Friday, 25 December 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Church Worship First Sunday after Christmas 27 December 2020


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


Light in Darkness

Sunday 27th December 2020

Christmas 1 Sunday year of Mark 9.30 am 

Gathering God’s People   


Acknowledgement of First Peoples 

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land. 

Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)       

Joy to the world! Christ has come and Christmas is here! Let all of creation sing praise to our God 

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

From the lips of children and infants, you ordain praise and thanksgiving to silence the foe and the avenger.

You make everything beautiful in its own time.

You set eternity in our hearts, yet we cannot fathom what you have done from beginning to end.

What could be better than to be happy and to do good while we live?

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

O God, our God, you are Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. 

Hymn TIS 317: Love Came down at Christmas

                 (Tune – Garton) 

1 Love came down at Christmas,

love all lovely, Love divine;

Love was born at Christmas;

star and angels gave the sign.


2 Worship we the Godhead,

Love incarnate, Love divine;

worship we our Jesus,

but wherewith for sacred sign?


3 Love shall be our token;

love be yours and love be mine;

love to God and others,

love for plea and gift and sign. 

Author: Christina Georgina Rossetti (1885)

Tune: Gartan 

     Opening Prayer 

We come to you today, God, the Alpha and the Omega, as people blessed by your tender care. Today, we come to seek your guidance, that we may better understand how to follow the teaching of Christ, our Lord and Saviour, in whose name we pray. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

Gracious God, giver of new beginnings, we come to you today, confessing our need.

As we face this coming year, help us through each day.

As we leave the past year behind, help us look to you. When we face birth or death; when we confront a time to plant or to uproot, help us put our faith in you.

When we see a time to tear down or to build up, when we face a time to weep or to laugh, when we meet a time to be silent or a time to speak, help us rely on you.

You alone know what the coming year holds. You alone know of our small triumphs and our grand failures.

Gracious God assure us once again that there is forgiveness in your love.

Heal us with the knowledge that our sins may be left with you, through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

God brings a season for every activity under heaven and has made everything beautiful in its time. Although we cannot fathom the depths of God's love, we know that God cares for each of us; we know that our inheritance comes from God.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, be with you. Share this gift of peace with all whom you see and greet.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.) 

A Word with the Children/Young People 

Theme - Keeping our promises

Object - A calendar for the new year

It is coming up to the beginning of a New Year on a Calendars. A brand-new calendar for a fresh start on life. Most people start the new year by making some New Year Resolutions. Making a resolution is like making a promise to ourselves that we are going to do certain things. Usually it is a promise to do better next year than we did last year. Here is a list of resolutions that might be good to make.

·I will watch less TV and get more exercise.

·I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car.

·I will be nice to other children (Even my brothers and sisters!).

·I will put away my toys when I am through playing with them.

Can you think of some more resolutions you could make?

Some people don't take New Year's resolutions very seriously. After all, these are just Promises that are made to one’s self. If you don't follow through, it's no big deal. Well, maybe it is a big deal! A promise is a promise -- and it is important to keep your promises -- even if it is just a promise to yourself.

God is always faithful in keeping promises. In scripture, there is a story about a man named Simeon. Simeon was a very old man who had faithfully served God all of his life. Simeon was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. God had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Christ, the promised Messiah.

A few days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to dedicate him to God. Simeon was in the temple as he usually was. As soon as Simeon saw the baby, he knew that Jesus was the Christ and that God had kept his promise that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.

Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, "Lord, now let your servant die in peace. As you have promised, I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people."

Anna, a prophet, was also in the Temple. She was always at the Temple worshiping and praying. She came along just as Simeon was talking to Mary and Joseph. When she heard what Simeon was saying, she began praising God and telling everyone that this child was the Saviour that God had promised. Both Simeon and Anna knew that God is faithful to his promise just as he is faithful to his promises to you and me.

Today, as we look to beginning a new year this week, let's remember that just as God is faithful in keeping his promises, we should be faithful in keeping our promises. It doesn't matter whether it is a promise to one’s self, a promise to a friend, or a promise to God. After all, a promise is a promise! 

Offering Prayer 

God, source of all we have, help us remember the tasks that you have set before us. Bless these gifts, that they may help continue the work we are called to do. Use this place and this congregation to reflect the love that Christ has shown. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 301: The first Nowell

                  (Tune – The First Nowell) 

The first “Nowell” the angels did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!


