Dear People of St Paul’s
Greetings in Jesus’ name on this Christmas morning.
Service Outline 8.30
Introit hymn– CP76 While Shepherds watched their flocks by night
Lighting of the Christmas Candle
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government
shall be upon his shoulders.
His name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He is also called Emmanuel, for in Him God is with us.
Let us pray.
we give you thanks and praise
for wrapping yourself in humanity
and dwelling among us
light of the world,
born into human pain and joy:
let our celebration of your birth
make us bold witnesses of your love;
to the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
1St Reading: Isaiah 52:7-10
Second Reading: Hebrews 1:1-4
Gradual hymn – CP 57 Joy to the world
The Gospel – Luke 2:1-20
Prayers (see end)
3rd Eucharistic Prayer
Offertory hymn – CP 53 Hark! The herald angels sing.
Recessional hymn: CP 61 O Come all ye Faithful
Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback Christmas 2020: The Message of the Angel
We hear again the remarkable message of the angel: “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Message of the angel
We need to hear again and again this message first delivered to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus over 2 000 years ago. This message is for everyone, for all creation, for all time.
What does it mean for us today?
In this year the pandemic – a year filled with anxiety, and uncertainty of what the future holds – the words of the angel, “do not be afraid” come as good news. They are like a healing balm to us.
We have many fears. Mental illness, domestic violence, the loss of a job or of income and the sickness and loss of loved ones have been the reality of our world and of our own lives.
“Do not be afraid.” Because God has come to us, says the angel, breaking into our ordinary lives and making new things possible. This is what we celebrate today.
In this time of physical distancing, God comes close to us in the baby in the manger in Bethlehem, entering our world with its brokenness and pain.
This saviour comes not to rule over us but to walk alongside us and to share our suffering. The incarnation is “good news of great joy” indeed. We are not alone in the struggles we face.
I invite us to respond to the message of the angel.
Firstly, let us celebrate the faithfulness of God, putting our trust in God.
In announcing Mary’s forthcoming pregnancy in the previous chapter of Luke, verse 37, the angel says “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Secondly, in the months – in the year – ahead let us support one another so that we can move beyond our crippling fears and reach out in love to others.
The prophet Isaiah in verse 7 of today’s reading:
“Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.” This has been a theme in Advent leading up to Christmas. God invites us into a partnership, to rebuild better and heal fractured lives and fractured communities. This will help make the good news a reality.
At this time let us be particularly conscious of the need to care for the people who are vulnerable financially, psychologically or emotionally, those who are homeless and sleep on the streets, refugees and those who are elderly and in poor health.
Let us continue to pray for one another. This is a source of strength and helps keep hope alive. Remember to pray for our frontline workers.
Finally, let us ourselves become even more vigilant at this time and observe all the safety protocols, including wearing masks, social distancing and sanitising regularly.
A senior church leader in the UK was accused of behaving more like a health and safety officer than a cleric. Striving to protect others and ourselves is also part of living out the good news.
May you and your loved ones experience God’s love, joy and peace at this time and in the year ahead.
God bless you.
Prayers (Jabu Sithole)
Lord Jesus Christ, on this special day we come with praise, we glorify your name, there is no one like you, you are worthy of our trust, you are the way and the truth, the Son of the living God! We thank you for coming on earth to give us life, to bring us hope. Thank You for the gift of eternal life, as we remember that you are with us, and living in us. May we also live in you, so that even at the end of our days, we may be united with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Prince of peace, you are the source of serenity, even as we celebrate the Christmas service away from the fellowship with sisters and brothers in Christ, challenged by the fear of the ever increasing numbers of Covid 19, we call upon your peace to still storms in our lives, may your supernatural peace reign in our hearts, extend this peace and love to our homes.
Light of the World, emanate your light into our lives, so that we may begin to see the world in the light of understanding you give. May each day be a celebration of who you are in our lives. Help us to be the people you have called us to be. In our celebrations help us to simplify our activities so we can focus on celebrating your birth.
We also remember the homeless and lonely. Gracious Lord you are a father to the fatherless, you are aware of their needs, we pray that you provide warmth, comfort, a place for shelter and companionship. Rescue them from their sorrow and poverty.
We pray for the sick, we raise your name over all forms of diseases, you are Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals. In their sufferings we pray for patience, give them the mind of Christ to endure suffering with patience and humility.
Eternal Father, we thank you for us calling to serve and lead, we also thank you for giving us a perfect example of leadership in your son Jesus Christ, just as shepherds provide guidance for their sheep, we pray that you provide guidance for every leader. We pray for our spiritual leaders in the Anglican Church community, bless them and their families, continue providing them discernment on how to meet people’s need as they glorify your name, and encourage the church.
For the church, we pray for joy in our hearts, hope in God, love to forgive and abundant life in Christ. We offer this prayer in Jesus Christ name. Amen!
During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426