Broadcast and Livestreamed Options for Worship on Christmas Eve

9.00 am  Radio 4 - Christmas Service from St Martin in the Fields
9.30 am  All Age Communion for Christmas from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: Christ Church Gipsy Hill (
10.00 am  BBC 1 - Christmas Morning from the Church of the God of Prophecy, Birmingham
10.00 am Festival Eucharist from Chester Cathedral available at: The Festival Eucharist of Christmas - YouTube
A wide variety of options for Book of Common Prayer Services on Christmas Day are available at: Online streaming of BCP services - The Prayer Book Society (

A Sermon for Christmas Morning
Isaiah 9: 2 – 7; Luke 2: 1 – 14


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.’  

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas time, we could be forgiven for thinking that we walk through a land of deep darkness.  Fear is gathering about a variant strain of COVID-19.  A mutant virus which is having an effect far beyond the devastating illness which it brings.  As I wrote this sermon, many people were abandoning family gatherings; many more people than usual were facing Christmas alone.  Lorry drivers and others were stuck on the M20, desperately trying to leave for France and beyond; food shortages threatened.  Beyond that, there remains deep uncertainties around Brexit remained.

Of course, a swift glance at the BBC news app also reveals the usual spate of routine news stories which are anything but routine for the people involved in the stories.

How should we respond to such obvious darkness as we celebrate Christmas?  One option is to close the doors, draw the curtains and shut the world out – and sometimes that is a wise way of keeping very real threats at bay.

Yet true celebrations of Christmas have nothing to do with shutting the realities of the world out.  The light does not shine once the darkness is shut out.  The light shines into the darkness itself.  The Jesus of Christmas is not a comforting distraction from the realities of life.  The Jesus of Christmas is Emmanuel, God with us, lying in the manger; a baby come to share the reality of the world we know so well.

Unlikely as it seems, the great light which the prophet Isaiah foretold came into the world as the new born baby we worship today.

In his autobiography, Night, in which Jewish author, Eli Wiesel writes of his experience of life in a concentration camp.  Living in the midst of such inhumanity, Wiesel concluded that his faith had died and God was no more… until, forced to watch an act of particular brutality towards a child, Wiesel found the question ‘Where is God now?’ running through his mind.  To his shock, the answer followed: ‘He’s here.  Here, in the face of this child’.

A Jewish writer discovered the truth which Christians celebrate every Christmas.  God is here; here in the face of this child.  However dark the world around us may seem, God is here, lying in the manger.  Showing himself in the face of the baby whose birth we celebrate today.  Shining the light of his love into the deep darkness of a very real world.

Some of you may have sent or received a Jacquie Lawson e-card this Christmas.  Called the unexpected nativity, it features a dog chasing a cat through a barn.

As the pair hurtle around, various antique farm implements fall in a random pile.  It is only when the farmer arrives, lantern in hand to find out what the commotion is, that the lantern casts a shadow on the barn wall.

Suddenly, a random pile of farm implements reveals a shadow of a perfect nativity scene.  The farmer, cat and dog have no option but to gaze in awe.  Jesus has come, not despite the chaos, but because of it.

Here is the wonder of Christmas that we celebrate today.  This is not a time to shut out the fears and darkness of the world in which we live.  It is a time to pause long enough to discover that God is here, in the face of this child.  Come, not despite of the chaos, but because of it.  A light, bringing the love of God into the very darkest of situations.  Walking with us, through the darkness.


S Anne Lawson


Service of 
Holy Communion

11.00 am
Christmas Day 2020



The Greeting


President     The Lord be with you

All                 And also with you.



O Come, all ye faithful, 

joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

come and behold him, 

born the king of angels:

O come, let us adore him.

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord.


God of God

Light of light,

lo he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;

very God, begotten, not created:


See how the shepherds,

summoned to his cradle,

leaving their flocks draw nigh with lowly fear;

we too will thither bend our joyful footsteps:


Sing, choirs of angels,

sing in exultation,

sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above;

glory to God in the highest:


Prayer of Preparation


All          Almighty God,

              to whom all hearts are open,

              all desires known,

              and from whom no secrets are hidden:

              cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

              by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

              that we may perfectly love you,

              and worthily magnify your holy name;

              through Christ our Lord.


Prayers of Penitence

Leader   Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

              The first commandment is this:

‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’


The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

All          Amen.  Lord, have mercy.



These or other suitable words are used to introduce the confession.

Leader   Hear the words of the angel to Joseph:

              ‘You shall call his name Jesus,

              for he will save his people from their sins.’

              Therefore let us seek the forgiveness of God

              through Jesus the Saviour of the world.


All          Father eternal, giver of light and grace,

              we have sinned against you and against 

                      our neighbour,

              in what we have thought,

              in what we have said and done,

              through ignorance, through weakness,

              through our own deliberate fault.

              We have wounded your love,

              and marred your image in us.

              We are sorry and ashamed,

              and repent of all our sins

              For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ

                      who died for us,

              forgive us all that is past;

              and lead us out from darkness

              to walk as children of light.


