Vol 5 No. 51 A Christmas Eve Story

I have been struck by the images of the outsider at Christmas.  Not the little match girl from Dickens, who looks from the outside but cannot come in.  Not Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Tin Man”, as the rejected child who through the cold and the snow looks in at the family gathering at a Christmas that he cannot participate in.  Neither do I think of the manger at Bethlehem and how difficult it was for Mary and Joseph as outsiders to find a home.  No, I’m thinking much more of the simple story told in an interview of a Red Cross worker from Sri Lanka on CBC Vancouver.  The worker was being interviewed by Gloria Macrenko and was telling stories of the aftermath of those who had experienced the tsunami five years ago this Boxing Day.  It is the story of a Sri Lankan man whose house had been rebuilt.  And oh, such a house!  He had never lived in such a house.  Nor did he or his family ever expected to own a building that was monsoon proof and so magnificent that it would last from generation to generation.  He had one problem; he could not enjoy this gift unless he was outside it looking in, so he continue to live in the little lean-to and hovel that he had lived in since the tsunami because it was the only way he could see his house.

Many of us think about Christmas and the gift of the Christ child and the welcome to the brand new beginning, a new home in Christ as it were.  We think about it.  We talk about it.  We think about others experiencing this welcome and warm place.  But we have much in common with the man in the lean-to in Sri Lanka. For some of us, Christmas and the coming of the Christ Child, is something we would rather talk about than experience.  For some of us, we prefer the old ways to the new ways.  For some of us, we can never imagine that something so wonderful could, in fact, be created for us.  This Christmas, I trust that whether we are searchers looking for the Christ at Bethlehem or whether we are those on a journey which never has seems to have a destination, or whether we are believers that are sitting outside, despite the welcome of the Christ Child at Christmas; whether we are any of these people, may this Christmas be particularly new and transformative. May the birth of the Christ, this year, be a new beginning for us.  Our birth into relationship with Him for the very first time or our rebirth again as we pick up the journey of life with the Son of God.


Grace and Peace be with you.

Jeremy Bell



From Gathering For Worship, The Baptist Union of Great Britain, published by the Canterbury Press Norwich, 2005, p. 354-355


Christmas: Incarnation


The birth of Jesus as Immanuel, God with us. The wonder of the divine

word made human flesh. Praise and thanksgiving for God alongside us in

Christ and for the opportunities for proclamation which the season brings.


Prayers for peace.

Isaiah 9.6f.; Luke 2.6f.; 2.10f.; John 1.10–14; 2 Corinthians 4.5f.;

Hebrews 1.1f.; 1 John 1.1f.


For a carol service

Loving God,

we come to hear again the familiar story

and to sing the familiar songs.

Break through our cosy celebration,

that we might recognize your voice

and heed your call.


Christmas Eve

God of light and hope,

of stars and surprises:

open our eyes to your glory

and our hearts to your presence,

that we may respond with joy to the angel song;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Immanuel, God with us,

show us where you may be found today:

in each human birth,

in family joy,

in relentless tragedy,

in treasured babes

and homeless families.



we rejoice that you are with us

in everything,

through everything.

Lord Christ, be born in us today.

Word of God become flesh in us

that we might live your gospel.


Light of the world, shine

in us and through us

for the sake of your world.


Loving God,

help us to see your grace,

hear your voice,

and follow in your way;

through Jesus Christ our Saviour.


Christmas Prayer

Living God,


may the worship we have shared this Christmas

lead to acts of service which transform people’s lives;


may the carols we have sung this Christmas

help others to sing, even in their sadness;


may the gifts we have exchanged this Christmas

deepen our spirit of giving throughout the year;


may the candles we have lit this Christmas

remind us that you intend no one to live in darkness;


may the new people we have met this Christmas

remind us that we meet you in our neighbours;


may the gathering together of family and friends this Christmas

make us appreciate anew the gift of loved ones;


may the stories we have told again this Christmas

be good news of great joy to us and all people

on our lips and in our lives;


may the ways you have come close to us this Christmas

not be forgotten

but, hidden in our memories,

be a rich resource

to lift us when times are painful

and humble us when things go well,

for you are our life, our light and our salvation

this season and always,

because of Jesus Christ our Lord.


An encircling prayer

For those for whom Christmas is a difficult time of year.


God of the past, present and future

encircle in your love and care

those for whom we pray:


For the housebound:

keep warmth in heart and home

and cold and loneliness at bay.


For the homeless:

give shelter and hope,

and save from despair and addiction.


For those facing violence in the home:

affirm their worth and dignity,

protect from blows and shield from scorn.


For those missing a loved one:

may memories be precious,

not morbid nor morose.


God of the past, present and future

encircle in your love and care

those for whom we pray.


From The Lion Book of Christian Poetry, compiled by Mary Batchelor, 2005, p. 198.

Psalm for Christmas Day


Fairest of morning lights appear,

Thou blest and gaudy day,

On which was born our Saviour dear,

Arise and come away!


This day prevents his day of doom;

His mercy now is night;

The mighty God of love is come,

This dayspring from on high!


Behold the great Creator makes

Himself a house of clay,

A robe of virgin-flesh he takes

Which he will wear for aye.


Hark, Hark, the wise eternal Word

Like a weak infant cries:

In form of servant is the Lord,

And God in cradle lies.


This wonder struck the world amazed,

It shook the starry frame;

Squadrons of spirits stood and gazed,

Then down in troops they came.


Glad shepherds ran to view this sight;

A quire of angels sings;

And eastern sages with delight

Adore this King of kings.


Join them all hearts that are not stone,

And all our voices prove,

To celebrate this holy one,

The God of peace and love.

Thomas Pestel, 1584?-1659?