Here below we have an outline of our service for you to follow at home if you can’t be with us. Choose a quiet reflective space and to make it more meaningful have a cross, bible and candle to make your sacred space.
Good morning I hope you are all well. Many thanks to Rev Hannah and Rev Robin for taking our church service last week. A massive thank you for the toys for Fort Alice and the Christmas puddings, we collected 85 and our target was 60, so they will be part of Urban Outreach’s “Christmas on Jesus” campaign and the charity was very thankful of your efforts.
We have our Carol service tonight at 6.30 and then the crib service will be incorporated in the Wednesday children’s worship and not on Christmas Eve. Our Christmas Eve service will be at 7.30pm and Christmas day at 10am. There will not be a service on Sunday 26th however there will be a team service at St Andrew’s Bromley Cross at 11am.
The intercessions today are by myself and the reflection by Rev Peter .Wishing you all a peaceful and joyous Christmas.
People of God: prepare! God above all, maker of all, is one with us in Christ.
Come Lord Jesus.
God, the almighty God, bends down in love to the earth.
Come Lord Jesus
God with us, God beside us, comes soon to the world he has made.
The fourth candle is lit
Heavenly Father, you exalted the humble and meek: give us humble and contrite hearts. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you grew towards birth in the virgin’s womb: be planted also in our hearts and lives. Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Holy Spirit, you overshadowed Mary, that she might become the God-bearer: fill us with your heavenly gifts. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy
PRAYER OF PENITENCE
Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
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. Lord Jesus Christ only son of the Father Lord God Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. 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. Amen
God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
THE OLD TESTAMENT READING
MICAH 5, 2-5
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace. If the Assyrians come into our land
and tread upon our soil, we will raise against them seven shepherds and eight installed as rulers.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. Glory to you O Lord
LUKE 1, 39-55
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’
And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
The fourth Sunday of Advent takes us back to the imminent birth of Jesus – to the angel coming to Mary and Mary’s extraordinarily trusting response – we probably know the story too well, and we add bits to it quite often but as Luke tells it – simply and with little detail – we find a young woman (probably just 13 yrs old or so – Year 9 in school) confronted by Gabriel and told she would be pregnant. We assume she was a well-brought-up girl – this will potentially ruin her life; if she was not well-brought-up then how remarkable that God would choose one like her.
And how extraordinary that God would take the incredible risk of being limited in a womb, growing towards birth, dependent entirely on Mary and the community around her.
Rightly the church makes much of this incredible woman – unlike any other human being she was Theotokos – the one who bore God in her womb. Many stories and views about this woman have sprung up – St Anne’s is named after her supposed mother. Mostly the further stories take us further from the young woman portrayed by Luke and the older woman who has to watch as her son, the special one from God is crucified and put in a tomb. Many of the stories turn Mary into some almost angelic figure, without sin, perfect, haloed, Queen of Heaven – I know why but these additions can obscure rather than reveal. Mary is the most amazing woman.
What is remarkable is that Luke tells us so little. She visits her relative, the elderly Elizabeth, though we are told she goes in haste. Mary wants to find out that what the angel told her about Elizabeth is true; that will reassure her about her destiny.
What is also remarkable in the way that Luke tells it, is that the miraculous inruption of God into our world – God breaking in not just to our world – that has happened often enough – but becoming one of us, human, mortal, limited – happens in the hlll-country, far from the great Temple, far from the seat of power.
Matthew will tell us that some foreign star-gazers make a connection and Luke will tell us that some night-watch shepherds will get invitations but God’s plan is worked out far from the centre, far from the normal levers of power.
So for us, this story should still catch our breath – the utter ordinariness of Mary, the risk involved for God as well as for Mary, her trust, and God at work in the most extraordinary way, and not the way anyone would have thought.
May we catch our breath, pause, lest we know the story too well.
May we begin with “here am I, a servant of the Lord” (1:38) and may we pause with “And Mary pondered all these things in her heart (2: 19)
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Here we pray for the church, for the world, those in need and those who have died, you can follow your own prayers or these below on today’s theme.
God, we thank you for the obedience of Mary and for all who help to bring your kingdom by seeking to do your will. We give thanks for your faithful people throughout all ages. Lord, guide your church that it may know your will and serve you faithfully. We pray for the church working in areas of poverty, war or oppression. May we all strive to reveal your love and your peace. We ask your blessing on this congregation as we seek to serve you.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
We pray for the time when the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of God. We look forward to when there will be peace upon the whole earth. We pray for the United Nations and all peacekeeping forces. We ask your blessing upon all who are caught up in war or terrorism at this time.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We give thanks for the Blessed Virgin Mary, for welcoming Jesus into her life. May we know your presence in our homes and seek to bring in your Kingdom through our actions. We pray for all families who are going through difficult times and who are struggling.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We give thanks for all who care for the ill and suffering. We ask your blessing upon the work of doctors and nurses upon hospitals, we pray for all affected by the virus and hope that we can enjoy a peaceful and healthy Christmas with our families. We remember all who are ill or have been injured in accidents or through violence. We pray for them and their loved ones.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We pray for all loved ones departed from us especially those who are spending their first Christmas without them, may they now be in the fullness of your Kingdom. We remember especially those whose anniversaries fall at this time and from our book of remembrance Jack Yates, Elizabeth Wells, Henry W Bissset and Jessie Abraham. We rejoice in the fellowship of St. Maxentius, St Anne, St Andrew, St Peter and St. James and the Virgin Mary
Merciful Father Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in Heaven hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us and watch over us, the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us, the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bless us and keep us for evermore. Amen.