All Saints’ Church Renhold Bedfordshire, England



Words of welcome or introduction may be said.

The Gathering

A procession as the Christ Child is taken to the crib.

Welcome all wonders in one sight!

Eternity shut in a span.

Summer in winter, day in night,

heaven in earth and God in man.

Great little one whose all-embracing birth

brings earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.

Grace, mercy and peace

from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ

be with you

and also with you.

Blessing of the Crib

Dear friends, as we meet to celebrate the birth of Christ, let us pray that God will bless this crib, that all who worship his Son, born of the Virgin Mary, may come to share his life in glory.

God our Father, on this night your Son Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary for us and for our salvation:

bless this crib, which we have prepared to celebrate that holy birth;

may all who see it be strengthened in faith and receive the fullness of life he came to bring, who is alive and reigns for ever.


Carol  - 12 - While shepherds watched their flocks by night

Please sit


Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


The President introduces the confession:

Christ the light of the world has come

to dispel the darkness of our hearts.

Let us turn to the light and confess our sins.

God our Father,

you sent your Son full of grace and truth:

forgive our failure to receive him.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Jesus our Saviour,

you were born in poverty and laid in a manger:

forgive our greed and rejection of your ways.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Spirit of love,

your servant Mary responded joyfully to your call:

forgive the hardness of our hearts.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

May the God of all healing and forgiveness

draw you to himself and cleanse you from all your sins,

that you may behold the glory of his Son, the Word made flesh,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Let us pray in the peace of this Christmas celebration

that our joy in the birth of Christ will last for ever.

Silence is kept.

Eternal God, who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of your one true light:

bring us, who have known the revelation of that light on earth,

to see the radiance of your heavenly glory;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen

The Liturgy of the Word


Old Testament Reading:     Isaiah 52: 7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’  Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

New Testament Reading:     Hebrews 1.1-4 [5-12]

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you’?
Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’? 
And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’ 
Of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’  But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, and the righteous sceptre is the sceptre of your kingdom. 
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.’ And, ‘In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Carol  - 3 - Silent Night

Please remain standing


Alleluia, alleluia.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,

and we have seen his glory.                 cf John 1.14



Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

Glory to you, O Lord.

John 1.1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

SERMON             John 1: 1-14

It may seem strange to read the Prologue from Saint John’s Gospel tonight when the obvious choice of reading for a midnight service may appear to be the well-known and well-loved Christmas story as told in Saint Luke’s Gospel. But the Christmas story has more than one side to it, there is more to Christmas than the human baby laying in a manger.

The four gospel writers wrote biographies, stories that attempted to showcase the identity and significance of Jesus, and as they each remembered Christmas, the day that Jesus entered this world – they did this in their own unique ways.

Matthew tells us about Joseph who was visited by an angel who informed him about the son his wife was going to give birth to, and he tells us about the Magi who recognized the baby Jesus as King of the Jews once he was born.

Mark’s gospel does not actually mention anything about Jesus’ birth. Instead, he begins his story about Jesus with John the Baptist — Jesus’ cousin who prepared the way for him by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke gives us the classic Christmas story that I am sure we have all acted out or watched in many Nativity plays, during our lives. Luke tells of angels visiting Mary and her sister Elizabeth letting them know that they are going to bear children. Then he tells us in those famous words “It came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.” And we hear how there was no room for Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem so they gave birth to Jesus and placed him in a manger. And who can forget the shepherds who heard the great news of the Saviour’s birth while they were abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.

And then there comes John’s gospel which we heard a few minutes ago. John doesn’t mention angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, or wise men. John’s Gospel was the last to be written so I suspect that John assumes that we already know those stories. And instead of retelling them from his perspective, he gives us an introduction to his story about Jesus that is full of poetry, images, and metaphors. And all of them help summarize the significance of Jesus’ mission and entrance into the world.

And it is the apostle John who gives us one of the clearest images of what Christmas is all about. It is an image that has its roots in Old Testament prophecies. It is an image that Jesus himself used to describe his mission. It is an image that we celebrated earlier this evening with the lighting of the candles around the Crib. And it is an image of the good news that we will walk out of here remembering and I pray proclaiming tonight.

John reminds us that at Christmas, we celebrate that Jesus is the light of the world who came to extinguish all darkness.

