MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE.
Christmas Day 2020 APC (Online)
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Christmas Morning worship. May I begin by wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. In a moment our virtual choir will lead us in the beautiful carol ‘Silent Night’, but first, let us light our fifth advent candle, the Christ Candle, as we celebrate God’s gift of His Son to our world…(End Part 1)
Video Lighting of the Christ Candle
Virtual Choir ‘Silent Night’
My thanks to everyone who has helped us with our candle readings and our singing and music during the month of December. It is your contributions that have made our services so special. Let us pray…
A Prayer for Christmas Day
Loving God we thank you for Christmas and all it speaks of- your promise of old to send a Messiah to your people, the fulfilment of that promise through the sending of your Son, the realization of those long years of expectation, the glad tidings proclaimed by the angels, the wonder and mystery of that first Christmas.
For all this time means and will always mean; We praise you
We thank you for this season’s power to move, inspire and challenge, to gladden the hardest hearts and most broken of spirits, to stir our minds and capture our imaginations
For all this time means and will always mean; We praise you
We thank you for the special things we associate with Christmas – the spreading of goodwill, the sharing of friendship, the longing for peace and the expressing of love.
For all this time means and will always mean We praise you
But above all we thank you for the truth behind this day- the message that you have come to us, that you love us, that you have shared our humanity and that you want us to share in your everlasting life.
For all this time means and will always mean We praise you
Loving God, accept our praise and receive our thanksgiving, bless our celebrations, and may the wonder of the gospel come alive in our hearts this Christmas time, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Introduction to Reading and Carol
Let us listen to God’s word now as Luke describes for us the birth of Christ that first Christmas…
Lesson Luke chapter 2 verses 1–14 The Birth of Jesus
2 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[a] 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 Savior 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 favor rests.”
Introduce the Kid’s Animation (“At Home for Christmas” Series)
If you haven’t already got your children with you now’s the time to pause the recording and to encourage them to join you because I’m going to show them the last part of our animation series “At Home for Christmas”. PAUSE
It’s great to see you boys and girls. A very happy Christmas. I hope you got a visit from Santy this morning and that you are already enjoying the gifts that he brought you. Today for a few moments we are going to think about the greatest gift that has ever been given or received. It is God’s gift of His Son the Lord Jesus on Christmas Day. But why is Jesus the greatest gift? Well, sit back and watch our last At Home for Christmas animation to find out…(End Part 2)
Video Kid’s Animation ‘The Birth of Jesus’
(PCI Website under At Home for Christmas, ‘Resources’)
I hope you enjoyed that boys and girls. I hope you’ve been able to do some of the craft activities at home to help you follow the journeys of all the characters in the Christmas story each week. So far you should have been able to make your advent wreath out of card. Then you should have cut out and coloured in your stable to remind you of Mary and Joseph and the sheep to remind you of the shepherds and the star to remind you of the wise men. Today you can cut out and colour in the crown to remind you that Jesus is the King of Kings. You’ll find all these things on the PCI website in the section ‘At Home for Christmas’ and click on the link for resources. Once you’ve cut and coloured in the stable, the sheep and the star you can stick them on your advent wreath.
I hope you and your family have a really, really special Christmas even though we can’t have as many people this year as we might like. And at some point in your day, take a few moments, stop, and say, “Thank you God for giving us the gift of Jesus.”
Before I go, let me encourage you not to rush away because Xander and April are going to sing a beautiful carol for us that’s called Away in a Manger. I think you might know it so feel free to join in. So Bye for now, I’ll see you at the beginning of January and I hope you enjoying singing with Xander and April...
(End Part 3)
Virtual Kids Choir Away in a manger Zander and April
All-Age Christmas Message ‘At Home for Christmas’
Of course we all expect to be at home for Christmas. But what if we can’t be? Recently an opportunity has opened up for Emma to teach English to migrants entering Ireland from countries such as Syria and Somalia. Having to leave their countries because of conflict and danger means that they won’t be at home for this Christmas and perhaps for many Christmases to come. But thankfully they have been able to find a safe place in Ireland and have begun to make this their new home. Just learning to speak English means so much to these children and young adults. It enables them to understand what’s being said in class, to communicate more meaningfully with their friends and is the first step in being able to find employment in the future. For them Ireland has become Home because home is a place of acceptance.
The church always needs to have this to the forefront of its outreach. People come to us from every conceivable background. If we cannot welcome them in sincerity, then we have missed out on something central which Jesus himself said. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.” (Matthew 11:28 – The Message.)
