God of life and new birth, prolific Creator of everything, You have found us here, huddled in this little band, wondering whether this is the palace of Herod or the stable of Christ.
The wonder is You met us where we were, and welcomed us as we are, hungry for love and nowhere near perfect.
We come to worship You, to see in ourselves what You see in us. We come to worship in the name of our Saviour, Jesus the Christ.
Confession & Words of Assurance
God, we confess that ours is still a world In which Herod seems to rule: The powerful are revered, the visions of the wise are ignored, the poor are afflicted, and the innocent are killed.
You show us that salvation comes in the vulnerability of a child, yet we hunger for the “security” of weapons and walls. You teach us that freedom comes in love of service, yet we trample on others in our efforts to be “free.”
Forgive us, God, when we look to the palace instead of the stable, when we heed politicians more than prophets. Renew us with the spirit of Bethlehem, that we may be better prepared for your coming.
God’s love knows no bounds.
Love comes down at Christmas—
a love so deep and so profound
that nothing will ever be the same again.
Know that this love has come for you—
to touch you, to heal you, to forgive you,
to make you whole.
Story of the Word
John 1 In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
2 The Word was with God in the beginning.
3 Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being
4 through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light.8 He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.
9 The true light that shines on all people
was coming into the world.
10 The light was in the world,
and the world came into being through the light,
but the world didn’t recognize the light.
11 The light came to his own people,
and his own people didn’t welcome him.
12 But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children,
13 born not from blood
nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
14 The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
15 John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’”
16 From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace;
17 as the Law was given through Moses,
so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God.
God the only Son,
who is at the Father’s side,
has made God known.
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 protracted 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.
Everlasting God, 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, the son given to us this day.
All of these prayers and so may more we pull together and pray the prayer tradition has taught us…
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Go out to live the story, to tell of the Hope that is being born among us this Christmas, to share the Love of the season with the world, to be agents of Peace in times of trouble, to sing songs of deep and abiding Joy.
As you go, may God go with you, challenging you to respond to God’s Call in ways that are new, unexpected and a little unsettling.
Thanks be to God.