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Christmas Day - Church at Home

Merry Christmas!

From everyone in the Benwell & Scotswood Team

Peter Bruegel the Elder, The Census at Bethlehem, (1566)

Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels


Christmas Day 10.30am at St James, NE15 6RS

We meet for Holy Communion as the Benwell & Scotswood Team.

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Join us by watching the service live online this Sunday.

Watch live >

And follow the service booklet here >


در هنگام خطبه روز یکشنبه هدفون های خود را بگذارید و به این ترجمه گوش دهید.

یا در خانه گوش دهید.

< خطبه / Listen in Farsi

< متن خطبه / or read the translation


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Watch our Christmas Eve Crib Service

Watch our Carol Service

And watch all of our Christmas and other services here >

Christmas Day Service - St James' 10.30am

Don't forget! See you at St James, Friday 25th December, 10.30am

Please sign up in advance here >

No service on Sunday 27th December

Instead we will be joining Newcastle Cathedral online.

Their service goes live on their youtube channel at 11am here >



Christmas Day

Reflection by The Revd David Kirkwood

Service led by The Revd Dominic Coad

Watch live at 10.30am >

< خطبه / Listen in Farsi

The service starts with some quiet music; please use this to clear your mind and acknowledge the presence of God.

Intro music

In the Bleak Midwinter

Opening prayer

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Welcome all wonders in one sight!

Eternity shut in a span.

Summer in winter, day in night,

heaven in earth and God in man.

Great little one whose all-embracing birth

brings earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.

Lighting of the Advent Wreath

(light a candle at home if you can!)

Christmas Day – Jesus Christ:

Lord Jesus, Light of light,

you have come among us.

Help us who live by your light

to shine as lights in your world.

Glory to God in the highest.



The sun of righteousness has dawned

with healing in his wings.

Let us come to the light of Christ,

confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father,

you sent your Son full of grace and truth:

forgive our failure to receive him.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Jesus our Saviour,

you were born in poverty and laid in a manger:

forgive our greed and rejection of your ways.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Spirit of Love,

your servant Mary responded joyfully to your call:

forgive the hardness of our hearts.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

May the God of love and power

forgive us and free us from our sins,

heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,

and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.


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.



A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

(Isaiah 9:2-7)

This is the word of the Lord.

(Thanks be to God)


Alleluia, alleluia. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,

and we have seen his glory.


In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

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!’

(Luke 2.1–14)

This is the gospel of the Lord.

(Praise to you, O Christ)


By The Revd David Kirkwood

This has been a year many of us will be keen to forget, we can’t wait to turn the page. It has certainly been memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. Christmas too will prove memorable, a ‘Covid Christmas’, ‘saved’ maybe, or maybe not, but curtailed and slimmed down, definitely. Thankfully, friends and families are still able to meet, just about, and we are still able to have some of our services, but all will be aware of the changing health advice and the need to be cautious. Already it looks vastly different, no Christmas parties and social gatherings, no shows and pantos and where are the carol services, nativity plays, crib services and Christingles? Some of course have gone online and again we are very thankful in our team to all involved, thanks for the services from St Johns last week and St Margaret’s today -wonderful - but it certainly is not and can’t be the same as when we physically meet together.

Hopefully, we can look forward to positive changes in the New Year but for now we have to accept things as they are, a cutdown, ‘Covid Christmas’.

Maybe that need not be all bad. I say that, I hope, not just as a bit of ‘a grinch’ or a vicar, who hasn’t felt quite so run ragged this Christmas as in the past, but genuinely thinking that there might be gain as well as pain. How might that be?

Firstly, on the simple principle of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ or ‘you don’t know what you got till you lose it’. Not having things, not being able to do things, as we used to, might mean we can learn to appreciate the value of things we may have taken for granted. Every meeting with family, every simple, non-socially distanced pleasure, can be more cherished, after having had to do without for so long.

Secondly it might help us to look again at our lives and our world, pausing can encourage us to concentrate, to ask questions and evaluate what the essentials are. Reset rather than simply restart. Of course, this goes much wider than Christmas, but for Christmas too it might help us think through what it is we value most. What is the most essential thing? The word radical means going back to the roots and a ‘Covid Christmas’ could encourage us to look for a Christmas not just slimmed down or pruned but truly radical going to the root.

Slimming down simplifying Christmas is not a new idea, St Francis who was the first to make a Christmas crib not a model but a living tableau with real animals did it, not to begin a tradition, but in a time of complex Latin liturgies, out of the reach of many, to bring alive the simplicity of the gospel truth; Christ is born not in a chapel but in a stable.

