Helen welcomed us all and notices were given out which included Joan wishing everyone well and wishing us all a happy Christmas, after which the
Call to Worship was delivered:
O sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done marvellous things!
God hears us and remembers us with steadfast love and faithfulness.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, good news for all.
Hymn 241 "Child in the manger, infant of Mary". This child who came into the world with nothing obvious, by worldly standards, to offer and then took upon himself the burden of all our transgressions became our Redeemer and Saviour, conquering every foe. He who was expected for so long now rules, bringing contentment to all who are his.
Together, we said the Prayer of Confession.
"Holy child, born of a singing mother,
Forgive us our monotone lives,
for seeing darkness rather than light,
for hearing bad news rather than rather than magnificent music,
for living with dread rather than delight.
Redeem us, enliven us.
Give us hope in our hearts and a song on our lips. Amen"
These words, given to us to say, allow us to lay the burden of lives falling short of what we know God wants, upon our Lord, which with the assurance to follow, reminds us that we are not in this struggle alone-that we walk hand-in-hand with the Maker himself.
Assurance of Pardon
We can be sure that all we need to do is approach God in hope, believing the good news of the gospel, and we are forgiven. And our hearts can sing in that sure hope.
Lighting the Fourth Candle in the Advent Wreath
The prophets candle-hope; The Bethlehem candle-prepare; The Shepherd's candle-Jesus Christ the good shepherd; The Angel's candle-to honour the angels who told the good news, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will to all."
In honour of all the angels who proclaim the good news.
Helen prayed, giving thanks for God's angel of love that brings us joy and changes us into the people who can give love to others. That's what we are here for! That's what it's all about, isn't it?
Share the Peace
"We are waiting to welcome the Lord, but there is no greater welcome for the Lord in our lives than when our hearts have sought peace with everyone around us:
The peace of the Lord be with you...With this, we left our seats and clasped the hand of each of those around us, wishing peace to all.
Hymn 235 " Angels from the realm of glory", the Christmas story in a nutshell: a song about the key characters of the Christmas drama but concluding with a declaration to us that the Lord shall appear in his temple. If we open ourselves to him that could be his appearance in the temple of our persons-God has come to dwell in us.
Helen followed this hymn with a short play, "The diaries of Joseph and Theodore" taken from "Cloth for the Cradle" to highlight the humanness of Mary and her family.
Colin takes the part of Joseph, Mary's fiance
And Gordon plays Theodore, Mary's father and keen gardener, married to Anna - ordinary people, coping with an extra-ordinary event.
Hymn 225 "Infant Holy infant lowly". The Christmas story from a slightly different perspective, but ending with the same focus, "Christ the babe was born for you."
Scripture Reading Luke 1: 39 - 55 was delivered by Ruth. The account of Mary's visit to Elizabeth and the awareness of each of the women of their destiny, followed by Mary giving glory to God and revealing her insight into the part she was about to play in history, despite her humble beginnings, and her knowledge of the power of God over all people and events.
Reflection Helen began by speaking of her most challenging career, that of mother, a position that goes on forever with the role changing with time, with mothers maintaining the passion and love for the child and the position.
Today's reading presents two women, Mary and Elizabeth, who were to become mothers and as a result, their lives would be changed forever. Mary has been described as Christ's first disciple because despite not understanding what was happening, she said 'Yes' when she was called to receive the Saviour.
Helen continued by showing that Mary's life of doing God's will had its highs and lows: from being misunderstood, through to the flight into Egypt to avoid the death of her child and to other situations when Jesus' behaviour was mystifying and caused anxiety.
When Mary and Joseph lost 12-year-old Jesus and after three days and the panic that would have followed, found him teaching in the Temple courts, his response was not that of a dutiful child. He challenged his parents by asking why they had been searching: didn't they know he had to be in his father's house.
Later when he was an adult and Mary and his brothers, fearing for him, called on him to come to them from within the crowd, his answer was a lot like a slap: he pointed to the crowd and said they were his mother and brothers and sisters. How would Mary have felt!
And then the worst experience for any mother-seeing her child die- and that angel that had spoken to her originally, was never there in these terrible times to assure Mary, she simply had to continue believing. And she did.
Dispute the confusion, the disappointment and hurt, Mary became one of the founders of the church and Jesus' brothers, his disciples
Helen then turned the reflection to us. Our journeys may start with a dramatic moment but discipleship continues, not because we completely understand, or are always faithful but because Jesus keeps walking with us, calling us to follow that narrow path of faith.
Carol "Star-child, earth child" God's go-between. Born for all others who have been born..."for everyone, everyone alive!"
Freewill Offering dedicated "to sustain and strengthen others"
Musical Interlude a time for personal reflection and prayer.
Prayers of the People and The Lord's Prayer Jack prayed for peace in the world, in the home, in the nation and in our hearts and that we will be given a better understanding of other people in their particular circumstances.
Hymn 228 v 1-3,5-6 "O Come All Ye Faithful". An exhortation more than an invitation."...fain we embrace thee with love and awe; who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?"
May life be born within you,
Christ Jesus be seen among you,
and joy surround you like the angels song.
Amen. Amen. Amen.