Crib Service with the Rev’d Ian Smith & Sarah Tomlinson
Christmas Eve 2020
Introductory Carol – Go tell it on the mountain
This afternoon we come together in the presence of God, to rejoice in the gift of Jesus to us as the light of the world; to hear and receive the story and message of the coming of Christ and to offer to God our thanksgiving in prayer and song.
As we meet here, we are living through some strange times, with COVID we cannot live as we would normally live, we cannot celebrate Christmas as we would in other years. It was in strange times that Jesus was born, as we will hear a census was ordered and people had to travel to their family towns and cities to be registered, when Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem it was so busy and crowded they could find no room to sleep in and were offered the use of a stable by a kindly Inn keeper – The stable would not have been like the nice wooden sheds that we know, it would probably have been a small cave in a hillside, cold, damp and dark – God’s Son was to be born not in a palace with Kings or powerful people but in a stable with the animals and lowly creatures of his creation. God’s gift of his Son is for all and not just the rich and powerful.
Let us pray,
Dear God, Thank you for the fun and excitement of Christmas, and the chance to retell the wonderful story of Jesus’ birth. We pray that you would be with us today and open our eyes in new ways to the Nativity story.Amen
The Christmas Story
Our story begins a long time ago. In fact, a very long time ago, because our story begins at the beginning.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He made the stars and the planets. He made the Sun and the Moon. He made the sea and the land. He made the plants and the animals. He made people, men and women.
And God said, "this is good, very good!"
God loved his world. He loved his people. He loved everything he had made.
But his people turned away from him.
They thought they knew better than God. They thought they didn't need God and so things started to go wrong on the earth.
People started fighting. People started to be selfish. People started to be greedy and God was sad, very sad. He knew that he would have to do something about it.
But what? What could he do?
A young girl was sitting at home, her name was Mary and she was due to be married to a man named Joseph. She lived in a town called Nazareth in a region called Galilee. Mary loved God. She prayed to him. She worshipped him. She longed for him to fulfil his promise and come to put the world right.
As she sat at home suddenly a bright light appeared shining all around the room. Mary was frightened and didn't know what to do. But then, out of the light, a voice spoke.
"Do not be afraid Mary. I bring you greetings from God. God has seen you and the way you pray; he is very pleased with you. You will become pregnant and have a son. He will be called the Son of God and you must call him Jesus. He will be great and will be a great King on earth and in heaven."
Christmas Carol - 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 PlacideCappeau (1808-1877)
The Christmas Story continues ….
At this time, the land where Mary and Joseph lived was part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Augustus wanted to have a list of all the people in the empire, to make sure they paid their taxes. He ordered everyone to return to the town where their families originally came from, and enter their names in a register there. Mary and Joseph travelled a long way (about 70 miles) from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because that is where Joseph's family came from. Joseph and Mary went very slowly, with Mary riding on a donkey because Mary's baby was due to be born soon.
When they reached Bethlehem they had problems finding somewhere to stay because so many people had come to register their names. The only place to stay that they could find was with the animals. So in the place where the animals slept, Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God.
In those days it was the custom to wrap newborn babies tightly in a long cloth called 'swaddling clothes'. Mary made a bed for Jesus' in a manger that the animals ate their hay from.
Christmas Carol - Away in a manger …..Sung by Westbury-on-Trym Parish Church Choir
1 Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
the stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
2 The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
and stay by my side until morning is nigh.
3 Be near me, Lord Jesus: I ask thee to stay
close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.
Sometimes attributed to John Thomas Macfarland (1851-1913), Gabriel's Vineyard Songs (1892 Louisville), Little Children's Book: For Schools and Families (1885 Philadelphia)
The Christmas Story continues …
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were very, very scared.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. Today in this town of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.
Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, "May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!"
The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem. Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger as they had been told.
When Jesus was born a new bright light appeared in the sky, Wise Men from the East followed the star to Jerusalem, they knew that it meant a great King had been born . They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be King of the Jews? We have come to worship him.”
The star they had seen when they were in the east shone over the place where Jesus lay. When they saw the baby, they were filled with joy.The Wise Men bowed down and worshipped him. They opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and Myrrh.
Let us pray as we join together and use our hands for a special Christmas Counting Prayer:
5 (whole hand) – for the whole world and for the angels singing in the sky, who proclaimed the good news of Jesus. We pray for the world and we give thanks that God sent his Son Jesus to teach us. We give thanks and pray for all those who live Gods Love through their words and actions. We pray that the good news of peace may be heard across the world.
4 (4 fingers) – for the Shepherds caring for their sheep and who came to visit the baby Jesus in the stable, let us pray for all those working this Christmas, especially those who look after the lonely, the sick and the vulnerable..
3 (3 fingers) for the Wise men that followed the Star and all who hold power and influence, We pray that they may act wisely, justly and peacefully.
2 (2 fingers) – for Mary and Joseph, we pray for our parents and our families, especially if we can’t see them this year. Strengthen us in love and commitment.
1 – (1 finger) – for Jesus the Christ Child – we pray for ourselves that we may welcome our Lord Jesus with joy and make room for him in our lives and our homes.
Lord, hear our prayer,Please, Amen
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 of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and those you love this Christmas and always,
Closing Carol – Silent night …..Sung by St Martin’s Voices
1 Silent night, holy night,
all is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin mother and child;
holy infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.
2 Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
heavenly hosts sing Alleluia:
Christ the Saviour is born,
Christ the Saviour is born.
3 Silent night, holy night,
son of God, love’s pure light,
radiant beams from thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace:
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
John Freeman Young (1887)
based on Joseph Mohr (1818)
Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service
Christmas story adapted from St Albans Children’s Ministry resources
Music by kind permission of St Martin in the Fields (CCLI number – 804157)