St Bernard may have caused some relief to the monks in his abbey when he started a Christmas sermon by saying, ‘Today I will be short.’ But the reason he gave could not be more relevant. ‘It is not strange that I should cut my words short when God the Father wished His Word to be so small.’

He who fills heaven and earth, is placed in a narrow manger.

He who from eternity to eternity is God, is a baby a day old.

God, Bernard says, shortens himself, cuts himself down in order to make himself knowable. In the Crib it is necessary to miss something out something of His power, glory and majesty are laid aside, but nothing essential is missing.

What is essential? What is the root? What must we keep even if everything else must go? Bernard already points us to it. God accommodates himself to us He puts Himself within our reach, the unknowable make himself knowable.

This attitude is from God’s side a perfect humility-in words from Philippians ‘Christ did not snatch at equality with God but humbled himself taking the form of a slave’ or as the carol has it, ‘mild he lays his glory by.’

Swaddling cloths, not furs, a stable, not a palace, lowly shepherds, not kings or wisemen the first to greet Him, born as man one of us and taking the lowest place among us.

And Why? All this is For Us.

For us, as example, showing us a way to follow a way of being human, a way opposed to so much that is the way of the world with its greed and violence, its need to be centre of things, the head and not the tail. Instead of that this birth shows us something else a new true way of being human the way of humility and service.

BUT for us, is more than example, this is not a new set of unattainable demands, a standard out of our reach, and so with an implied message of rejection for those not up to it, but, for us as bringing within our reach everything we need.

‘although He comes to us as a little Child what He brings us is not little nor are the gifts He gives’

Rejection there will yet be but from our side not His. From Him is only acceptance. The other side of Humility is Gift-Grace. God stoops to us in order to gather us up and lift us to His heart.

No matter how cutdown our Covid Christmas may be if we hold on to this essential truth, God for us, His loving kindness fully revealed in the humility and grace of the Christ Child, then we have all we need.

I think I may be in danger of straying from St Bernard and while commending brevity becoming longwinded, so I’d like to finish with a memory from a lady called Lorna Arnold (from her autobiography ‘My Short Century’) it is of a Nativity Play in her Yorkshire School many years ago. It was she says, ‘the first, shortest, and most memorable nativity play I ever saw’.

‘Joseph, a little boy in a white nightdress, knelt gazing at the doll in a wooden box full of hay. A small girl in blue headscarf entered, and Joseph called out to her in a voice of wonder, “Ee, Mary, lass, look what's come! “


Prayer intentions

Father, your Son our Saviour

was born in human flesh.

Renew your Church as the Body of Christ.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

There was no room for your Son in the inn.

Protect with your love those who have no home

and all who live in poverty.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

Mary, in the pain of labour,

brought your Son to birth.

Hold in your hand all who are in pain or distress.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

Your Christ came as a light shining in the darkness.

Bring comfort to all who suffer in the sadness of our world.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

The angels sang, ‘Peace to God’s people on earth.’

Strengthen those who work for peace and justice

in all the world.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

Shepherds in the field heard good tidings of joy.

Give us grace to preach the gospel of Christ’s redemption.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

Strangers found the Holy Family,

and saw the baby lying in the manger.

Bless our homes and all whom we love.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

Heaven is come down to earth,

and earth is raised to heaven.

Hold in your hand all those who have passed through death

in the hope of your coming kingdom.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

Christians the world over celebrate Christ’s birth.

Open our hearts that he may be born in us today.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

Father, angels and shepherds worshipped at

the manger throne.

Receive the worship we offer in fellowship with Mary,

Joseph and the saints

through him who is your Word made flesh,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Lord's Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us:

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.


Listen to the music here >

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant! O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem Come and behold Him Born the King of Angels O come, let us adore Him O come, let us adore Him O come, let us adore Him Christ the Lord!

God of God, Light of Light Lo, He abhors not the Virgin's womb Very God Begotten, not created O come, let us adore Him...

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above! Glory to God All glory in the highest O come, let us adore Him...

See how the shepherds,

Summoned to His cradle,

Leaving their flocks,

Draw nigh to gaze;

We too will thither

Bend our joyful footsteps;

O come, let us adore Him...

Lo! star led chieftains,

Magi, Christ adoring,

Offer Him incense,

Gold, and myrrh;

We to the Christ Child

Bring our hearts’ oblations.

O come, let us adore Him...

Child, for us sinners

Poor and in the manger,

We would embrace Thee,

With love and awe;

Who would not love Thee,

Loving us so dearly?

O come, let us adore Him...

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning Jesus, to Thee be glory given Word of the Father Now in flesh appearing O come, let us adore Him...


The Word was made flesh and lived among us:

and we have seen his glory.

Strengthen us to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. Amen.

Outro music

Joy to the World

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