John’s introduction to his gospel helps us understand this image. He starts off with the same words that begin Genesis, “In the beginning….”

But instead of giving us a detailed account of how the world came into being, John tells us that: In the beginning was the Word. My commentary suggests that the Word should be thought of as “the active agent through whom God created the world.”  And John continues by telling us that this Word was with God in the beginning, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

Here, in this poetic language John points us to one of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith: the Trinity—the reality that there is one God made up of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that all of three of these persons have existed for all time. And here in in the opening sentences of his biography of Jesus, John reminds us that Jesus was present at creation, he is not merely a man who had a humble birth in a stable. Jesus is Emmanuel – Jesus is God.

And it was at creation that Jesus gave light and life to all people, for even at that time, he was the light of the world. And in the beginning, the world was full of life, it was full of light. God the Father through Jesus created humanity in his image so that we could be in relationship with him. He made us stewards over all of creation. And he created us to be in relationship with other people. Everything was good and full of light.

If the story stopped there, we wouldn’t be here celebrating Jesus’ birth today. We know that everything didn’t remain as God created it. Instead, Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God when they disobeyed him. Immediately, they knew that what they had done was not right, so they went and hid in the darkness so that they would not have to face God. But God sought them out because he did not want them to be in the shadows, living in darkness. He told them that he loved him, and ever since then he has been trying to have his children live in the light rather than the darkness. But humans have continued to separate themselves from the light of God. We have exchanged our relationship with God for relationships with idols, we have not been good stewards of creation, and we have not loved those around us. We have chosen to separate ourselves from the light God gave us, and instead live in darkness.

For thousands of years God tried to help his people move back into the light. He gave the people of Israel light through the law and through his covenant promises, but they continued to live in darkness and disobedience. So through the prophets he promised his people a Messiah, a Saviour, a liberator who would shine light into the darkness and enable people to walk in light.

And in the fullness of time, God sent his only son Jesus into the world to fulfil these roles. On the very first Christmas day, Jesus was born into a world of darkness so that he could bring an end to darkness. And the darkness was thick. The first Christmas was not as peaceful as our “Religious themed” Christmas cards often depict it. Soon after Jesus was born, King Herod murdered all the babies who were two years old and under in the region in hopes that he would kill baby Jesus in the process. Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor during Jesus’ day regularly beat groups of people who opposed his rule into submission. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was ridiculed, questioned, and hated by many of his own Jewish brothers and sisters. But none of this stopped him from completing the mission he came to fulfil.

Jesus was God present as a man in the world. He was more than a prophet, who revealed to humanity how we could live alongside of one another and love each other. He was a friend to the outcasts of society—the women, the prisoners, the hungry, the lepers, and all those who were deemed sinners by others. He was the light of the world shining light into the darkness.

Tonight, we have the opportunity to celebrate with joy the new life we have because the Word decided to take on flesh and set us free from darkness. My prayer for us all this Christmas is that as we gather in this most spiritual of places, Christ would come into each of our lives in a new way and that we would depart from this place carrying the light of Christ into our world, which again is full of darkness, sharing God’s light and Love in a world that so desperately needs it. - Amen



We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is,

seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven,

was incarnate from the Holy Spirit

and the Virgin Mary

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

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,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son

is worshipped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic

and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism

for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come.



Let us pray.

Good and gracious God, on this holy night you gave us your Son, the Lord of the universe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Saviour of all, lying in a manger. On this holy night draw us into the mystery of your love. Join our voices with the heavenly host, that we may sing your glory on high. Give us a place among the shepherds, that we may find the one for whom we have waited, Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the splendour of eternal light, God forever and ever. Amen

On this holy night in which God joins heaven and earth, let us offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all those in need.

Let us pray for the Church around the world as it celebrates the birth of Christ. Bless all those who are entrusted with Christian ministry that your Word might be proclaimed with truth and courage across our world. Bestow your wisdom on all who govern, that in honouring the earth and its diverse races, cultures, and religions, we may celebrate the light of this holy night.

Grant reconciliation to those besought with conflict and violence, that they may live in the peace of this holy night.

Let us pray for all who are cold, hungry, alone or felling isolated this night. Embrace with your tender care all who wander alone or have no place to lay their head, that they may experience the hope of this holy night.

