St Mary’s Sunday Service for 20th Decmber 2020

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Rev Canon Alison Peden, for this service wich

we hope you will follow if you are unable to come to St Mary’s this Sunday

                             Advent 4   20th December 2020   

This Sunday we celebrate the Virgin Mary and her self-giving to God,
in carols, readings and prayers

Carol:  O little town of Bethlehem – see

Preparation and thanksgiving
Come to us this day, O God.  Come to us with light.
Speak to us this day, O God.   Speak to us your truth.
Dwell with us this day, O God.  Dwell with us in love.

O God, for your love, warm and brooding, which has brought us to birth and opened our eyes to the wonder and beauty of creation:
We give you thanks.

For your love for us, compassionate and patient, which has carried us through our pain, wept beside us in our sin and waited on us in our confusion:
We give you thanks.

For your love for us, strong and challenging, which has called us to risk for you, asked the best of us and shown us how to serve:
We give you thanks.

O God, as we watch for your coming among us at the heart of all life, prepare us for the love you made known in Jesus and draw us into your presence.  Amen

Reading:  Luke 1:46-55 Mary’s song of praise 
Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Gospel:   Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 
Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

Carol:  The Angel Gabriel from heaven came – see

Reflection:   The story of Mary and Joseph has inspired many to wonder what was going on in their thoughts as they journeyed into the extraordinary events of the first Christmas. Doing that may help us draw close to their experience, and discover that God is with us and alongside us in all our very human fears and anxieties.
This is one such imaginative pondering, by Jenny Bryden.

Mary:    Mary sits in silence – she’s far from hometown now.
               In place of village midwife is but a mournful cow.

               ‘Will I die in childbirth –  as some are wont to do –
                with Joseph in the darkness?  O Lord, let me live through.

                And does she see beyond that to the time when she must flee
                from Herod’s wrath, to Egypt – ancient land of slavery?

Joseph:  ‘Why must we come so far O Lord, so very far way?
                You know it’s not for me I fear, but for my wife I pray.

                What happens if it all goes wrong? I can but stand by here,
                as helpless as a babe, O Lord, as useless as a seer.

                 And when the baby’s born, O Lord, a Saviour he will be,
                 but will he be my son, O Lord, entrusted unto me?

                 And will he look like mine, O Lord?  Or will the village jeer,
                 and whisper I’ve been cuckolded and slyly smirk and sneer?

Narrator:  Now angels wait this night to sing; a star now waits to show,
                   while shepherds watch the dark night long, alert to any foe.

               Wise Magi scan the stars tonight and soon will spy a sight
               proclaiming the Messiah’s birth; they’ll follow that star’s light.

          For all the hushed world waits tonight for Jesus, God’s own Son,
                    the mercy of the Lord our God, forever Three in One.

Mary said ‘Yes’ to the journey God asked her to take, not knowing the path or destination of her life.  Her journeys were hard, to Bethlehem, to Egypt and then to Galilee, and finally to see her son die at Golgotha.  But God called he and she followed, enduring hardship for the sake of her son, and to create a life that is worth living for all God’s children.

Carol:  Silent night, holy night –  see

O God, you call us to life and loving:  help us to say ‘yes’ when you call, and to follow you faithfully along the paths of life you give us.

Uphold those whose journeys are hard and dangerous, especially those who are caring for the sick; those exploring how science can serve the world; those making peace and building hope.

Comfort those who are afraid of the journeys they must take, especially those who are very ill and close to death.  Give strength to hospital and hospice chaplains who minster to them.

Nurture those whose journeys are happy and hopeful, especially parents awaiting the birth of a child or rejoicing in young family;  young people looking ahead to study and careers, and those discovering new interests and new horizons on their journeys of life.

Bless us as we journey through life, and give us grace to be ready to go where you call us, to accept the help we need and to seek your company as we travel towards the fullness of your presence.

Bless to us O God the road that is before us.
Bless to us O God the friends who are around us.
Bless to us O God your love which is within us,
for the sake of your Son, Jesus child of Mary.   Amen

Carol:   In the bleak midwinter – see

A Christmas Prayer

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father,
help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.