ORDER OF SERVICE
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All are requested to join in wherever text is GREEN
HYMN: O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant
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, (three times)
Christ the Lord!
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,
Jesu, to thee be glory given;
Word of the father,
Now in flesh appearing:
BLESSED BE GOD: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen
From Easter to Pentecost:
Allelulia. Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia
In Lent and other penitential occasions:
Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins;
His mercy endures for ever.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, to whom all hearts be open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
This prayer is omitted during Lent and Advent:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and immortal, have mercy on us.
THE COLLECT OF THE DAY
The Collect of the day:
The priest now says the Collect for the day:
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
THE FIRST READING
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
The Response is now said by the congregation
Sing to the Lord a new song; *
sing to the Lord, all the whole earth.
Sing to the Lord and bless his Name; *
proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations *
and his wonders among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; *
he is more to be feared than all gods.
As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; *
but it is the Lord who made the heavens.
Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence! *
Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!
Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; *
ascribe to the Lord honor and power.
Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name; *
bring offerings and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; *
let the whole earth tremble before him.
Tell it out among the nations: “The Lord is King! *
he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea thunder and all that is in it; *
let the field be joyful and all that is therein.
Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy
before the Lord when he comes, *
when he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness *
and the peoples with his truth.
THE SECOND READING
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
All stand for the Acclamation and Gospel reading.
HYMN: While shepherds watched their flocks by night, All seated on the ground,
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not’, said he (for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds);
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind.’
Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song:
‘All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from heaven to men
Begin and never cease.’
Alleluia, Alleluia! I am the handmaid of the Lord: let what you have said be done to me.
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke 2:1-20
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.
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. 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: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
After the Gospel reading
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
Well, the watching and waiting in which we have been engaged during the Advent season has now finally come to fruition. ‘Let there be light’ was the great cry these past weeks, and now Christ, the Light of the World, has arrived in a stable at Bethlehem, and come amongst us. The prophesy of Isaiah, which we heard in our 1st reading, has been fulfilled – the Word has been made Flesh, and God has kept his promise.
Christmas, without doubt, is the time of year which most catches the public imagination, whether the individual is religious or not. The whole business of the Incarnation is so improbable that, were one setting out to invent it, this is the last conceivable way in which it could ever have come to pass – pun intended! The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, an outcast from the outset, born in a stable because there was no room for the Holy Family in the inn. Who on earth is going to believe that, when most people would have had the birth take place in a palace, as befits his exalted state. That would be the way of man, but fortunately not that of the God, who sent his Son into the world to redeem it and save us from our sins. To quote the children’s hymn: ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost toowonderful to be, that God should send his only Son, to die, to save a child like me’.
However, this was no ordinary baby – this was no ordinary birth, witnessed as it was by the whole company of heaven, and revealed first to shepherds, who were watching over their flocks by night, in fields just beyond the perimeter of the town. Clearly these humble men, not remotely the first people who one might reasonably have expected to be given the news of the birth of the Saviour, were frightened out of their wits when a great company of angels appeared, glorifying God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men”, just as we have done at the start of this Eucharist. They were told clearly where to find the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. So, when the angels were gone away from them into heaven they had nohesitation in leaving their flocks sleeping in the field, and going to see this thing which had happened, and the Lord had made know to them. Now, in normal circumstances, it would be quite unthinkable for shepherds to abandon their charges to the mercy of wolves and the wild beasts of the field, but such was the impact of what they had experienced, that they had no hesitation and went without delay to adore our Lord and Saviour. Will we do likewise? Sadly, many of our fellows will not!
As believers, it is our incredible joy and privilege to go now with the shepherds in heart and mind unto Bethlehem and witness for ourselves the stupendous gift of God to all mankind – ‘O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord’, we sang as our Entrance Hymn just a few minutes ago.
A matter for great sadness, however, is the fact that there are those who have glibly accepted the invitation to the Feast, even though not specifically invited and ‘on the guest list’, who then do not come to adore. In other words, they have gate-crashed the party and have no real business being there in the first instance. Take the Christ out of Christmas and what is one left with – a mass, or more properly a mess! Let us all then try then to put Christ backinto Christmas in a sceptical, unbelieving, and increasingly hostile world, where a lack of love and compassion totally belies the message of ‘peace on earth, good will to all people’, which Our Lord came to bring.
There has rightly been total abhorrence of the way the Chinese are currently abusing their Uyghur Muslims, and our neighbours, the Rohingya people have been treated in Myanmar by the Buddhist majority – driven out in tens of thousands of a land which for centuries they have regarded as their home, and forced into exile in Bangladesh, with their women raped, their homes utterly destroyed, and the authorities making every effort to bring about ‘ethnic cleansing’. To those of my generation this brings back abhorrent memories of the Nazis in Germany, stopping at nothing in order to rid themselves of an entire race of people they considered sub-human and undesirable. Nothing new here, alas, for as you will recall, Herod was guilty of infanticide in his determination to rid himself of this new ‘King of the Jews’, who represented such a grave and wholly unacceptable threat to his own position. Subsequently, alas, there have been further attempts at something similar, not least in Yugoslavia and various other places in the years following 1945. This sort of thing brings out the very worst in human nature, and there are those now who make it their business to strive constantly to cause unrest and interracial tensions. One of the worst outcomes of Brexit in the UK has been the demonising of various sections of the community, not least in anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim movements, and all the hatred which this has engendered, alas.
