Worship for Sunday 27th December, by Rev. Sharon Read

Welcome to the first Sunday of Christmas! In the Read household, this is when Christmas starts for us as we enjoy the Advent journey and begin our own Christmas celebrations after the last thing happens for us on Christmas Day. This year, due to Covid19, that will look rather different than the usual. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, greetings to you this Christmas. I offer you a gentle quieter space today, so light your candle and enjoy watching the Christmas account once more.


Let us pray

As Mary and Joseph 
went on the pilgrimage of faith to Jerusalem, 
so we, too, have come on a pilgrimage of faith
today, to this quiet space of worship.
Meet us, O God, as we gather, 

on our own, as a household or over zoom
and open our eyes
to see the eternal truths all around us,
calling us into love and more love 
and things that are everlasting. 

Hymn: STF 193 Born in the night


Spend some moments in the quiet bringing your prayers of Adoration and thanksgiving to God…….

A prayer of confession:

The heavens and seas proclaim your glory. 
But we have polluted the skies and clogged the seas. 
Young and old together show the beauty of God.
But we have made idols of youth and made age seem shameful. 
Forgive us, God, for our sins against the earth
and our sins against each other. 
We move – through age and aeons – in the one direction: towards your love. 
Forgive us, God, for making idols of the things that change, and ignoring what does not change. 
In your great love.

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn: STF 513 Take this moment, sign and space

Our Gospel reading today, we read that Joseph and Mary bring a sacrifice to the Temple to mark the birth of their son. They are unprepared for the difficult message they receive from two older people: Simeon and Anna. Try to imagine yourself into the minds of these new parents hearing this difficult word about their son.

Reading        Luke 2:22-40


I am not from a Christian home – yet I was a child who was brought up in the church through a friend I met at a playgroup and her parents took me along to church with them every week. I was mentored into the faith because of their gentle witness and through amazing Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders, uniform organisation leaders, home group leaders, members of the choir and the faithful people of the church. They guided me, taught me, prayed for me and helped me in ways I appreciate more now than I ever did growing up. Without them, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.

This is a song that I sang with some fabulous musicians whilst on a Cliff College mission at the age of 20. One of the young people I sang with contacted me recently to thank me for encouraging them in their faith when I was there. It’s called lean on me, when you’re not strong by Bill Withers.

This year has been a tough year for all us and many of us have lost someone we love. We have  struggled in ways we haven’t experienced before. We have learnt to lean on other people and I hope leaned on the One who has created us, the One who strengthens us, the One whose Light shines in our darkness and the One who hovers in the chaos with us.

When Mary and Joseph went to the Temple they met two older ‘pillars’ of the community: Simeon and Anna. We have read about them separately as we discover more about them. Both show that they are people of prayer, who clearly lived their lives faithfully.

Today gives us opportunity to recognise who those people are who mentored us in the faith, were (and may be still are) the people who faithfully hold you and I in prayer, their church in prayer, their family, friends and neighbours. We might call them prayer warriers, mentors or spiritual friends.

Let us pause and give thanks for the person who are Simeon and Anna to us? In the past and today.

Dear God, thank you for those people who walk with us in our pilgrimage of faith. Amen.

All of us need older and wiser mentors in our lives – those who will not only pray for us, but who will also have the courage to speak truth into our lives. Simeon and Anna both had a significant impact on the early life of Jesus. They recognised that the hand of God was upon him. They courageously spoke wisdom concerning this young boy.

Recognising those people in our lives and giving thanks, let us think about ourselves. Who can we walk alongside in their faith, offer a listening ear, a prayerful presence and be a mentor in the faith? The value of such support is huge for each and every one of us. The Pandemic has been a reminder of that during those dark moments of our faith, we all need someone to remind us to get back on the path to find the Light of Christ again.

So as we give thanks for those to whom we have leant on and helped us in our journey of faith, let’s pray we can do the same for someone else.

Lord, your faithful servants Anna and Simeon
had dreams and visions that sustained them into their old age. 
Enrich us all with visions and dreams that sustain us, from one decade to the next;
so that our eyes might always be bright, with the life that we see all around. 
Send us out, today and all days, 
with this love, and this vocation.

One of things about that I have been taught is about pausing throughout the day, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and to be reminded that it is in His strength that I do all things. To pause and pray as a reminder that we look again to God to show us what, where and who He would have us be. This hymn (to one of my favourite tunes) reminds us of that.

Hymn: STF 526 Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy


Today, in all the demands, 
we pray for those who are facing a Christmas 
without someone they love. 
God of goodness, 
hear us and be with us. 

Today, in all the delights, 
we pray for those who are facing a Christmas alone. 
God of goodness, 
hear us and be with us. 

Today, in all the celebration, we pray for those who are facing conflicts. 
God of goodness, 
hear us and be with us. 

Today, in all the time at tables, we pray for those who are hungry. 
God of goodness, 
hear us and be with us. 

We offer our own prayers for the people and places that need it today.

God of goodness, 
hear us and be with us. 


Prayer of dedication

We bring you our lives and ask you to fill us with your love. Your love for us is so complete that nothing we do can make you love us more, and nothing we do can make you love us less. We are confident of your love for us, so take us as we are and use us to take your love to the people we meet. Glory be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn: STF 228 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Closing prayer

God, send us out now, 
knowing that in small moments,
today and every day,
we can see you
and honour you. 

Something different to end: 

A song to lead us from this year into the next…may our faith be strengthened, may we be united as one and may we be guided as the people called Manchester Methodists to soar on the wings of an eagle, giving testimony to God’s love for all as people pray for us and as we pray for others.

LYRICS One with the Father One with the Spirit One with the Son of God One with our sister One with our brother One family by the blood Make us one Make us one Your will be done Make us one One heart with heaven One mind connected One body unified Bind us together Now and forever Jesus be glorified Make us one Make us one Your will be done Make us one We confess all our offenses We confess we’ve been afraid We repent of all the pride Let all the hurt be washed away For all the wars and violence Against our enemies Come heal our land with Your great river Restore the family