Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christ in the Manger - a Christmas Communion Service

Sunday 21st Christmas Communion


67 Once in Royal David’s City

Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

Happy Christmas!

Lovely poster in the porch with Happy Christmas in lots and lots of different languages.

How many Christmas greetings can we put together.

Today we give a special greeting to George and Barbar Cullis who join us in Church Membership from Market Street Church, Baptist URC church in Nantwich – with greetings from Sue Moult the Church Secretary.

We welcome George and Barbara Cullis into Church Membership

Reading:  Hebrews 1:1-4 and 2:1

1In the past, God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets,2but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one through whom God created the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end. 3He reflects the brightness of God's glory and is the exact likeness of God's own being, sustaining the universe with his powerful word. After achieving forgiveness for human sins, he sat down in heaven at the right-hand side of God, the Supreme Power.  That is why we must hold on all the more firmly to the truths we have heard, so that we will not be carried away.

News from around the world
– mission partners
Stefan and Birgit

Stefan has come over to Germany for a course and is with Marit spending Christmas with the family.   While Birgit, Simeon and Jacob are back in Rolandia, Southern Brazil where Stefan is lecturing in OT studies in one of Brazil’s biggest evangelical theological seminaries.  He has been teaching on a course in Germany – a student who will be returning back in the Sertao, a rural area in norther-eastern Brazil, antoerhs student works with Eastern European victims of human trafficking here in Germanyu. Another is a midwife in Paksitan, someone from Hamburg working with migrants and another from Japan.

Pretty lonely and isolated for them – as Birgit finishes the term teaching … and working in a drug rehabilitation centre –

Three gifts for the tree.

Another international link – Chiks –

News from Sue …

We light the fourth of our Advent candles … thinking of that world-wide family of the church we belong to …

Lighting the fourth candle

Hope – Peace – Love - Joy

Hy-Spirit Christmas song

Offering and Dedication
It’s party time for the younger children

What was missing from our Nativity?

Look at the picture –

Our Christmas nativity drew on the carol On a Starry Night – and it only tells the story of the shepherds.  So when we dressed up the youngsters there were only shepherds and angels – no wise men, no kings.

In part that’s traditional isn’t it?   The wise men came after the birth and are traditionally associated with Epiphany.

But … I hold light to that tradition … we’ve been singing We three kings quite lustily with youngsters from Belmont and from Pittville who joined us for their carol services.

Another way of looking at it is that we told the story of Chrsitmas from Luke’s Gospel – all about shepherds, nothing about Wise men, let alone Kings.

Matthew’s gospel has another perspective altogether – it tells the story of Wise Men, Magi – doesn’t really mention they are kings.  But it does mention another King at the time, King Herod.

So, let’s think of the story of the wise men – it’s a lovely story of three wise men thinking they would find the King in a palace, going to the palace in Jerusalem, the king of the day being terrified, after all he was king – arranging to dupe the three wise men into finding out where the child was to be born.

They find the Christchild – fall down and worship him and present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Lovely story …

But dig away at the story and there is a dark side.

A dark side you will rarely find in a school nativity play.

And it is such a pity because the school nativity play reduces the story to a pretty children’s story.

Whereas the story is a very dark one indeed.

Herod the builder – with the palace you see from Bethlehem – the National Geographic verdict on Herod –

Herod blended creativity and cruelty, harmony and chaos, in ways that challenge the modern imagination

This is a dark side to the story … that now unfolds further …

Reading:  Matthew 2:13-18

After they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.”14 Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt,15 where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make what the Lord had said through the prophet come true, “I called my Son out of Egypt.”16 When Herod realized that the visitors from the east had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger — this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared.17 In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true:18 “A sound is heard in Ramah, the sound of bitter weeping. Rachel is crying for her children;she refuses to be comforted, for they are dead.”

This is the cruel world Jesus enters into …

Let’s return to the message of Christmas – in some ways that says it all …

When horrific things happen, God is there with us, through those things – to give us a strength to go through them,

To keep going and not to give in

And to bring into those situations healing where people are hurting – and work for peace and for justice.

Another partnership we celebrate at Christmas time is the partnership we have with the de la Salles Scout group.

Christmas greetings personally from them,– and they share with us for Chrristmas a prayer …

This is the prayer that speaks into the horrors of a world at war where in that war even children are targeted in the atrocity that has hit home at us so hard this week.

Prayer for peace and justice
from the de la Salles school.

We pray to You, Lord
God of life and God of those who hope!
Listen to our prayer for the whole world
For peace among all peoples,
For prosperity in all lands.
We pray to You that evil may be overcome
And that all wars may end.

We pray to You especially for the members of our Lasallian Family,
Who suffer from war, injustice and intolerance,
And for the children
And young people
Who are poor and neglected.

We pray too, God, for peace in our lives,
In our towns, in our schools,
In our families and in our own hearts.
We pray for a peace that the world cannot give us
We pray for a peace that will make us whole
And transform us into ambassadors of Justice for your sake.

Lord, give us Your Peace!


From the squalor of a borrowed stable

Prayers of Concern

Point out the prayers for this week – in our Advent and Christmas prayer calendar – are based on the ancient prayers of the church – the O’s of Advent that is the basis of O come, O come, Emmanuel.

66 O come, O come Emmanuel

Christmas Communion

59 Hark the herald angels sing

Words of Blessing

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