St Maxentius Worship at Home – Sunday – 31st December 2023 – Christmas 1

This service can be used at home if you are unable to get to church. As you pray and reflect, we trust you will feel part of the wider church community.


As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,

so may the light of your presence,

O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; 

now and forever. Amen.


Almighty God our heavenly Father

we have sinned against you

and against our neighbour

in thought word and deed,

through negligence, through weakness, 

through our own deliberate fault.

We are truly sorry

and repent of all our sins.

For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us,

forgive us all that is past

and grant that we may serve you in newness of life

to the glory of your name. 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.


Almighty God, who wonderfully created us in your own image and yet more wonderfully restored us through your Son Jesus Christ: grant that, as he came to share in our humanity, so we may share the life of his divinity; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Isaiah 63: 7-9

I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord,

   the praiseworthy acts of the Lord,

because of all that the Lord has done for us,

   and the great favour to the house of Israel

that he has shown them according to his mercy,

   according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

For he said, ‘Surely they are my people,

   children who will not deal falsely’;

and he became their saviour

   in all their distress.

It was no messenger* or angel

   but his presence that saved them;*

in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;

   he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

Matthew 2: 13-23

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.* Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

‘A voice was heard in Ramah,

   wailing and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

   she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’

Three questions you might ask about the readings

What strikes you from the readings?

What puzzles you from the readings?

What excites you from the readings?


I wonder how many of you read our Gospel passage this morning and think how this would pan out in today’s society? It is really quite hard to equate and imagine Mary, Joseph and Jesus as refugees. But here, in their flight to Egypt, that is what they are.

It is hard to read in a world in which the number of political refugees has reached unprecedented heights. All across the world there are children and their families fleeing from what might be certain death in their own countries. The systems and processes for being able to find a place of safety are different, more complex. I wonder if this small family would be as successful were they to be in this situation today? In many places, there is hostility toward immigrants, including those seeking political asylum. It is a sobering fact: if Joseph had received the dream to leave his endangered village and take refuge in a foreign country with his family in global-political circumstances similar to our own, he would likely have been turned back at the border, told to wait it out and hope for the best in Bethlehem. As conversations concerning the problem of immigration swirl around us, all those who identify as Christians, and who thus honour the Christ at the centre of our faith, would do well to contemplate the following: The baby Jesus is saved from the wrath of Herod only because he and his family are able to cross a border.

Given the stark focus of the pericope on political tyranny, senseless mass killing, and continual threat of violence, it is difficult at first glance to find a way to wrest “good news” from this story. Perhaps the good news of today’s Gospel is that Egypt, the place of safety for the holy family, has always been a part of the Gospel story, even in times when it was the historic ‘enemy’ of the Jewish people. This gives us an insight into the surprising and disorienting ways that God’s grace often operates; safety and well-being come to the Holy family not in a familiar setting, but in an encounter with the “other.” Refuge is extended to them from outside of conventional boundaries. Perhaps that is the tale we should focus on here today…strangers, even those previously assumed enemies, might just become a true source of hospitality. God always works outside of any of our well-worn paths, far beyond any road we might assume to be safe for travelling.

Rev Peter


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;

he ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of the Father;

he will come again in glory

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.


Please include your own prayers as well

In our prayers we pray for our church, our communities and our world

Lord God, we pray for our churches, our Turton Team, our Mission Community, our Diocese and the world-wide Church in every land.

Bless the leaders, guard the people, guide us in our future;

May we share the gospel in word and deed

and bring glory to your name;

Lord bless our churches we pray

Lord God we pray for our community

We pray for our schools, the children and staff.

We pray for all who work to make our communities a better place for others

We pray for Councillors and carers;

Lord bless our community we pray

Lord God we pray for our nation

May our leaders lead with integrity and justice

Give them wisdom and direct their decisions.

We pray that ours may be a nation 

where the poor and vulnerable are cared for and helped

and where all may flourish;

Lord bless our nation we pray

Lord God, we pray for our world,

for the war-torn places, we pray for peace.

We pray that all may work together to alleviate need 

and to protect this world for future generations;

Lord bless our world we pray

Lord God, we pray for those who are sick, in body, mind or spirit

We pray for those we know, and those who have no one to pray for them.

We pray for those who are dying and those who grieve;

We ask that you would give healing and peace to the soul

Lord bless the sick we pray

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, 

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


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.

Keep a moment of quiet as you allow God to speak to you, 

as you let your spirit rest in God’s Spirit.


May the Lord 

bless us and watch over us, 

make his face shine upon us 

and be gracious to us. 

May the Lord look kindly on us 

and give us peace, 

and may the blessing of God Almighty, 

our Creator, our Redeemer, 

the one who gives us Life 

be among us and with us all always. Amen.

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