Sun 20/12/20

Broadcast and Livestreamed Options for Worship on 20 December
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at:
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at:
The Prayer Book Society continue to livestream a wide range of Book of Common Prayer Services available at:

A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
20 December 2020


So often in the history of the Church, Mary has been worshipped as a stained-glass window saint; perfect; an object of worship.  Alternatively, as a reaction against this, she has been ignored.  But Mary was a real woman.


Some years ago now, it become important to me to explore what a flesh and blood Mary had to say to people today.  The outcome of my exploration was the following meditation.  


It explores some of the dreams Mary may have had as a girl, and how these may have been shattered when the Angel visited her.  It moves on to consider what my own reactions may have been if I had been asked to be Jesus’ mother.   Finally, it thanks Mary for what she did and the sacrifices she made in giving birth to Jesus.





Is this what you had in mind Mary?

Is this what you dreamed of, idly planned and chattered of with the girls in Nazareth?

Did you dream that your first child would be

born out of wedlock

of an unknown father?

born miles from home

in squalor and filth

in a hole fit only for animals?

Is this the birth you dreamed of for your first child?


Did you dream your first born Son would be

greeted by strangers?

greeted by shepherds,

outcasts of society?

greeted by wise men

from strange far-off countries?

greeted by the host of angels?

Is this the welcome you dreamed of for your Son?


Did you dream of this life for your first born Son?

A birth in a stable?

A desperate flight for safety?

A life as a refugee?
A peripatetic life?

A life in which other women cared for him?
A life with no wife, no family?
A life lived in the shadow of hostility?

A life ending in a criminal’s death?

A horrific death?

Is this the life you dreamed of for your Son?


Did you dream of your own life?

A happy marriage?

A growing family?
Sons and daughters to care for you into old age?

Did you dream of this for your own life?


And if you had known, in those days of idle teenage chatter, as a girl in Nazareth

that an angel would visit you.

that you would bear God’s Son.

that your Son would be born in squalor and filth

days walk from home.

that you would flee for his life

and live as refugees.

that your Son would live a wandering life

in the shadow of hostility and worse.

that your Son would die a criminal’s death,

a horrific death you would witness,

would you have said ‘yes’ to God’s angel so quickly?

Mary did you say ‘yes’ to God’s angel so quickly?
Did you offer yourself to God so fast?

Was there no feeling of wanting to think?
No sense of anger, injustice, even,

that God could take your body and life so easily?

Did you really understand all that was being said?
All that was being asked?
And would I have been so willing?


Would I have been so willing

to offer myself to bear God’s Son?

To bear the shame and disgrace

of bearing a child of an unknown father outside of marriage?

Would I have watched my own Son die?
Would I have lived with the wound of knowledge,

a sword which pierced my heart?

Would I have lived with the burden of unknowing?

I doubt it.


Thank you, Mary, that you did.

You heard and looked, observed and listened.

Lived with the pain of unknowing.

Lived with the shadow of the cross.

Not as a stained glass window saint,

not as some saccharine coated statue,

but as a flesh and blood woman

who knew what it meant

to bear the burden of unknowing,

and was prepared to live the pain

of bearing God.


© S Anne Lawson

Published in Hay and Stardust

© Ruth Burgess 2005   

Prayer for 20 December 2020


The Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent


Eternal God,

as Mary waited for the birth of your Son,

so we wait for his coming in glory;

bring us through the birth-pangs of this present age

to see, with her, our great salvation

in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


The Post Communion Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent


Heavenly Father,

who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary

to be the mother of the promised saviour:

fill us with your grace,

that in all things we may embrace your holy will

and with her rejoice in your salvation:

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Prayers of Intercession


Gathered as the Church of God, let us pray together for the coming of the kingdom.


Lord of heaven, may the Church

be quiet enough to hear your voice,

humble enough to move your way,

and excited enough to spread the good news.

Living God:

let your kingdom come.


Lord of heaven, bless all who lead

with integrity and respect for others;

bless all in positions of authority

with humility and a sense of right;

may unjust practices be changed for good

and conflicts of great tension

be peacefully resolved.

Living God:

let your kingdom come.


Lord of heaven, make our homes

places of loving acceptance and developing faith;

teach us in all our friendships 

to grow in generosity of spirit.

Living God:

let your kingdom come.


Lord of heaven, give patience and courage

to all who have to wait,

when the waiting is long and painful;

bring healing to all who are wounded,

whether physically or emotionally,

and give them assurance of your presence.

Living God:

let your kingdom come.


Lord of heaven, we give you thanks for

those who have died to this life,

and whose hope was in you.

Comfort those who mourn them

and reach into their pain with your love.

Living God

let your kingdom come.


Lord of heaven, we thank you

for your faithful promise to us,

fulfilled in the coming of Jesus.

We welcome his kingship in our lives.


Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.


© Susan Sayers (adapted)