They looked up and saw a star

Shining in the east, beyond them far;

And to the earth it gave great light,

And so it continued both day and night.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!


And by the light of that same star

Three wise men came from country far;

To seek for a King was their intent,

And to follow the star wherever it went.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!


This star drew nigh to the northwest:

O’er Bethlehem it took its rest;

And there it did both stop and stay,

Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!


Then entered in those wise men three,

Full reverently upon their knee,

And offered there, in his presence,

Their gold and myrrh, and frankincense.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!


Then let us all with one accord

Sing praises to our heavenly Lord

That hath made heaven and earth of naught,

And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel! 

Author: Anonymous (1833)
Tune: The First Nowell 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 61: 10 - 62:3

The Gospel Reading:                                        Luke 2: 22-40. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Isaiah 61: 10 - 62:3

61 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. 62 1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. 2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. 3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 

Luke 2: 22-40.

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’ 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ 36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him. 

Preaching of the Word - Light in Darkness 

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone...
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
in the bleak mid-winter long, long ago.

These are the words we hear from the Christina Rosetti’s poem made into the Carol. I was thinking about this when I read todays lessons. If we lived in the Northern hemisphere the following would be so but for us it is the heat, fire and drought that make our Christmas-tide days.

You know though, not only in winter, but some days also seem darker than others. Some days seem colder. The shortest, darkest day of the year are yet to come for us but in the North, although the days will gradually lengthen now, winter hangs on. A phenomena called Canadian clippers with cold blasts of Arctic air continue to slam across the plains slicing down even into the deep South of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. On the East coast recent snow may be melting and the hard ground softening, but the dark winter days continue and soon there will be cold and snow again.

As if it were a last pathetic effort to reach people where they are, little shopping mall angels have sung: "Peace on Earth good will to men," while powerful men talk of war and prominent church figures speak of it as inevitable and sometimes justified. For us this has been in the heat of summer. In the north though, some days seem colder, sometimes seem darker, than others.

We are now twenty years away from a dark and cold century, marked, as one writer has said, by wars or worse: the forced starvation of a whole population in the Ukraine, the forced extermination of whole races in the death camps and ovens of the Holocaust, the forced imprisonment of those declared outside the regime in the gulags of Siberia, the forced banishment or murder for those outside a particular group in ethnic cleansing, and in this land the perpetuated discrimination based on colour or sex.

Today our new century doesn’t seem to have offered great change with attacks on worshipping groups etc. Well even the Covid-19 Pandemic. We still stand before a future not only unknown and therefore frightening, but before a future in which anything can happen, or has already happened -- with a few grieving the loss of faith, and a few trying to remember -- not only how faith was -- but asking: "How it is to be for us again?"

Is there room for God; is there room for faith in a world that seems to have gone mad? Some days seem colder-sometimes seem darker than others. In a season when in places in the world little shopping mall angels sing: "Peace on Earth to people of good will," the arrogant talk of war: defensive, antiseptic, surgical, clean and quick, justified and scorching. The talk of punishing, of election fraud dominates our news.

Yet, on that first Christmas night, when heaven could not hold him and the Earth barely able to welcome him, Jesus Lord and Christ, was stable born, a baby in Bethlehem.

Now in our dark night, does he look to come again? Does he look again for hearts to hold him? We hear again from Christina Rosetti:

Angels and archangels may have gathered there
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air...
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

Is Christmas too good to be true? Is Christmas too far-fetched and too far away? Is it that God Almighty become a baby was something unthinkable? The long-expected gift was too fine and too far-fetched, they said. In Jesus, God joins our weakness and that is foolish to the strong.

On that first Christmas night, when heaven could not hold him, Jesus Lord and Christ, was stable born in Bethlehem, in a land we now call Israel. Well the question for us is: is Christmas too far-fetched; too far away, and too feeble!

No! I want to answer, Christmas is too near!

Christmas is God's work, God's risk for intimacy with you and me. Christmas is a time for closeness and warmth, a time for carols and singing, a time for laughter and love, a time for warmth and kindness -- a time for kissing, for play, and for peace. 

