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Daily Prayer Podcast Worship

Prayer for Christmas Day

Listen to or read a service of Prayer for Christmas Day, Friday 25 December 2020

Preparation

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

Praise

Lord Jesus Christ,
your birth at Bethlehem
draws us to kneel in wonder
at heaven touching earth:
accept our heartfelt praise
as we worship you,
our Saviour and our eternal God.
Amen.

Psalm 96

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

Sing to the Lord and bless his name;
tell out his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations
and his wonders among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;
he is more to be feared than all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are but idols;
it is the Lord who made the heavens.

Honour and majesty are before him;
power and splendour are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples;
ascribe to the Lord honour and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name;
bring offerings and come into his courts.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth tremble before him.

Tell it out among the nations that the Lord is king.
He has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.

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:
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.

Reflection

St Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus is so very well known. The census, the journey, the inn with no room, the manger, the shepherds and the angels. Surely there is no part of the story that is unfamiliar to us. Perhaps you have a favourite moment in the story. Perhaps you remember playing one of the characters in the story in your primary school nativity play. Perhaps you make the mistake of thinking of this moment in the gospel narrative as nothing more than a beautiful story which adds a touch of warmth to our lives in the depths of winter. However you view Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, I wonder if you see its power and how it prepares us to read of the earthly ministry of the one who was born to bring salvation to the whole of humanity?

Our Christmas reading opens with these words: a decree went out from the Emperor Augustus. Those words are so often glossed over as simple scene-setting but they are, in reality, so much more than that. From the opening of Matthew’s gospel we know the threat posed by the local ruler, Herod. Augustus represented so much more than Herod. Augustus was the first emperor of Rome and ruled the most powerful empire in the world. Furthermore, Augustus knew how powerful he was. He knew that such power could only be held by one with divine ancestry. Augustus knew that he was the son of god. This self-declared divinity placed him and his world in direct opposition to the true Son of God, the baby born in a humble stable, Jesus Christ.

There is nothing kitsch or cute in the story of the Nativity. The true Son of God came into the world as the child of humble parents, and yet his divinity could not be doubted. Angels sang of his birth and the heavens shone with special signs. The divinity of this true Son of God was declared to the world without wealth or force. Between Augustus in Rome and Jesus in Bethlehem there could, and can, be no doubt regarding the authenticity of the divine kingship. On that day of Christ’s birth the new way of true discipleship began.

On this Christmas Day let us put aside the trappings of power and wealth. Let us travel not to royal palaces but to the lowly stable, and let us worship the baby who came to save us all.

Prayers of Intercession

Father, at this holy time your Son our Saviour was born as a child among us. Renew your Church as the Body of Christ.

At this holy time there was no room for your Son in the inn. Protect with your love those who have no home and all who live in poverty.

At this holy time Mary, in the pain of labour, brought your Son to birth. Hold in your hand all who are in pain or distress.

At this holy time your Christ came as a light shining in the darkness. Bring comfort to all who suffer in the sadness of our world.

At this holy time the angels sang ‘Peace to God’s people on earth’. Strengthen those who work for peace and justice in all the world.

At this holy time shepherds in the field heard good tidings of joy. Give us grace to preach the gospel of Christ’s redemption.

At this holy time heaven is come down to earth, and earth is raised to heaven. Keep in safety all those who have passed through death in the hope of heaven.

At this holy time Christians the world over celebrate his birth. Open our hearts that he may be born in us today.

Father, at this holy time angels and shepherds worshipped at the manger throne. Receive the worship we offer in fellowship with Mary, Joseph and the saints through him who is your Word made flesh, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Prayer for Christmas

Holy Child of Bethlehem,
born in a stable, laid in a manger,
no place is too low or mean for you to enter.
Come to us this Christmas time,
dwell in our hearts and homes,
and fill them with your love,
your peace,
yourself,
now and always.
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

Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
glory to God
in the highest:

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
born this happy morning,
Jesu, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
now in flesh appearing:

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!

Adeste, fideles (Latin, 18th century)
translated by Frederick Oakeley (1802–1880) and others