This is the liturgy for tomorrow’s service in at the prison. The gathering is taken from last year’s service at the women’s prison.
You could easily think, here,
that Christmas is just a romantic notion,
a plan of God’s
that didn’t quite work.
You could easily think, today
that this is a season for everyone else to celebrate
a story for everyone else to believe.
But the story of Jesus’ birth has more in common
with the inside of a prison
than it does with the glossy pictures in a Kmart catalogue
and the sparkle of Carols by Candlelight.
So this Christmas
we hear it again:
this story told first by ridiculed prophets, dirty shepherds and a single mother
of a love that is as old as the universe
and as new as this moment
and we wait for God’s love to be born again.
Bible Reading: Luke 2:1-14
Wondering / Reflection
I wonder what it was like for Mary and Joseph when they couldn’t find a home –
when, at their most desperate moment, no-one wanted them.
I wonder what Mary was thinking when she went into labour. Did she scream? How much did it hurt? Was she scared?
I wonder when her fear turned to hope.
I wonder what it was like for Joseph to watch her, and to wait.
I wonder what it felt like for him to hold God in his hands.
I wonder what the shepherds thought, when the angels turned up
and why the angels chose shepherds –
or whether the angels sang to everyone, but the shepherds were the only ones who heard.
I wonder if we would hear.
I wonder what made them believe.
I wonder if we would believe.
This is the season for miracles, God,
for angels to sing
for stars to light the dark
for hope to be born
for love that comes in a human shape.
It’s the season for miracles, and we pray for them today.
In the places in our lives that are empty
we pray for the miracle that changes despair to hope.
in the places in this prison that are too lonely
we pray for the miracle that brings light into fear
in the moments in our days that seem endless
we pray for the miracle that changes hopelessness into joy
in the horrors in our world that seem unfixable
we pray for the miracle that brings peace into hatred.
You are the God of the impossible
so come, God, make Christmas real again today,
through Jesus Christ, love born in our midst
The bread and wine we’re about to share
joins us to the people throughout history and across the world
who have come to this meal in search of life.
Just as Jesus’ birth was for the whole world
this bread and wine is for everyone
for the hungry
for the lost
for those who search
and those who are found
for those who question
and those who know peace
this is bread and wine for everyone.
Let us pray… [move into communion liturgy and distribution]
Prayer for the world
You choose the most unlikely, the darkest parts of life
in which to be born.
So we pray that your love will be born again this Christmas
in all parts of the world where love and hope are hard to find.
Invite people to light candles and pray prayers
In spite of all evidence to the contrary
In spite of us having every reason not to believe
Come Lord, come.
Let your love be born again this Christmas.
Go from here
search for the love that God brings to life
in every moment
and in every place.
in the name of Christ