Let us pray for all who are anxious, depressed, or ill. Draw near to those who find this season a source of pain or grief, and to all who are suffering or sick, especially those we remember in our own hearts, that they may feel the comfort of this holy night.

Let us give thanks for all who are working on this holy night to look after the sick and keep us safe.

Let us pray for parents, families, and new-born infants. We pray for all our loved ones from whom we are parted this Christmas. Strengthen families in the bonds of love and commitment, that they may delight in the joy of this holy night.

Let us give thanks for all the faithful departed who have been bearers of the Word made flesh. Give us grace to follow your holy ones in lives of faith and commitment, that we may join with the hosts of heaven in singing the praises of this holy night.

Let us pray for ourselves and for the blessings of Christmas. Open our hearts to your presence, that we may be transformed by the new birth of this holy night.

May God grant unto us whatever we need that we might serve him in showing his love and compassion to our world, allowing the light of God to illuminate the dark places with grace and truth on this night, and forever, Amen.
 Acknowledgement: St Marks, Bedford (

The Liturgy of the Sacrament


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

and his name shall be called the Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9.6

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

and also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

Carol – 26  It came upon the midnight clear


Word made flesh, life of the world,

in your incarnation you embraced our poverty:

by your Spirit may we share in your riches.


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness

we have this bread to set before you,

which earth has given and human hands have made.

It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness

we have this wine to set before you,

fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

It will become for us the cup of salvation.

Blessed be God for ever.


The Lord be with you

and also with you.

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.

All glory and honour be yours always and everywhere,

mighty creator, ever-living God.

We give you thanks and praise for your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ,

who for love of our fallen race humbled himself,

and [on this night] was born of the Virgin Mary

by the power of your Spirit, and lived as one of us.

In this mystery of the Word made flesh

you have caused his light to shine in our hearts,

to give knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

In him we see our God made visible

and so are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see.

Therefore with all the angels of heaven

we lift our voices to proclaim the glory of your name

and sing our joyful hymn of praise:

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.

Accept our praises, heavenly Father,

through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,

and as we follow his example and obey his command,

grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit

these gifts of bread and wine

may be to us his body and his blood;

who, in the same night that he was betrayed,

took bread and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.

[All   To you be glory and praise for ever.]

In the same way, after supper

he took the cup and gave you thanks;

he gave it to them, saying:

Drink this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it,

in remembrance of me.

[All   To you be glory and praise for ever.]

Therefore, heavenly Father,

we remember his offering of himself

made once for all upon the cross;

we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension;

we look for the coming of your kingdom,

and with this bread and this cup

we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord.

The President says

Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died:

Christ is risen:

Christ will come again.

Accept through him, our great high priest,

this our sacrifice of thanks and praise,

and as we eat and drink these holy gifts

in the presence of your divine majesty,

renew us by your Spirit,

inspire us with your love

and unite us in the body of your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

[All   To you be glory and praise for ever.]

Through him, and with him, and in him,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

with all who stand before you in earth and heaven,

we worship you, Father almighty,

in songs of everlasting praise:

All   Blessing and honour and glory and power

be yours for ever and ever.   Amen.


Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,

let us pray with confidence as our Saviour 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. Amen.


The president breaks the consecrated bread:

We break the bread of life,

and that life is the light of the world.

God here among us,

Light in the midst of us,

bring us to light and life.

The Agnus Dei is said or sung here or during the distribution.

Lamb of God, Or Jesus, Lamb of God

you take away have mercy on us.

the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,  Jesus, bearer of our sins,

you take away have mercy on us.

the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,  Jesus, redeemer of the world

you take away grant us your peace.

the sin of the world,

grant us peace.


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.


Communion is distributed in both forms


God our Father, in this night you have made known to us again the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: confirm our faith and fix our eyes on him until the day dawns and Christ the Morning Star rises in our hearts. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

followed by:

Almighty God, we thank you for feeding us

with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.

Through him we offer you our souls and bodies

to be a living sacrifice.

Send us out in the power of your Spirit

to live and work to your praise and glory. Amen.

Carol – 1  O Come all ye faithful

The Dismissal


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 …


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.  Amen.

The ministers and people depart.

Copyright Acknowledgements: - Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops Council, 2000 CW ORDER ONE – ORDINARY TIME AND HOLY DAYS.

CCLI number - 804157