Sharing Our Faith Together

Christmas Celebration

by Rev Jacky Quarmby 25 December 2021

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Good morning and welcome to our worship today as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus!

Bible Sentence:   And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

Today, on Christmas Day we light the central candle to celebrate the birth of Christ, who lives forever to be our Saviour and our friend.  Emmanuel, God with us.

Advent Candles tell their story
on this Christmas Day.
Those who waited for God’s glory:
They prepared the way.
Christ is with us: loving, giving,
In us living,
Here today!

Prayer of thanksgiving
Loving God,
On Christmas Day we thank you for friends and family
For the love we share together
For the fun we have.
We thank you for warm homes, 
For turkey and mince pies and good things to eat
And we thank you for Christmas presents and special treats.
But most of all we thank you today
For the gift of your Son Jesus who came to live among us
And to be our friend.
May we stay close by him – not just today but every day.  Amen

Reading:  Matthew 1: 18 – 25 

Carol: Once in Royal David’s City

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A Story for Christmas
Sometimes I think the world has gone mad …  in Australia recently a radio DJ came under fire after he interviewed a Christian scholar about the birth of Jesus, as part of an exploration into the origins of Christmas.  The broadcast caused outrage amongst some listeners who argued it was inappropriate and offensive to talk about religion and Christianity on the radio show.  Now, I don’t know about you, but when we talk about Christmas - isn’t the clue in the name.  I am just not sure what some people think they are celebrating!

Closer to home, a couple of years ago there was a Charity run by Oxford Council, which tried to ban the word Christmas and talk instead about a “Winter Light Festival”, which would be more inclusive.  Well, religious leaders from all faiths thought that was ridiculous!

But I am not disheartened – because I believe God is bigger than all this nonsense.  And the true meaning of Christmas will not be lost - God will make sure of it.  As the hymn writer says, God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform … And to demonstrate my point, I am going to tell you a true story by a young woman who went to see her son’s school Christmas production.  Let me read it to you … this is what she says …

Last year, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.  I cut back on card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.  Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.  My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten.  It was an exciting season for a six year old.  For weeks, he'd been learning songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."   The morning of the performance, I filed in ten minutes early, found a seat and sat down.  Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room.  Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor.  Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.  Because the state school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I didn't expect anything other than fun songs about reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright woolly hats. Those in the front row held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C.  Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we all noticed her; a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down -totally unaware that her letter "M" appeared as a "W".  The audience of older children watching laughed and giggled at this little one's mistake.  But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".  Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.  In that instant, we understood the reason we were there; why we celebrated the holiday in the first place; why, even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.  For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

And He still is today.

Let us pray,
Loving God,
As we gather here this morning to hear the story of your love for us,
Coming as a tiny child to a poor family in hard times,
We pray that you will be born, not only in that stable long ago,
But also in our lives.

Let not our hearts be busy inns with no room, but doors opened wide to welcome a Holy Guest, 
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Loving Lord Jesus be born in us today.  Amen

Carol:  Chris Tomlin – It’s Christmas

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Prayers for others

Loving God
For those who are or sick or anxious fill them with your peace …
For those who are lonely, surround them with your love …
For those who will be sad, give them moments of joy 
For those who are worried about all the future may bring, fill them with hope and confidence.
Loving God, for all those who are struggling right now – we ask for your light in their lives this Christmas time.   Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Carol: Good Christian men rejoice

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The Blessing
As Jesus brought hope, make us messengers of hope
As Jesus brought peace, help us to be peace makers
As Jesus brought joy, let us sparkle with your joy
As Jesus brought love, rekindle love in us,

And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit 
be with us all and all whom we love, this Christmas and forever more.