Christmas Day – Worship together sheets

Merry Christmas!!  Welcome to our worship together sheets on Christmas Day.  Let’s start by praying together.

Father God, we thank for Christmas Day and this opportunity to worship you.  Please help us to know your presence with us in all we do.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen

Call to worship (Isaiah 9:2,6)

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. 
The government will rest on his shoulders. 
And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

We are going to sing/read/listen to our first song “Come on and celebrate” (Source 75)  Click here to find the song on YouTube.

Come on and celebrate
his gift of love, we will celebrate
the son of God who loved us
and gave us life.

We’ll shout your praise, O king,
you give us joy nothing else can bring,
we’ll give to you our offering
in celebration praise.

Come on and celebrate,
celebrate,
celebrate and sing,
celebrate and sing to the king.
(Repeat)

Patricia Morgan & Dave Bankhead
1984 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

Thanksgiving:

Spend a few moments thinking about all that you are grateful for.

Take some time to thank God for all his blessings…

Lighting the Christmas candle:

We read from the prophet Isaiah: ‘Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”’ – the Advent God of love.

The fifth candle is lit

As we light our fifth candle, we celebrate the birth of Jesus! At a time when our country is debating immigration policy, we remember Jesus, a refugee child, fleeing to safety. We celebrate Christ who, with God’s love, welcomed strangers and those had been marginalised. May we live as disciples of the incarnate God, who through our welcome and our love, will build communities of grace for all.

Let us sing together the song ‘Christmas is coming’
Click here to find the song on YouTube.

(Chorus)Christmas is coming
the Church is glad to sing
and let the advent candles
brightly burn in a ring.
1.The first is for God’s promise
to put the wrong things right,
and bring to earth’s darkness
the hope of love and light.
2.The second is for the prophets
who said that Christ would come
with good news for many
and angry words for some.
3.The third is for the Baptist,
who cried ‘Prepare the way.
Be ready for Jesus,
both this and every day’
4.The fourth is for the virgin,
who mothered God’s own son,
and sang how God’s justice
was meant for everyone.
5.At last we light the candle,
kept new for Christmas Day.
This shines bright for Jesus,
new-born, and here to stay.
(Last chorus)Christ is among us
the candles in a ring
remind us that our saviour
will light up everything.

Words and music © 1992 WGRG, Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland

Let us pray.
We pray for welcoming, caring and loving communities.  May our churches welcome all as Jesus has welcomed us.  Help us to work with others in our local community to promote an openness to the stranger. We commit ourselves to ‘lift up our voices mightily’ to challenge those in our society who are not welcoming of others, and instead to be joyously welcoming to everyone.  Amen.

Reading: Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.[i]

Reflection:

I love Christmas.  And I love this reading.  It definitively is one of my favourite Christmas readings.  Luke so nicely captures the excitement and emotions of the shepherds as they receive the message of the angels.  And Mary treasuring and pondering everything she has heard in her heart.  It is just beautiful.  But often we make the Christmas story too beautiful.  We have sanitised the Christmas story.  Using a dollop of hand sanitiser and lots of anti-bacterial spray and wipes the story has been cleaned up and made presentable and ideal.  But it wasn’t like that at all, and sometimes it is very hard to get to the mess and the grittiness and reality of the Christmas story.  Mary and Joseph were teenagers who found themselves expecting a baby.  Now they did get married young that time, but expecting a baby before being married was still a scandal.  Not only is Mary heavily pregnant but the couple are also required to register themselves 90 miles away in Bethlehem because Joseph was a descended from King David and that was David’s town.  So walking there, probably without a donkey because he isn’t mentioned in the bible story, would have been hard and exhausting work.  They arrive late and exhausted and there’s nowhere to stay, nowhere safe and clean for Mary to give birth.  The real Christmas story takes place in a land that is occupied by a ruthless conquering nation, with a couple who are probably being ostracised by their community because the baby was conceived before they were married.  This was the messy, gritty reality of the first Christmas when God himself chose to give up everything to live among the people that he loves so much.

