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Christmas Daily Prayer Podcast Worship

Prayer for 31 December 2020

Listen to or read a service of Prayer for Thursday 31 December 2020, the Seventh Day of Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Praise

God in Trinity,
eternal unity of perfect love:
gather the nations to be one family,
and draw us into your holy life
through the birth of Emmanuel,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Psalm 96.1, 11-13

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad;
let the sea thunder and all that is in it;

Let the fields be joyful and all that is in them;
let all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord.

For he comes, he comes to judge the earth;
with righteousness he will judge the world
and the peoples with his truth.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

Reading:
John 1.1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

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.

Reflection

The year draws to a close with the famous opening of St John’s gospel, the reading that is so closely associated with Church services at Christmas. When we read these famous words, carefully and prayerfully, we cannot help but realize what a perfect introduction it is. The opening words: In the beginning was the Word takes us back to the story of creation, as it also reveals much of what is to come. The unforgettable opening of John’s gospel connects the unfolding gospel narrative to the entire history of God’s relationship with humanity. The climax of the account of creation that we read in the first chapter of Genesis is the creation of human beings, in the image of God. In the first chapter of John’s gospel we see the closing of a circle as God arrives in human form: the Word became flesh and lived among us.

John’s use of the phrase the Word is particularly powerful. As we speak, as words leave our mouths, they take on a life and meaning of their own. No matter how carefully they are crafted and delivered, the way our words are received, understood and interpreted depends on context, mood and willingness to hear. The coincidence of these conditions rarely align, which means that the words we say can, so often, have their true meaning distorted. Once uttered, our words take on a new life and meaning over which we have little, or no, control! They take on a new life and meaning which cannot easily be retracted or refined.

Of course, words also have the power to change the way we think and live. If we are attentive to the words we hear, if we truly listen, rather than merely letting their sound waft over and around us, then words can really lead us to follow a different path. Such words remain in our memories. Such words, if we allow them, can go on having an effect on our lives until the day we pass from this world into the eternal rest of God’s nearer presence.

Throughout the Old Testament God speaks. In the book of the prophet Isaiah we read of God’s word going out to bring life, healing and hope to humanity. That life-giving, healing and hopeful Word of God is Jesus. The Word was, and is, God. If we want to enter into a closer relationship with God we just have to take a long, hard look at Jesus … the Word of God heralded in today’s reading.

2020 has been a challenging year. It has been a year of sadness and uncertainty. It has also been a year that had given us time to listen anew to the Word of God. The question is: have we been listening to that Word? Have we heard the life-giving, healing and hopeful Word? Or, have we shut our ears and minds to the age-old words of God’s love?

Prayers of Intercession

Rejoicing in the precious gift of the Son, let us pray to the Lord.

Grant to the Church, illuminated by the eternal light, the grace to shine as the servant of Incarnate God. May the simple faith of the shepherds, the adoration of the angels and love of the Holy Family be the ground of our worship and witness now and at all times.

Son of God, taking our human nature so that all broken humanity might be made new, look with mercy on a world which has not heeded the angelic message of peace. Bring to the nations knowledge of the love which has been from the beginning and which no sin can extinguish or folly destroy.

May the love that shone from the blessed manger bed be ours today. In every heart, every home, every workplace, may the grace and truth of God dwell with us and draw us into his holiness, and empower us to tell out the tidings of great joy.

Light of God, come into the darkness of pain and suffering. In the new day that has dawned, may the sick find healing, the sorrowful comfort, the despairing hope, and the dying assurance. Bring the wanderers and the homeless to shelter. Shield the newly born and the mothers waiting for the time of birth.

Grant to the departed the peace that unites earth and heaven. The life that was in Christ, the life of all that was made, be theirs in the greater light of his eternal glory.

We offer our prayers through Christ, the Word made flesh for our salvation.

Prayer for the New Year

God, bless the coming year,
and give us in your mercy
time for the task,
peace for the pathway,
wisdom for the work,
and love to the last;
for Jesus’ sake.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.

Hymn

Word of God, renew your people,
make us now your living sign.
Recreate us for your purpose
in this place and in this time.

Word of hope and Word of healing,
make us now your living sign.
Recreate us for your purpose
in this place and in this time.

Word of peace and Word of justice,
make us now your living sign.
Recreate us for your purpose
in this place and in this time.

God alone the power we trust in,
make us now your living sign.
Recreate us for your purpose
in this place and in this time.

Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)