Sunday Worship 20 December 2020

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To fulfil his purpose

God chose the most unsuspecting of women

to bear and bring up his Son.

God still calls unlikely people

ordinary people

to carry out his work

taking his love and his Good News

to everyone around us

Hymn             Come and join the celebration

Lighting the Advent candle

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‘Let us praise the Lord!

He has come to help his people and has set them free.’

In the fields above Bethlehem the Host of Heaven

sang your praises

in your closest presence in Heaven they sing to you

without ceasing

and in this time of worship we join with them

and with all your people round the world

in bringing you our praise and thanks

You are a great God, you are a Holy God

and yet in your love and mercy

you know and care for each one of us

in Jesus you suffered and died for each one of us

you set us free

free from the things in our past we are embarrassed by,

 and ashamed of

free from our base human instincts

free to be your children for ever

Yet we so often make light of your goodness and grace

we do not follow your teachings and guidance

we do not follow the example of Jesus

we take your love and kindness for granted

we ignore the promises we have made to you

we do what we know is wrong

and we come to you now asking forgiveness

Cleanse us

Restore us

Fill us again with your Spirit

 That we may walk faithfully in the way of Jesus

Reading        Luke 1: 26-38

Hymn             The angel Gabriel

No room at the inn – part 1

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Joseph carrying/pulling a large suitcase.

Mary (unimpressed):            So this is Royal David’s City, is it? I think they’ve more boarded up shops than Dumbarton High Street

Joseph:                                  We’ve not come here shopping, so don’t worry about the shops. We haven’t got the car.

Mary:                                      Just why did you bring that big suitcase?

Joseph:                                  Your mother!

Mary:                                      Is she in there?

Joseph:                                  If she were, I’d have left this in Lost Property at Nazareth!

Mary:                                      So what about my dear mother?

Joseph:                                  She gave me so much stuff for this wean we could open in competition with Braehead. Nappies, babygros, cardigans, woolly hats, blankets, bibs, rattles, cuddly toys. You name it and we’ve got 3000 of them. She even put in some wee pink numbers in case you were wrong about it being a boy.

Mary:                                      Anyway, where are we staying tonight? I hope it’s better than that B&B we were in last night. If my mother had been there she’d still be busy Spring-cleaning the place

Joseph:                                  I’m not sure where we’re staying here.

Mary:                                      What do you mean, you’re not sure? I told you weeks ago to get it booked. Get your phone out and try VisitBethlehem.

Joseph:                                  There’s no battery left in the phone.

Mary:                                      And I bet I know why! You’ve been looking up all the rugby scores, all the holiday deals to Spain and Majorca, and sending photos to that cousin of yours.

                                                Oh, what are we going to do? I think I’m about to cry…

Joseph:                                  Preserve us, not that! Hang on, I’ll try a few doors…

Excuse me, have you room for two? (pause)

They won’t be getting a good review on Tripadvisor

Excuse me, have you room for two? (pause)

Excuse me, please remove your dog from my ankle

Excuse me, have you room for two? (pause)

Really, there’s no need to use language like that with a lady present

Excuse me, have you room for two? (pause)

How much? Forget it!

Excuse me, have you room for two? (pause)

Stable Cottage round the back? Very atmospheric? OK, let’s go and have a look

 (Joseph comes back to Mary)

Joseph:                                  Hello dear. I think I’ve found somewhere for the night. You don’t get hay fever do you? Well, just come this way…

Mary:                                      Ooooh! I think the baby’s coming too

Joseph:                                  I think I wish her mother were in this suitcase.

Hymn             Hark the herald angels sing

No room at the Inn part 2

Maybe in a way it was as well that there was no room at the inn. Had there been such a thing as Tripadviser, few inns would have had an acceptable report. Guests often shared their accommodation with fleas, bedbugs and the like. Some of the other guests could be a bit spooky too. Mary probably wanted a bit of privacy to have her baby, rather than being crammed into a dormitory with a whole lot of unknown women.

How did the inn-keepers convey the information that there was no space available? Were they very polite: “Look I’m awfully sort, but we couldn’t even squeeze a bedbug in here. If you hang on, I’ll ask my friend across the road if they can help.” Or was it – “Push off, I’m busy” “Buzz off, there’s no room here!” Why? Because they were tired, or frustrated, or feeling that they were putting in a lot of effort for very little return? How do we react to people, after nearly nine months of Covid-restrictions?

Would it have made any difference to the inn-keepers of Bethlehem if they had known who Mary’s baby was? Probably not, if you look at the way people responded to him both during his ministry and over the centuries since. Who are we to point the finger at anyone? How often do we not find room for Jesus in our lives – time to talk with him in prayer, learn about him from the Bible, or try to put all his teaching into practice? Maybe our wish-list for Christmas needs to include making more room for him in our lives.

Some of us are already at home listening to this, others will be going home soon: somewhere warm, cosy and comfortable. But that’s not an experience that everyone in our town, country and world shares. Some have no homes and are living on the streets or in refugee camps, some can afford only minimal accommodation with little furniture, food or heat. As we prepare for our Christmas celebrations, let’s not forget those for whom there is no room, because God does not.

Hymn             Away in a manger

Prayers for others and Lord’s Prayer


We are the ones you have sent out to share your love and Good News

We are the ones who are to be an example to the world of how people should be able to live together

We need your help to do that

We ask that you would bless and guide us

our partners in Dumbarton and our partners overseas

and your whole worldwide church

to be faithful witnesses to Jesus

We pray for those who are close to us and special to us

We pray for those who are ill, who are receiving treatment, those for whom there is no treatment

and those who look after them and worry about them

We pray for those who are worried about home, family or friends

work or money

do not have enough to eat, do not have a home

who are looking for the peace, the righting of wrongs

 of which the prophets spoke and angels sang

We pray for those approaching Christmas with dread rather than hope

We pray for the Queen and for those in authority here and in every land

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

We bring our gifts of money, we bring ourselves

Take and use them, take and use us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn             Joy to the world  


Look forward in hope

to the coming of your Saviour

prepare the way for Christ your Lord

welcome him with love and faith

when he comes in glory

and the blessing of God Almighty

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

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