Online Service – 27th December 2020
Good morning folks, I hope you are well and enjoyed a Happy Christmas. Please find the AUDIO version of today’s Sunday Service. Today we hear about the Shepherds ‘returning’ after all they had seen and heard, and think what that has to say to us as we ‘return’ to some kind of normality after the Christmas festivities. Why not find a quiet space and take a wee while to relax and listen to the service, and I hope that you will find something here which speaks to you and will give you some comfort and encouragement. And may I wish you all a Happy, Healthy and peace files New Year. God Bless. Iain
Online Sunday Service
Good morning all, Welcome to our Sunday Service on this the 1st Sunday After Christmas.
I hope you had a good Christmas, if you are anything like us it would have been a very quite one – but needs must in such times I suppose.
Today we hear about the shepherds ‘returning’ after Christmas.
It prompts us to think about our own ‘return back to normality’ – whatever ‘normal’ may be.
But before that –
Let us pray ~
Loving Lord – As we stand in the brink of a brand New Year – we gather here, as your family – to bring you our worship and our praise – in the name of the one who came to give us new life, new hope – our dear Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We know that as we live and work and breathe – we are surrounded by your love, your compassion and your care. With you in our lives, we need nothing else – in you we are complete.
You are the God who changes lives – who turns us around – who offers us a new way to think and live and be.
You are the God – OUR God who loves us with a love like we have never – or could ever know without you.
Heavenly father – we know that you walk with us – you talk with us – and we know too that through your Holy Spirit you guide us along life’s road.
But we are also aware of our own arrogance in thinking that we know best – and often go off down paths which lead us away from you – and then we wonder why things go wrong for us.
Forgive us for going our own ways – following our own notions and agenda’s –
and help us to see that whatever life may put before us – whatever burdens or joys lay ahead – that your promise is that you will lift us up and carry us through – leaving the old, the damaged and the past behind us and bringing us into a new light and a new life – thanks to that day when Jesus died on the Cross – that day when He gave His life for us and cried – “It is accomplished !”
Forgive us for not appreciating the enormity of what He did for us – forgive us for not always being worthy of His great sacrifice – bless us with your mercy and your grace and help us to live as Jesus would want us to live – a life of love, compassion and forgiveness to others.
Lord, as we come to you this morning – we bring you our worries – our concerns – the hassles and the issues which bother us –
hear us as we sit now, for a few moments in silence, to hand them over to you – laying them at your feet so that you can lift up our burdens and carry them for us.
so hear us now as we hand over our anxieties you – and so cleanse and refresh ourselves for the week – the year, ahead.
And hear us now as we open our hearts and acknowledge those things which we have done, said or thought, which go against our claim to be good, Christian people – things which we now regret. Hear now then, as we bring all these thoughts to you – in our own personal prayers of confession…………. ………….silence………
Forgive us Father. Renew us – re-invigorate us as we open our hearts and our minds to your saving love and compassion.
Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as we say together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~
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 debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.
PREAMBLE TO READINGS
In our O.T. reading this morning – we hear part of a letter that King Hezakiah wrote to his people throughout Judah and Israel. He was a Godly man – and his letter urged them to return to God.
It’s a letter that might have been written for our society today – perhaps it was…
And in our N.T. reading the theme of ‘returning’ continues. We hear of the Shepherds returning after their amazing experience at the birth of the baby Jesus.
Let us listen to God’s word.
2nd Chronicles 30 : 6 – 9 New International Version
6 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:
“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see.8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
LUKE 2 : 8 – 20 New International Version
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God
Well – that’s the Christmas festivities just about over – the heartburn is a fading memory – and later this week we celebrate the coming of a New Year.
And after all the festivities – we’ll soon be ‘back to the old clothes and porridge’ – as the saying goes.
The Sunday after Christmas – has been called ‘steak pie Sunday’ – because after the feasting and the over – eating on Turkey or roast beef – this Sunday many people will be quite happy with something plain like ‘steak pie’.
The bills will soon be coming in – the presents will lost have their newness – and the darkness seems that bit darker now that the lights of Christmas are beginning to fade.
