The Shepherds and the Angels
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.
Come and see-
The baby Jesus, now grown
invites you to be part of the story -
to share at this table
and to wonder at the gift of God
born among us this day
Jesus, promised by prophets
Longed for by the oppressed
Dreaded by kings
Heralded by angels
Born in a manger
Sought out by shepherds
Lived life among the poor and lowly
the outcasts and the strangers
He taught and preached and healed
and gathered friends around him.
Around the table, at supper,
He took bread and broke it, saying:
This is my body broken for you.
He took the cup and said:
This is the new relationship with God
made possible because of my death
Do this when you are together to remember me.
And so, today, even as we greet the baby God born for us,
in Bethlehem, house of bread -
we take this bread and this cup,
symbols of the love he has for us
and we share to remember him.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God as we celebrate your birth today,
as we remember that humble shepherds were among the first to greet you,
we thank you for your life lived among the ordinary.
We see you, O God, in ordinary people and in the strangers and outcasts.
We see you in the poor and the homeless
in the lonely and the oppressed.
We see you in the prisoners and in the refugees.
We see you in the persecuted and the downtrodden,
in every place where love is withheld
For you are love.
And, as we gather at this table and share in this feast to which you invite us,
we bring with us all those who are left out in the cold today,
those who are excluded because they do not conform
those who have been too badly hurt to want to seek company
and those who long to belong but don't know how.
May we find space to be inclusive, to be open to others, without judgement,
even and especially when we are unsure.
May we err on the side of generosity
for you are a generous God
whose arms embrace and welcome all.
You made your dwelling among us
May your living alongside us change the way we live.
And as we share in these your symbols of love,
send your Spirit on us and on this bread and wine
that as we carefully unwrap your gifts
we may be filled and changed by the wonder of love born anew in us.
Here is bread, torn and offered to you - a symbol of Christ's love today
Here is wine, poured out for you - a sign of the lavish gift of God.
By these signs, remember God born for us - light and life for the world.
Prayer after Communion
God, present in the manger, journey with us through life.
Pierce through the glitter and the tinsel and bring us back to the starkness of your love
born for us today, present with us always.
And, with these symbols of God with us may we fill our world with light and with love
For Christ is born and lives in us, today and always.