Worship for Sunday 25th December 2022, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Let us go, in heart and mind,

to see what has come to pass.

Let us go with the shepherds:

Let us go to find the Saviour!

Let us go with the wise ones:

Let us go to find God’s promise, born for us!

Let us go with the poor and humble:

Let us go to find our King, born in a lowly manger.

Let us go with all the world,

with all the peoples of the nations.

Come, let us worship; come, let us adore him:

Christ the Lord!

Carol: O come, all ye faithful: StF 212


O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created:

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!
Glory to God
In the highest:

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing!

John Francis Wade (1711 – 1786)

We greet your coming, God, with wonder:
You come to be with us;

     yet you remain far greater than we can imagine.
You are near;

     yet your wisdom sets you apart from us.
You appear among us;

     yet we cannot describe your glory.

We greet your coming, God, with repentance:
We are more-or-less satisfied with ourselves;

     but your presence exposes our sin and failure.
We are self-confident;

     but you challenge our confidence in ourselves.
We are proud of our understanding;

     but you show us that we do not know everything.

We greet your coming, God, with joy:
We had no true idea of what you are like;

     but you have shown us yourself in Jesus Christ.
We felt our human life could be of no importance to you;

     but you have shown its value by appearing among us as a man.
We are aware of the gulf between us and you;

     but you have bridged it with love. 

God, we greet your coming in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Reading: Luke 2:1 – 14

The Birth of Jesus

2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him

in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

Carol: StF 216 See him lying on a bed of straw

1 See him lying on a bed of straw:
a draughty stable with an open door;
Mary cradling the babe she bore
the prince of glory is his name.

   O now carry me to Bethlehem
   to see the Lord of love again:
   just as poor as was the stable then,
   the prince of glory when he came.

2 Star of silver, sweep across the skies,
show where Jesus in the manger lies;
shepherds, swiftly from your stupor rise
to see the saviour of the world!
   O now carry me…

3 Angels, sing again the song you sang,
sing the glory of God’s gracious plan;
Sing that Bethl’em’s little baby can
be the saviour of us all.
   O now carry me…

4 Mine are riches, from your poverty,
from your innocence, eternity;
mine, forgiveness by your death for me,
child of sorrow for my joy.
   O now carry me…

Michael Perry (1942 – 1996)
© Mrs B Perry/Jubilate Hymns


This has been a very tough year for many. It’s 300 days since war broke out in Ukraine, with all the horror that has brought. There have been floods in Pakistan and ongoing drought in East Africa. Here, we have seen intense heat and bone-chilling cold as the reality of climate change hits home. And now, the cost of living crisis is making life almost unendurable for many. What is there to celebrate this Christmas?

The story of the birth of Jesus is so familiar that we lose sight of its power to shock and disturb. Jesus too was born into tough times. He lived under the power of the Roman Empire, maintained by its army and the constant threat of violence. He lived in a world where people had very little protection from disaster. A year of drought, or an invasion of locusts, spelt catastrophe and all too often starvation.

And the folk who journey to the stable also have personal challenges to endure. Mary and Joseph, the unmarried couple; the shepherds, outcasts at the bottom of society; the wise men, battling their way across harsh deserts to follow a star.

And this is where God came, helpless and utterly vulnerable to all the risks of newborn life. Behind all the glamour of Christmas lies this truth: the Son of God slips into the world in a back-street hovel. This is where God chooses to be. Palaces are for others. Our God is with us in all the struggles of life. This is where the power of love is most fully at work, and this is where the light shines brightest.

So in our tough times, the baby of Bethlehem offers us real hope. He too faces, and endures, real suffering and hardship – and yet he constantly gives a shape and a voice to the steadfast love of God. And that’s what we celebrate at Christmas – especially this Christmas of 2022 with all its anxieties and worry. Into our darkness comes the light, and the darkness will never, ever put it out.

Carol: StF 222: Who would think that what was needed

Who would think that what was needed
To transform and save the earth
Might not be a plan or army,
Proud in purpose, proved in worth?
Who would think, despite derision,
That a child should lead the way?
God surprises earth with heaven,
Coming here on Christmas Day.

Shepherds watch and wise men wonder,
Monarchs scorn and angels sing;
Such a place as none would reckon
Hosts a holy helpless thing;
Stable beasts and by-passed strangers
Watch a baby laid in hay:
God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day.

Centuries of skill and science
Span the past from which we move,
Yet experience questions whether,
With such progress, we improve.
While the human lot we ponder,
Lest our hopes and humour fray,
God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day.

©1987  WGRG, Iona Community, Govan, Glasgow G51 3UU, Scotland

Prayers for church and world

Dear God: 

The newspaper brings nothing new

only an old, old story of war—

more bombing, more shooting, more bloodshed.

One more family wailing a funeral song.

Against the backdrop of brutal images,

we hear the old, old story of an angel with good news,

who brought good tidings of great joy for all people.

Angel of Bethlehem, we long to hear your song again this day.

We want good tidings for countries in crisis.

We want good tidings for soldiers caught in webs of violence.

We want good tidings for terrorists whose actions spread fear and anguish.

We want good tidings for all who grieve, and who see no end to grieving.

We want good tidings for children who long to inherit a country

where peace has blossomed.

Jesus, our Saviour,

you escaped Herod’s best-laid plans.

May your Spirit of peace be born again this year

in the hearts of all who work for peace.  Amen.

 The Lord’s Prayer

 Carol: StF 205 It came upon a midnight clear

It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.


The child is born! Alleluia!

Our God has come among us!

Let the whole earth rejoice!

Let us leave the manger and return to our daily routines,

knowing that we have seen the Lord,

and glorifying and praising God

for all that we have heard and seen.