All Saints’ Church Renhold Bedfordshire, England

All Age Communion Service:  - Christmas Morning

We say together the words printed in bold font

Welcome and the Gathering

Come let us follow the star of Christmas,

then shall fists of fury become open hands reaching out,

Then shall minds plagued by fear know the joy of trusting another’s voice;

Then shall hearts consumed by hatred be open to new friendships;

Then shall bodies trampled in the dust and filth of poverty rise up, stretch out and leap like new-born lambs;

Come let us follow the Christmas star together. Amen.


O come, all ye faithful        sung by St Martin’s Voices


1 O come, all ye faithful,

joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
come and behold him
born the King of Angels.
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.


2 God of God, Light of Light;

lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb;
very God,
begotten not created;
Refrain


3 Sing, choirs of angels,

sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God
in the highest:
Refrain


4 Yea, Lord, we greet thee,

born this happy morning:
Jesus, to thee be all glory given;
word of the Father,
now in flesh appearing;
Refrain


Translated from the Latin (18th century)
by Frederick Oakely (1802-1880)
The Greeting

The Lord Jesus Christ be with you - and also with you.


Today we remember Jesus and the story of his birth;

Jesus is our King


The ceremony of lighting the Advent wreath

As a candle is lit

Jesus Christ is the light of the world;

Jesus is our Way.

With Jesus even dark places are light;

Jesus is the Truth.

In Jesus we shall live for ever:

Jesus is our Life.


Living God, all the candles are lit,

All our preparations are done;

All our hopes are met in Jesus Christ today - Amen

 


As we come before out loving God on this Christmas morning, let us rejoice in his great gifts to us


Jesus child of the crib, with Mary – Who bore you

With Joseph – who protected you

With the animals - who watched over you

With the angels  - who sang of you

With the shepherds - who ran to you

With our brothers and sisters throughout the world – We welcome you!!


Confession

As we kneel with the shepherds before the new-born Christ-child,

Let us open our hearts in penitence and faith.


Say together

Gracious God

Forgive us when, as the inn-keepers of our time,

We turn away those who are different from ourselves;

When there is no room in our hearts for those you love,

Confront us until all the doors and windows of our souls are flung open;

That inspired by your love for us we might be generous to all who come near to us in need;

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our saviour - Amen


May God who loved the world so much

that he sent his Son to be our Saviour

forgive us our sins

and make us holy to serve him in the world,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for Christmas Morning     Let us pray

Lord Jesus Christ, your birth at Bethlehem draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth: accept our heartfelt praise as we worship you,

our Saviour and our eternal God. Amen


The Liturgy of the Word

New Testament Reading     Titus 3:4-7

But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour was revealed, he saved us. It was not because of any good deeds that we ourselves had done, but because of his own mercy that he saved us, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life by washing us.  God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for.


This is the word of the Lord

Thanks be to God



Gospel Reading       Luke 2: 8-20


God’s word is a lantern to our feet

and a light to our path.


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

Glory to you, O Lord.

There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them, “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.  This very day in David's town your Saviour was born Christ the Lord!  And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:

  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger.  When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child.  All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said.  Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them.  The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

All-Aged talk

At Christmas we celebrate God’s gift of His Son to us, by the giving of gifts to each other; and if it was any normal Christmas morning with a congregation here in church, I would be asking what presents had been received, but this year as you all well know, this is not to be.

I am sure that we have all given and received presents of some kind this morning, so this has not really changed, but Have you noticed that there seems to be a different feel to Christmas this year, I guess that due to the current situation the “non-essential” shops have been closed which has reduced the Christmas hustle and bustle of our shopping centres, and with pubs and restaurants being closed the exuberant Christmas party celebrations have not happened. But this has not stopped us thinking about each other and showing our affection towards each other, we have seen this in the generosity of the congregation here in their donations of food and toiletries that have been given to those in need in our area – Christmas is still Christmas but is different this year.

