Sunday 10th January 2021.
Welcome to Elmwood Congregation Sunday Worship.
Elder Hazel Flinn has put this morning’s service together for us. Thank you Hazel and Team Elmwood. Julie will lead our opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. Heather will read the bible. Maureen has written the prayers of intercession which is read by Julie.
Thank you for joining us.
Before worship: Riding out across the desert
Call to Worship - Claudette
Hymn This is the day that the Lord has made
Opening Prayers and Lord’s Prayer – Julie
Hymn MP 451 Love came down at Christmas
Introduction by Hazel
Today's service normally celebrates the baptism of Jesus by John but I'd like to focus on hymns about Jesus life a bit further back in his childhood which recall some of the events using Christmas hymns which we haven't had much chance to include this year.
Before the service you may have may have heard the Carol “riding out across the desert” where it describes the camels bringing the Kings to Jesus. This isn’t one I had met before, but it's a lovely bright tune which I thought it would be a good one to share at the start, after a somewhat cold week we have had weather wise.
The tune is aptly named The Camel Shuffle.
However on a more serious note “Love came down at Christmas” which we've just shared, was written by Christina Rossetti and included as a poem in a little book of prose and verse. It wasn't used as a hymn until around 10 years after she died when it was matched with a suitable tune. Her only other memorable carol was “in the bleak midwinter” which is just what we have been experiencing this last week. This is one of the first hymns to express what Jesus birth really meant.
Our next hymn “Who would think that what was needed” comes from the Iona community and seeks to express the sense of wonder in modern practical language the contrast between the innocence of childhood and the omnipotence of God. Its tune Scarlet Ribbons is a traditional melody which became well known when Harry Belafonte used it in the record. It really Does explore the different aspects of Christ’s birth and how miraculous it was to find that someone coming from such a humble beginning should surprise earth and heaven coming here on Christmas day.
Hymn R&S 178 Who would think that what was needed
Good News: birthdays, anniversaries and how God has blessed us.
Bible Reading Luke 2: 22–32. Heather. Jesus is brought to the temple
Hymn R&S 329 There’s a spirit in the air
Commentary by Hazel
Before I talk about our last 2 hymns, I'd like to share with you a hymn that I came across recently which actually spells out much that we have all known when we had the new birth in the family
Birth brings the promise of new life awaking
dawning of hope through a child’s open eyes
uncharted future is there for the making
challenge and change in a baby’s first cries
every new life changes those who are round it
making demands of commitment and care
calling for love to enfold and surround it
reshaping patterns by claiming a share
This is very familiar to all of us and we know that no new life that comes into our view necessarily involves us making changes. The story behind of this hymn was that a group of students asked their chaplain if they could have a hymn which left out all the fairy tale details of Magi, shepherds and stables to focus on the real meaning of this new life. A Margery Dobson came up with four verses that followed those guidelines. it's not in our hymn book but I thought that it listed changes we would all recognise
It is quite singable we know tunes that would fit it and maybe one day we'll be able to do so. Its last verses are :
Jesus, the newborn, crossed time’s moving stages
changing their course by the act of his birth
translating God from the mystery of ages
rooting our faith in his presence on earth
wonder and worship were waiting to greet him
love and devotion were his to command,
life was transformed for the ones sent to meet him
touching their God in a Charles outstretched hand.
Our last hymns are ones we are familiar with and I'm hoping that we will enjoy and joining in with them as we hear them in the last parts of our service today.
First ‘there's a spirit in the air’. This was written by Brian Wren who was a minister at Hockley Congregational Church, just at the time that this Church was built and we know how that really goes with our need to take in the new life that has been given to earth in Christ's arrival
Then ‘God in his love for us lent us this planet’ which is of course a reminder that he gave us this planet to live on and care for in the best way that we can.
Hymn R&S 85 God in His love for us lent us this planet
Prayers of Healing/Intercession – read by Julie
Blessing – Elevation Worship