Carol Service talk

I’ve just uploaded the carol service talk to the church website, along with the powerpoint that goes with it. Text below, go to website if you want pictues too

Carol Service talk 2019 – at Rocester and Croxden Churches

The service was the traditional format of 9 lessons and carols plus at Croxden, because of a large number of people wanting to read, 3 extra prayers.  I include those at the end of this for your edification, along with the list of readings and carols (same at both churches).  As they had been included at that made the service slightly longer, I didn’t use the full talk at Croxden but skimmed over it.  I included the explanation of Incarnation, which was particularly appreciated by one gentleman who had always been puzzled by John 1.

It’s Christmas – well actually we are still in Advent, but let’s not let that stop us from once again hearing the Christmas story in bible readings and Carols.  Christmas time = presents, parties and good stuff on tele (in theory).  Christmas films, pantomimes and specials of our favourite programmes are all there to entertain us.  I’m looking forward to The Midwife

Our Christmas tree festival (at Rocester) has taken the theme of Christmas Stories…. What a collection – Nutcracker, Snowman, a Robin Coming Home, the Elves and the Shoemaker, Winter Wonderland and a scary film.

Once Upon a Time – that’s how stories start.  When we hear those words we know that we are about to hear a story that’s probably a Fairy Story, with good guys and baddies.  We know how to boo when the baddie appears in panto… he’s behind you!!!!  And we know that usually good wins.  We are rooting for them.

A long time ago In a Galaxy far far away….. Star Wars = a classic tale of a fallen man (Darth Vada).  He once was good but he was drawn into the dark side.  And his son, Luke Skywalker, is the hero who defeats the dark side.   The series of films started with episode 4 – A New Hope.   They needed hope against the evil empire.  We all need hope.

All these goodies and baddies in stories are made up – the characters don’t exist in reality.   But they draw on the great themes of the greatest story ever told, with characters that are not made up.

When we hear the words….. In the Beginning….  we are reminded of the story of how God created the world.  Not in 6 periods of 24 hours… but in 6 eras or periods of time, some of them spanning millions of years. 

In the beginning is also how John starts his gospel, with the passage we have just heard.  John was writing a while after Jesus’ death and resurrection and the church had been experiencing the reality of believing in Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit to help them love in a new way.  The Holy Spirit helped them to know Jesus was with them in a new way.  The Holy Spirit helped them to experience forgiveness, healing and a whole new quality of life. 

The baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas grew up to be a man and he performed miracles and even brought people back to life that had died.  And when he died he also came back to life.  People started to realise he was telling the truth when he had said he was God’s son and actually God himself.

Word = Jesus …. we make stories with our words….. Jesus is God’s word and it was through Jesus that God created the world.  God SAID let there be…… and there was….

Just think… if your words didn’t just make pictures in people’s imagination but they actually came into being.

When Jesus was a man he brought new life to people.  He healed the sick, he forgave sins – he gave people a 2nd chance to be happy.   He did things that only God could do… miracles.  He brought light and life into people’s lives.

John wrote: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.   And we have seen his glory as of the only son

Incarnation is the word we use.  I was explaining this in Ryecroft and All Saints school assemblies this week.    Even the young children need to know the term Incarnation.  This is how I explained it – in case any of you have children who have come home from school saying the Jesus is a bowl of chilli con carne.

 In –  carne –  ation
suffix “-ation” (forming nouns) denoting an action or an instance of it.
example:  explore  …. exploration   cf Chilli con carne = chilli with meat

The Incarnation = God become human

And the story continues in you and me.  Through us, God can combat the forces of evil at work in the world.  No other way – it is through human beings that God decided to speak to the world in more than words.  He spoke through his son in flesh and blood.  And he continues to use human beings to spread the good news of his love and Grace. 

That’s why we are offering once again the CoE Follow the Star booklets and phone app information.  Leaflets will be offered to everyone on the way out, after the service.  We also have some booklets at £1 each if you would prefer.  Put money in the container at the back of church.  We thought church members might be willing to buy one either for themselves or to give to someone.

We have hope for a better future – we have hope for a good ending to the story.   It really is a happy ever after ending in the glory of the resurrection awaiting us all.  The Christian faith is no fairly tale.  The Happy Ever after is fullness of life and eternal life.  And we all have a choice about accepting it.

Thinking about Christmas makes no sense without linking with Easter.  Advent looks forward to our meeting Jesus in person (in death or in 2nd coming whichever is first) as well as looking forward to celebrate his birth once more.

Jesus was God himself, Love Incarnate,  born 2000 years ago and each Christmas we open up our hearts a little bit more for him to be born within us, that we might celebrate being sons and daughters of God, by the power of the spirit.  

So my prayer for you all is that you enjoy the run up to Christmas Day but also that you spend time when things have quietened down a bit to follow the star, as the wise men did and find – not a baby in a manger, but a saviour in your heart.

Finish with song – This is Christmas by Kutless   (Rocester only)   this version has lovely pictures:

Carol Service 2019 – Rocester and Croxden

Carol 403:   Once in Royal David’s City   1st vs solo

Introduction and prayer. 

Stand for carols, sit for readings and prayers, except last one – John’s gospel.   After the bible readings: “This is the story of Jesus”  all:  Thanks be to God

Reading:  A short extract from Dylan Thomas “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”   (Croxden only)

Reading 1— The Fall — Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19

Carol 199:   Hark the herald angels sing

Reading 2 — A Promised Ruler From Bethlehem – Micah 5:2-4

Carol 248:  In the bleak mid winter

Reading 3 — Prophecy of a child born — Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Carol 283:   Joy to the world

Reading 4 — Stock of Jesse — Isaiah 11:1-4a, 6-9

Prayer:  Prayer of Hope   (Croxden only)

prayer of hope .jpg

Carol 377:   0 little town of Bethlehem

Reading 5 — The Angel appears to Mary — Luke 1:26-35, 38

Prayer:  Mary’s prayer   (Croxden only)

prayer of mary.jpg

Carol 444:  Silent night

Reading 6—Journey to Bethlehem & Jesus born — Luke 2:1, 3-7

Carol 51:  Away in a manger

Reading 7 — Shepherds & angels — Luke 2:8-14

Carol 554:  While Shepherds watched

Reading 8 –  The three magi — Matthew 2:1-12

Carol 537:  We three kings of orient are – collection

Prayer:  Thanksgiving  (Croxden only)

prayer of gifts 1.jpg
prayer of gifts 2.jpg

Reading 9 – The Word made Flesh – John 1:1-14

Closing remarks – Liz Jones


Carol 357:  O Come all ye faithful (omit last verse)

The prayers are taken from “Companion to the Lectionary,  volume 5  All Together for Worship” by Peter Sheasby.  Epworth Press 1994

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