Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford
Longing for Peace
Phone: 80156011 Meeting Number: 98503300406
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 2011)
This is a night for rejoicing—a night to sing a new song to God, a night to celebrate the salvation brought through the birth of Jesus, a night to embrace the light shining in the darkness. God's light and salvation have been brought forth through a child who will rule with justice and righteousness.
We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Even in a land of deep darkness— on us light has shined.
For a child has been born for us. God's own Son has been given to us.
We call him Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace through his glorious reign.
Carol TIS 312: Once in Royal David’s City
(tune – Irby)
1 Once in royal David's city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little child.
2 He came down to earth from heaven
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall:
with the poor, and mean, and lowly,
lived on earth our Saviour holy.
3 And thro' all his wondrous childhood
he would honour and obey,
love and watch the lowly maiden
in whose gentle arms he lay:
Christian children all must be
mild, obedient, good as he.
4 And our eyes at last shall see him,
thro' his own redeeming love;
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heav'n above:
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.
5 Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing by,
we shall see him, but in heaven,
set at God's right hand on high;
when like stars his children crowned
all in white shall wait around.
Shine your light, O God, into the darkness of our world. Shine your glory, Holy One, into the shadows of our lives. May the singing of the angelic chorus stir our hearts this day, as it did the shepherds as they watched over their flocks by night. Prepare our hearts anew, O God, to behold the gift of your Son in awe and wonder. Amen
A Prayer of Confession
God of love and light, you have blessed us with a priceless gift— the gift of your very self in the person of Jesus.
Forgive us, Holy One, when we deny your gift or neglect your promise in our lives. Forgive us, Mighty God, when we fail to acknowledge Christ as the reflection of your glory and majesty.
Purify our hearts, purge our sins, and make us your beloved children, that we may be full of your righteousness, grace, and love. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Christ judges us with righteousness and equity, and loves us with grace and mercy. Through the gracious gift of God, and the gift of Christ, we are forgiven!
Thanks, be to God!
How beautiful are the feet of those who come announcing peace? How radiant are the eyes of those who shine the light of God’s love? With blessings of peace and love to share, let us turn to one another and offer signs of God’s blessings this Christmas day.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
God of infinite chances, there is no length you will not go to, to offer us the possibility of new life and the opportunity for redemption. As we gather in gratitude for the gift of your Son, receive our thanks and humble appreciation for all that we receive, which makes us what we are. Bless these gifts and offerings, that they may bring light and life to God's people. Amen.
Carol TIS 318: Away in a Manger
(tune – Cradle Song)
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
2 The cattle are lowing; the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love you, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with you there.
Service of the Word
The Gospel Reading: Luke 2:1-14
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’
Preaching of the Word - Longing for Peace - Isaiah 9:2-7
We usually tend to romanticise Christmas, but we don’t do it on purpose. I wonder how that fits this year after the things we have been through with the pandemic. Yet, we are reasonable, logical, and hard-headed, but the magic of the season gets to us in spite of ourselves. Christmas lights, for instance, make us breathe a little faster and our eyes open a little wider.
Not all lights, of course, are breathtaking and eye-opening. The ones in stores and on lampposts at the mall don’t count. The lights in front of houses, even the cheesiest ones, are the magical lights—multi-coloured blinking lights that drape small bushes and scale tall trees, ring wreaths on doors, and trace rectangles around windows. Lighted reindeer graze next to Santa in the hammock.
We notice the lights, not only because they’re hard to miss, but because they give us the feeling that something important is on its way. We love lights, in part because we understand that the world is dark. We want to believe that life should be easy, but the obvious truth is that life is hard. Most of us have more medical tests in our future than in our past, more tears to come than we’ve already shed. The carefree days never last long enough.
Especially after the regulations for Covid-19 a number of us would have some worries about being alone. Will we spend our lives by ourselves? Others worry about family. Will our marriage get better? We’re afraid for our children. Will they turn out like we hope? We’re afraid that our parents are growing old. How are we going to care for them? We worry about our health. Some of us are growing old too.
Life is hard. The world is dark. The state of the world leads us to pessimism. The world is at war and no one has an exit strategy. So many bad things happen that we become numb to the suffering of others. We’ll spend most of our lives hoping for a better day and a better world.
