Lectionary - Christmas 2 - Years A, B and C

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Jeremiah 31:7-14 Thus says the Lord: sing aloud with gladness
Psalm 147:12-20 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem
Ephesians 1:3-14 .. a plan for the fulness of time
John 1:(1-9),10-18 He came to what was his own

Readings for Epiphany, 6 January

Isaiah 60:1-6 Arise, shine, for your light has come
Psalm 72:1-7,10-14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life
Ephesians 3:1-12 the Gentiles have become fellow heirs
Matthew 2:1-12 The visit of the wise men.

Possible Hymns
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia. TIS = Together in Song.)
SA 10 At the first coming of the Lord
SA 98 (TIS 285) Your coming, Lord to earth in Bethlehem
51 Father, in whom we live
140 (TIS 212) Christ whose glory fills the skies
170 (TIS 231) At the name of Jesus
214 (TIS 281) When God almighty came to be one of us
221 (TIS 301) The first nowell
234 (TIS 310) Brightest and best of the sons of the morning
246 (TIS 322) The North wind is tossing the leaves
540 Father eternal, ruler of heaven
576 (TIS 771) Now to him who loved us
May this new year [link or see attachment or order of service; tune suggested WOODLANDS AHB 109, TIS 161]

A Litany for Christmas
[Uniting in Worship, People's Book page 192]
Prayer for Salvation of the whole world
[Uniting Worship, People's Book page 216]

Sermon Summary (Click here for complete sermon)

Christ in creation

How quickly we move from Christmas to New Year! Secular interests and satisfactions quickly overwhelm and displace the quiet otherworldly celebration of the Christmas Eve service. This rapid change actually fits quite well with the message; for no sooner do we celebrate Christmas than we come to Epiphany when the emphasis is on the relationship of Christ to the whole wide world.

I want to share with you another important aspect of the Christmas story. It is about how Christ was already in the world before he came to be born at Bethlehem. The visit of the wise men (Matthew 2:1-12) introduced the showing of Christ to the world. Being foreigners they represent the wider world in which there was already some knowledge of God. Yet there was a puzzle why God was not better known. Christ was already in the world, in creation. John the Evangelist wrote: He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. [John 1:10; see also Hebrews 1:1-2; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17]

From the beginning he was already among the people who were being called to be members of his kingdom. As John said he came to his own people (John 1:11). He should have been accepted like a long lost brother coming home to the family as their leader. The trouble was that the family did not recognize him, though as Paul wrote to the Romans there was enough in their lives for them to have known him very well. [Romans 1:19-21,28]. Prophets and philosophers writing in the time leading up to the birth of Jesus had been puzzled about the common failure of people to know God through creation [Wisdom 13:1-9; cf Isaiah 1:3-4,16-17; Jeremiah 9:4-6]. The problem is in the estrangement of people from God that we call sin. It is the reason why he had to come in the flesh, even if when he came, it was necessary for him to go to the cross and heal the blindness which hid his presence.

I remember Austin James, a greatly revered former missionary, saying that he never went into a village in India without feeling that Christ had been there before him. As John wrote, he was in the world ... he came to what was his own ... [John 1:2-4, 10; and see Acts 17:23; Hebrews 1:3].

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Order of Service: Second Sunday after Christmas in Year B.

The Gathering of the People of God


Let us worship God.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. -- John 1:9-10

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. -- John 1:14

HYMN Brightest and best of the sons of the morning TIS 310 AHB 234


We have failed to love you with all our heart and to be good stewards of your creation: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

We have failed to take up the cross of discipleship and to be good stewards of your gospel: Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We have failed to be faithful members of your church and to be good stewards of your spiritual gifts: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.


The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. -- 1 Timothy 1:15
Hear then Christ's word of grace to us: Your sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.

