20th December 2020 – Nativity Service

Good Morning – good afternoon or good evening – whatever time of day or from wherever you are joining with us I would like welcome everyone to our 2020 Nativity Service – Usually at this service there would be a hive of activity as the children from the Sunday School and their parents, grandparents, friends and family all gather here in the church excited and ready to participate in the retelling of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem 2000 year ago Today our church building is empty, but we are hoping to fill our homes with the joy of the Christmas message as the children share with us in the Nativity story Today is the 4th Sunday in Advent, and the 4th candle represents the love that Jesus brought and continues to bring into our world And I am delighted that the Lyall family are going to light our candles today As they do, we are going to sing our final verse of a candle is burning – the candle of love Prayer Loving Heavenly Father As we gather today from our separate homes, we gather in your name, to remember and celebrate the birth of your Son Jesus As we hear again the real Christmas story may we share in the joy of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men Help us this morning as we think about the Nativity Story and that first Christmas long ago, how much you still love us and want what is best for us Help share this love with others in our lives by the things that we do and the things that we say Forgive us when sometimes we treat others badly or we are unkind, when our thoughts are not good, or we say bad things Give us strength and courage to stand up to what is right and to resist what is wrong Father God at this time when there are Christmas lights beaming out with the Joy of the season, we ask that others may see your love shining in and through us – that we may following in Jesus example and bring, hope, peace, joy and love into to the world We further pray now as your children in the words taught by Jesus to his first followers – 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors And Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil For thine is the kingdom, the power, And the glory, forever Amen At Bishopton our Nativity Sunday has also become Christmas Jumper Sunday – when all sorts of festive jumpers, ties, hats and outfits are usually worn This year to match my Christmas sweatshirt I have my Christmas facemask Something we have all had to get used to over the past 10 months as we have had to adapt

to living with a virus that has restricted all of our lives including our church Advent activities Which means that today like many other congregations we worship from the safety of our own homes and the Nativity Story has all been recorded by the children from their homes on phones and or computer devices We are using some Carols from last year’s services but with the help of the praise band and a small choir we have added some new music for us to sing along with So, I hope you are all in the festive spirit and have on your Christmas jumpers and are ready to join with the children of the Sunday School as we hear again and celebrate the story of the birth of Jesus We commence by singing one of the newly recorded carols – O Come a ye faithful and we will sing 2 verses of this The Nativity Story – Allison Narrator O Little Town Bethlehem While humble Shepherds Calypso Carol (3 verses omit v4) It was on a starry night As with gladness men of old (v1, 2 and 3) Thank You & Small Talk I would like to thank Alison Russell our Narrator and to all the children of the Sunday School who took part in this year’s Nativity. I think like the first one this will also be one for the history books For some of you watching or listening to this service today perhaps it has brought back memories of your own childhood and taking part in a Nativity at school or in church Or perhaps it has rekindled memories of watching your own children or grandchildren as they have played the part of an innkeeper, angel or shepherd or maybe something else for some of the modern Nativities have all sorts of characters that certainly don’t appear in Matthew or Luke’s New Testament accounts I was reading up about the origin of Nativity plays and the word Nativity is from the Latin word “natal” which means birth it is also were we get the word native from The first Nativity Play was performed by Monks in Italy – and it is said that St Francis of Assis and his followers acted out the first Nativity play in 1223 – Francis wanted to tell the common people of the land that Jesus was born for them and that like them he did not come into a wealthy

home or rich family but to a poor family like them Over the years these Nativity plays became very popular and a great way of spreading the message of God’s love and these little performances spread in churches all over the world The Nativity story brought such great news that songs about the birth of Jesus written and often added to these Nativity plays and they became the basis of some of the Carol we still sing today Over the generation’s men, women and children have be involved in sharing the Good News Story of Jesus and the Message of God’s Love – Emmanuel God is with us The last 10 months have been very tough on everyone and we all know and appreciate of the tremendous work that the NHS and other key workers have done in our Community and Nation Today I would like to thank all our church key workers – for all the work they have

done this year To Gill McHattie and her team of volunteers, who have made this difficult Christmas a very special one for many in our community On Thursday afternoon an army volunteers distributed over 100 Christmas bags – some were given to individuals on their own others to couples – a 170 recipients in total Each received a mince Pie and cream, a wee Christmas knitted pudding, some tablet, and a Christmas decoration many of which had been decorated by the children of the Sunday School The preparation of the gifts, the poem, the printing, the sorting, the organizing and delivering – all the all done by volunteers from the church in order to let people in our community know that we love them, and each of them matters to us and in the eyes