When Isaiah wanted to speak to our deepest longings, the prophet chose light as the symbol because he knew how dark the world can be.
Zebulun and Naphtali, the tribes Isaiah addresses,
were in a hopeless situation. These were the two northern- most tribes of
Israel. Whenever anyone invaded, they were the first and last to bear the brunt
of it. When the Assyrians overran
Isaiah believed that the chaos of the world would be answered by the birth of a child. He preaches, “I know things are dismal. The enemy has killed people you loved and taken your land but listen to this. A child will be born. This child will make things right. You live in darkness, but take hope, for a light is shining. Your despair will become joy. Your oppressors will be driven away, their battle gear destroyed. This One who comes will be a wonderful counsellor—acting as a true friend, a mighty God—ruling in power, an everlasting Father—caring for you, the Prince of Peace—bringing harmony to a war-torn world. His Kingdom will last forever. Peace will come in the child that will be born.”
It’s such a magnificent vision that it seems more like a fantasy than a promise. In time, one night when the world wasn’t looking, the prophet’s dream became flesh. In the middle of the dreariest of winters, God promised spring.
Isaiah framed his vision in his prophecy. A light
will overcome the darkness. People will rejoice. The oppressors will be
This day we celebrate as God entering our world invites us to dream of the peace God promises. Every now and then we catch a glimpse: when a young father takes his newborn daughter into his arms for the first time; when a troubled couple falls in love again; when a family makes a pilgrimage to the bedside of a dying loved one and feels an unexplainable peace; when a single woman comes home to her solitary dwelling not as a place of emptiness but as a nest sheltered under the wing of God; when the lights that surround Christmas shine into the darkest places in our lives; when followers of Christ courageously seek peace.
God invites us to believe in this child and the person he grew up to be, to believe in the power of God to bring light into our darkness and peace to our world.
Carol: The Three Drovers (tune – The Three Drovers)
1. Across the plains one Christmas night,
Three drovers riding blithe and gay,
Looked up and saw a starry light,
More radiant than the Milky Way;
And on their hearts such wonder fell,
They sang with joy "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"
2. The air was dry with summer heat
And smoke was on the yellow moon;
But from the Heavens, faint and sweet,
Came floating down a wonderous tune,
And as they heard, they sang full well,
Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"
3. The black swans flew across the sky,
The wild dogs called across the plain,
The starry lustre blazed on high,
Still echoed on the Heavenly strain;
And still they sang "Noel! Noel!",
Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"
Composer Lyricist: William G. James
Composer Lyricist: J. Wheeler
Let us pray for the people of this world who are in
need this day as we celebrate Christmas.
Child of Bethlehem, smile upon the church all over the world: may the Holy Spirit guide us, and grant that we may pursue truth, unity, peace and righteousness. We pray especially for the church now, being tested by difficult questions and challenged in its approach to the pandemic. We pray for the work of the church and for our own ministries as we live our lives. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Child of Bethlehem, smile upon all those charged with the responsibility of government all over the world, that they might rule in peace, justice and mercy, that people may honour one another and seek the common good.Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Child of Bethlehem, smile upon those who will not enjoy this season, for whom life is a struggle for survival as a result of poverty, famine, disease, war, or the greed of others. We pray, too, for those striving to rebuild after the devastation of natural disasters and of terrorism. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Child of Bethlehem smile upon all who are troubled, anxious or sick in mind, body or spirit and for those who love and care for them. Give them courage and hope in their troubles and bring them the joy of your salvation. We remember now anyone known to us who is in special need of our prayers, and name them in a moment of silence …. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can
quench. We remember before God those who have died and remember a lit candle symbolises
the light of Christ, which eternally shines and brings hope. We remember ….
You turn our darkness into light: in your light shall we see light. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
THE LORD'S 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.
Carol TIS 311: Silent Night (tune Silent Night)
All is calm, all is bright
'Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
2 Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing "alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!"
3 Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
We will walk in the light of Christ.
Sing of salvation and peace.
We will live with grace and joy.
Go and proclaim the good news,
Jesus Christ is born. Alleluia!
(Tune – Somos Del Señor)
Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.
May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.
In all your living and through your loving,
Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom