25th. December 2013 – Christmas Day

Almighty God, you have given us your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin: grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Song of the Bride

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my soul shall exult in my God;

Who has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
and has covered me with the cloak of integrity,

As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth puts forth her blossom,
and as seeds in the garden spring up,

So shall God make righteousness and praise
blossom before all the nations.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest

Until her deliverance shines out like the dawn, •
and her salvation as a burning torch.

The nations shall see your deliverance,
and all rulers shall see your glory;

Then you shall be called by a new name
which the mouth of God will give.

You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

From a Sermon by Leo the Great

This is the day our Saviour was born: what a joy for us, my beloved! This is no season for sadness, this, the birthday of Life - the Life which annihilates the fear of death, and engenders joy, promising, as it does, immortality.

Nobody is an outsider to this happiness. The same cause for joy is common to all, for as our Lord found nobody free from guilt when he came to bring an end to death and to sin, so he came with redemption for all. Let the saint rejoice, for he hastens to his crown; let the sinner be filled with joy, for pardon is offered him; let the Gentile be emboldened, for he is called to life.

When the designated time had come, which God in his deep and impenetrable plan had fixed upon, God's Son took the nature of man upon himself in order to reconcile man to his Creator. Thus would the devil, the father of death, be himself overcome by that self-same human nature which he had overcome.

The angels therefore exult at the birth of the Lord: they sing ‘Glory to God in high heaven'; they announce ‘Peace on earth for men on whom his favor rests'. For they behold the heavenly Jerusalem being constructed from out of all the peoples on earth. How greatly ought mere men rejoice at this mysterious undertaking of divine love, when the angels on high thrill so much at it!

My beloved, let us offer thanksgiving to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit. In the great mercy with which he loved us, he had pity on us, and ‘in giving life to Christ, gave life to us too, when we were dead through sin', so that in him we might be a new creation, a new work of his hands.

Let us then be quit of the old self and the habits that went with it. Sharers now in the birth of Christ, let us break with the deeds of the flesh.

O Christian, be aware of your nobility - it is God's own nature that you share: do not then, by an ignoble life, fall back into your former baseness. Think of the Head, think of the Body of which you are a member. Recall that you have been rescued from the power of darkness, and have been transferred to the light of God, the kingdom of God.

Intercession

We have received an email from our friend, Tim Chesterton, whose recording of the the carol "The Holly and the Ivy" is available to download from the Laika Radio page. He writes:

Our parish lost a dear friend and long-time parishioner, Joan Reiffenstein, in a car accident yesterday. She was on her way to spend Christmas with her family, and was killed in a multi-vehicle collision. Her granddaughter Shannon was in the car with her and is in hospital in Grande Prairie, but thankfully her injuries are no longer seen as life threatening. Prayers for the whole family and parish would be appreciated. Joan was one of my best friends.

JUBA: Thousands of South Sudanese have been killed in more than a week of violence, with reports of bodies piled in mass graves, the UN said as it moved to nearly double its peacekeepers there. Large areas of South Sudan remain out of the government's control amid fears the young nation was sliding toward civil war.

Israeli air and ground forces launched a series of attacks Tuesday on targets across the Gaza Strip, killing a young girl and wounding 10 in response to the deadly shooting of an Israeli civilian by a Palestinian sniper.

Britain has tried to make good by one of its most famous sons, posthumously pardoning Alan Turing for a gay sex conviction which tarnished the brilliant career of the code breaker credited with helping win the war against Nazi Germany and laying the foundation for the computer age. One author said he hoped Tuesday’s symbolic act — the famous mathematician committed suicide more than 50 years ago — would send a message to countries such as India and Russia, where gays can still be prosecuted for expressing their sexuality.

Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,
as our Saviour taught us, so we pray

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

May God, who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light, bless us and fill us with peace. Amen.

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