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24 December 2021
Our Midnight service, the first Eucharist of Christmas, was at 11:00pm on Christmas eve. Father Roger was the celebrant, and the congregation and choir sang hymns and carols. The choir sang 'Ding dong merrily on high' as an anthem. We left the church wishing each other merry Christmas, and saying hello to many extended families home for Christmas.






Our crib






Hebrews 1:1-4

A reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors 
in many and various ways by the prophets, 

but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,
whom he appointed heir of all things, 
through whom he also created the worlds. 

He is the reflection of God’s glory 
and the exact imprint of God’s very being, 
and he sustains all things by his powerful word. 
When he had made purification for sins, 
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 

having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.


John 1:1-14

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God. 

He was in the beginning with God. 

All things came into being through him, 
and without him not one thing came into being. 
What has come into being 

in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people. 

The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, 
whose name was John. 

He came as a witness to testify to the light, 
so that all might believe through him. 

He himself was not the light, 
but he came to testify to the light. 

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. 

He came to what was his own,
and his own people did not accept him. 

But to all who received him, 
who believed in his name, 
he gave power to become children of God, 

who were born, 
not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, 
but of God.

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.


Address

We are here at the traditional time – the dark low point of the day, and the dark low point of the year, looking at the hope God gives us.

There are those who tell us that the special food is the best part of Christmas. We should probably pray for them! Nor is Christmas the excuse of the year. And as for celebrating Percy Pigmas….
Our best focus now is our reading from St John, who means business. The whole Bible began with ‘In the beginning, God created…’ St John is picking up on that, ‘In the beginning was the Word….’, he says. God creatively active, again, reaching out, and now, in Jesus, showing himself in our flesh.

For good reason we also read this passage as the climax of Carol services.  For that, the clergy are probably meant to sound pious and the educated, and use the weighty introduction, ‘St John unfolds the great mystery of the incarnation’. But – conscious of the pantomime season - I’m always tempted to say, ‘Oh no he doesn’t!’  St John does enormously well, but this great mystery of the incarnation is not the sort of mystery which can ever be fully fathomed or neatly unfolded. 

St John struggles valiantly to say something useful about a unique event. He takes the Greek and Jewish ideas and language, from his world and bends them to try to speak of the unfathomable mystery. The reading ends by saying that Christ is full of grace and truth. 

Grace and truth. To the Greek mind, ‘grace’ means something like ‘charm’. But for the New Testament it has another meaning. Grace is about a life-giving relationship with himself which God offers to humanity in Christ’s coming.

As for ‘truth’, it seems to be having a tough time at the moment. We sometimes hear that we are now in a post-truth society, where what is actually true often seems to matter less than what it might suit someone to believe, or what they think they can get away with, or what someone can induce us to accept. Post-truth is something we must be wary of, and it is seeming to infect the world of politics!
The idea of truth, for the Jews, was essentially about what worked in practice. Jesus was found to be a reliable guide to life. For the Greeks truth was more in the world of ideas. Are the highest possibilities for being a human to he found in a Caesar, or a Hitler, or a Casanova or a philosopher, or an athlete, or a Miss World? People would say, rather, that Jesus is the true human. True humanity is something we might sense, in terms of love, freedom, integrity, creativity, moral sensitivity, and so on. In that sense Jesus is the truth about humanity, and at the same time, he is our best clue to the nature of the God behind all things.

As for the best bit of Christmas being the food, it isn’t the purveyors of luxury food and the advocates of the decadent whom we need to listen to, but listen to Jesus, when he says, ‘Take, and eat this, in remembrance of me.’ His way of life, himself, to share among ourselves, to nourish us and unite us in the ways most essential to us being fully human.

Fr Roger

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Third Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Sung Matins

Fourth Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Variations can be found in the Parish Magazine or the Calendar at the bottom of this page.

Useful links


Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:


  1. St Mary's Facebook page
  2. Chichester Cathedral will be live streaming services. For the Eucharist and order of service Click here before 10:00am Sunday and follow the instructions.
  3. The BBC Daily Service is available here.
  4. Prayer for today.
  5. The C of E youtube channel.
  6. Hearing You is a new phone help line launched by the Diocese of Chichester in partnership with Together in Sussex in response to the impact that Covid 19 has had on Just about the whole community. It aims to provide pastoral support and a listening ear to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  7. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.

Please note that St Mary's are not responsible for the contents of external links

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