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URC Daily Devotions Sunday Service for 2nd January 2022 – led by Ordinands at Westminster College

Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church
Service for Sunday 2nd January 2022
 
Photo Credit Chad Madden Unsplash
 
Students from Westminster College

 
Opening Music:       The Holy and the Ivy sung at King’s College Cambridge
 
Introduction
 
Hello, our worship is being led by the second and third year ordinands studying at Westminster College in Cambridge. You will hear from Dave, Johnny, Joseph, Mark, Ruth and Stephanie. We all welcome you as you join with us now.
 
Call to Worship
Hark, hark, the wise eternal word, like a weak infant cries! In form of servant is the Lord, and God in cradle lies, come let us adore Him!
 
Hymn       The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
Trinidadian Traditional
 

The Virgin Mary had a baby boy,
the Virgin Mary had a baby boy,
the Virgin Mary had a baby boy
and they say that his name is Jesus.
     
He come from the glory,
he come from the glorious kingdom;
he come from the glory,
he come from the glorious kingdom.
O yes, believer! O yes, believer!
He come from the glory,
he come from the glorious kingdom.
 
2   The shepherds came
where the baby was born,
the shepherds came
where the baby was born,
the shepherds came
where the baby was born
and they say that his name is Jesus.
 
3: The angels sang
when the baby was born,
the angels sang
when the baby was born,
the angels sang
when the baby was born
and they sang
that his name is Jesus.

 

Prayers of Approach, Confession and Declaration of Forgiveness
 
Lord of all we come together from our different places to worship you. It may be that we worship at different times of the day but we are together because of your spirit. We join with those around the world and with those around your throne to praise your holy name. We remember your steadfast love for us and for all the good things you provide us with which we do not deserve. May we sense your peaceful presence as we worship you now.
 
God of endless love and abundant mercy forgive our foolishness, our stubbornness and our failure to do your will. Forgive us for not spending time with you as we should and only coming to you when it suits us.
Lord we ask that your Spirit changes us and helps us to be the people you want us to be, full of compassion and love for all those around us. That we may stand up for injustice and the oppressed and stand alongside those suffering loneliness and distress.
 
Lord as we are forgiven when we are truly sorry, give us the ability to forgive others. Guide us in your ways so that we might be good witnesses of your good news and goodness. May we be shining lights for you in this New Year and beyond, by sharing your love and our joy in you with others.
 
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ who lives in unity with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and always. Amen.
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds so that we will receive all that you want us to receive today through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
 
Reading  St John 1:10-18
 
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.  (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”)  From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
 
Hymn:      Calypso Carol
Michael Arnold Perry (1942-1996)
 

See him lying on a bed of straw:
a draughty stable
with an open door;
Mary cradling the babe she bore –
the Prince of glory is his name.
 
Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem
to see the Lord of love again:
just as poor as was the stable then,
the Prince of glory when he came.
 
2 Star of silver,
sweep across the skies,
show where Jesus
in the manger lies;
shepherds, swiftly
from your stupor rise
to see the Saviour of the world!
 
3 Angels, sing again
the song you sang,
sing the glory of
God’s gracious plan;
sing that Bethl’em’s little baby can
be the saviour of us all.
 

4 Mine are riches,
from your poverty,
from your innocence, eternity;
mine, forgiveness
by your death for me,
child of sorrow for my joy.

 

Sermon
 
Let us pray. May the words of my mouth be words from you Lord and may they not only speak to our minds but speak to our hearts and bring us into a closer relationship with you, our rock and our redeemer. In Jesus name. Amen
 
Our reading this morning is one that is well known. It is heard around this time of year at carol services and for some it may be a passage that you can recite without your Bible. But I wonder have you ever taken time to consider what this passage is actually saying to us and telling us.
 
This passage is full of imagery and is almost like poetry or a hymn in the way it is written, in fact some scholars believe that it was a hymn with additional sections added to it. So, let’s take a look at the passage and think about how we can apply it to our lives at the start of this new year, 2022.
 
The passage starts with talking about the Word being rejected and unknown by the world. The word world here refers to humankind, to us. Humans came into being through Jesus, the Word, and yet humans did not know him or accept him. It might be difficult for us as Christians to understand how God’s people, God’s creation, could not know or accept God the son but do we as Christians reject Jesus? We believe in Jesus and have been given the power or right to be called children of God, as it says in verses 12 and 13, but do we reject Jesus? Do we tell people outside our church that we are Christians? Do we stand up for our faith at work or in the pub? Is our faith lived out in our day to day lives or just on Sunday and then we go back to living our ‘normal’ lives the rest of the week? Are these ways of rejecting Jesus? I would say so and I know I am guilty of them at times. But there is hope, as we shall see as we move through the rest of passage.
 
Verse 14 says that the Word became flesh and lived among us. There is so much information in these few words that I want to unpack it this morning for us to think about. We read that the Word, Jesus, became flesh. He had always existed from the beginning of time but had not always been flesh but for a time he became a human being, he became flesh as we are. To become flesh shows that Jesus was fully human. He experienced our joys, our laughter and our pain and suffering. He experienced our emotions and our frailness. He experienced human life completely but at the same time as being fully human, he was still fully God.
 
