Worship for Sunday 19th December 2021, by Matt Smith

The last Sunday before Christmas, what an exciting time. Are you ready? This week we remember Mary the mother of Jesus and the fourth candle for Joy.


Loving God, as our heavenly parent, both mother and father, we thank you for those in our lives that have been influenced positively by parent figures. Those that have lovingly guided and supported us in our lives. We think of Mary, with all the things that she went through in her pregnancy and after and wonder at how joy can be linked with the upheaval and uncertainty that came with it. Lord grant us all the eyes to see the joy in all aspects of life even when things are hard. Open our hearts to be refreshed with your spirit of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy.


Hymn: Light of the World StF175

  1. Light of the world,

You stepped down into darkness,

Opened my eyes, let me see.

Beauty that made this heart adore you,

Hope of a life spent with you.

So here I am to worship;

Here I am to bow down;

Here I am to say that

You’re my God.

And you’re altogether lovely,

Altogether worthy,

Altogether wonderful to me.

  1. King of all days, oh, so highly exalted,

Glorious in heaven above,

Humbly you came

To the earth you created,

All for love’s sake became poor.

So here I am to worship …

And I’ll never know

How much it cost

To see my sin

Upon that cross.

So here I am to worship …


Holy God, We come firstly to confess that there are things in our lives that are wrong. Things that hurt and damage relationships with others, for loss of temper and lack of patience, for believing that we are more important than others.

Lord, forgive us

Forgive us for the things that we do to damage ourselves by believing the lie that we are not loveable enough, not important enough or that we have no worth. For we are made in your image and are your creation.

Lord, forgive us.

Forgive us for the things we do that destroy our planet, for choosing convenience over sustainability, wasting resources and polluting the waters.

Lord, forgive us.

Lord we are sorry for the things that we do that damage our relationship with you. For the flippant prayers and the fleeting recognition of you throughout the week. For shallow trust and unexplored questions.

Lord, forgive us.

We praise you Lord for the wonders that you have shown to us through your creation. For over the billions of years that this planet has existed it has stood in testament to your love, care and compassion.

We praise you that we are made in your image, our hearts and souls being made to love and care for others in return, but recognise the fallen-ness of our own desires that create division.

We praise you for wanting the best for us, even through the hard times that we face, not removing the things we can grow through, but walking with us through them, guiding us onwards. We praise you for sending us firstly your son to be with us and then your spirit to dwell within us.

We thank you God, for the joy that we have in knowing that because of Jesus, your son, we can know the forgiveness that you give to all who ask for it. We thank you for the joy of being set free from the guilt of our wrongs that we can continue to build on our relationship with you every day.


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth,

As it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive them that 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.



Hymn: The Angel Gabriel StF187

  1. The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;

“All hail,” said he to meek and lowly Mary,

“most highly favoured maiden.” Gloria!

  1. “I come from heav’n to tell the Lord’s decree:

a blessed virgin mother you shall be.

Your Son shall be Immanuel, by seers foretold

most highly favoured maiden.” Gloria!


  1. Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;

“To me be as it pleases God,” she said.

“My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.”

Most highly favoured maiden, Gloria!

  1. Of her, Immanuel, the Christ, was born

In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,

and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say,

“Most highly favoured maiden.” Gloria!


Luke 1: 39-56 NIV

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.


No matter how many plans we make for how we want life to go, it invariably doesn’t happen entirely as we would like. It seems that there are too many variable to be able to control. It’s a lesson that I’m talking to my children about at the moment. With friends moving to different schools, loss in the family and the impacts Covid has on life, they are learning that life can’t be just as we would like it. I’m sure that this wasn’t Mary’s plan for her life. Pregnancy out of marriage, moving to Egypt, moving back again years later and then Jesus’s ministry.

As we read through the Old Testament texts, we can see Israel’s wrestling with the understanding of life. Does good only happen to good people and bad to bad people? Even today some Christians still believe there is an aspect of this in their theology, if you are good, God will bless you. It seems to me that it isn’t about what happens in our lives that counts to our being good or bad. To me it is about how we deal with the inevitable bad and hard things that cross our path throughout life.

How would we have dealt with Mary and Joseph being pregnant out of marriage? Would our church be a safe place for them to come be accepted and loved or one that was full of watchful eyes, hushed whispers, and avoidant detours? What if it was Moses the murderer or David the adulterer, Rahab the prostitute, Peter the liar or many of the other biblically flawed characters? What if it was just normal Joe blogs that you knew nothing about their past?

Mary wasn’t perfect either, but she was able to see the joy and blessing through the tough times that she faced. She was still able to praise God for who he is, for his Goodness and character, for his creation and now we can praise him still for Jesus and the Holy Spirit too and their impact on our lives.

Our Churches need to be light not because we sing worship to God each week or because we hear his word being read out to us, but because of the love that Jesus showed to all people, being re-enacted in our buildings and outside of them to all the people we come across. Let’s find the Joy in loving others.

Hymn: Mary Did You Know?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Will calm the storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby
You kiss the face of God

Mary, did you know?….

The blind will see, the deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great, I Am

Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)


Prayers of Intercession

Lord how do we start to pray for all the things that are going wrong in the world? Wars, famine, tornados, floods, abuse, trafficking of people, the list goes on.

Our prayers lord are that there are people that you can use in places that we cannot reach or impact that can help these situations. Give them the courage and strength to stand up for what is right and true and just, to protect those in need, to bring hope to hopeless places, and Lord we ask that your spirit may be moving in those places too, so that where we fall short you provide.

We pray for those who have lost loved ones this week, either from natural causes or other. Lord be close to them, may they know the love and support from others as well as you. We think particularly of those in America killed in the tornado.

We pray too for those for who this new Covid variant brings about fear. For those who look after those who are ill in hospitals and the added strain on the healthcare services over the coming months.

We pray for all those who struggle with parenthood, those that can’t be parents and those who feel isolated and stretched.

Lord we pray too for ourselves, that we might find the joy in life even when times are hard. That we may bring hope, peace and love to others too who we meet each day and find it in others.



Hymn: O little town of Bethlehem StF 213

  1. O little town of Bethlehem,

how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

the silent stars go by;

yet in thy dark streets shineth

the everlasting light.

The hopes and fears of all the years

are met in thee tonight.


  1. For Christ is born of Mary,

and, gathered all above

while mortals sleep, the angels keep

their watch of wond’ring love.

O morning stars, together

proclaim the holy birth,

and praises sing to God the King

and peace to all the earth.


  1. How silently, how silently,

the wondrous gift is giv’n!

So God imparts to human hearts

the blessings of his heav’n.

No ear may hear his coming,

but in this world of sin,

where meek souls will receive him, still

the dear Christ enters in.


  1. O holy Child of Bethlehem,

descend to us, we pray,

cast out our sin and enter in,

be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels

the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us,

our Lord Immanuel!



In all that life brings this week, may you find the love of God surrounding you as filling you with the joy in the small things, hope for better times and the peace that comes from knowing Christ our Lord. And a Merry Christmas.