Sunday 13th December 2020

 

Opening prayer – written by

 Christian Aid Scotland

Even if we cannot gather in person

Even if some Christmas traditions have had to go

Even if we might not get to hug family and friends

Even if we cannot sing carols beside each other

Even if Christmas cheer is harder this year

Lord Jesus, You came and come to all.

You came and come especially to the poorest and the most vulnerable.

Come to us today, Lord Jesus to help and to heal the poverty of our souls, to refresh and inspire us even through the weakness of our faith…

Come - to love and to hold us – to give us the courage always to point to You for Your names’ sake. Amen 

 

1        Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
          let earth receive her King;
          let every heart prepare him room,
          and heaven and nature sing,
          and heaven and nature sing,
          and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

 

  2      Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!
          let all their songs employ;
          while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
          repeat the sounding joy,
          repeat the sounding joy,
          repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

 

  3      He rules the world with truth and grace,
          and makes the nations prove
          the glories of his righteousness
          and wonders of his love,
          and wonders of his love,
          and wonders, wonders of his love.

 

Prayer

Creator God, we thank You, for Your Son – the Light of the world.

We thank You too, for those in every generation who have faithfully pointed to Him and who have spread His light in even the darkest times.

Lord Jesus, may we find the courage to point to the hope and comfort and peace You offer, especially in times of difficulty and sorrow.

May we witness to Your love and Your goodness Your presence and Your compassion.

And thank You – thank You for the family of Your people meeting throughout the world this day – all of us gathered only too aware of our faults and our limitations, but knowing too, that You, Lord Jesus, can take the tiniest spark and fan it into a raging fire.

Give us the courage and the desire to seek to serve You as best we can – and in that service may we reflect the life You lived.

We offer You our prayers for those who struggle with this season. We think of the bereaved, of those who cannot afford to celebrate as they might want, of those with no one to share a table.

Lord God, You understand and share tears and silences, disappointments and regrets.

Bring Your comfort, fill with Your strength, and grant all Your peace…

We pray too, for places in the world where conflict and violence are rife… For places where nature has been harsh – and we have been thoughtless in caring for Your creation: Give us greater concern for one another and an even greater willingness to do whatever we can for each other and for the world itself.

So may we work with You, Lord God, to make this world, the world You intended it to be – a world where people care and love and laugh, a world where justice reigns and peace is evident and where all know they belong. These prayers, along with our gratitude for the birth of Your Son, we offer You in His name and for His sake.  Amen

      

Reading

John 1:6-8, 19-28

In John’s Gospel, John (Jesus’ cousin) is simply John. No ‘the Baptist’ at the end of his name.

 

The writer wants to make it abundantly clear that John’s primary function is not to stand in the river Jordan baptising people - instead his primary function is to witness to Jesus. Which is why in this Gospel, we don’t read of John baptising Jesus.  John is not the light, we are told, “he came to testify to the light” (NRSV).

 

When we pick up his tale a few verses later, John himself says as much.  John, we’re told, is asked who he is and he chooses to answer that question, in relation to the one he bears witness to.  He says: I am not… the Messiah.  I am not Elijah.  I am not a prophet.  I do though, echo Scripture and point to the light.

 

And here’s the amazing thing about God.  God’s Son is sent into the midst of humanity to redeem and restore the world, and God relies on a human being to signpost that fact.  John does so however, acutely aware of his own limitations: “I baptise with water” (John says).  “Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”  

 

The fourth Gospel’s account of who John is and what he is about, offers the opportunity to talk about identity and to consider who we each are in relation to Christ.  It also challenges us to do as John did and to use every opportunity to point to the light that dispels every darkness – especially perhaps, at Christmas in a 2020 which has dimmed the lives of so many.  How can we spread the light in these times that are so dark for so many in our communities and in the far wider world around us?

 

Can we expand our Christmas vision, to light up the whole world in every corner?

 


 

  1      The race that long in darkness pined
          has seen a glorious light;
          the people dwell in day, who dwelt
          in death’s surrounding night.

 

  2      To us a Child of hope is born;
          to us a Son is given;
          him shall the tribes of earth obey,
          him all the hosts of heaven.

  3      His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
          for evermore adored;
          the Wonderful, the Counsellor,
          the great and mighty Lord.

 

  4      His power increasing still shall spread,
          his reign no end shall know:
          justice shall guard his throne above,
          and peace abound below.


 

                                                           

Blessing

May God Almighty hold you and all whom you love in the palm of His hand this day and always.

Amen