This change back to a “simpler” Christmas has taken me back to thinking about Christmas in my early years, in a rural environment not too dissimilar to being here in Renhold; in days when there were fewer cars (a lot fewer cars), buses stopped at 6pm, the only take away was the “Chippy” and there was no online shopping – Christmas was more simple but no less special.

I remember waking excited early, sometimes very early, on Christmas morning, switching on the bedroom light to find that “he had been” ... there hanging on the bedpost would be not a sack as these days, but a knitted sock (my Dad’s welly stock thinking back) bulging with different shapes poking out – I would wake my siblings (or they would wake me)and we would just look at the stockings until my parents woke up when we could open them up – believe me , we were not quiet and it would not take long for us to subtly wake them. As we opened up the top of the stocking we would peer in and among the presents there would be some sweets (I can hear someone in watching in Hastings now shouting “finger of Fudge” at me), but there was always a cob nut at the top and a tangerine or satsuma orange in there – this piece of fruit became to me/for me the fruit of Christmas.. happy memories

Leaping forward a number of years and I start exploring my call to the priesthood, and during this time I attended several Christmas services including family services which for a traditional Anglican chap was quite a new experience. At one such service the leader asked those gathered “What is the Christmas fruit?” well up went my hand (as you do!!) and I was picked to answer – an orange was my confident answer, good answer but no was her response… I remember thinking what!!!  People around the room gave their answers until at last someone gave the fruit the leader was thinking about an apple– how many of you would have said an apple? She then went on the explain why

If you take an apple and cut it top to bottom as you would when taking the core out before slicing it then you would not see what is hidden inside it, but if you cut it across the middle (around the equator if the apple was the world) then you would find… a brown star radiating within the white flesh of the fruit.

It makes sense to me now – the star is what the wise men followed to find the Christ-Child in the manger, the star that rested above the stable where Jesus lay, the stars which as we in Renhold see every night as a light that shines in the darkness, just as Jesus is the light that shines in our spiritual darkness. The star like God, may appear hidden from us away from what our eyes can physically see, but always there for us even if at times we cannot see it.

So may be the apple is the fruit of Christmas and when you find that star hidden within, may it be the light that guides you in peace, love and safety, this Christmas and always – amen



Affirmation of faith  Let us affirm our faith in the one true God

We believe in God the Father,

from whom every family

in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,


who lives in our hearts through faith,

and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,

who strengthens us

with power from on high.

We believe in one God;

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.


Prayers

In peace let us pray to the Lord.


Father, on that holy night your Son our Saviour

was born in human flesh.

Renew your Church as the Body of Christ.

Holy God hear our prayer.


 On that holy night there was no room for your Son in the inn.

Protect with your love those who have no home

and all who live in poverty.

Holy God hear our prayer.


On that holy night Mary, in the pain of labour,

brought your Son to birth.

Hold in your hand all who are in pain or distress at this time, especially those known to us.

Holy God hear our prayer.


On that holy night your Christ came as a light shining in the darkness.

Bring comfort to all who suffer in the sadness of our world.

Holy God hear our prayer.


On that holy night the angels sang, ‘Peace to God’s people on earth.’

Strengthen those who work for peace and justice both in our country and throughout all the world.

Holy God hear our prayer.


On that holy night shepherds in the field heard good tidings of joy.

Give us grace to praise God and preach the gospel of Christ’s redemption.

Holy God hear our prayer.


On that holy night strangers found the Holy Family, and saw the baby lying in the manger. Bless our homes and all whom we love.

Holy God  hear our prayer.


On that holy night heaven is come down to earth,

and earth is raised to heaven.

Hold in your hand all those who have passed through death in the hope of your coming kingdom.

Holy God hear our prayer.


On this most special of days Christians the world over celebrate Christ’s birth.

Open our hearts that he may be born in us today.

Holy God hear our prayer.


Father, as the angels and shepherds worshipped at the manger throne.

Receive the worship we offer in fellowship with Mary, Joseph and the saints

through him who is your Word made flesh, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.



The Peace


Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,

and his name shall be called the Prince of Peace.


