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25 December 2021
Christmas morning and our service of Holy Communion with carols was at 10 am. Father Roger was the celebrant and we had families of all generations in the congregation! The Choir sang Away in a Manger (Kirkpatrick, arr Wilcox) after communion and we see the Magi are approaching our crib! Father Roger thanked Joanna, the Choir, those who decorated the church, Chris and Janet our wonderful Curch Wardens, and everyone who helped make Christmas so special and beautiful at St Mary's. We would like to thank Father Roger for all his help during our Interregnum, for keeping us going, and for all his work in the parish, and his excellent,  informative and thought provoking  sermons each week!

On their way to the Manger!

The shepherds have lots of sheep!

Titus 3:4-7

A reading from the letter of Paul to Titus.

When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 

he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, 
but according to his mercy, 
through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 

This Spirit he poured out on us richly 
through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 

so that, having been justified by his grace, 
we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Luke 2:8-20

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

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, 
keeping watch over their flock by night. 

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, 
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, 
and they were terrified. 

But the angel said to them, 
“Do not be afraid; for see—
I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 

to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 
who is the Messiah, the Lord. 

This will be a sign for you: 
you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth 
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 heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,
 the shepherds said to one another, 
“Let us go now to Bethlehem 
and see this thing that has taken place, 
which the Lord has made known to us.” 

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, 
and the child lying in the manger. 

When they saw this, 
they made known what had been told them about this child; 

and all who heard it were amazed 
at what the shepherds told them. 

But Mary treasured all these words 
and pondered them in her heart. 

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God 
for all they had heard and seen, 
as it had been told them.


We read the familiar story, a warm and colourful scene, and something portrayed on countless Christmas cards. But, of course, many, - surely most, - Christmas cards these days, may be wintery but not seriously religious and often not in the least religious. But, for us, the issue this morning might be that the colourful picture in our gospel reading is probably not the cosy scene we thought it was!

The reading begins, 'shepherds on a hillside'. Shepherds. A rough lot. They may be doing a vital job, but ... shepherds... Some of the greatest Jewish heroes had been shepherds. Moses, King David...the prophet Amos.... But, many hundreds of years later, in Jesus' day, shepherds were looked down on by the religious leaders. How can you keep your meat kitchen properly separated from your dairy kitchen when you’re camped out on a hill? How can the lady of your house light your sabbath candles at sunset on Fridays saying or singing the correct Hebrew blessing, and you stop working for a day, - when you're stuck out on a hill, and the sheep need as much care on the sabbath as on any other day? As a shepherd, you might be sleeping across the entrance of a sheepfold keeping wild animals out. You just can't manage to keep the rules as a respectable Jew if you’re a shepherd.

Then, the Angels. Terrifying. God is right on your case. And there's a host of angels - a host is a formidable army… help! The shepherds go to the stable. The stable is emergency temporary accommodation for travellers, not normally for human habitation.

God's love to us in Christ is announced to the less respectable end of society, and Jesus is born in less-than-ideal circumstances. God reaching out to all sorts, and in all situations.

Rather than just see the nativity scene as decorative, we can see it with a different lens. The star leads to the one who is THE star. The Angels, messengers of God, point to the one who is THE messenger of God. The shepherds come to the one who is THE good shepherd of his people. The wise men, later, will come to the one who will grow up to be THE wise man. The wise men's gifts will be for the one who is THE ultimate gift to us. 

And, perhaps, saying ‘thank you’ for that gift should turn our thoughts to the less comfortable fringes of our society and to serving God and finding God, there.

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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