27h December 2020
`The faithfulness of all the years…`
Rev Fiona Winn
Welcome and Grace
4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son,
who was born from a woman and lived under the law.
5 God did this so that he could buy the freedom of those who were under the law.
God’s purpose was to make us his children.
6 Since you are now God’s children, he has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.
he Spirit cries out, “ Abba, Father.”
7 Now you are not slaves like before. You are God’s children,
and you will receive everything he promised his children.
Galatians 4: 4-7
Hymn 297 `Come your hearts and voices raising`
Come, your hearts and voices raising
1 Come, your hearts and voices raising,
Christ the Lord with gladness praising;
Loudly sing His love amazing,
Worthy folk of Christendom.
2. Sin and death may well be groaning,
Satan now may well be moaning;
We, our full salvation owning,
Cast our every care away.
3. See how God, for us providing,
Gave His Son and life abiding;
He our weary steps is guiding
From earth's woe to heavenly joy.
4. Christ, from heaven to us descending
And in love our race befriending,
In our need His help extending,
Saved us from the wily Foe.
5. Jacob's Star in all its splendour
Beams with comfort sweet and tender,
Forcing Satan to surrender,
Breaking all the powers of hell.
6. From the bondage that oppressed us,
From sin's fetters that possessed us,
From the grief that sore distressed us,
We, the captives, now are free.
7. Oh, the joy beyond expressing
When by faith we grasp this blessing
And to You we come confessing,
That Your love has set us free.
8. Gracious Child, we pray Thee, hear us,
From Thy lowly manger cheer us,
Gently lead us and be near us
Till we join the angelic choir.
Paul Gerhardt 1607-76
Trans. The Lutheran Hymnal
We gather in the afterglow of Christmas
and on the last Sunday of the year.
We want to praise You for Your faithfulness at Christmas
that what You promised came to pass,
that a Child was born,
a Son given, His name - Emmanuel, God with us,
We thank You for the humility of the manger,
the faithfulness of Mary and Joseph,
the openness of the shepherds,
the song of the angels,
the light of the star.
We thank You for the Word made flesh,
for the Light He is which cannot be overcome by darkness –
no matter how deep or dark that darkness is…
Shine in our darkness. Lighten our darkness we pray.
And forgive us…
Forgive our failure to recognise Christ among us…
Open our eyes and ears and hearts.
Lord have mercy… Lord have mercy
Forgive our impatience with Your way of doing things…
Help us to trust Your wisest of ways…
Christ have mercy… Christ have mercy
Forgive our preference for our own comfort and ease.
Help us remember those who need and long to hear words of truth and release and hope - the salvation Christ brings.
Lord have mercy… Lord have mercy
`For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. – Psalm 86:5
We hear Christ`s words of grace to each of us `Your sins are forgiven` Thanks be to God. Amen
Isaiah 61: 10-62: 3 God’s Servant Brings Salvation
10 The Lord makes me very happy.
I am completely happy with my God.
He dressed me in the clothes of salvation.
He put the victory coat on me.
I look like a man dressed for his wedding,
like a bride covered with jewels.
11 The earth causes plants to grow,
and a garden makes the seeds planted there rise up.
In the same way, the Lord God will make goodness and praise
grow throughout the nations.
New Jerusalem: A City Full of Goodness
62 I love Zion,
so I will continue to speak for her.
I love Jerusalem,
so I will not stop speaking.
I will speak until goodness shines like a bright light,
until salvation burns bright like a flame.
2 Then all nations will see your goodness.
All kings will see your honour.
Then you will have a new name
that the Lord himself will give you.
3 You will be like a beautiful crown that the Lord holds up,
like a king’s crown in the hand of your God.
Praise the Lord!
praise the Lord from heaven!
2 Praise him, all you angels!
Praise him, all his army[a]!
3 Sun and moon, praise him!
Stars and lights in the sky, praise him!
4 Praise him, highest heaven!
Waters above the sky, praise him!
5 Let them praise the Lord’s name,
because he gave the command and created them all!
6 He made all these continue forever.
He made the laws that will never end.
7 Everything on earth, praise him!
Great sea animals and all the oceans, praise the Lord!
8 Praise him, fire and hail, snow and clouds,
and the stormy winds that obey him.
9 Praise him, mountains and hills,
fruit trees and cedar trees.
10 Praise him, wild animals and cattle, reptiles and birds.
11 Praise him, kings of the earth and all nations,
princes and all rulers on earth.
