Worship for 2nd January 2022, by Rev. Sue Williams

Opening words:

You gave your all to the world

in the bleakness of that stable.

Love was born that day

Pure love


Poured out for all

who call on Your name

Such Grace


deserves a response

in the life that we lead.

Draw us to your Word,

give us a new song to sing,

that will resonate throughout this world.

And begin with us today.   Amen


Hymn:  Joy has dawned

Joy has dawned upon the world,

Promised from creation:

God’s salvation now unfurled,

Hope for every nation.

Not with fanfares from above,

Not with scenes of glory.

But a humble gift of love:

Jesus born of Mary.


Sounds of wonder fill the sky

With the songs of angels,

As the mighty Prince of Life

Shelters in a stable.

Hands that set each star in place,

Shaped the earth in darkness,

Cling now to a mother’s breast,

Vulnerable and helpless.


Shepherds bow before the Lamb,

Gazing at the glory;

Gifts of men from distant lands

Prophesy the story.

Gold, a King is born today,

Incense, God is with us,

Myrrh, His death will make a way,

And by His blood He’ll win us.

Son of Adam, Son of heaven,

Given as a ransom,

Reconciling God and man,

Christ our mighty Champion.

What a Saviour, what a Friend,

What a glorious mystery:

Once a babe in Bethlehem,

Now the Lord of history.

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2004 Thankyou Music

(Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)



Creator God, 

who loves us more than we can know, 

who has chosen us to be family, 

we praise your holy name. 

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Word become flesh dwelling among us, sacrificed for us, 

we praise your holy name. 

Holy Spirit, breath of life, power within us
from the moment we first believed, 

we praise your holy name. 


and confession

God of Justice, 

forgive us if our Christmas was more about what we could get than what we could give. 

Forgive us if our Christmas stories eclipsed the Christ child from the centre. 

Forgive us when we indulged in our Christmas lunch with little thought for those who were going hungry. 

Forgive us when our Christmas trees were dressed more extravagantly than our poor neighbours. 

In all the ways our Christmas celebrations missed your heart for your world, forgive us. 


Loving God, we know the remarkable nature of your forgiveness, evidenced in your commitment to living alongside us, suffering with us, becoming human – an extraordinary gift indeed.  May we live up to your call on our lives in the days to come. Amen.

There are some people (I am not one of them) who take down their Christmas trees as soon as possible after Christmas is over, not even waiting for the new year never mind the 12 days of Christmas.  Packed up and put away.  Done and dusted.  That’s it for another year.   I just want to leave ours until Epiphany … 


Hymn: Beneath the paper wrappings (StF 192)

Beneath the paper wrappings, there’s an open stable door,

beneath the fir tree trappings, there’s a welcome and there’s more.

Beyond the tinsel fairy is a presence that’s divine,

there’s a child to change the future, turning water into wine.


Look inside, look above, look beyond and see the love,

look inside and you will see.

Look inside, look below, look beyond, and you will know,

the one who came to give his life for you and me.


The miracle of childbirth now reveals God’s only Son,

a miracle beginning that continues on and on.

The stable holds the echo of the tomb that’s yet to be,

on the manger lies the shadow of the cross he’s yet to see.


Look inside ….

Clare Stainsby


Although officially today we read from the Gospel of John 1:10-18, let’s enjoy the prologue from the beginning.  

John 1:1-18 (NRSVA)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 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. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”’) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.


As the Christmas tree is not really anything to do with Christmas Day, we might wonder why John 1:10-18 is the reading for today, that it doesn’t seem like a Christmas reading.  After all there is no mention of a Christ-child, Mary, angels or shepherds.  Why are we so soon being turned away from the comfortable and familiar Christmas story and being returned to these beautiful but complicated words of John?  

Perhaps it is after all time to turn away from the tinsel and to ponder John’s words some more, as mature children of God, and think of the wider impact of the incarnation in his words, ‘the Word became flesh’.  No longer confined to the page, but become one of us.  Made human.  Corporeal.  Physical.  Incarnate.  Flesh and blood.  The majesty, and the mystery of God. 

Louis Cassels, a devoted Christian, who in the last ten years of his life wrote over a dozen books dedicated to issues of faith, in his  ‘Parable of the Birds’  he tells of a man who refused to go with his family to midnight Mass.  He admitted he could not understand the incarnation, and rather than be a hypocrite he would stay at home.   Left alone at home, a flock of birds crash into the large window in search of shelter.  The man tries to usher the birds into the barn by sprinkling breadcrumbs along the way, but they don’t follow.  When he tries to get them into the barn by waving his arms in the air, the birds still do not understand what he’s trying to do.  He realises the problem.  “If only I could be a bird,” he thinks to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.”

He hears the church bells ring out for Christmas Day, and in a moment of clarity and falling to his his knees he says, ‘Now I see why God has to become one of us.’

