Sunday 18th December

Reflecting in Prayer

Lord God, you are very near.
In this last week of Advent – the watching and waiting time,
we pray that we will continue with patience and wonder.
We await the Christ, the one who will reveal you to us Lord God
The one who comes to us as sparkling light: Twinkling with joy and playfulness.
The one who comes to us as everyday light: Brightening the ordinary world around us.
The one who comes to us as softened light: Creating a gentle, healing space in the shadows.
The one who comes to us as a focussed spotlight: Bringing truth and justice into stark relief.
This is the Light of the World – Jesus Christ, coming to shine among us.

Lord Jesus, we praise and adore you:

that you came as the living Word to be the voice of the voiceless;
that you came as the Word made flesh to clothe our nakedness;
that you came as the light in the darkness to illuminate our hope;
that you came as the Lamb of God to transform our brutality;
that you came from eternity to the earth to heal all creation;
that you came as the child of humility and the servant of love,
to release Christmas within our hearts.
We thank you, Lord Jesus.

But as we thank you we ask you to forgive us, Lord,

when we want Christmas on our terms:
when we want to be at Bethlehem, but don’t want the bother of the journey;
when we want to share the joy of birth, but not the scandal;
when we want a new beginning, but don’t want to change;
We do want you to come, Lord, but perhaps not just yet.
Forgive us, Lord, when our Christmas is not your Christmas,
and draw us to your stable of shame and glory.

Jesus, Saviour of the world, we come to you.

Lord God, we are sorry that sometimes when we read the Bible, we think
‘that was then’, or ‘that was for them’, it’s not really anything to do with us.
So, open our eyes to you Lord.

We don’t always want to hear your call to us: Open our ears, Lord
We don’t always want you to break into our lives: Open our minds Lord.
We don’t believe you can do it, we don’t believe you could choose us and yet,  open our hearts Lord.

We pray that we will be more like Mary,
not hesitating, but hearing your voice
and being there, and being ready to do what you want us to.
Thank you, Lord that, despite our failures and foibles
we can travel through Advent as forgiven people, lifting our faces towards the light.
Let us walk together in hope and in faith.
And as forgiven people, we will be still, and wait, and we will praise you.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who taught us to pray

The Lord’s Prayer                          

Read – Matthew 1: 18 – 25

Take a moment to pray

We praise you, God of wisdom, for Mary and Joseph,
who you chose to star in the astonishing events of Christ’s birth.
When our lives are overturned by the unexpected,
and you reach out to us in dreams,

grant us their love and courage,
so that we may be open to your prompting and witness
as they were to the coming of your son, Jesus Christ.

The Lord our God is faithful from generation to generation,
God caused men and women to hear his message so that they could speak to their contemporaries
about God’s purposes and about the demands of faithfulness.
We listen to God’s messengers speak about the way of peace.
We hear them reminding us about the needs of those who have no voice.
We dismiss them as idealists in a world of common sense.
We anaesthetise our senses to dull our betrayal.

A young woman sings about God’s promises fulfilled
in the proud scattered,
the powerful dethroned,
the nobodies made to be somebodies,
the hungry fed,
whilst the rich fail to get their own way.

A man, Joseph in a tough situation, not of his making,
agrees courageously with an angel
to publicly stand alongside Mary
and acknowledge her child as his own.
The loyal Joseph submitting himself humbly
to his wife’s God-given calling.

In the sign of Jesus born in humility, we rejoice.
In the Word embodied, the age-old Word realised in a baby, we rejoice.
In coming to us to vindicate the longings of the generations,

We greet God with joy made flesh in Jesus.

Revd Janine Atkinson / Revd Richard Church (altd.)