Christmas Day 2020

An act of worship at home

25th December 2020

Reading          Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,    and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


I’m going to begin with a really old joke.

During a telephone interview with a national radio station the prime minister was asked what he wanted for Christmas. Thinking quickly, and pushing to the back of his mind the holiday villa in Tuscanny or the luxury yacht on the Med and wanting to sound as humble as possible and in touch with the man on the street, he asked for something small and simple.

So it came to pass that on Christmas day he was sat listening to the radio when the presenter made an announcement: “In response to our question asking world leaders what they would like this Christmas, the French president said he would like world peace, the Japanese prime minister prayed for an end to world hunger, and the British prime minister asked for a pipe and a pair of slippers.”

I like that joke because it works at several different levels, and happily for me it also illustrates quite nicely

how easy it is for us all to miss the big picture of Christmas. What is it you would like on this Christmas day?

On the pipe and socks scale I am just very glad that the day has come the presents wrapped, the turkey stuffed.

On the bigger picture what is it you are really looking from this Christmas? An end to world peace and world hunger may seem too much, but if they are, what are we celebrating?

Just the birth of a child? The birth of just a child? No, it’s a much bigger picture even than that

The good news of Christmas is that no matter how great or humble we are, whether we’re the prime minister or … well, ourselves, God comes to us through the birth of Jesus. A tiny baby, nothing ostentatious, but the one gift that has the power to raise our sights beyond the pipes and slippers of Christmas morning to the gift of God himself, given in love to each and every one of us.

A gift of love, and a gift of power.

Because when the gift of the presence of God is accepted by us it has the power to change our hearts and minds,

letting us known that we truly are loved by God, accepted by God, forgiven by God, made new by God.

And that in turn has the power to change the world for good for those around us, our family, friends and colleagues, and so like ripples in a pool that have been spreading outwards since that first wonderful Christmas,

God’s gift to the world will be all the best things we could wish for.

What would you like this Christmas Day?

How about the power of God’s love filling you, filling the world? Let’s pray.


Loving God,

we thank you for this day 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 realisation of those long years of expectation, the glad tidings proclaimed, the wonder and mystery of that first Christmas.

We thank you for this season’s power to move, inspire and challenge, to move hearts and raise spirits, to stir our minds and capture our imagination.

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.

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.

Loving God, accept our praise, receive our thanksgiving, bless our celebrations, and may the wonder of the Good News come alive in our hearts today, through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Hark! the herald angels sing

Glory to the new-born King

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful, all ye nations, rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With angelic host proclaim

Christ is born in Bethlehem

Hark! the herald angels sing

Glory to the new-born King

Christ, by highest heaven adored

Christ, the everlasting Lord

Late in time behold him come

Offspring of the Virgin’s womb

Hail the Flesh, the God Head see

Hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with man to dwell

Jesus, our Emmanuel!

Hark! the herald angels sing

Glory to the new-born King

Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace

Hail the Son of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings

Risen with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His Glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark! the herald angels sing

Glory to the new-born King


Let us go into the day to celebrate God-with-us, let us go to share God’s compassion with all people,

let us go in peace to live in God’s joy. Let us go with his blessing today and everyday. Amen.

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