Watchnight Service – Thursday 24th December 2020

WATCH NIGHT SERVICE

 24.12.20

Good evening and welcome to our Christmas eve Service.

Merry Christmas ! Please find the AUDIO version of the Christmas Eve / Watchnight Service below.

Audio version

Printed Version

 

 

It’s been a difficult year for many of us and this Christmas time will be very different to other years – but the message of Christmas remains the same – Christmas isn’t cancelled!  The message that God came down to Earth to seek and to save us never changes – and that is what is really at the heart of Christmas.

 

Let us pray ~

 

Dear Loving. Living Lord we come to praise you on this Christmas eve – this time of patient waiting – this time of promises fulfilled and of peace, joy and love to all mankind.

 

What an amazing God you are – you continually bless us -although we so often forget to thank you.

You never cease to love us – even although we put ourselves and our own interests before you……. You sent your son to save us – although we must seem far from grateful – and yet you send your Holy Spirit to guide us and to guard us.

 

How narrow we are ! – how ungrateful we are!  How unworthy we are ! Yet, for all that – you continue to love and watch over us – what an amazing God you are !!

 

Forgive us Lord – have mercy upon us and bless us as we apologise for the things we have said and done which are far from what you expect of us – things we know are wrong and unpleasant – yet we continue to do them……..

 

Hear now our silent prayers as we sit for a few moments, side by side with our families and friends – bringing to you own prayers –

Lord be with us – in the peace of our silence……...take a short time for personal prayer………….

 

Hear our prayer Lord – and hear us now as we pray together – the prayer which brings us all together as one family – 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.

 

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Well, here we are –  Christmas Eve – the last shop is closed –  it’s too late to get that last present –  !!

 

There’s no more time to get that turkey – if you haven’t got it now – then it’s beans on toast for Christmas dinner for you !!

 

It’s usually a night when we go home and leave a carrot  for the reindeer and a glass of milk for Santa – (unless he’s very lucky and you leave him a glass of sherry !)

 

It’s  a time of waiting – a  time of looking forward.

 

Both of our Readings for this evening are –

Matthews Gospel

 

Matthew 1 : 21 – 23   &   Matthew 2 : 1 – 2

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First from

Matthew 1:21-23  New International Version

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

And from

Matthew 2:1-2   New International Version

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Amen.

 

This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God

 

 

SERMON –

Well, here we are –  Christmas Eve – the last shop is closed –  it’s too late to get that last present –  !!

 

There’s no more time to get that turkey – if you haven’t got it now – then it’s beans on toast for Christmas dinner for you I’m afraid !!

 

A night when we go home and leave a carrot  for the reindeer and a glass of milk for Santa – (unless he’s very lucky and you leave him a glass of sherry !)…..

 

It’s  a time of waiting – a  time of looking forward –

 

A time when the children are innocently looking forward to Santa coming –

 

And a time when many parents look forward to when it’s all over and they can enjoy a bit of peace and quite!!

 

But for us all – it’s a  time of celebration – a time when we would usually sing all the well known Carols – and hear the well known stories of the Angels – the Shepherds – the Wise Men and the birth of baby Jesus in a  byre in Bethlehem………

 

A time when our young people with tea towels on their heads and tinsel angels – re-enact the nativity scene of 2,000 years ago.

 

We’ve seen it all before – we’ve heard it all before –

 

So much so that we can almost recite the lines as we hear them read.

 

But you know – there are two verses that we hear every year – but I suspect that many of us don’t remember them – or even remember hearing them being read before – yet they form the basis of the whole of the christmas story.

Aye – and beyond.

 

The first verse is part of our first reading this evening…… – it’s when Joseph is told by the Angel – “Mary is to have a child – and you are to call him  ‘Immanuel’… ….which means – God is with us”………

 

The second versee is in our second reading – and it was the question that the magi asked when they arrived in bethlehem. Do you remember ??

 

They asked –

“where is the one they call Jesus ??”………

 

These two verses are – for me – are at the heart of the whole Christmas story…..