Of course, this is the very reason why we celebrate with lights and laughter, with food and parties: we celebrate the love of God that was so graphically shown to us in the Christmas story.  We celebrate the gift that was given, the gift of knowing that God is with us, the gift of abundant life right now, right here.  Life on earth is still difficult and messy at times.  Sometimes the celebrations can make us feel our problems and our losses even more keenly, but we can celebrate because no matter what God is with us, determined to help us.  God promises us lives of purpose and of joy, not easy lives that are carefree, but meaningful and valuable lives that matter and have a purpose.  He promises to work all things together for our good and to bless us with his love and his presence.  At Christmas we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us.  And we need this reminder, because every day of the year, every minute and every second, God is with us, that’s the real present of Christmas.

Question

  1. What helps you to know God’s presence with you at Christmas?

We are going to sing/read/listen to our next carol “The first noel”  Click here to find the song on YouTube

The first Nowell the angel did say
was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay;
in fields where they lay, keeping their sheep,
on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
shining in the East, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light,
and so it continued both day and night.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star,
Three Wise Men came from country far;
to seek for a King was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the North-West,
o’er Bethlehem it took it’s rest,
and there it did both stop and stay
right over the place where Jesus lay.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise Men three,
full reverently upon their knee,
and offer’d there in His presence,
their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
born is the King of Israel!

Prayers for others:
God of stable, stars and surprises, of light and hope and new life: open our eyes and hearts to your presence in our world; forgive our obsession with property and possessions; forgive our compromises and narrowness of vision.  Open us to your grace, that we might hear again the song of the angels, and respond with a song in our hearts, and in our lives.

Wonderful Counsellor, grant wisdom to political leaders to govern with kindness and care, to campaigners to creatively challenge injustice and inequality, and to peacemakers to find lasting solutions to conflict.  May the light of your wisdom dawn in the darkness of selfish ambition.

Mighty God, grant courage, to those having to escape their homes to find refuge, to those dreading the next violent outburst, and to those unsure of the future for their families.  May the light of your courage dawn in the darkness of fear.  We particularly pray for Action for Children and the people they help.  May they know your resourcing and wisdom and courage to do the important work they do and bring lasting change.

Everlasting Father, grant us inspiration, to imagine a world free from species extinction and climate chaos, to make economic decisions so all the earth may flourish, to commune with creation as creature before consumer.  May the light of your inspiration dawn in the darkness of eco-despair.

Prince of Peace, grant the peace that silences gunfire and bombs, that stills us to recognise complicit choices, that reconciles war-weary enemies.  May the light of your peace dawn in the darkness of conflict.

We pray in the authority of the child that has been born for us, for the lonely and the sick.  In a few moments of silence please pray for anyone who is particularly on your heart today.  Thank you Father for hearing all our prayers in the name of the son who was given to us this day.

Let’s finish our time of prayer by praying the kingdom prayer together:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom,
the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever.  Amen.

We will finish with a great Christmas carol.  Let us sing/read/listen to “Hark the herald angels sing”  Click here for the song on YouTube.

Hark! The herald Angels sing:
‘Glory to the new-born King! 
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, 
God and sinners reconciled!’ 
Joyful, all ye nations rise, 
Join the triumph of the skies, 
With the angelic host proclaim, 
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem.’ 
Hark! the herald angels sing: 
‘Glory to the new-born King!’ 

Christ, by highest heaven adored, 
Christ, the everlasting Lord, 
Late in time behold Him come, 
Offspring of a virgin’s womb. 
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! 
Hail the incarnate Deity! 
Pleased as man with man to dwell, 
Jesus, our Immanuel. 
Hark! the herald angels sing: 
‘Glory to the new-born King.’ 

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! 
Hail, the Sun of righteousness! 
Light and life to all He brings, 
Risen with healing in His wings, 
Mild, He lays His glory by; 
Born that men no more may die; 
Born to raise the sons of earth; 
Born to give them second birth. 
Hark! the herald angels sing: 
‘Glory to the new-born King.’ 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore, Amen


[i] Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

CCLI: 21497