Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Born in us today

Luke 2:8-20
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.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Dreams and visions

Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
God’s Spirit Poured Out
Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Come to this table all you who dream
and you who plan
You who have visions
and you who like cold, hard facts
Come to this table where God invites you
to know grace and mercy and love
served up in bread and wine

God came in Jesus
to reveal the signs all around
of a different way of living
A way in which we each honour one another
A way in which we love each other
A way in which we make space for the other
Jesus used ordinary things around him
to show us the way of love.
The night he was betrayed,
He gathered his daiciples around him
and shared supper with them
teaching them, even in that last meal
lessons in love.
Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and shared it, saying,
This is my body, broken for you
He took wine and passed it around his disciples,
a new relationship with God made possible
And said: Do this to remember me.
As we follow Jesus' example here today, let us first give thanks.

Prayer of Thanksgivng
God we thank you that, in Jesus, you showed us
that the kingdom of heaven is near
His birth, his life and death, his rising to life
brings hope - not for some distant world of justice and peace
but for our ability, with God's grace, to know the world we long for
the world you long to see for all your people, here and now.
And so as we take these ordinary gifts of bread and wine
that you make special
may we know that you take our gifts too
and use them to make a difference in our world.
So, this Advent, we offer you our hands and our feet
our voices and our intellects
our everyday work and pursuits
asking you to transform all that we offer
in the work of your kingdom
that transforms the world around.
Give us insight and inkling, resolve and direction
to see your kingdom come
bringing life and light in every darkness
and joy and peace in every corner of the world.
Send your Spirit on us and on these gifts of bread and wine
that as we share communion with God and with one another
we may know love born anew in us
and peace that passes all understanding.

This bread is a symbol of the life of the kingdom
Take, eat and live out incarnation

This wine is a symbol of the possibility of relationship
with God and our neighbour
Drink it resolving to repair division

We do this to remember Jesus

Prayer after communion
God you have fed us with the bread of life
May we go and enhance life for others
You have allowed us to drink of the wine of the new kingdom
May we herald in that kingdom in this place today
And, in every encounter we have in the world
may we live out God with us today and always.