President  May the God of all healing and forgiveness

              draw you to himself

              and cleanse you from all your sins,

              that you may behold the glory of his Son,

              the Word made flesh, 

              Jesus Christ our Lord.

All          Amen.


Gloria in Excelsis

All          Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to his people on earth.


Lord God, heavenly King,

almighty God and Father,

we worship you, we give you thanks,

we praise you for your glory.


Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:

have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father.



The Collect


President  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.



                            Isaiah 9: 2 – 7


              This is the word of the Lord

All          Thanks be to God.


Hymn    While shepherds watched their flocks by night,

              all seated on the ground,

              the angel of the Lord came down,

              and glory shone around.


              ‘Fear not,’ said he, (for mighty dread

              had seized their troubled mind)

              ‘glad tidings of great joy I bring

              to you and all mankind.


              To you in David’s town this day

              is born of David’s line

              a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord:

              and this shall be the sign:


              The heav’nly babe you there shall find

              to human view displayed,

              all meanly wrapped in in swathing bands,      

              and in a manger laid.’


              Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith

              appeared a shining throng

              of angels praising God, who thus

              addressed their joyful song:


              ‘All glory be to God on high,

              and on the earth be peace,

              goodwill henceforth from heav’n to men

              begin and never cease.’


Gospel Reading

              Luke 2: 1 - 14

When the Gospel is announced the reader says:


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John

All          Glory to you, O Lord.


at the end

           This is the Gospel of the Lord.

All          Praise to you, O Christ.




The Creed

All          We believe in one God,

              the Father, the Almighty,

              maker of heaven and earth,

              of all that is,

              seen and unseen.


              We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

              the only Son of God,

              eternally begotten of the Father,

              God from God, Light from Light,

              true God from true God,

              begotten, not made,

              of one Being with the Father;

              through him all things were made.

              For us and for our salvation he came down 

                                           from heaven,

              was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the 

                                           Virgin Mary 

              and was made man.


              For our sake he was crucified under 

                                           Pontius Pilate;

              he suffered death and was buried.

              On the third day he rose again

              in accordance with the Scriptures;

              he ascended into heaven

              and is seated at the right hand of 

                                           the Father.

              He will come again in glory to judge the 

                                    living and the dead,

              and his kingdom will have no end.

              We believe in the Holy Spirit,

              the Lord, the giver of Life,

              who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son is 

              worshipped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and 

                      apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the 

              forgivenness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come.



Prayers of Intercession


Leader   Christ, born in a stable,

              give courage to all who are homeless:

              Jesus, Saviour,

All          hear our prayer.


Leader   Christ, for whom the angels sang,

              give the song of the kingdom to all who weep:

              Jesus, Saviour,

All          hear our prayer.


Leader   Christ, worshipped by the shepherds,

              give peace on earth to all who are oppressed:

              Jesus, Saviour,

All          hear our prayer


Leader   Christ, before whom wise men knelt,

              give humility and wisdom to all who govern:

              Jesus, Saviour

All          hear our prayer.


Leader   Christ, whose radiance filled a lowly manger,

              give the glory of your resurrection to all who 

                      rest in you:

              Jesus, Saviour

All          hear our prayer.


All          Lord Jesus Christ,

              Son of the Father,

              full of the Spirit,

              hear our prayer,

              receive our praises,

              fill our lives.  Amen.



 The Peace


Leader   Unto us a child is born,

              unto us a son is given,

              and his name shall be called the 

                      Prince of Peace.

              The peace of the Lord be always with you

All          and also with you.


Hymn    The Holly and the ivy,

              when they are both full grown,

              of all the trees that are in the wood,

              the holly bears the crown.


              The rising of the sun

              and the running of the deer

              the playing of the merry organ,

              sweet singing in the choir.


              The holly bears a blossom,

              as white as the lily flower,

              and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

              to be our sweet Saviour.


              The holly bears a berry,

              as red as any blood,

              and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

              to do poor sinners good.


              The holly bears a prickle,

              as sharp as any thorn,

              and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

              on Christmas day in the morn.


              The holly bears a bark,

              as bitter as any gall,

              and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

              for to redeem us all.


Preparation of the Table
Taking of the Bread and Wine


After the offertory has been made and the altar prepared the following prayer is be said:


President  Word made flesh, life of the world,

              in your incarnation you embraced our poverty:

              by your Spirit may we share in your riches.

All          Amen.


The Eucharistic (or Thanksgiving) Prayer


President     The Lord be with you

All                 and also with you.


President     Lift up your hearts

All                 We lift them to the Lord.


President     Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

All                 It is right to give thanks and praise.




All glory and honour be yours always and everywhere,

Mighty creator, ever-living God.

We give you thanks and praise for your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ,

who for love of our fallen race humbled himself,

and on this night was born of the Virgin Mary

by the power of your Spirit,

and lived as one of us.


In this mystery of the Word made flesh

you have caused his light to shine in our hearts,

to give knowledge of your glory in the face of

       Jesus Christ.

in him we see our God made visible

and so are caught up in the love of the God we

       cannot see.

