SOUTH TYNESIDE JOINT PASTORATE
ST ANDREW’S, ST MARGARET’S AND ST PAUL AND ST JOHN’S URC
SUNDAY 20TH DECEMBER 2020
(Prepared by Sheila McNabola – St Andrew’s Church Secretary)
Dear Friends, ADVENT – WEEK 4
As we approach this Christmas week, I hope you are all well and in good spirits.
At this time we would normally be thinking of celebrating our ‘Christingle’ services showing God is the light of the World. May I suggest you carefully light your own ‘Christingle’ candle as you read this worship sheet, to help us to feel the closeness of each other.
The season of Advent challenges us to see God’s vision of what is yet to be, to hear God’s voice calling anew, to smell the scent of God in the World. Let us celebrate life in the presence the one we name an Advent God.
Hymn 451 Love came down at Christmas
READINGS: Psalms 80: 1-7, 17-19
Isaiah 7: 10-16
Romans 1: 1-7
Matthew 1: 18-25
PRAYER – by Graham Adams – based on Psalm 80 – taken from URC Prayerbook
Give us life, and we will call on your name
God of the earth and the whole cosmos
we cry out to you from our despair and disillusionment
we yearn from our places of deepest desire
we need new life – for us, the nations and all the earth
God with us in our struggles
we look around and within at the pain
we can feel as though you have fed us with tears,
we cry our questions; we wonder ‘how long’ –
how long will it be this way?
God of judgement and joy, liberation and life
come to us quickly!
Call us to come to you and your ways
that we may remember to share abundant life
Come give us life, renew us in your life-giving ways
Stir up your might, and come to save us!
Give us your life, and we will call on your name.
Psalm 80 is entitled ‘A prayer for the Nation’s Restoration’ which is very appropriate to the whole World today. It asks God to ‘bring us back, O God, show us your mercy and we will be saved’. As Christians, we have faith that God has been, and will be, our strength and support during these challenging times. We continue to pray for an end to the Pandemic sooner, rather than later without the loss of many more lives. We look to a brighter tomorrow in the New Year to enable us to join our church families again.
Of course, as far as the pandemic is concerned we are delighted to now have vaccines thanks to all the wonderful efforts and hard work of scientists across the world. Remembering also, the thousands of NHS staff and carers who have devoted their time to caring for the sick in sometimes harrowing circumstances.
There have been so many sacrifices made in the past year, and innumerable lives lost, yet still there are people who flaunt the regulations and think the virus will not affect them.
Hopefully, during the relaxed Christmas ‘five day’ ruling, people will be sensible enough not to overstep the mark and will consider the possible long-term implications caused for, not only themselves, but for those they love, by them not adhering to the rules. We can but hope!
I find it humbling that people have raised so much money for charities, food banks, NHS and other organisations. It is amazing how local communities have identified and acted to support those around them who need help.
Children especially seem to now realise one of the most important things in life is to be more caring and have come up to the mark. One little boy in particular brought tears to my eyes as, having lost both his limbs due to abuse when he was a baby, had learnt to walk with prosthetic limbs, he then went on to raise over a million pounds by walking 10 kilometres in a month, how difficult must that have been? Yet he was always smiling – just an amazing little boy!
Of course, there are many others who should not be forgotten, who have overcome disabilities or old age to raise millions of pounds for charity. The true spirits of generosity and kindness have been evident throughout the country during the past year.
Years ago a friend bought me a small cushion – which I treasure, showing these words : Friendship isn’t a big thing, it’s a million little things’. I think this is so appropriate to the World today, as we all do little things every day, which we may think are inconsequential but mean so much to the recipient.
HYMN: 589 – See him lying on a bed of straw
This Christmas will certainly be different for us all. We are unable to attend church in person but there are many ‘virtual’ options available to us either on TV or from our own churches. I, for one, would be lost without technology as it has been a great help in communicating with my family and friends, I especially enjoy my weekly ‘Zoom’ choir.
HYMN: 47 Away in a Manger
PRAYER – written by Firell Parker – (from the URC Prayer Handbook)
We find ourselves wondering… what happens next?
Will everything go back to normal?
And what does that even mean?
What is normal?
Working… more and more isolated while “socialising through ever-new forms of media.
But isn’t that what we have been doing anyway?
Has that much really changed?
Has been inside for so long made us realise that ‘normal’ was really
not that good after all?
Perhaps – just perhaps – this is an opportunity to take stock, take notice and make the changes that are needed for body, for mind and for life.
We continue to remember in our prayers, Helen and her family. Also all those of our congregations who are sick or suffering at this time. May God’s comfort give you strength. AMEN
THE LORD’S PRAYER
HYMN 491 – Oh come all ye faithful
On behalf of St Andrew’s congregation, I would like to wish you all
‘A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR’.