you to wash us clean so that we may walk in new life with you.
Then, as they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were sorrowful and began to ask, as we do: “Is it I?”
May our lips not betray you, our deeds not cruficy you and our love never leave you as we commit ourselves anew to walk with you.
So Jesus took bread, broke it and blessed it and asked his disciples to remember how his life was given for them and the generations to come.
Thank you for giving your life so that we may be forgiven.
Holy Spirit, gift of Christ, come among us and bless this bread which we take and break, remembering how Jesus gave his life for us.
As we take the bread, let’s hold it in prayer and remember how the body of Jesus was born, lived and was broken for us … and then we will eat together, united in the one body.
We share the bread
In the same way after eating, he took the cup and asked them to remember how his love was poured out as a sign of a new relationship with God and for the forgiveness of sins.
Thank you for giving your life so that we may have life anew in all its fullness.
Holy Spirit, gift of Christ, remain among us and bless this cup as we remember how you love was poured out for us.
As we take the cup, let’s hold it in prayer and remember how Jesus poured out his love for us and meets our needs when he lives in our heart.
We share the cup
Thank you for bread and wine through which we have remembered your life and love and all you taught and may we now be filled with your Living Word.
Build a stable in my body
Place a manger in my heart
Fill it with your love
As if it were a new born child.
319 Of the Father’s love begotten 1,2,5
Words of Blessing