Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 19 December 2021, 4th in Advent

by Andy Cokayne and Sue Muessig 19 December 2021

Advent Liturgy  
Bible Sentence:   Mary said, "My heart praises the Lord:  my soul is glad because of God my Saviour, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!  From now on all people will call me blessed, because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me!"
Today, the fourth Sunday in Advent, we light four candles to remember Mary.  When she was told she was going to be the mother of Jesus, she knew it would be hard, because she was just a young girl, but she said "yes" to God's call because it was a call to new life.


All sing:          
Mary’s gift, beyond all telling,
Was to give Christ room.
She gave God a human dwelling
In a mother’s womb.
Who could guess the final story?
——  cross and glory;
Empty tomb!

Hymn: Come and join the celebration

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Lord Jesus, this Christmas as we sing the familiar carols, hear the familiar readings, and ponder on familiar mysteries, give to us the gift of pure worship – that ability which Mary had; of attributing to you your true worth, your full value, your inestimable greatness. Teach us to be reverent; yet teach us how to express the love that burns within our hearts as we think of your goodness to us – that you have come to be our light in darkness, our hope in despair, our strength in weakness, our shelter in the storm – yes, and our eternal Saviour. Amen.


Lesson – Matthew 1 v18-25                      

An angel visits Mary
In the town of Nazareth lived a young girl called Mary. She was cheerful, kind and helpful. She lived at home with her mum and dad helped about the house with cooking and fetching water, preparing food and looking after the animals. Mary was really looking forward to getting married to her fiancé, Joseph. One day when Mary was daydreaming about her wedding, a special visitor came to see her. Mary looked up from her housework and was amazed to see a bright, shining angel standing in front of her. She felt a bit frightened and started to tremble.

‘Don’t be afraid!’ said the angel. ‘I have a special message for you from God. God has chosen you to be the mother of his son. His name will be Jesus and he will be the king of all God’s people.’

Mary was totally amazed, she could hardly believe her ears and she really couldn’t think what to say.

‘But.. but… how can this be?’ she asked. ‘I… err… I’m not married yet.’

‘Everything will happen through the power of God.’ Replied the angel. ‘Nothing is impossible for him.’

Joseph sees an angel in a dream
Joseph was worried. He really loved Mary very much and he had been looking forward to marrying her, but now he had heard that she was going to have a baby and it wasn’t his baby. That night Joseph tossed and turned in his sleep, as he wondered whether to stop the wedding. In his dreams an angel spoke to him.

‘Don’t break off your engagement to Mary,’ the angel said. ‘She loves you and she hasn’t done anything wrong. God has chosen her to be the mother of his son. Go ahead and marry her and call the baby Jesus.’

When Joseph woke up he felt as if a weight has been lifted from him. He knew Mary still loved him and that God wanted him to marry her.

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem and meet a kind innkeeper.
One day Joseph and Mary set off for far-away Bethlehem, because the Emperor Augustus had decided that he wanted to know exactly how many people lived in his kingdom. Augustus ordered everyone to return to their original hometown so that he could count them all. Poor Mary was going to have her baby really soon so she could only walk very slowly. When the young couple finally arrived in the little town of Bethlehem there wasn’t a single room left anywhere. They knocked on doors all over town but everyone said, ‘Sorry, we’re completely full up.’ Then Joseph knocked on one last door.

‘Sorry!’ said the innkeeper, ‘no room at all!’ Then he looked at Mary and realised how tired and heavily pregnant she was. ‘Well, I suppose there is the stable round the back. It’s not very clean but it is warm and dry – you can stay there if you like.’

That night Jesus was born and because Mary didn’t have a crib for him, she wrapped him up and laid him on a bed of hay in an animals’ feeding trough

Hymn: See him lying on a bed of straw

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Some shepherds receive a message from an angel and hear an angelic choir
Out in the fields, close to Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were watching over their sheep. Suddenly a bright light lit up the darkness. It was an angel, a messenger from God. The shepherds could feel their knees knocking. They had never seen a real angel before. 

‘Don’t be frightened,’ said the angel. ‘I’ve got some really happy news for you. Today in Bethlehem, a baby has been born. He is God’s own special son.’

Suddenly, the sky was full of angels, all singing and praising God joyfully. The shepherds could hardly believe their eyes and ears.

Hymn: Angels from the realms of glory

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The shepherds visit Joseph, Mary and Jesus
When the angels had gone back to heaven, the shepherds rushed off to Bethlehem to find the baby that the angel had told them about. Eventually they found the stable with Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. Everything was just as the angel had described. They told the new parents all about their visit from the angels. Later they returned to their sheep, telling everyone that they met the good news about this new and very special baby.

Wise Men visit Joseph, Mary and Jesus
Some time later some wise men from the east saw a new star in the sky. They knew that it was a special sign that a new king had been born. They travelled many miles to find Jesus, bringing him special gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh because they realised that he was indeed someone very important. When they found Jesus, with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him.

To conclude
A towel is a fairly familiar item, and yet towels or cloths had a big part in Jesus’ story.

He was wrapped in cloths at his birth, to keep him warm and clean, and so we are reminded of Jesus coming as a baby.


A man once washed his hands of Jesus, after committing him to death, saying he would not accept the responsibility, and then dried his hands on a towel, and so we are reminded  of Jesus dying as a King.  


After Jesus had died and been laid in a tomb. On the first day of the week Peter and John, ran to the tomb, and found only the cloths that his body had been wrapped in, and the cloth that had been round his head, and so we are reminded of Jesus rising to life as God incarnate.


This morning we have remembered that the angels brought a message of good news.  We are going to focus on three parts of the Angel’s message to Mary as we pray together.

God is with you! (Luke 1:28)
Don’t be afraid! (Luke 1: 30)
Nothing is impossible for God! (Luke 1:37)

Perhaps this morning you need to be reminded of one of these points?  Take a moment of quiet to reflect on these promises for yourself before we bring our prayers for others to the Lord.

God is with you
Father, we thank you that you are always with us, and we pray for anyone who is feeling lonely this Christmas.  We think of the homeless, refugees and those who are grieving.  Lord, we thank you that you are the Light of the world and we pray that they may be filled with your love and hope.

Don’t be afraid
Father, we pray for people who are feeling worried or afraid this morning. We bring before you the ongoing covid situation which is a concern for everybody.   Please give wisdom to our government and strength to our health care workers.  We also pray for people who are unwell or in hospital, may they find comfort in your promise to strengthen us and help us. 

We thank you that you are the Prince of Peace, we pray that we may have opportunities to share your good news with others this Christmas.

Nothing is impossible
Loving God, you know all of the prayers that are in our hearts this morning and we place them into your hands now with thanksgiving, because we believe and know that nothing is impossible for you.  Amen.

Hymn: It’s Christmas

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The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen

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