Home is a place of love. Love means saying sorry when we mess up, so that relationships can be repaired. Love means laughter and tears, in equal measure. Love means saying “no” as well as “yes”. Love means putting the defenseless at the top of the pile. “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 – The Message.)
Home is a place of hospitality. Over the last number of years Emma and I have been privileged to welcome students from Asia into our home in Belfast. When the students left we always felt that we had received so much more from them than what we had given. How powerful it is to discover that it is more of a blessing to give than to receive. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 – NIV.)
Sometimes, home is a place we cannot be. That first Christmas Mary and Joseph were not at home. They were told there was no room in the inn, until one innkeeper offered them temporary shelter with his animals. Out in the fields the shepherds watching their sheep weren’t at home – possibly they were homeless. And neither were the wise men, who had left their home to follow a star, looking for a promised king. “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Mathew 2:11 – NIV).
I know it will be difficult for many of us this year. We will not be able to welcome everyone we would wish to our home for Christmas. We will not be able to travel and family members will not be able to travel to us. For some of us this will be the first Christmas without someone we have loved so deeply. All of these things will bring us much sorrow.
But mercifully we will be able to welcome some people and more than we have been able to see over the last 6 months. As we prepare to welcome family and friends to our homes today - ‘bubbling’ safely within the necessary restrictions - let us be open-handed so that the blessings we have received can be generously shared with the poorest of our world. Just as God has shared Jesus the light of world with us, today gives us another opportunity to share with those who have been most affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic. To help you understand how together we can do this, sit back and listen to our Moderator Rev David Bruce as he explains a little more about his Christmas Appeal…(End Part 4)
Video Moderator’s World Development Appeal
I want to thank you all for your wonderful generosity to so many charitable causes throughout this year. I would encourage you if you can one more time to be as generous as you are able to our Moderator’s Christmas Appeal. You can also donate online using the Church bank details on our website, just mark your donation for the Moderator’s Christmas Appeal. You can also contact our treasurer Aleida Van der Flier to pay using a mechanism that is more suitable for you.
Prayer for Others
Lord we bless you that you came not only to deliver us from our sins but to help people in their suffering. So take our offerings along with our lives and use them in fulfilment of your will, that the poor may receive good news, the eyes of the blind will see, and those who are oppressed will be set free. With our gifts we also bring you our prayers for others…
Prince of peace, we pray for peace in our world: for all national leaders that they may have wisdom to know, and courage to do what is right; for all men and women that their hearts may be turned to you in the search for righteousness and truth; for those who are working to improve international relationships, that they may find the true way of reconciliation; for those who suffer as a result of war; the injured and the disabled, the mentally distressed, the homeless and the hungry, those who mourn and for all who are without hope or friend.
We pray for the poorest of our world and those whose lives have been most deeply affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic. We pray that through our Moderator’s Appeal that many of these people will be enabled to rebuild their lives and their communities in the days ahead.
We think of everyone who will spend today in hospital and for their families. We pray for everyone who is working today to ensure that vital services can bring assistance to all in need. Be close to all who will not be able to meet with their loved ones in the way that they normally would. Be particularly near to those who have lost family members in the year that has passed. We remember everyone in our world who will find this day to be a day of sadness and conflict rather than joy and peace. Help us to look out for those who will feel that sadness most acutely and to be there for them.
Lord, despite our restrictions, help us to truly appreciate all that we have. Make us channels of Your peace this Christmas and help us always to do our part to bring peace in the world and happiness to all people. This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on. I do hope you found this morning’s service an encouragement. Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
I also want to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to Aleida van der Flier for all her work behind the scenes during this very difficult period. It is Aleida who has kindly signed everyone in to our services and who has then set out all the chairs each week so that we are safely distanced.
The government has just announced this week that from the 26th December church services will only be able to happen online until further notice. I would like to thank Aleida who has kindly agreed to record her service for Sunday 27th online. So please do tune in again on Sunday for that. Then on Sunday 3rd January you will be able to enjoy a specially recorded service led by our Moderator who will help us to reflect on the year that has past and look forward to the year that is ahead. I’m so grateful to Aleida and our Moderator as this will enable me to get a little break.
In a moment, our Virtual Choir will close our worship in the traditional way by playing ‘Hark the Herald angels sing’, but first let me lead you in a Benediction after which I will invite you as always, to say the grace together…
May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherd, and the determination of the Magi…
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore, Amen.”
Virtual Choir Hark the Herald angels sing
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.