We hear much these days about ‘political correctness’ and that in nominally Christian countries, Christmas therefore must be ‘neutralised’, so as not to antagonise those of other faiths and none. Here it would be well to remind ourselves that Islam recognises Jesus as a Prophet, but not as the Son of God. According to the Koran, his mother ‘Maryam’ gave birth to him under a palm tree in an unspecified location, and so, whilst not nearly so evocative as the stable in Bethlehem, there is insufficient reason for Muslims to be ‘upset’ by traditions going back many centuries than the ’politically-correct’ brigade would have us believe!
In our conflict-ridden and increasingly broken and divided world, there has never been a greater need for the Light of Christ to shine again in the hearts of all people – for the Light to shine in the darkness, which cannot overcome it, no matter how great the darkness, and how relatively little the light. This supports the sense that in the end good must always triumph over evil. However, this will not happen if good people, the silent majority, sit on their hands and do nothing, as we have seen throughout history and in the events of our own lifetime.
All those who were present in the stable in Bethlehem, including by some poetic accounts, also the animals, were in absolutely no doubt as to what they had witnessed. We will go out from here and immediately be surrounded by partying hoards, indulging up to the hilt in ‘sanuk’, as the Thais call it – never ones to turn down any opportunity for a ‘knees-up’, but their celebrations will be entirely hollow and meaningless without the love of Christ, which makes all things new, and is manifest so completely in the Child in a manger – utterly helpless for the moment, despite being the Word Incarnate. God on earth now, of course, has no hands but ours, no feet but ours, no chance therefore of bringing about the coming of the Kingdom without human intervention. So, as we come with the shepherds to the stable and bow the knee in adoration, let us reflect on those beautiful words of Christina Rossetti in her wonderful poem ‘In the bleak mid-winter’, which is often sung in this season of the year. “What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man I would do my part. Yet what I can, I give him – give my heart.” Only by so doing can this or any other Christmastide have any spiritual significance – let us not be guilty of taking part in an empty and utterly meaningless celebration! Amen.
THE NICENE CREED
Please stand for the Nicene Creed.
Let us together affirm the faith of the Church.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Let us pray for the world and for the Church:
Prayers of intercession are now said and at the end of each prayer the priest says:
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Lord hear us,
Lord graciously hear us
At the conclusion of the prayers the priest says:
Almighty God, who has promised to hear our prayers.
Grant that what we have asked in faith we may by your grace receive, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jesus said: Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God is steadfast in love and infinite in mercy, welcoming sinners and inviting them to the Lord’s table.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, confident in God’s forgiveness.
Merciful God, our maker and our judge, we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, and in what we have failed to do: we have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves; we repent and are sorry for all our sins, Father forgive us, strengthen us to love and obey you in newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Almighty God, who has promised forgiveness to all who turn to him in faith, pardon you and set you free from all your sins, strengthen you in all goodness and keep you in eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The congregation stands.
We are the Body of Christ.
His Spirit is with us.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
Please greet each other with a sign of peace.
HYMN: O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!
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 street shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
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 Emmanuel’
Blessed are you, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have these gifts to share. Accept and use our offerings for your glory and the service of your kingdom.
Blessed be God forever.
Let us pray
We do not presume to come to your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table, but you are the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy. Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your dear son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us. Amen.
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER C
CLICK HERE FOR EUCHARISTIC PRAYER
The Lord be with you.
and also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
Father, we give you thanks and praise through your beloved Son Jesus Christ, your living Word, through whom you have created all things; who was sent by you in your great goodness to be our Saviour.
By the power of the Holy Spirit he took flesh; as your Son, born of the blessed Virgin, he lived on earth and went about among us; he opened wide his arms for us on the cross; he put an end to death by dying for us; and revealed the resurrection by rising to new life; so he fulfilled your will and won for you a holy people.
Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, for ever praising you and saying:
Holy, holy, holy Lord God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Lord, you are holy indeed, the source of all holiness; grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit, and according to your holy will, these gifts of bread and wine may be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks; he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way, after supper he took the cup and gave you thanks; he gave it to them, saying: Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.
Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died:
Christ is risen:
Christ will come again.
And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross, his perfect sacrifice, made once for the sins of the whole world; rejoicing in his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension, and looking for his coming in glory, we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.
As we offer you this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, we bring before you this bread and this cup and we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. Send the Holy Spirit on your people and gather into one in your kingdom all who share this one bread and one cup, so that we, in the company of [N and] all the saints, may praise and glorify you for ever, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.
Let us pray with confidence to the Father, as our Saviour has taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who 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. Amen.
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.
This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world;
Happy are those who are called to his supper.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
After Communion the celebrant and the congregation say
Let us pray.
Father of all we give you thanks and praise that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living, he declared your love, gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory. May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.
Keep us in this hope that we have grasped; so we and all your children shall be free, and the whole earth live to praise your name.
Father, we offer ourselves to you as a living sacrifice through Jesus Christ our Lord. Send us out in the power of your Spirit to live and work to your praise and glory.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.
A Message from Rt. Revd. Vsevolod Lytkin
HYMN: Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born King;
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled:
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies,
With the angelic hosts proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.
Hail the heaven-born prince of peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings;
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth:
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.
NOTE: The introductory music is Bach – Von Himmel hoch BWV 606
Here is the music for this week’s hymns, if you would like to practice beforehand.
Performed by Fr. David Price