of Jesus I would also like to thank our 3 wise carpenters – Alan, Des and John – who build the Stable on display at The Cornerstone. It certainly has generated a talking point in the village as well as bringing joy to those who have walked or driven past it To Alison Russell – another big thank you – not just narrating the Nativity Story today but for making the Nativity figures in our display, again bringing a smile to many a face on a difficult or dark day To the praise band and singers what a great achievement all the parts recorded separately at home and then put together This brings me to one exceptional young man – Daniel who really does deserve our thanks and praise for throughout the past 10 months he has been working to keep our services online Daniel together with Ian, Craig and Victoria the tech Team have done an outstanding job We may not be able to gather but we can keep together as a church family and help each other through these tough times Together and with our Lords help we will get through this Pandemic and as the candle of love reminds us – A baby for Christmas, a wonderful birth, for Jesus is bringing God’s love to our earth St Francis of Assis who I told you was responsible for introducing Nativity plays was a very gentle and kind man, and he is quoted as saying – always preach the Gospel but only use words if you need to In other words, we are to show and share love with one another * I would like to share with you a short video highlighting some of our advent highlights and to give a special thankyou to all involved Video Intimations If you have enjoyed the Nativity Service, please join with us online on (Thursday) – Christmas

Eve at 4pm for Carols @ The Crib This can be accessed via YouTube or the church website On Christmas Morning at 11 am we have a Christmas Zoom Get-Together I do hope that as many as possible will try to join even for just 5 minutes to say Merry Christmas This is an opportunity to chat and maybe even try to sing a Christmas Carol or two Have your tea/Coffee and mince pie ready to enjoy Details of how to join will be on the website as well as in the Net Work Magazine Next Sunday – 27th is the last Sunday of the year and at 10:30am we are planning to have a short reflection service here in the church This re-opening of the church is with adherence to the strict regulations imposed by the Scottish Government and the National Church This means we have a restricted number of people we can accommodate and in order to make sure we don’t have to send any one away on a Sunday morning we will be operating a telephone booking system and you can book by phoning Ruby at The Cornerstone this Tuesday morning (22nd) between 10 am -12 noon Face covering must be worn in the church and we still not allowed to have singing Despite the restrictions which are there to keep us safe, it does give us the opportunity to gather in a small number and for many this time of prayer and spiritual reflection is very important and needed Our online services will continue and while the Covid restrictions remain in place be our main format of worship and at these services singing is allowed as is the wearing of slippers encouraged as you worship from the safety of your home Information about the services in the church and online can be obtained from the website We are all starting to get excited as we get ready for Christmas Day and to Celebrate the Birth of the Baby Jesus, but this is not the only special birthday being celebrated this week and tomorrow (Monday) 21st December Mrs Jean Gilchrist will celebrate her 98th Birthday and we wish Jean a very happy birthday and send our love and best wishes to you and your family We have so much to give thanks but we know that there are many for whom this is not a good time so Let us now come before God in pray as we remember the needs of others PRAYER INTERCESSION Loving Heavenly Father As we have reflected on the nativity story, we thank you that you have given us the greatest gift of all – your only Son Jesus Loving God – We are conscious that while we claim that Christmas is a time for giving as well as receiving, many of our gifts and acts of kindness are reserved for family and friends, Gratefully, we remember today That your gift of Jesus is so very different Good news for all, The Saviour of all, Given to all God of grace, you have given us so much: Teach us to share and

to give to others in return Today in our prayers we remember that this Covid Pandemic not only affects our Nation but the families and communities of lands all over the world We know there are Nations that are able to take measures to try and control the spread of infection, implement mass immunization program but we are also aware that in so many countries the virus is spreading out of control and resulting in illness and death of millions of the most vulnerable people – the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the street children, the homeless, the refugees At this time of good will and peace on Earth we ask that in each of our hearts we can spare a thought for those that live in poverty or need or want for whom the Covid Virus is another threat in their already challenged life’s We ask your blessing on the organisations like Christian Aid and UNICEF that work in these areas of deprivation and need, supplying much needed Aid – lifesaving medicine, food or simply clean water Nearer to home, we pray for those in our circle of friends or community all afflicted by illness, all Struggling with physical disability, all battling life threating conditions For those waiting for results, for those who do not know what the next step of their treatment will be on when it can be given We pray for those who are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, those experiencing feelings of fear for themselves or their oved ones

Heavenly Father we pray for those who have recently been bereaved – all who are grieving the loss and absence of a loved

one at this time of year when families traditional would gather to be together whenever possible For those who grieve at this time in isolation or with only close family For all whom the present brings pain and distress, and the future seems uncertain bring Hope, Peace and your unconditional love At this time of giving and receiving Reach out to your aching world Bring comfort in distress, Courage in adversity, Confidence in uncertainty And compassion in suffering Challenge each of us, who have so much to share from our plenty with those who have much less, who find themselves in trouble, or just need a friend May we not just talk in this season about goodwill but to demonstrate it through our words and our actions To share the Good News – Jesus the Saviour of the World is born and with him the gift of love for all the world These things we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen BLESSING May the hope, peace, joy and love of Christmas fill our hearts and our homes And the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Be with you this day and evermore Amen Stay well – Stay Safe – Stay in touch God Bless