The word ‘lived’ is the word tabernacled in the original Greek translation. Tabernacle may be a word you have remembered from the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness after crossing the Red Sea. The tabernacle was a tent that was in the camp of the Israelites and it was where God’s presence was. It was where God spoke to Moses and God’s glory could be seen. This word tells us that Jesus lives among us, his people, he is God who can be spoken to and God’s glory can be seen in Jesus, the incarnation.
 
Verse 14 goes on to say that the Word is full of grace and truth. Grace and truth is an echo from God’s covenant to his people in the Old Testament that he would love and be faithful to them. Verse 16 goes on to say that we have received from the Word’s fulness, grace upon grace. The word grace here is duplicated to show the abundance of grace that we are given. You see, God knew that we would mess up, God knew that we would believe in Jesus, be his disciples and still mess up. God knew that even though we believed, we would reject Jesus in our words and actions, so he gave us an abundance of grace that we could forever have a relationship with him.
 
Verse 18 says that it is only through the son, Jesus, that we can know and have a relationship with God the Father. This is a big theme in John’s gospel. We read in John 14:6, that Jesus says to his disciples, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.’ We cannot know God without knowing and believing in Jesus and through Jesus, we can experience and know God the Father and all the grace that he will pour out upon us.
 
I have grown up most of my life in LEP churches (Local Ecumenical Projects). Most of them have been United Reformed Church and Methodist and each January our Methodist brothers and sisters have a covenant service where they recommit themselves to God and to His service. I would like to suggest to us that this week, at the start of this New Year, that we take a few minutes to recommit our lives to God. He loves us so much and wants to have that close relationship that a parent has with their child, with us. How do I know this, because verse 12 of today’s reading tells us, ‘to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God’? So reach out to God today, let him know how much you value the relationship with him and thank him for the abundant grace that he pours out upon our lives every day. Amen
 
Hymn       In the Bleak Mid Winter
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)
 

In the bleak midwinter
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
 
2 Our God,
heaven cannot hold him,
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign:
in the bleak midwinter
a stable-place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

3  Enough for him whom cherubim
worship night and day,
a breastful of milk,
and a mangerful of hay;
enough for him whom angels
fall down before,
the ox and ass and camel
which adore.
 
4 What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part, —
yet what I can I give him,
give my heart.

 

Prayers of Intercession
 
Think of someone
 
Think of someone who has lost their confidence
 
Someone whose hopes have been dashed by someone else’s actions.
Someone who until now has never worried about unemployment or being able to provide for their family.
 
Someone who now needs to rely on foodbanks and the generosity of others.
 
May a confidence in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ be kindled within them
and give them peace.
 
Think of someone who is feeling crushed, afraid, lonely or frightened.
Someone who is close to breaking under the pressure they are facing.
Someone who feels overwhelmed by their responsibilities,
weighed down by their worries or even by the unrealistic expectations of others.
 
May a confidence in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ be kindled within them and give them peace.
 
Think of someone whose confidence has been misplaced.
 
Someone who has trusted the wrong things and the wrong people.
Someone who seeks comfort in their addictions, whose confidence is in their own image or wealth or status or power.
 
Someone whose focus is entirely on material possessions with no room for God.
 
May a confidence in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ be kindled within them and give them peace.
 
Think of yourself and the way you remain open to God’s word.
Think of the time you give over to being with God in prayer and allowing scripture to help you in the making of important decisions or the forming of your opinions.
 
Think of the opportunities you make to listen for God’s guidance.
May a confidence in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ be kindled within you and give you peace.
Amen.
 
Offertory Prayer
 
Part of our worship is offering ourselves and our gifts back to God. These gifts can come in many forms, our time, our skills, and our money. As we give what we can, let us now dedicate all that we bring.
 
Let us pray.
Generous God,
Out of your fullness and grace we have received an abundance of gifts.
Accept and bless all that we offer you today.
We pray that by your Spirit you will use these gifts, and ourselves,
in the building of your Kingdom.
In Jesus name, Amen

 
Hymn       Child in the Manger
Mary Macdonald (1789-1872) translated Lachlan Macbean (1853-1931)
 

Child in the manger,
infant of Mary;
outcast and stranger,
Lord of all!
Child who inherits
all our transgressions,
all our demerits
on him fall.
 
2  Once the most holy
child of salvation
gently and lowly
lived below;
now, as our glorious
mighty Redeemer,
see him victorious
o’er each foe.



3  Prophets foretold him,
infant of wonder;
angels behold him
on his throne;
worthy our Saviour
of all their praises;
happy for ever
are his own.
 
Blessing
 
Go now in peace never be afraid,
God will be with you each hour of every day.
Go now in faith steadfast, strong and true.
Know he will guide you in all you do.
Go now in love and show you believe.
Reach out to others so all the world can see.
God will be there empowering with his love.
Go now in peace in faith and in love.  Amen.
 
Closing Music           The Coventry Carol          Annie Lennox
 
Sources
 
Call to worship adapted by Andy Braunston from a poem by Thomas Pestal.  All other liturgical material written and recorded by the the students.
 
The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy – Trinidadian Traditional – BBC Songs of Praise
Calypso Carol – Michael Arnold Perry (1942-1996) © Mrs B. Perry / Jubilate Hymns. Performed by Noel Robinson Jubilate Hymns
In the bleak midwinter – Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) sung by Genesis Sixteen
Child in the Manger – Mary Macdonald (1789-1872) translated Lachlan Macbean (1853-1931) Oasis Worship – Christmas Worship Songs ℗ 2015 Classic Fox Records

 

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