Armadale Uniting Church

25th December 2020

`What on Earth has happened?`

Christmas Day

Organist - Rowan Kidd;
Reader – Graeme Harris; Technical help – Robin Ahin
Minister - Rev. Fiona Winn

Welcome and Grace

Scripture Sentence
`Long ago God spoke to our ancestors
in many and various ways by the prophets,
but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son…
He is the reflection of God`s glory
and the exact imprint of God`s very being,
and He sustains all things by His powerful word.
Heb. 1: 1-3a

Christmas Day liturgy

L. We come to sing, to praise and pray…
R. …for Christ is born this Christmas Day!
L. The light is come dispelling fear.
R. God`s peace to all on earth is here!
L. With heart and soul and mind and voice…
R. …we light the candle and rejoice!
(Christ candle is lit…)
All: Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is come!
God`s hope and joy for everyone.

Hymn 304 (omit vs. 4)

`O come all you faithful`

1 O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him
born the king of angels:

Refrain:
O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

2 True God of true God, Light of Light eternal,
lo! he abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Son of the Father,
begotten, not created:
Refrain

3 See how the shepherds summoned to his cradle,
leaving their flocks, draw nigh with holy fear;
we too will thither
bend our joyful footsteps:
Refrain

5 Child, for us sinners, poor and in the manger,
fain we embrace thee with love and awe;
who would not love thee,
loving us so dearly?
Refrain

6 Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing all ye citizens of heaven above,
'Glory to God,
glory in the highest':
Refrain

7 Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father
now in flesh appearing:
Refrain

Various authors –John Francis Wade (1711–1786), John Reading (1645–1692), King John IV of Portugal (1604–1656), and anonymous Cistercian monks

Prayer

Lord God You are the beginning and end of all things.
Father of all,
we are glad to gather this morning
to praise You and wonder at Your coming among us as a little child.
O come let us adore Him.
Lord Jesus born a baby - humbly, humanly, vulnerable and needy,
we are glad to gather this morning
to praise You and wonder at Your willingness
to share our humanity;
to live and die to save our broken world – to save us.
O come let us adore Him.
Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life
we are glad to gather this morning to praise You
and wonder at Your coming to inspire our flesh and blood,
to bring light, life and hope
where there is darkness, death and despair.
O come let us adore Him.
Lord of creation, Child of Bethlehem, Spirit of comfort and joy,
accept our prayers of worship and adoration
and hear us as we confess what is not right in us.
Forgive our shallow faith –
deepen our understanding and enlarge our hearts…
Lord have mercy…Lord have mercy…
Forgive our scepticism and cynicism –
open our minds to Your truth…
Christ have mercy – Christ have mercy…
Forgive our ingratitude –
Even, especially, in these trying times,
help remember all You have done in the coming of Jesus
Lord have mercy…Lord have mercy…
`This is how God showed His love among us:
He sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.` 1 John 4: 9
We are grateful and humbled by such love and glad to hear Christ`s words of grace to each of us `Your sins are forgiven`
Thanks be to God.
Amen

Reading - John 1: 1-18 - The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
He came as a witness to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
 The true light, which enlightens everyone,
was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.
11 He came to what was his own,
and his own people did not accept him.
12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name,
he gave power to become children of God,
13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh
or of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me
because he was before me.’”)
16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
17 The law indeed was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Hymn 290 `Of the father`s love begotten`

1 Of the Father's love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see
evermore and evermore.

2 O that birth for ever blessèd,
when the virgin full of grace,
by the Spirit's power conceiving,
bore the saviour of our race,
and the babe, the world's redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face
evermore and evermore.

3 This is he whom seers and sages
sang of old with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long-expected:
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.

4 In the heights of heaven adore him,
angel hosts his praises sing,
all dominions bow before him
and extol our God and king;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
every voice together sing
evermore and evermore.

Aureliua Clemens Prudentius 348-c.413
Trans. John Mason Neale 1818-66
Henry Williams Baker 1827-77 and others

Reflection

Reflection on John 1: 1 - 18

Wow!

The Prologue - no messing around - straight into it - the enormity of this Gospel - its breadth, depth, scope; the magnificence and magnitude of the imagery and ideas; the mystery of the context and of the text itself; conjecture and consensus – and lack of consensus – around notions of authorship and readership.
Suffusing the whole text – GLORY.
The beginning of it all…
Light. Darkness.
Word.
God.
Truth.
Testimony.
Bearing witness.
Earth. Water.
Flesh. Blood.
Birth. New birth.
Of the Spirit.
Creation. Re-creation.
Generation. Regeneration. Degeneration. Death. New life.
Quality of life. A new quality of life.
Time and eternity.
In, throughout, over and beyond time.
Paternity. Fraternity. Identity.
Spirit. Wisdom. Sophia.
Vision. Blindness.
Knowing, not knowing.
What is revealed. What is concealed.
The Logos. The Word. The Word made flesh.
The Father`s embodied love.
The Johannine Jesus.
The Johannine community.
For some, this Word, the Word, intriguing and inviting – and for others, repulsive and repellent.
Broad brush strokes and the finest attention to detail.
The cosmic and the commonplace.
The whole world.
Erotic rather than sexual – though the idea of the generative is present too.
Visceral. Sensual.
Down-to-earth.
From above.
Dramatic. High drama.
Recognition and lack of recognition.
Remembering. Memory.
Big picture.
Ordinary. Extraordinary.
Stark images.
Textual. Textural.
Ultimate issues. Big Questions.
Vast.

The Prologue - the text as open ended and expansive rather than limited and limiting; setting the scene for the whole wondrous kaleidoscopic beauty of the Gospel of John; the whole wondrous kaleidoscopic beauty of Jesus Christ – the Logos of God, the Word made flesh. This text an intense distillation of Old Testament thought and imagery referring to God`s salvific dealings with God`s people from – and before – Genesis; through Abraham, Moses, the prophets, echoing and alluding to the writings on Wisdom from the time of the Johannine community – and beyond even to us today in twenty first century Australia.

Hymn 323 `Born in the night Mary`s Child`

Born in the night,
Mary's Child,
a long way from your home;
coming in need,
Mary's Child,
born in a borrowed room.

Clear shining light,
Mary's Child,
your face lights up our way;
light of the world,
Mary's Child,
dawn on our darkened day.

Truth of our life,
Mary's Child,
you tell us God is good;
prove it is true,
Mary's Child,
go to your cross of wood.

Hope of the world,
Mary's Child,
you're coming soon to reign;
King of the earth,
Mary's Child,
walk in our streets again.

Geoffrey Ainger (1925-)

Prayer

Hymn 293 (omit vs. 3) `Unto us a boy is born`

Unto us a boy is born,
King of all creation:
cradled in a stall was he,
the lord of every nation.

Cradled in a stall was he
with sleepy cows and asses;
but the very beasts could see
that he all men surpasses.

Now may Mary’s son, who came
so long ago to love us,
lead us all with hearts aflame
unto the joys above us.

Omega and alpha he!
Let the organ thunder,
while the choir with peals of glee
now rends the air asunder.

Anon. Latin 15th Cent.
Trans. Percy Deamer 1867-1936

Blessing