Christmas, Year A

Musical Reflection
Calling on Mary by Aimee Mann

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Invocation

God of David’s fragile house
of hope and expectation:
in the time of empires,
your word is born to those
who have no place
and sung to those
who watch in the wild;
may his birth unsettle our world
with hidden glory
and untold peace;

God of rough hands

and hardened feet,
giving light to the children of earth:
in agony of birth
and gentleness of newborn skin,
may we discover your ordinary beauty
in the heart of our longing world;

God of grace and truth,
whose word brings light to birth
in the heart of a darkening world
which fears a love it cannot name:
may flesh be blessed and born anew
by a truth that leaves the heavens
and walks the waiting earth;
through Jesus Christ,
the Child of promise,
the Icon of the Unseen God,
the Word incarnate.
Amen.

First Reading

Christmas
 by Bill Manhire

Evening: the nervous suburbs levitate.
Height does us no harm, now we are high above the mineral pools,
above the flash hotel whose only use is treachery.

Someone knocks on a door and you crouch behind the bed.

Down in the bar, the small girls toast their parents,
the brother breaks a large bone for its marrow.
I’m thinking of a challenge for us all. The star in the sky
has traveled all the way from home. Now follow that!

 

Second Reading
A Christmas Song
by Norman Williams

 

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat
                        Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
                        If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.

                        If you haven’t got a ha’penny, Gold bless you.

Tonight the wide, wet flakes of snow
Drift down like Christmas suicides,
Layering the eaves and boughs until
The landscape seems transformed, as from
A night of talk or love. I’ve come
From cankered ports and railroad hubs
To winter in a northern state:
Three months of wind and little light.
Wood split, flue cleaned, and ashes hauled,
I am now proof against the cold
And make a place before the stove.
Mired fast in middle age, possessed
Of staved-in barn and brambled lot,
I think of that fierce-minded woman
Whom I loved, painting in a small,
Unheated room, or of a friend,
Sharp-ribbed from poverty, who framed
And fitted out his house by hand
And writes each night by kerosene.
I think, that is, of others who
Withdrew from commerce and the world
To work for joy instead of gain.
O would that I could gather them
This Yuletide, and shower them with coins.

 

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Gospel Reading 1
Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your saviour is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favours.”

When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.

Gospel Reading 2
John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word
    and the Word was with God
    and the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning.
Everything came into being through the Word,
    and without the Word
    nothing came into being.
What came into being
    through the Word was life,
    and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.

The true light that shines on all people
    was coming into the world.
The light was in the world,
    and the world came into being through the light,
        but the world didn’t recognize the light.
The light came to his own people,
    and his own people didn’t welcome him.
But those who did welcome him,

        those who believed in his name,
    he authorized to become God’s children,
       born not from blood
        nor from human desire or passion,
        but born from God.
The Word became flesh
    and made his home among us.
We have seen God’s glory,
    glory like that of a parent’s only child,
        full of grace and truth.

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Christmas Prayer
by Paramahansa Yogananda, adapted

 

God,
beneath the Christmas tree of civilization,
with its many branches of races,
may we lay imperishable presents of goodwill,
spiritual service, and unconditional love for all.
These are the gifts that Christ wants to receive.
Amen.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Most compassionate Life-giver,
may we honour and praise you:
may we work with you to establish
your new order of justice, peace and love.
Give us what we need for growth,
and help us, through forgiving others,
to accept forgiveness.
Strengthen us in the time of testing,
that we may resist all evil.
For all the tenderness,
strength and love are yours,
now and forever. Amen.


Musical Reflection
The First Noel/Mary Mary by Sarah McLachlan

 

Blessing

Bless to us, O Lord,
the earth beneath our feet;
bless to us, O Lord,
the path we tread:
our walk this day with the Creator,
our walk this day with the Redeemer,
our walk this day with the Spirit.

May the blessing of God – the Existing, the Living, and the Speaking,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

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Sources:

Artwork by Тамара Юфа

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Calling on Mary by Aimee Mann

Poem Christmas by Bill Manhire

Poem A Christmas Song by Norman Williams

Musical Reflection Colour Bird by Hymns from Nineveh

Prayer by Paramahansa Yogananda

Lord’s Prayer by W Wallace

Musical Reflection The First Noel/Mary Mary by Sarah McLachlan

Blessing from Celtic Daily Prayer

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