4th Sunday in Advent - Christingle
Turning towards each other in this holy season of Advent, we light the final candle, trusting that you will always bring your covenant of love to completion. God, among us, in hope and expectation in fulfilment and flourishing. Amen.
God chose a home, not of steel, or brick, or glass, or magnificence, but a body, of flesh, of blood, of breath, with consent, with courtesy, with courage. Come, let us worship our incarnated God born among us, now and always in this blessed season.
God, you approached the world in the words of an angel asking consent, and bringing life unexpected. Now we approach you, in the joy of welcome knowing that you will never turn us away. We celebrate you as we turn to you, glad that we are gathered for the feast of kindness and courage. Amen.
God who strengthens, sustains, raises up, redeems, births, brings, gathers and celebrates, God whose love is bigger than the skies, firmer than the earth, wider than the seas, you who reveal your story and your goodness to us through life and faith and courage and witness, to you be glory and praise and all thanksgiving. Amen.
Hymn Hark the herald angels sing
Luke 1.46b-55 (Magnificat) Luke 1.26-38 Psalm 89.1-4,19-26
Comments on Bible Reading
The emphasis on God’s choice of the lowliest in society is one of the most striking aspects of Luke’s Gospel. A teenage girl, with no wealth or status, from an out-of-the way part of the world, stands at the heart of God’s plan to transform the world. This transformation is not found in a great show of strength, but rather through the birth of a baby – an everyday and common occurrence.
There is something special about an ordinary person doing something very extraordinary. Imagine what a faithful teenage girl can do. For a contemporary example, consider what Greta Thunberg has done: an ordinary teenage girl with a passion for the environment has championed a worldwide movement. Mary was an ordinary teenage girl whose life was interrupted when an angel told her that God had something extraordinary for her to do. Can we imagine how Mary must have felt? An ordinary girl doing something extraordinary – or, is that the wrong way round? Could it be that, through God’s lens, Mary was someone extraordinary called to do something pretty ordinary – the extraordinary bit being that she said ‘Yes’ to God?
Have you ever faced a situation and wondered: how can this be? Have you ever experienced something that seemed completely impossible? The story of Mary is an example of this. Think about her age, gender, culture and background. Remember that she would not have had much of a future mapped ahead of her, simply because she was a woman. Imagine what it would have been like for her to share the news of her pregnancy (in a culture where she may have faced being stoned to death). Mary is a story of a young woman who, against the odds, was used by God to do the impossible.
Mary’s relative Elizabeth is also part of the plan. Elizabeth is vulnerable through being an older, childless woman. But here too is a miracle of birth. God entrusts this whole plan to the bodies of two women, and in this, both God and the women take on a considerable risk.
Who has helped to shape and influence your life? Mary was not on her own. The angel told her about her relative Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. Elizabeth was someone on a similar path. One was older, the other younger. One would give birth to the one who would pave the way, the other would give birth to the one who is the way. We need mentors in our life: people who are just a little further on in their faith journey. Who is your Elizabeth? Who influences you? To whom can you be an Elizabeth?
Thus, we read of the radical overturning of power, the confident sharing of power and then the chosen risk in God’s plan to entrust the Messiah to the vulnerable body of a young woman. How often do we consider God’s plan for our own lives to be ‘ridiculous’? And how often are we prepared to take a risk, to be part of God’s plan?
Hymn O Little town of Bethlehem
The Way to Bethlehem
For use in Church – the re-telling of the story - I will use a PowerPoint version of this film. It is a children’s version of the story.
Making of the Christingles
We will spend time making them up for ourselves.
Meaning of the Christingle
Orange = World
Red ribbon = Jesus blood – He died for us to set us free -it is round the orange as Jesus came to save the world – His arms wide open, this is how much He loves us.
Fruits/sweets = four seasons of the year – God continues to provide for us all through the year. His mercies never fail
Candle - = light – Jesus came into a world of darkness to bring it light. He is the Light of the World. The darkness will never put out the light.
We pray today for those who feel far from themselves and others. We pray that this Advent season might, in the midst of demand, provide soft nights and ease, so that people can return to themselves, knowing you, too, are always in the heart, and always wait for us with kindness. We ask this, in the name of all that is good. We remember today all who have not given their consent, but whose lives and bodies and integrity are taken for granted. For them, we pray for justice, reparation and truth. We ask this, in the name of all that is good. Today we remember that God surprised us by coming among us through the ‘Yes’ of Mary. Let us always be open to the surprise of finding God in unexpected places. We ask this, in the name of all that is good. Amen.
Today, days before we celebrate your self-giving
in life, in conversation, in generosity and in courage,
we turn to you
knowing how often we fall short
in life, in conversation, in generosity and in courage.
Forgive us, and make us more like you,
not because it will make you love us more,
but because it is for our sake,
and for the sake of the people you love so much,
that you came among us. Amen.
God of surprises, you chose Mary as the ark of your covenant with us. And with her ‘Yes’, you entered the world of body and blood. Nurtured by your body and blood, we go out, to look for surprise and wonder all around us. Amen.
Sometimes I say yes, and sometimes I say maybe, and sometimes I say no, and sometimes I am too distracted to know what I’m being asked. Help me, O God of time, to find and make time for all the demands that come my way, so that I might say yes with joy, when I can. Amen.
Prayers for those on our prayer list and those known to you not mentioned here.
May God bless then and keep them and put His arms around them, may they know His Peace.
Hymn Away in a manger
Extra for those at home – only three hymns will be used during the service
O Holy Night
Glory - let there be peace