Mary, remembering her revolutionary Magnificat, kissed her baby; and God kissed the Earth. Now in our own dark night, God wants to kiss the earth again -- in Bethlehem’s all around the world in the land between you and me. Today, Jesus wishes to be born again, not in the city of David, but in Bethlehem’s all around the world in the land between you and me.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb...
If I were a wiseman, I would do my part,
yet what can I give him ... give my heart.

(Christina Rosetti)

What is the challenge for this coming new year as Covid is still with us -- 2021? Well, here is a few thoughts. To make room in the land between your heart and mine for faith and beauty and love and goodness and God to live again; and counting on these things, to expect them to make a difference!

"I believe in one God...who was made flesh and dwells among us." "Look at that -- I have never seen anything so beautiful."

"Let love set fear aside -- to welcome, embrace, and feed the fearful stranger again."

To know that God wants and works for Peace On Earth and that with the help of a little child -- the one born in Bethlehem and the one hiding in each of us --

God's will shall be done. 

Hymn TIS 210: O for a thousand tongues to sing

                  (Tune – Lyngham) 

O for a thousand tongues to sing

my great Redeemer's praise,

the glories of my God and King,

the triumphs of his grace!


Jesus! the name that charms our fears,

that bids our sorrows cease,

'tis music in the sinner's ears,

'tis life and health and peace.


See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.


He breaks the power of cancelled sin,

he sets the prisoner free;

his blood can make the foulest clean;

his blood availed for me. 

He speaks, - and, listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb
Your loosened tongues employ
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come
And leap, ye lame, for joy

My gracious Master and my God,

assist me to proclaim,

to spread through' all the earth abroad

the honours of your name. 

Author: Charles Wesley

Tune : Lyngham Composer: Thomas Jarman (C. 1803) 

Intercessory Prayers  

God of all mercy, we give you thanks for your beautiful and bountiful creation and for all who work to protect it.

We pray for all people in areas of war, for all who suffer persecution and privation; for all with the responsibility of government in this and other lands.

In the darkness of inhumanity, give us compassion; where there is arrogance, give us humility; where there is foolishness, give us wisdom.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

God of all grace, we give you thanks for the birth of your Son, who comes to us as the Light of the World. We pray for your worldwide church, for the National Council of Churches, for all who minister and worship in this place, for the teachers and students at the Sunday Kids.

In the darkness of sin, give us grace; where there is error, give us truth; where there is unbelief, give us faith.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all love, we give you thanks for all who sustain us with their love and care.

We pray for children and the families in which they live; for those with whom we work and play, for this community, for all whose daily work enriches our lives.

In the darkness of rejection, give us love; where there is alienation, give us reconciliation; where there is injury, give us forgiveness.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all compassion, we give you thanks for all who lighten the burdens of others.

We pray for all who live with pain, grief, loneliness and hopelessness, for the sick and all who care for them.

In the darkness of pain, give comfort; where there is despair, give hope; where there is grief, give consolation.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all faithfulness, we give you thanks for your faithful servants of every age: for Simeon and Anna and all who have recognised your Son as the Light of the World and for all whose lives have shone with the radiance of your light.

With these, and with all who have passed through the shadow of death, may we too come to dwell for ever in the glory of your presence. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 309: Angels from the realm of glory

                 (Tune – Iris) 

1 Angels from the realms of glory,

wing your flight through all the earth;

heralds of creation's story

now proclaim Messiah's birth!

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king.


2 Shepherds in the fields abiding,

watching by your flocks at night,

God with us is now residing:

see, there shines the infant light!

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king.


3 Wise men leave your contemplations!

brighter visions shine afar;

seek in him the hope of nations,

you have seen his rising star:

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king.


4 Though an infant now we view him,

he will share his Father's throne,

gather all the nations to him;

every knee shall then bow down:

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king. 

Words: James Montgomery

Music: Iris (French Traditional) 


      Go forth in peace, the peace of Christ.

             Go forth with the joy of the season.

 .           Go forth with the love, the love of God

             Go forth to serve, led by the Spirit of God.

        Go forth in the name of the living Word, the One whose words bring forth the fruit of the kingdom in your own lives! Amen.        

Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you

                     (Tune – Aubrey) 

May the feet of God walk with you, and his hand hold you tight.

May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear your cry.

May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give you life.

May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring you Home. 

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)   

      Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)


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