Church at Home for Christmas 25 12 2020

The Nativity of the Lord

 

Church at Home
for Christmas

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

 

A Child is Born to Us.

 

The readings and prayers are from Christmas Midnight Mass on page 115 in the Daily Missal and page 45 in the Sunday Missal.

 

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All reply:        Amen

 

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All reply:        Blessed be God for ever

 

Leader:          Today, the feast of Christmas, we celebrate the coming of God into our world in the person of Jesus, so that we might understand better who God really is.

We rejoice with the shepherds as the glory of the Lord shines around us and as angels proclaim the joyful news of the birth of Mary’s son.

 

Blessing of Nativity Scene

 

Leader:          As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we pause to bless this Christmas manger scene.  The practice of erecting such mangers was begun by St Francis of Assisi as a means to set forth the message of Christmas.

When we look upon these figures, the Christmas gospel comes alive and we are moved to rejoice in the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God.

 

A family member places the baby Jesus in manger.

 

Leader:          Let us pray.

 

Almighty God and Father,

a child is born for us and a son is given to us.

Your eternal word leaped down from heaven

in the silent watches of the night,

and now your church is filled with wonder

at the nearness of her God.

Bless this, our crib

a reminder of the lowly birth of our Saviour and king.

Open our hearts to receive him,

so that our lives may be filled

with his glory and peace.

We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Blessing of Christmas Tree

You will need water or holy water (if available) to celebrate this blessing.

Leader:          Loving God, we stand before you once again. We stand here ready to celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus.

Reader:         A reading from Psalm 96

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad,
let the sea and all within it thunder praise.
Let the land and all it bears rejoice.

Then will the trees of the wood shout for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice;
he will govern the peoples with his truth.

(Have everyone extend a hand in a gesture of blessing. Sprinkle water or holy water on the tree while praying the following prayer.)

Leader:          Bless this tree, this sign of life and freshness and perseverance in our midst. It stands as a reminder that you are born anew in us each day. Bless our family and friends as we celebrate this joyous season. Keep us safe in our travels, kind in our conversations, and gracious in our giving and receiving. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All:                  Amen.

(Join in singing a favourite Christmas carol, such as “O Christmas Tree” or “Joy to the World.)

The service continues with the Liturgy of the Word.

 

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7

Introduction to the reading: The prophet Isaiah lived 750 years before Christ.  In this time, the northern Jewish Kingdom of Israel was laid waste by the armies of Assyria.  Today’s passage offers the conquered people hope for a glorious future under a wonderful king.  Christians have seen Jesus as fulfilling this prophecy.

 

A reading from the Book of Isaiah

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,
to establish it, and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

The word of the Lord.

 

 

Responsorial psalm: Psalm 96:1-2a.2b-3.11-12.13

 

R/:       To us is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim his salvation day by day.
Tell among the nations his glory,
and his wonders among all the peoples.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad,
let the sea and all within it thunder praise.
Let the land and all it bears rejoice.

Then will the trees of the wood shout for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice;
he will govern the peoples with his truth.

R/:       To us is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

 

Second reading: Titus 2:11-14

Introduction to the reading: The letter to Titus was written about 30 years after Paul’s death, and was written in Paul’s name, a practice common in the ancient world.  Titus was a travelling companion of Paul, and later was in charge of a Christian community on the island of Crete.

 

A reading from the Letter of St Paul to Titus

Beloved: The grace of God has appeared
for the salvation of all people,
training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions,
and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world,
awaiting our blessed hope,
the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity
and to purify for himself a people of his own
who are zealous for good deeds.

The Word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
I bring you good news of a great joy: to us is born this day a Saviour, Christ the Lord.

Alleluia!

Gospel: Luke 2:1-14

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that all the world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee,
from the city of Nazareth,
to Judea, to the city of David,
which is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and lineage of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed,
who was with child.
And while they were there,
the time came for her to be delivered.
And she gave birth to her first-born son
and wrapped him in swaddling cloths,
and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were filled with fear.
And the angel said to them,
“Be not afraid; for behold,
I bring you good news of a great joy
which will come to all the people;
for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”[

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily

Over these past months we have had to reflect on the impact the Covid pandemic is having on all our lives. The sudden uncertainty that it has generated has given the world a new awareness of how fragile life is. After the shock of the early days, we began to draw on all our resources to cope with and manage life in these new conditions. In this regard our deep reservoir of Christian faith is appreciated in a new way. It has nurtured hope, uncovered a great spirit of generosity, and brought a new resilience to the fore.

We will never forget 2020! The lockdown starting in March, the uncertainty and fear, the cancellation of plans, bewildering change, new codes of behaviour, church liturgies online, funerals without supportive gatherings; human vulnerability exposed, lost jobs, lost income and much more. We naturally longed to return to ‘normal’. But for Christians, postponing our mission is never an option. Faith cannot be quarantined – it has to be lived in the present, so we celebrate the birth of Jesus in a new light.

We now have a chance to take a more thoughtful approach to life, checking on our spiritual health and cultivating the interior space. Pope Francis describes this process as “letting oneself be shaped by the love of Jesus, having His same sentiments (Phil 2: 5), and asking oneself continuously: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?” Asking these questions opens our eyes to the world around us with all its needs and draws us to be the missionary disciples that Pope Francis so often encourages us to be. This means putting our faith into action – to act responsibly in abiding by all the public health advice and regulations. It works – it really does.