Christianity is unique compared to other religions, because it was God who searched for us and loved us so much, and manifested this love to us by sending His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who became one like us in the mystery of Incarnation, that is, Emmanuel, God is with us.  He became one like us, born as human baby.  In this way,  like the birds in the story, we will not be afraid of the grandeur of His power and greatness but will understand his true love for us.  We may not understand how God did this, but we know why.  As Jesus Christ is telling us in the gospel of St. John that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but might have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

And of course, the love of God is not just for Christmas, but for all time.

Hymn: Let Heaven and Earth Combine (StF 208)

Let earth and heaven combine,

angels and all agree

to praise in songs divine

the incarnate Deity,

our God contracted to a span,

incomprehensibly made man.


He laid his glory by,

he wrapped him in our clay;

unmarked by human eye,

the latent Godhead lay:

infant of days he here became,

and bore the mild Immanuel’s name.


Unsearchable the love

that hath the Saviour brought,

the grace is far above

both earth’s and angels’ thought;

suffice for us, that God, we know,

our God is manifest below.


He deigns in flesh to appear,

widest extremes to join;

to bring our vileness near,

and make us all divine;

and we the life of God shall know,

for God is manifest below.


Made perfect first in love,

and sanctified by grace,

we shall from earth remove,

and see his glorious face:

his love shall then be fully showed,

and we shall all be lost in God.

Charles Wesley


A Canticle of Praise:

Blessed are you, O Christ, our God; 

you were before time began, 

and came to the world to save us.

Blessed are you, Sun of righteousness; 

you shine with the Father’s love 

and illumine the whole universe.

Blessed are you, Son of Mary; 

born a child 

you shared our humanity.

Blessed are you, son of David; 

born to rule, 

you received gifts from the wise men.

Blessed are you, Son of Man; 

baptised by John, 

you saved us from ourselves.

Blessed are you, heavenly King; 

teaching and preaching, healing and comforting, 

you proclaimed the kingdom.

With all the voices of heaven 

we celebrate the coming of our Saviour. 

Let heaven and earth combine to shout their hymns of praise.

We sing and dance at your birth. 

Praise and glory to you, O Lord Jesus Christ.

Our prayers for others, based on MWB


God of surprises, 

giver of joy and revealer of mysteries,

thank you for expectantly calling us to the right path. 

You are not silent but choose to reveal yourself in the majesty of creation, the promise of scripture, the guidance of Your Holy Spirit supremely in Jesus the Word made flesh.


Unlooked for Christ comes to shepherds 

watching their sheep through the long dark night. 

He comes with the glory of angels song and in the humility of the manger.

Loving God we pray for our community, our nation and our world. 


In the midst of our everyday lives, surprise us 

with glimpses of glorious humble love at the heart of our existence.

Searched for Christ comes to the wise and powerful, star-led to Bethlehem seeking a king. 


He comes, child of Mary, crowned with meekness, worthy of every gift.

Loving God we pray for the leaders of the world,

the people of power influence. Guide them 

with your light to the true wisdom of justice, peace and freedom to respect every human life.

Lord God we pray for your church in all the world. 

Unite us by your Spirit and make us faithful witnesses to the hope we have in you.


Prayed for, Christ comes to all crying out in pain and loneliness. 

He comes baptised, at one with us, our saviour, healer, friend.

Loving God we pray for those whose lives are hard and painful 

or whose existence sorrowful, bitter or empty. 

In their need may they know your healing touch, 

reaching out to comfort, strengthen and restore.


Unlooked for and searched for,

Living God come to us now as you have come to people of every age.


We thank you for all who have reflected the light of Christ. 

Help us ,with them, to follow their example and bring us with 

them to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen


Hymn: Thou didst leave thy throne

Thou didst leave thy throne and Thy kingly crown,

When Thou camest to earth for me;

But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room

For thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.


Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,

Proclaiming Thy royal degree;

But of lowly birth didst thou come to earth,

And in great humility.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.


The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest

In the shade of the forest tree;

But thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,

In the deserts of Galilee.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.


Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word

That should set thy people free;

But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,

They bore thee to Calvary.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for thee.


When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,

At Thy coming to victory,

Let Thy voice call me home, saying 

“Yet there is room,

There is room at my side for thee.”

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus, 

When thou comest and callest for me.


Final prayer and blessing

From the very beginning was 

Your Word

Which spoke this world into being

Your Word

Which thunders from the skies

Your Word

Which flows like mountain streams

Your Word

Which whispers in morning breeze

Your Word

Revealed through kings and prophets

Your Word

Revealed through Angels’ praise

Your Word

Revealed in humble service

Your Word

Revealed through a tiny child

Your Word

Alive from the beginning of all things

And to eternity.


And the blessing of God

Father, Son, Spirit

be with each of us this day

and always.