12 Praise him, young men and women,
old people and children.
13 Praise the Lord’s name!
Honour his name forever!
His name is greater than any other.
He is more glorious than heaven and earth.
14 He made his people strong.
His loyal followers praise him.
Israel, his precious people, praise the Lord!
Luke 2: 22-40 Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
22 The time came for Mary and Joseph to do the things the Law of Moses taught about being made pure. They brought Jesus to Jerusalem so that they could present him to the Lord. 23 It is written in the law of the Lord: “When a mother’s first baby is a boy, he shall be called ‘special for the Lord.’” 24 The law of the Lord also says that people must give a sacrifice: “You must sacrifice two doves or two young pigeons.” So Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem to do this.
Simeon Sees Jesus
25 A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. 26 The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. 27 The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. 28 Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God:
29 “Now, Lord, you can let me, your servant, die in peace as you said.
30 I have seen with my own eyes how you will save your people.
31 Now all people can see your plan.
32 He is a light to show your way to the other nations.
And he will bring honour to your people Israel.”
33 Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “Many Jews will fall and many will rise because of this boy. He will be a sign from God that some will not accept. 35 So the secret thoughts of many will be made known. And the things that happen will be painful for you—like a sword cutting through your heart.”
Anna Sees Jesus
36 Anna, a prophetess, was there at the Temple. She was from the family of Phanuel in the tribe of Asher. She was now very old. She had lived with her husband seven years 37 before he died and left her alone. She was now 84 years old. Anna was always at the Temple;
she never left. She worshiped God by fasting and praying day and night.
38 Anna was there when Joseph and Mary came to the Temple. She praised God and talked about Jesus to all those who were waiting for God to free Jerusalem.
Joseph and Mary Return Home
39 Joseph and Mary finished doing all the things that the law of the Lord commanded. Then they went home to Nazareth, their own town in Galilee. 40 The little boy Jesus was developing into a mature young man, full of wisdom. God was blessing him.
Hymn 733 `Lord God you now have set your servant free`
Reflection and Q and A
The faithfulness of all the years
The presentation of Jesus in the temple paints a strong, grace filled and humbling picture. It is a tender picture of recognition, joy and praise - accompanied by prophetic words to disturb and unsettle…
As Mary and Joseph observe the correct religious rites of their faith, they are gifted with a prophetic encounter from unlikely people who have been faithful to the word of God over many long years.
Over many long years…this story honours and pays tribute to those who wait, who long for God`s way to be made known, who pray and petition, who continue to trust – no matter what – and who, through an unshakeable faith, are able to recognise the saving presence of God among them when He presents Himself.
On good terms with the Spirit of God, Simeon and Anna are not disheartened by the wait. They are not cynical or sceptical – they are prayerful and ready…
Could that be said of us? Are we sensitive to the Spirit of God, to God`s action in the world, in Christ, around us?
Where do we see and sense Christ? What do we make of this Child?
Simeon and Anna are both overjoyed at what they encounter in this little one and cannot keep from expressing their joy. While Simeon speaks to the parents and has words for them which astound and unsettle them, Anna takes the message to others who are also longing for God`s salvation to be revealed. This babe is good news, confronting news, inspiring news for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see…those near and those far…
In these trying times as we wait for that which will save us from our current predicaments – plural – what is the Spirit saying to us, to the Church, to those who remain faithful - and faithless?
There is no one like this Child. He is God`s plan for salvation. Blessed indeed are those who recognise Him as suc
Lord God you now have set your servant free
Lord God you now have set your servant free
To go in peace as promised in your word;
My eyes have seen the Saviour, Christ the Lord,
Prepared by you for all the world to see,
To shine on nations trapped in darkest night,
The glory of your people, and their light.
Rae E. Whitney 1927-
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine,
secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium,
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.
Vulgate /Latin translation of the Bible
The Song of Simeon
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
to be a light to lighten the Gentiles
and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
The English words as found in the Book of Common Prayer, 1662
Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer
Hymn 317 `Love came down at Christmas`
Tune: Hermitage (Morris) https://youtu.be/1UodfFV3A3M
Tune: Love came down (Archer) https://youtu.be/XyTek9hdlMI
Christina G. Rossetti
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Hold fast to God`s promises. Be faithful to the humble Christ.
Listen to the Spirit.
May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
sustain and strengthen you, and enable you