DOXOLOGY: Hymn Now to whom who loved us TIS 771, AHB 576

Service of the Word

FIRST READING Isaiah 60:1-6 Arise, shine, for your light has come
PSALM 72:1-7,10-14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life
EPISTLE Ephesians 3:1-12 the Gentiles have become fellow heirs
GOSPEL John 1:(1-9),10-18 He came to what was his own

HYMN Christ whose glory fills the skies TIS 212 AHB 140
SHARING TIME [Notices, Celebrations and requests for intercessions]
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE [With introduction of last hymn, see attachment below]

The Lord's Supper

HYMN Your coming, Lord to earth in Bethlehem TIS 285 SA 98

The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Thanks and praise ..... in the eternal hymn: [SA 100c and 100d]
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

We thank you ....
[The great prayer of thanksgiving continues, recalling God's goodness in caring for his people, the life and saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ, how he commanded his disciples to remember him with the bread and the wine, and we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit on us and what we do.]

THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of hymn book]
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.


The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN May this new year [Tune TIS 161, AHB 109] [For introduction see below]

1 May this new year our ears no more be filled
With the account of fellow mortals killed;
Forbid it mighty God, and peace restore;
May such convulsions shake the earth no more.

2 Hasten the happy times when war shall cease,
And every nation rest in perfect peace;
When superstition shall be done away,
And Christ shall reign with universal sway;

3 When the whole earth the Gospel will receive,
And distant nations shall on Christ believe;
When every kingdom shall learn war no more,
And peace extend itself from shore to shore.

Thomas Marsom 1743-1815 [New Year's Day 1794]

DISMISSAL Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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[Introduction to the final hymn with the prayers of intercession]
The hymn May this new year was written on New Years Day 1794 by an ancestor of one of the early settlers of Melbourne. The manuscript was brought to Melbourne in 1848 by a great granddaughter of the author. It was created in the time of the revolutionary wars with France, the time we remember as the reign of terror when the King and Queen of France went with many others to the guillotine; but it was a time when the principles of liberty and justice were being tested, and the world was never the same again. Thomas Marsom saw this, and felt strongly about it, for he belonged to a family that had struggled in the past for liberty. They were amongst the founders of the Baptist Church in England. His great grandfather was founder of the Baptist Church at Luton at the time following the English Civil War when it was a crime to preach without a license. In the sixteen-seventies he was in prison with John Bunyan, for preaching outside the established Church. Bunyan gave him the manuscript of The Pilgrim's Progress to read - and he advised him to publish it!

The non-conformist traditions of the Reformation in England and Scotland, together with those of Holland and other parts of Northern Europe, were the crucible of civil liberties in Western civilization, now shared with much of the rest of the world, and the younger Thomas Marsom who wrote our hymn 200 years ago, saw the same at stake in the events then taking place across the Channel in France. So he wrote in criticism of the kings of the nations which had combined against the new government of France:

The potsherds of the earth together strive
Against a Nation and they would deprive
Them of that form of government they choose
Which Government say they - we do refuse
We will appoint a Government for you
And your Equality we will subdue
Thus all together join to arms they fly
to raise the drooping head of monarchy.

He then went on the bemoan the tragic loss of life - `thousands perish at ambitions shrine' and after warning of God's judgment he offered his prayer for peace in verses which we will sing today. That desire for peace is still with us as children of God, and so is the sense of justice.

When the great grand-daughter of the author Thomas Marsom arrived in the raw new village of Melbourne in 1848 bringing two unpublished volumes of Marsom's poems with her, she and her husband were met by her brother-in-law Richard Heales, who a few years later became an early member of the colonial Parliament of Victoria. He was a tradesman, and seeing himself as a workers representative, some 40 years before the Australian Labor Party was formed, he promoted a bill to provide for the payment of members of Parliament arguing that otherwise ordinary working people would not be able to take part in Government. It was some years before his bill was past, at about the time he became Premier in the 1860s. He served for only about a year as head of government but he made a major contribution to the advancement of education and land reform. The town of Healesville is named after him. The Puritan traditions of liberty were established in this land by families such as this.

So the sacred is related to the secular, the flesh and to the spirit, the transformation of the culture to commitment in faith to God and his kingdom. It is a messy business, we can always be wrong and yet we run the risk, to follow the way, the light and the life of the Word that was made flesh. So it was with the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the cosmic Christ, who emptied himself and took the form of a servant.

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