 

And I’ll explain why –

 

We can see them as almost a question and answer – the magi’s question to the people in Bethlehem – “where is he ?” – is, in a sense, answered by the angel to Joseph –

“he is with us” – ……..

 

Q – where is he ?”

A –  “he is with us”

 

Do you see ??

 

And that age old question is one that people are still asking today –“where is God ??”

 

In the atrocities of war – in the bombings, the murders and in so many more tragedies.

 

In the good as well as the sad times of our lives –

 

And in the pandemic which holds us in its grip –

 

people ask “where is God ?”…….

 

But the answer remains the same – “He is still with us” !!

 

Through all we go through – He is here, going through it with us.

 

And if we miss that – then we miss the point of Christmas.

 

We miss the point of Jesus’ coming into the world…..

 

 

Because – you see – those simple lines change everything – it isn’t just another birth – another baby.

It’s God coming to earth in human form.

He came to be with us.

 

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That’s the message of Christmas.

 

That’s what Immanuel means –the Angels tell us – “God is with us” –

 

We don’t need wise men or shepherds – we don’t even need angelic hosts or shiny stars…… to make this story true –

 

The one indispensable part of this whole amazing story is that single statement –  “and He will be called ‘Immanuel – which means – God is with us”…….

 

Without that – it’s just another baby  – just another sad story of an unmarried mother being turned away, shunned by society – when she needed help the most…

 

But the fact that God has chosen to come down and join with us in our pain and our suffering – our joy and our celebrations – makes the whole thing a wonderful and hope filled occurrence.

 

Here was God – doing something that even the wisest of the wise men could never have imagined!

 

In that small baby – God had launched his master plan – to save the world.

 

Christ is coming this night – on Christmas eve.

 

He came to be with you and he came to be with me – not just at Christmas, but he is with you each moment of each day.

He came to save us.

 

How wonderful – how amazing is that?

 

As I have said before – this really is “the greatest story ever told” – in this is just the beginning!

 

And so tonight – as we await the coming of the Saviour,  we stand on the threshold of a new beginning.

How exciting is that!?

 

And – as they say in all the best stories –

Come back next week and hear the next thrilling instalment of this wonderful adventure of God coming to earth to seek and to seek and to save us…..

We really are – so blessed!

 

Amen.

 

And may God bless this preaching of His Holy Word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.

 

And now – as midnight draws near –

 

Let us take a few moments to look back

and remember the blessings of family and friends – of loved ones who are still with us and loved ones lost –

 

Holy Lord Jesus, Remind is that through our faith and your great love for us – we can pray that our loved ones are safe in your hands – and that in your time – we will all meet again – but until that time let us put our trust and our faith in our dear sweet Saviour – born this night – to bring light into our dark world.

……….take a few moments for personal prayer………

hear our prayers Listening Lord – for we bring them to you in the name of our dear saviour, born this day for all mankind.

Amen.

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And now as it is midnight, Christmas day is here let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas  – and light the 5th Christmas candle, the white a candle in the centre of our Advent Ring  – the candle of peace  – a sign of the peace that baby boy brings into the world – and our lives – when we give our lives and our hearts to Him.

Amen.

And now –

BLESSING

May the joy and the delight,
the humility and the gentleness,
the innocence and the peace
of the Christ child
be yours this Christmas time.

 

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you – be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love –

This day – and forever more.

Amen.

 

I will be posting a  Christmas Morning Reflection in the morning – in the form of a Christmas Story – for adults as well as Children so please take  a few minutes – at some time tomorrow to gather the children for a wee while and hear the story of the very first Christmas tree!

And now let us celebrate the birth of that wee Holy baby – who was born in a byre in Bethlehem on that dark Holy night –

 Play – “O Holy Night”

Have a lovely Christmas – and please,  keep safe..

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I will post a Christmas Day Reflection tomorrow morning.

Remember not to be to late in bed tonight In case that special visitor pays you a visit ! 🎅🏼 TaKe care and God bless. Iain