Christmas Morning Service
25 December 2020 Christmas Day

Please find below our service for this week. You can also click on the PDF button to open and download a copy of the printed generic Service booklet.

You will find an opening hymn - words are included. This is followed by the service. Finally there is a closing hymn. Please feel free to follow along in whichever way you feel most comfortable. Words in bold are for everyone to join in.

Hymn

Hark the herald angels sing

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 Emmanuel.

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 man 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.

Service Audio

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

All say Amen.

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you

and also with you.

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. Amen.

The fifth Advent candle is lit - Christmas morning, Jesus

God our Father, today the Saviour is born and those who live in darkness are seeing a great light. Help us, who greet the birth of Christ with joy, to live in the light of your Son and to share the good news of your love. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the light who has come into the world. Amen 

The crib is blessed

Dear Friends, as we meet to celebrate the birth of Christ, let us pray that God will bless our Crib, that all who worship his son born of the Virgin Mary may come to share his life in glory.

God our Father, on this day your Son Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary for us and for our salvation: bless our crib, which we have prepared to celebrate that holy birth; may all who see it be strengthened in faith, and receive the fullness of life he came to bring; who is alive and reigns for ever. Amen.

Gloria in Excelcis

Glory to God, Glory to God,
Glory to God in the highest.

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.

Glory to God, Glory to God,
Glory to God in the highest.

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.

Glory to God, Glory to God,
Glory to God in the highest.

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.

Glory to God, Glory to God,
Glory to God in the highest.

The Prayers of Penitence

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry 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 grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.  Amen.

Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect of the Day is said or sung.

Almighty God, you have given us your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin: grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Old and New Testament Readings

Isaiah 52.7-10 - Read by Dawn Cope

How beautiful upon the mountains
   are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
   who announces salvation,
   who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’
8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
   together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
   the return of the Lord to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
   you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
   he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
   before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
   the salvation of our God.

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Hebrews 1.1-4 - Read by Laura Cope

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The Gospel

John 1:1-14 - Read by Ken Cope

All sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

The Gospel reader says

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

All say: Glory to you, O Lord.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

This is the gospel of the Lord.

All say: Praise to you, O Christ.

All sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sermon

Merry Christmas!

May I speak in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

“He’s behind you.” Oh no he isn’t! Oh yes he is! The villan of the piece is always behind you. Here we are in the midst of what would have been Panto season, it’s Christmas Day and the only day off the performers would usually get. What would your favourite be. The Sleeping Beauty is my favorite and I love the Ballet too. This story has been around in various forms since the mid- forteenth century.

We have a royal baby, with doting parents who put on a lavish party to celebrate the princess’s birth. Seven Good Faires are invited and of course they each bring a gift.

But a very old fairy, who was thought to have died, came unannounced. She didn’t get the welcome she deserved and got very angry at being treated as an uninvited guest. When the time came for giving the presents, six of the fairies gathered around the crib, they offered beauty, wit, grace, dance, song and goodness.

Step forward the old and angry fairy, she ranted that the child would prick her finger and die. All went quiet, the assembly were in shock, until the smallest Good fairy stepped forward. She didn’t have the power to cancel the wicked gift, only to mediate it saying the child would not die but fall asleep for 100 years and be woken by the kiss of a hansom prince. But you probably all knew that and what happened in the rest of the story.

In no way to pre-empt Epiphany and the Maji’s gifts I would like to share a poem with you I found recently. It is by Ursula Fanthorpe, she had been writing poems to send to friends in her Christmas cards. It’s called “The Wicked Fairy at the Manger” and comes with a warning.

My gift for the child:

No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes. But the wrong sort —
The workshy, women, wogs,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
His end?
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.

Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.

This was the gift God was prepared to give us, the most costly gift of all, his own son.

I make no apology for using the word ‘WOG’ in reading this poem, it is offensive, and Ursula Fanthorpe meant it to be. It’s there to shock us into the reality of what the Holy Family were to experience, all that was rife in the world then and now. Gender, racial and social prejudice, and disadvantage, were all included within the account of this amazing birth that would turn the world on its head.

Yes it makes us uncomfortable because it also reminds us that before long the Holy trio would have to flee for their lives, become refugees, and this may well have prepared the Child Jesus for his ‘ministry and care’ of the outcast and unclean in society then and now.

Two years ago Gordon shared with us Mary’s response to the Angel’s message of ‘good news’, a response that reverberates down the millenia, do we accept God’s plan for us, with that same level of trust?

