Christmas Week – Welcome
December 24, 2013
Christmas Message from the Bishop
“Do not be afraid” - words which appear in the New Testament at various points of anxiety, concern or alarm. In St Luke’s version of the Gospel they appear in the events leading up to and surrounding the birth of Jesus as ordinary people are told to trust God and not be afraid:
In today’s world, if they were told not to be afraid and to trust God or anyone else for that matter, lots of ordinary people would think more than once because there are plenty of thing to make them afraid:
- First, the Archangel Gabriel gives to an ordinary girl called Mary the disturbing news that she’s to become pregnant and deliver a child who will be Son of God. He tells Mary not to be afraid. And because these things have to go the right way, Mary has a think and says yes.
- Secondly, shepherds, outsiders with little or no status as paid labourers, minding their own business (or actually someone else’s sheep) are surrounded by a choir of singing angels. One of them tells the shepherds not to be afraid and that in the City of David the Saviour of the World is born. The shepherds, like Mary, have a think and set off to Bethlehem to see whether it’s true.
Luke’s stories are telling us that, if God’s ways of justice and generosity of spirit, as taught by the child of Bethlehem become a man are taken seriously and worked at, there may, indeed, be heaven on earth, and fear might be banished. But where those ways are overwhelmed by greed, violence and oppression, potential heaven becomes or remains a living hell.
We haven’t the power to undo every wrong in the world, but, at this Christmas time, celebrate Good News of great joy that Jesus has shown the world what real love can do. At the same time, pledge yourself to try, in the ordinary places of daily life, to make a difference, to live more justly and lovingly with those around you, never forgetting the needs of those elsewhere who live today very afraid for tomorrow.
+John Davies – Bishop of Swansea & Brecon
- They are asked not to be afraid because things here are getting better. Bits of the economy may be improving; but tell that to someone headed for the Foodbank or in the clutches of a Pay-day lender or in debt because of changes to housing benefit and it rings a bit hollow in their ears.
- Tell the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees not to worry; and again, you may not be warmly received.
Prayer for lighting the Advent Candle
(This prayer can be used either in church or at home for lighting your candle)
your Son, Jesus, was born on earth
that we might enter your kingdom.
As heaven and earth rejoice in his birth
may we, with shepherds and angels,
welcome him into our hearts.
(The candle is lit)
God our beginning and our end,
be our joy and our light.
Cafodd dy Fab, Iesu, ei eni ar y ddaear
Er mwyn i ni fynd i mewn i’th deyrnas.
Wrth i’r nefoedd a’r ddaear lawenhau yn ei enedigaeth
Boed i ni, gyda’r bugeiliaid a’r angylion,
Ei groesawi ef i’n calonnau.
(Goleuir y gannwyll)
Dduw ein dechrau a’n diwedd,
Bydd ein llawenydd a’n goleuni.
Carol for the week
Joy to the World by Bruce Cockburn
The Christmas Journey
A special day of joy and light for the world! The special star shone above Bethlehem. Jesus was born in a simple stable surrounded by animals. Mary, cwtched the baby Jesus, and then wrapped him snugly and gently laid him in a manger. Shepherds and the wise men came and worshipped the baby king sent by God to bring peace to the world.
Making a Christmas Angel
Christmas is here! For those of you who would like a last minute craft project here is a Christmas angel to make. You can place your angel in your Christmas tree or make one for each member of your family and use them as place cards on your Christmas table. They are very easy but you might need a grown up to help with cutting out.
You will need:
A small paper plate
Scissors and pencil
Sequins, glitter, felt pens or a fancy hole punch.
How to make:
- Using the first picture draw the outline onto your plate with a pencil. The horizontal cut lines need to be a little above half way up the plate.
- Cut out carefully, one cut for the wings goes outside to in, the other side inside to out.
- With the angel facing you, shape her skirt into a circle and slide the outside cut over the inside one to make her wings.
- Now you can decorate your angel in whatever way you wish and if using as a place card writes a name on the front of her skirt.
Take a look back at all our Advent pages here:
The First Week of Advent - Stillness
The Second Week of Advent - Growing
The Third Week of Advent - Wonder
The Fourth Week of Advent - Journey
If you would like to send in some of your useful Advent, Christmas or Epiphany resources then please email them to our vision email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also love to hear about any of your Advent or Christmas events.
Prayers for lighting the Advent candle can be downloaded here for the whole of Advent in both English and Welsh.
'The Nativity' DVD - first shown on the BBC in December 2010, written by Eastenders' scriptwriter Tony Jordan. You can see part of the show on YouTube by following this link. The full DVD can be purchased on Amazon.
'The Bible' on Channel 5 - Click here to visit the Channel 5 website. You can see a preview of the first episode here (NB there are some adverts). For additional, free resources for churches see the Bible Society website.
Posada - The idea of travelling crib sets comes from an old Mexican tradition. Posada was the tradition of young people dressed as Mary and Joseph travelling from house to house asking for a room for the night and telling people about the imminent arrival of Jesus in the weeks leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve they would visit the local church to re-enact the nativity and place figures of Mary and Joseph in a crib. Modern day Posada uses nativity figures of Mary and Joseph who travel from place to place. this gives each 'host' the chance to create their own celebration in their home or place in the community, worshipping and reaching out to their communities with the real message of Christmas, making room for Jesus in their lives.
Messy Church - Advent and Christmas: See a range of ideas (Advent Candles, Messy Nativity, Nativity Sheep Trails, The Gingerbread Nativity - and more) by visiting the Messy Church website.
'Table Talk for Christmas and New Year' is written by Lucy Moore and Jo Cox and produced by The Ugly Duckling Company. Table Talk is a game to get people talking about the big issues in life; the Christmas and New Year version is an all age resource. It costs £25.00 and is available from their website.
Do Nothing . . . Christmas is Coming: An Advent Calendar with a Difference by Stephen Cottrell in 2007. 'Do Nothing to Change Your Life' encouraged us to nurture our inner slob. Now 'Do Nothing . . . Christmas is Coming' turns to what, for many, is the busiest time of year. Published by CHP, you can see more about this here.
Unapologetic by Francis Spufford - A great book for your Christmas stocking! Published by Faber and Faber, read more about it on their website including a video of the author talking about the book.