People will be returning to work – returning from holidays – returning from visiting family…….. Returning to ‘normality’ – (whatever “normal” is !) –
There are quite a few references to people “returning” – in the Bible. We heard two of them this morning ~
Our O.T. reading told us of King Hezekiah’s wish that his people would return to God.
And of course – our N.T. reading this morning tells of the return of the Shepherds after their experience of that very first Christmas.
“The Shepherds returned” – verse 20 tells us – “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard about and seen..”
They had experienced the most amazing Christmas ever – angels, Mary and Joseph – the Wise Men – and of course – at the centre of it all – the Saviour of the World – in the form of that wee baby – born in a byre in Bethlehem – the Christ–child – Jesus Christ.
What a time it must have been for them ! Humble shepherds – simple – country folk – going about their everyday work – yet the first to hear the good news – witnessing the most amazing event the world has – or will ever know… an event which was to change the world.
And they could say – “I was there!”
They were returning to their own particular version of ‘old clothes and porridge’ – returning to their sheep in the fields –
and on their way – they were “glorifying and praising God”....
The routine to which they were returning – like us – was the same as before – only this time – things were different.
They were different ! – after all they had ‘seen and heard’ – how could they ever be the same?
And how must they have felt ?? – difficult to say. But we can imagine how we might feel if these things were to happen to us .
Could we ever return to being the same again?
How could we fail to be changed by all of that ? – how could we ‘return’ to being our old selves again ?
But perhaps that’s the point.
Perhaps we aren’t supposed to return to being our “old selves” – after the ‘Christmas experience’ !!…
Perhaps we are meant to see thing differently. Perhaps we are meant to return to our routine with a different eye – a new freshness – a new excitement – to carry on our lives with a new determination – ‘glorifying and praising God’ – for all we have ‘seen and heard’ about Jesus – this Christmas.
Has Christmas changed us I wonder ? – and I don’t just mean our waistline or our bank balance !
Did we hear, feel, experience something which has given us food for thought?
Has Christmas really changed us – has it made any difference to us at all ? – or are we returning to the same old routine – as the same old people ??…….
Wouldn’t it be sad if that were the case ?
The Angels – Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds – the Wise Men – the birth of God’s own son – all of that – and all for what ? – so that we can carry on as before ?
Are we in danger of putting Jesus away with the Christmas Decorations – to be left in a box until next Christmas ?
If we don’t feel closer to Him who came to lead us back to God – then we have lost something along the way.
Christmas should mean much more to us than presents and parties and Christmas pudding –
The clue is in the name CHRIST – mas.
It ought to remind us of the importance of what God actually did for us on that silent, holy night.
The love – the sacrifice – the Good News that ‘God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son’ – for the world – for you and for me.
And if we understand that – then we cannot help but be changed.
His very presence in our lives changes us.
Has Jesus, has your faith changed your life ? – or is it still the same as before?
If you don’t feel that He has – well, it’s never too late to invite Him into your life…
Jesus won’t come in where he is not invited – and He stands beside you – just longing to be asked in.
So – this New Year – let him be your first foot – let Jesus be all that you need to carry you safely through this next year – and all the years ahead.
Let Jesus be the very foundation of your life – on which everything else in your life stands.
So let us look back and reflect over Christmas, and give thanks to God for the coming of Jesus into the world – into our lives.
And let us also look ahead to the New Year – and be determined to go forward – starting a brand new, clean sheet in our lives – living His way.
And let’s do it – like those shepherds – glorifying and praising God.
As we return to our particular routine – let us resolve to give our lives and our hearts to our precious Saviour.
Let that be our present to God –
Our New year Resolution to ourselves – and to our families.
Then we really will have a ‘Happy New Year’.
I pray that you will – and I pray for you in Jesus’ precious name.
Go in hope – peace joy and love –
Go with God’s love in your heart – and His hand on your shoulder – guiding and protecting you in all you do in the coming year.
And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you – your families and all who you know and love – and ought to love.
This day – this coming year – and forever more.
AND I WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY –
HEALTHY – peace filled
NEW YEAR WHEN IT COMES
And may God bless you – and your loved ones at this very special time of year.
Have a good week – and please keep safe