The peace of Lord be always with you        and also with you.



Carol whose choice is inspired by the voices of the children at Renhold School who have been serenading me with their singing of this carol while I work from home – Thank you and Merry Christmas young people


O holy night     sung by St Martin’s Voices


1 O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

it is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine, O night, O night divine!


2 Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,

with glowing hearts by his cradle we stand.

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,

here came the wise men from the Orient land.

The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;

in all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger.

Behold your King! Before the lowly bend!

Behold your King, before the lowly bend!


3 Truly he taught us to love one another,

his law is love and his gospel is peace.

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother,

and in his name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

with all our hearts we praise his holy name.

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,

his power and glory ever more proclaim!

His power and glory ever more proclaim!


John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893))
based on Placide Cappeau (1808-1877)



Eucharistic Prayer   (D)

The Lord is here.

His Spirit is with us.


Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.


Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.


Almighty God, good Father to us all,

your face is turned towards your world.

In love you gave us Jesus your Son

to rescue us from sin and death.

Your Word goes out to call us home

to the city where angels sing your praise.

We join with them in heaven’s song:


Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

[Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.]


Father of all, we give you thanks for every gift that comes from heaven.

To the darkness Jesus came as your light.

With signs of faith and words of hope

he touched untouchables with love and washed the guilty clean.

This is his story.

This is our song: Hosanna in the highest.


The crowds came out to see your Son,

yet at the end they turned on him.

On the night he was betrayed

he came to table with his friends

to celebrate the freedom of your people.

This is his story.

This is our song: Hosanna in the highest.


Jesus blessed you, Father, for the food;

he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said:

This is my body, given for you all.

Jesus then gave thanks for the wine;

he took the cup, gave it and said:

This is my blood, shed for you all

for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this in remembrance of me.

This is our story.

This is our song: Hosanna in the highest.


Therefore, Father, with this bread and this cup

we celebrate the cross

on which he died to set us free.

Defying death he rose again

and is alive with you to plead for us and all the world.

This is our story.

This is our song: Hosanna in the highest.


Send your Spirit on us now

that by these gifts we may feed on Christ

with opened eyes and hearts on fire.

May we and all who share this food

offer ourselves to live for you

and be welcomed at your feast in heaven

where all creation worships you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

Blessing and honour and glory and power

be yours for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

As our Saviour has taught us; so we pray

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. Amen.

Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,

because we all share in one bread.


God’s holy gifts, for God’s holy people

Jesus Christ is holy, Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father


We do not presume

to come to this your table, merciful Lord,

trusting in our own righteousness,

but in your manifold and great mercies.

We are not worthy

so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.

But you are the same Lord

whose nature is always to have mercy.

Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,

so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ

and to drink his blood,

that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body

and our souls washed through his most precious blood,

and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.   Amen.

After Communion.


Let us pray

God our Father, whose Word has come among us in the Holy Child of Bethlehem: may the light of faith illumine our hearts and shine in our words and deeds; through him who is Christ the Lord. Amen

      

Living God, Draw us deeper into your Love

Jesus our Lord, Send us to care and serve,

Holy Spirit, Make us heralds of good news.

Stir us, strengthen us, teach and inspire us

to live your Love with generosity and joy

imagination and courage; for the sake of your world

and in the name of Jesus  Amen


Hark! the herald angels sing               sung by St Martin’s Voices


1 Hark! the herald angels sing,

glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic host proclaim:
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!


2 Christ, by highest heaven adored,

Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the Virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see!
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel:
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!


3 Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings;
mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth:
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the new-born King!"                  Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Blessing

May the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds,

the perseverance of the wise men,

the obedience of Joseph and Mary,

and the peace of the Christ-child

be yours this Christmas;

and the blessing …      Amen.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.  Amen.




Copyright acknowledgement: Some material used in this service is copyright The Archbishops Council; Common Worship and New Patterns of Worship 2006; Some material based on Roots for churches ltd, and reproduced with the owner’s permission

CCLI License No - 804157