Sunday 27 December 2020, Last Sunday of the year
This is how God showed his love among us:
he sent his only Son into the world
that we might have life through him.
Follow the service below or watch on our YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY0mnB7Rg_RDEPVjEaHKNvg
Hymn Of the Father’s love begotten
Usually at this time of the year
we look back on the year that has been
remembering things that we have done
people we have seen, places we have been
but this year is different
so many things that we had looked forward to
so many things that we had planned to do
did not happen
we all carry some sort of scars
some had the virus
some lost family or friends to it
some feel effects on their mental health
some lost jobs or income
some lost educational opportunities
it’s easy to feel angry and frustrated by it
but there are also things we should celebrate
the commitment of health and care staff
and other key workers
the concern of people for their neighbours
the new perspective on life and its priorities
that many people have found
the new appreciation of the world on the doorstep
new interests and skills acquired and honed
we give you thanks that through it all
you have been with us
you have shared the pain
you have been with the lonely and grieving
you have surrounded us with your love
We confess that we have failed to give you thanks
for all your goodness to us
all your loving kindness
As we come to the end of this year
help us to place our hope and trust in you
and be your beacons of light and hope in the world
sharing your love, sharing your Good News
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
All age time
Hymn It came upon the midnight clear
Reading Luke 2: 22-40
The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: ‘Every first-born male is to be dedicated to the Lord.’ They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law of the Lord.
At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, devout man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah. Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:
“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise,
and you may let your servant go in peace.
With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples:
A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles
and to bring glory to your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”
There was a very old prophetess, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now eighty-four years o;d. She never left the Temple; day and night she worshipped God, fasting and praying. That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.
As we near the end of the year, it’s customary to look back, recall and reflect. The media have been doing it for a while. It may even have formed a round of your family and friends Zoom quizzes. What will our memories of 2020 be?
Before we launch into a litany of missed opportunities, cancelled events and the rest, let’s just do a little positive thinking:
- There are many folk who have lost jobs and income, who have had to resort to foodbanks this year. Have we? Have we been able to keep the heating on? Have we been made homeless?
- There are many who have been seriously ill, and many have lost their lives. Have we been kept safe, or nursed back to health? How does our experience compare with those who do not have access to affordable health care?
- There are many who have suffered from all sorts of mental health issues – depression. Loneliness, the stress of living with people with whom you don’t get on, worry about job, finance and future. Have we been utterly alone? Has no one written, phoned or called for over 9 months?
- If you were able to get out and about, did you discover any nice walks?
- Have you learned any new skills
- Did you do something creative, indoors or out – decorating, refurbishing, gardening, drawing/painting, knitting/sewing, cooking?
- Have you reconnected with anyone you haven’t been in touch with for some time? Have you made any new friends?
- If you didn’t see everyone you’d have liked to have seen at Christmas, did the restrictions mean there was anyone you could legitimately avoid seeing?
To look at it from a slightly different angle:
- Who are your heroes of the year – in general or specific term?
- What ‘good news’ stories will you take from this year (eg positive action that people took to help neighbours or the wider community; the way most people listened to and followed official restrictions; the development of new vaccines)
- Has this year made you review your priorities in life? What about other people? What about those in authority?
We’ve celebrated Christmas – even if it was rather different this year. We’ve heard the story again, seen the pictures illustrating it. It wasn’t as cosy as Nativity Plays would have us believe: scandal over a baby conceived out of wedlock, thoughtless bureaucratic interference in people’s lives, the risk of homelessness, a massacre of children, the main protagonists fleeing for their lives and becoming asylum-seekers and refugees. It isn’t a cosy story, but it is one rooted in the realities of life then and now. God has experienced when human living is raw.
We may not have had the year we anticipated or wanted, but compared with many we have much for which to be grateful. We don’t know what the new year will bring. We have hopes and dreams, and fears too. Our God has led us safely through this year, and every other year, and he will lead us into and through the next one.
Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer
Jesus knew the love and security of his earthly family
we pray for our families and friends
for those who don’t have families or friends
those who find relationships with family difficult
We pray for all who are ill,
those who look after them
and those who worry about them
those waiting for or receiving treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one
those who are worried about home, work or money
a friend or a relative
those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters
those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home
those who long to live in peace and safety
those who have fled from their homes seeking safety
We pray for the Queen, the Government
all in positions of leadership in this and every land
We pray for you church
the worldwide church
the wider church in Dumbarton
our own congregation
help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us
Hymn Angels from the realms of glory
May the joy of the angels,
the humility of the shepherds,
and the peace of the Christ-child
be God’s gift to you and to all people
this Christmas, and always.
And the blessing…