Therefore with all the angels of heaven

we lift our voices to proclaim the glory of your name

and sing our joyful hymn of praise:


All          Holy, holy, holy Lord,

              God of power and might,

              heaven and earth are full of your glory.

              Hosanna in the highest.

              Blessed is he who comes in the name 

                                                  of the Lord.

              Hosanna in the highest.


President  Accept our praises, heavenly Father,

              through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,

and as we follow his example and obey his command, grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit 

these gifts of bread and wine may be to us his body and his blood;


who, in the same night he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.


In the same way, after supper he took the cup and gave you thanks; 

he gave it to them, saying:

Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  

Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.


Therefore, heavenly Father, we remember his offering of himself made once for all upon the cross; we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; we look for the coming of your kingdom, and with this bread and this cup we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord.

President  Great is the mystery of faith:

All          Christ has died:

              Christ is risen:

              Christ will come again.



President   Accept through him, our great high priest, this our sacrifice of thanks and praise, and as we eat and drink these holy gifts in the presence of your divine majesty, renew us by your Spirit, inspire us with your love and unite us in the body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

              Through him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with all who stand before you in earth and heaven, we worship you, Father almighty, in songs of everlasting praise.

All          Blessing, and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever.  Amen.



President  Rejoicing in the presence of God here among 

us, let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us.


All          Our Father, who art in heaven,

              hallowed be thy name;

              thy kingdom come;

              thy will be done;

              on earth as it is in heaven.

              Give us this day our daily bread.

              And forgive us our trespasses,

              as we forgive those who trespass 

                                           against us.

              and lead us not into temptation,

              but deliver us from evil.

              For thine is the kingdom,

              the power and the glory,

              for ever and ever.


Breaking of the Bread


The president breaks the consecrated bread.


President  We break the bread of life,

              and that life is the light of the world.

All          God is here among us,

              light in the midst of us,

              bring us to light and life.



All          Jesus, Lamb of God,

              have mercy on us.


              Jesus, bearer of our sins,

              have mercy on us.


              Jesus, redeemer of the world,

              grant us peace.


Giving of Communion


We welcome all who love the Lord Jesus to receive Communion.  If you prefer to receive God’s blessing instead of the bread and wine, please still come to the front, but instead of opening your hands to receive Communion keep them by your sides to indicate your intention to those of us serving the Communion. 


The president offers the invitation to Communion:


President  Christ is the true bread which has come down

              from heaven.

All          Lord, give us this bread always.


The following prayer may be said before the distribution:


All   Most merciful Lord,

       your love compels us to come in.

       our hands were unclean,

       our hearts were unprepared;

       we were not fit

       even to eat the crumbs from under your table.

       But you, Lord are the God of our salvation,

       and share your bread with sinners.

       So cleanse and feed us

       with the body and blood of your Son,

       that he may live in us and we in him;

       and that we, with the whole company of Christ,

       may sit and eat in your kingdom.  Amen.



Prayer after Communion


President  God our Father,

              whose Word has come among us

              in the Holy Child of Bethlehem:

              may the light of faith illumine our hearts

              and shine in our words and deeds;

              through him who is Christ the Lord.

All          Amen.


All          Almighty God,

              we thank you for feeding us

              with the body and blood of your Son 

                             Jesus Christ.

Through him we offer you our souls 

              and bodies

              to be a living sacrifice.

              Send us out in the power of your Spirit

              to live and work to your praise and glory.



Hymn    God rest you merry, gentlemen,

              let nothing you dismay

              for Jesus Christ our Saviour

              was born on Christmas day

              to save us all from Satan’s pow’r

              when all were gone astray:


              O tidings of comfort and joy

              comfort and joy,

              O tidings of comfort and joy.


              From God our heav’nly Father,

              a blessed angel came

              and unto certain shepherds

              brought tidings of the same,

              how that in Bethlehem was born

              the Son of God by name.


              The shepherds are at those tidings

              rejoicèd muchin mind

              and left their flocks-a-feeding,

              in tempsest, storm and wind,

              and went to Bethlehem straightway

              that blessèd babe to find.


              But when to Bethlehem they came,

              wereat this infant lay,

              they found him in a manger,

              where oxen feed on hay;

              his mother Mary kneeling,

              unto the Lord did pray.


              Now to the Lord sing praises

              all you within this place

              and with true love and fellowship

              each other now embrace;

              this holy tide of Christmas

              all other doth deface.



The Blessing


President  Christ, who by his incarnation gathered 

              into one things earthly and heavenly,

              fill you with peace and goodwill

              and make you partakers of the divine nature:

              and the blessing of God almighty,

              the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

              be among you and remain with you always.

All          Amen


Leader   Go in peace.  Proclaim the Word made flesh.

All          Glory, thanks and praise to God.  Amen.



Some of the material in this service is © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 and 2006

Copied with permission under

CCL No 215281


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We wish you a very peaceful Christmas