As they travelled to Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary had a secret. A secret shared only with Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. Mary was carrying within her the child of God, and as yet they had no idea what would lie ahead.

Like us, perhaps they wrestled with questions. Could they really believe it and what would other people make of it? But all that would have to wait because the birth was immanent and Mary needed shelter to deliver the child. It was clean and dry but not like home. Mary swaddled her baby and laid him in the hay whilst she rested.

Meanwhile shepherds were working out in the local fields; they shared small caves with their sheep to keep warm during the night and because they needed a good bath, they were considered the lowest of the low, and ritually unclean. Yet it was to them that God’s Angel brought the ‘good news’, the long awaited Messiah had been born in Bethlehem just as the prophets foretold.

The Angel Gabriel’s message proclaimed the gospel of ‘Good News’ through the story of the lowly and unclean. The little baby boy, born in Bethlehem to unmarried parents, wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in an animal food trough, this was the one Jewish people had been expecting for centuries?

If ever a people needed a saviour, a symbol of unity and peace it was the Jews. Wanting his readers to know just how significant was the birth of this baby boy, in a little backwater of the Roman Empire, the headline was the ‘good news’ that Israel had waited for centuries to hear. Good news too for the early Christian church and if we learn to understand it better the Christmas story becomes ‘good news’ for us too.

The baby Jesus, was not a saviour born into an Emperor’s palace like Augustus, or a messiah who would raise an army to defeat Rome in battle like King David, but a saviour non the less. He would turn the current world view on its head and continues to do so in this and every age.

Jesus, the Son of God, is a symbol of unity and peace, destroying the division between God and his people; Jesus was born to heal the rift between God and humanity, now that really is good news.

The angel said to the shepherds, ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…” After all the bad news this year, where is the ‘Good News’ for me, you might ask? We have a deep sense of distrust for the media and frankly the future still looks more than a little grim for some of us, and it may help if we were to find that dark cloud’s silver lining by looking again into the Christmas story, discover what Christmas is about, and the difference Jesus makes for you and for me. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear we will see the light of hope.

Usually at this time of year Nativity plays are performed across the world, in many forms and languages, by young and old alike; we need to remember they are not pantomimes. Knowing all that Jesus suffered, Christians can see the shadow of the ‘Wicked Fairy” in the backdrop. As Ursula Fanthorpe wrote: “Right, said the baby. That was roughly what we had in mind.”

It was God’s plan that Jesus came as a human baby, born to draw us back to the Father, that we might have the ‘good news’ too! Love, Peace, Hope, Joy and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we are to share God’s gift of love for us because Jesus is our best Christmas present ever.

This year and every year, if we listen, we too can hear the Angel saying …

“I bring you good news of great joy for all the people:” A saviour is born, who is the Messiah. May we in our hearts and mind go to Bethlehem and see anew what has happened, and because Jesus would rejoice, let us remember all those who need his love.

Finally just to leave you with Ms Fanthorpe’s Reindeer Report:-

Chimneys: colder. Fightpaths: busier. Driver: Christmas (Father) still baffled by post codes. Children: more and stay up later. Presents: heavier. Pay: frozen. Mission: in spite of this Accomplished – Merry Christmas!

Amen.

The Rev'd Maureen Lunn, 25/12/2020

Service Audio

The Nicene Creed

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 forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Intercessions 

The Intercessions list has been circulated with petitions for the Church, The World, The Community, Our Keyworkers, The Sick and the Deceased. The Diocesan Cycle of Prayer is found at:

London Anglican Cycle of Prayer

This or another response may be used:

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith.

Strengthen N our bishop(s) and all your Church in the service of Christ, that those who confess your name may be united in your truth,
live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen; give wisdom to all in authority;
and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace;
that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.

Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours,
that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit …;
give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.

Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ …; according to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Peace

We are the body of Christ.
In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

and also with you.

A sign of peace may be exchanged.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray.

Service Audio

The Post Communion Collect

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. Amen.

The Blessing

The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

The Dismissal

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.  Amen.

Recessional Hymn

O come, all ye faithful,

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,
lol he abhors not the
Virgin’s womb;
very God,
begotten, not created:

O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him
Christ the Lord!

Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of
heaven above;
glory to God
in the highest:

O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him
Christ the Lord!

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
born this happy morning,
Jesu, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
now in flesh appearing:

O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him.
Christ the Lord!

Material from Common Worship 2000 is included in this service and is copyright © The Central Board of Finance of the Church of England.