 

Christmas is the time when hope entered the world, with the Incarnation of the Son of God. Hope refers to that which is not in a person’s power and which is not visible, something beyond our strength, something that we cannot see.

Christ’s birth speaks to us of a different hope, a reliable, visible and comprehensible hope, because it is founded on God.

God entered the world and gave us the strength to walk with him: God walks with us in Jesus and to walk with Him towards the fullness of life gives us the strength to be in the present in a new way.

This hope is a certainty that we are with Christ on the way to the Father.

Look at the beautiful nativity scene in our church. It transmits hope and all the people represented there are immersed in this atmosphere of hope.

The scene is Bethlehem. A small town of Judea where a thousand years earlier David was born, the shepherd chosen by God as King of Israel. Bethlehem is not a capital city – this reminds us that God loves to act through the little ones and humble ones.

We see Mary, Mother of Hope. With her “Yes” she opened the door of our world to God. She contemplates the Child in the manger and sees in Him the love of God, who comes to save His people and the whole of humanity.

We see Joseph, descendant of King David looking at Jesus in the manger. Joseph meditates that that Child came from the Holy Spirit, and that God Himself ordered him to be named “Jesus.”  In that name is every person’s hope, because through that son of woman, God will save humanity from death and sin.

We see the shepherds representing the humble and the poor. In that Child they see the fulfilment of God’s promises and they hope that God’s salvation will finally reach each one of them.

 We see the choir of Angels proclaiming from on high the great design that the Child carries out: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14). Christian hope is expressed in praise and thanksgiving to God, who has inaugurated His Kingdom of love, justice and peace.

This is the gift of Christmas.

The God who brought into being a universe so vast and so amazing, that one can only stand in awe at the might of such a creator; this God comes to us in the presence and form of an infant human being.

This is the gift of Christmas.

As we gaze, in our prayer, on the face of this infant, born in poverty, into a world with no room for him in its hotels. This child enters human time then and now to bring light to people who walk in the darkness of fear; to give hope to those who can see no end to suffering and difficulty; to bring courage and strength to those who know themselves to be weak and helpless.

This is the gift of Christmas.

Pope Francis tells of a charming legend about the birth of Jesus. The shepherds received the message about the birth of Jesus, and so they hurried to the stable with different gifts. Each brought what he had; some brought the fruits of their labour, others some precious item. But as they were all presenting their gifts, there was one shepherd who had nothing to give. He was extremely poor; he had no gift to present. As the others were competing to offer their gifts, he stood apart, embarrassed. At a certain point, Saint Joseph and Our Lady found it hard to receive all those gifts, especially Mary, who had to hold the baby. Seeing that shepherd with empty hands, she asked him to draw near. And she put the baby Jesus in his arms. That shepherd, in accepting him, became aware of having received what he did not deserve, of holding in his arms the greatest gift of all time. He looked at his hands, those hands that seemed to him always empty; they had become the cradle of God. He felt himself loved and, overcoming his embarrassment, began to show Jesus to the others, for he could not keep for himself the gift of gifts.

Dear friends, if your hands seem empty, if you think your heart is poor in love, this night is for you. The grace of God has appeared, to shine forth in your life. Accept it and the light of Christmas will shine forth in you.

TODAY is born our saviour, who is the promised one.

May this gift be ours today.

 

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 

Leader:          God’s love for us is revealed in the birth of Jesus.  In gratitude for the gifts we have already received from God, we trustfully bring all our needs to the Father.

 

Reader:

We pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, the shepherd of Christ’s people:  (pause)
that he may faithfully keep watch over the flock entrusted to his care.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all those experiencing the darkness of war and violence, (pause)

that the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace, may bring them hope.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are suffering economically during the coronavirus pandemic: (pause)

that God will protect and guide those who are facing eviction, have lost employment, or who struggle to have enough to eat.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for children, (pause)

that the message of Christmas may help them to grow in love and gratitude for their families.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for the Christians of the Holy Land: (pause)

that they may find ways to witness to the Good News of God’s saving love and work with all their neighbors to build a peace based on justice and respect.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are fighting the Coronavirus: (pause) that God will strengthen caregivers, inspire researchers, and guide those who will be distributing the vaccine.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

 

Leader:          Let us pray our Prayer for Christmas

 

EMMANUEL, God-with-us,

as we celebrate your birth in this season of Christmas,

we pray that you may be born anew in our hearts.

Help us to see your face more clearly

in our brothers and sisters

so that we can serve one another

with greater love and compassion.

Reflecting on the miracle of your birth,

may we rediscover the wonder and beauty of all human life,
at every stage of existence.

May the peace of your presence

spread throughout the world

this Christmas season.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

AMEN.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus,
I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment,
feed my soul at least spiritually.
I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.
Amen.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:          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.  Amen.

Leader:           Good and gracious God,

on this holy feast you gave us your Son,

the Lord of the universe, wrapped in swaddling clothes,

the Saviour of all, lying in a manger.

On this holy feast

draw us into the mystery of your love.

Join our voices with the heavenly host,

that we may sing your glory on high.

Give us a place among the shepherds,

that we may find the one for whom we have waited,

Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,

one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Blessing

 

 

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:                  Amen.