Sunday 27/12/20

In order to reduce the amount of deep cleaning required if the churches are used less than 48 hours (ideally 72 hours) after their last use, 
the Churchwardens and PCCs of all 4 parishes agreed some time ago that it would be best to accept the Bishop's permission
 not to hold a service in any of the churches this coming Sunday 27 December.

Broadcast and Livestreamed Worship for Sunday 27 December
8.10 am Radio 4 Sunday Worship  The Archbishop of Canterbury marks the 850th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Beckett
9.00 am The Church of England on-line service is available from 9.00 am at: Weekly online services | The Church of England  Details not yet available.
9.30 am  A modern style of worship is available from Christ Church Gipsy Hill at: Christ Church Gipsy Hill | Facebook
10.00 am   The Cathedral Eucharist is available from 10.00 am at Chester Cathedral - YouTube
A wide variety of BCP Services are available on the Prayer Book Society website at: Online streaming of BCP services - The Prayer Book Society (pbs.org.uk)

A Sermon for the First Sunday of Christmas
Luke 2: 15 – 21

 

Christmas has finally arrived, and the commercial world would tell us that it is also finished.  Some years ago a well-known supermarket was observed removing Christmas decorations early on Christmas eve. Fortunately the Church provides a whole season in which to wonder at the coming of the Christ Child

Today there is opportunity to linger and gaze a little longer into the manger.  We hear again the familiar tale we of the Shepherds leaving their flocks and setting out to find the manger.

It is so familiar that we skip over it, but this story from Luke’s Gospel deserves our attention.  These few verses show us not just the joy of the Shepherds as they find the baby in the manger, but the whole of Jesus’ ministry.

Doctor Luke spares us the medical details of Jesus’ birth.  Jesus’ conception was miraculous; apart from the unusual surroundings, his birth is unremarkable.  

The first thing we need to note is the first visitors to the manger.  These shepherds were not the rugged hill farmers I got to know in my curacy in the Pennine hills above Glossop.  These shepherds were outcasts, living  beyond the edge of society.  They are the very people Luke records Jesus exercising his ministry amongst.  Fitting first visitors to the manger.

Next we need to note the signs which indicate that the shepherds have found the right baby.  The angels offered the Shepherds two signs.  The second is the one we remember; that the baby would be lying in a manger.  The first we think of less often.  The baby would be wrapped in strips of cloths.  If this was a sign to the shepherds that they had found the right baby, that is a fairly hefty suggestion that no other baby in Bethlehem would be wearing these cloths.  They are significant only to Jesus.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum suggests that the cloths, were grave cloths.  An item that might be kept handy in the stable for occasions they were needed.  Luke wants us to be in no doubt.  The baby in the manger has been born to die.  

Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, with Simeon’s chilling prophecy of the sword which will pierce Mary’s heart is often thought of as the point at which we turn towards the cross.  Luke tells us no.  Disturbing as it may be, if we are to understand why Jesus came among us, we must see the cross long before we leave the manger. 

Finally, we need notice how the shepherds respond when they find the baby the angels told them about.  Their instant reaction is to tell all that the Angels revealed to them about the baby in the manger.

They have no hesitation proclaiming that the baby in the manger is the long-awaited Messiah, however unlikely that may seem.  More shocking still, the unlikely news is spread by unreliable shepherds.

The bearer of the unlikely news that Jesus has risen from the dead will also be proclaimed by a thoroughly unreliable witness from the edges of society. Mary Magdalene. A woman, of dubious reputation.  

Luke’s account of the Shepherds visiting the manger is so familiar, we miss the importance of it.  In these few verses, we have the whole of the Gospel of Jesus.  His birth in the stable proclaimed by the outcasts among whom he will exercise his ministry.  His death foretold through unfashionable baby wear telling of the kind of Saviour he will be.  Finally we are prepared for the good news of his resurrection being proclaimed by an outcast.

We have gazed at the baby in the manger.  We have been discomforted by the shadow of the cross and the future in store for the baby.  We cannot be untouched by the encounter.  Whether we go joyfully praising God for all we have heard or ponder quietly in our hearts with Mary, the baby upon whom we gaze demands a response.  

 

Amen.


A Service of the Word For 
the Sunday After Christmas

 

OPENING

Leader   I bring you good news of great joy:

All          a Saviour has been born to you.  Alleluia.

Leader   Unto us a child is born,

All          unto us a Son Is given.  Alleluia!

 

HYMN    Angels from the realms of glory

 

CONFESSION

Leader   As we kneel with the shepherds before the
newborn Christ Child, we open our hearts in 
penitence and faith.

Leader   Christ came in humility to share our lives:
forgive our pride.
Lord, have mercy.

All          Lord, have mercy.

Leader   Christ came with good news for all people:
              forgive our silence,
              Christ have mercy.

All          Christ have mercy.

Leader   Christ came in love to a world of suffering:
              forgive our self-centredness.
              Lord, have mercy.

All          Lord, have mercy.

 

Leader   May almighty God,
who sent his Son into the world to save sinners,
bring you his pardon and his peace, now and forever.

 

Psalm 148 (Hymn: O praise ye the Lord)

 

Reading        Isaiah 61: 10 – 62: 3

 

The Jubilate

O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with 
a song.

 

Know that the Lord is God;
it is he who has made us and we are his
we are his people and the sheep of
his pasture.

 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and bless his name.

 

For the Lord is gracious;
his steadfast love is everlasting
and his faithfulness endures from
generation to generation.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever.  Amen.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever.  Amen.

 

Reading       Luke 2: 15 – 21

 

Talk

 

Hymn            See amid the winter’s snow

 

 

Statement of Faith

Leader   Let us affirm our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

All          Though he was divine,
he did not cling to equality with God,
but made himself nothing.
Taking the form of a slave,
he was born in human likeness.
He humbled himself
and was obedient to death,
even death on the cross.
Therefore God has raised him on high,
and given him the name above every name:
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
and every voice proclaim that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

 

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 to all who are oppressed:
              Jesus, Saviour,
All          Hear our prayer

Leader   Christ, before whom the 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 too who
              rest in you;
              Jesus, Saviour,
All          Hear our prayer.

All          Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the Father,
full of the Spirit,
hear our prayers,
receive our praises,
fill our lives.  Amen.

Leader   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.

              Amen.

 

Hymn    Joy to the world

 

Closing Prayer

All          Son of Mary, Son of God,
we have joined the worship of the angels;
may we never lose that heavenly vision.
Like the shepherds,
we have rejoiced at the news of your birth;
help us to proclaim that message 
in word and deed to your praise and glory.
Amen.




Hymns