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The TRUE meaning of Christmas
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What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in reguar typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Carol:


Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we begin our celebration with the most beautiful of New Zealand carols.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

Use your mouse to scroll through the contents of each window.

Clicking on the buttons across the tops of the windows below will allow you to zoom in\out,

search, switch to full screen, print, and download the contents to your computer.

The Pewsheet:

Call to Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.


We meet in the name of Jesus,

Word made flesh,
saviour of fallen humanity, lover of all. Amen.


We meet in the name of the Holy Spirit,

Lord and giver of life,
midwife of new humanity,
inspirer of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness

(click the "play" button, below:)

00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence for Christmas Eve


The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, full of grace and truth: we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

The Special Prayer for Christmas Eve  ( The Collect)


Let us pray together.

God of light and life, you are born among us as a baby, in the flesh, as one of us. As we rejoice in the beauty of summer, grant that we may also celebrate the wonder of your incarnation and rejoice in the mystery of God becoming flesh. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shares our human nature and who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

A reading from The Old Testament

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2_Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
00:00 / 01:37

A reading from The New Testament

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Acts 13:16-26
00:00 / 02:17

Pause for a moment of silent reflection.

The Gradual Carol


Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to join in with another great carol of joy.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Gospel Reading, Luke 1:67-79 (Zechariah's Song)

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Luke 1:67-79
00:00 / 01:26

Listen to the sermon:
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Christmas Eve 2022 : A rebellious Christmas
00:00 / 11:01

or, if you prefer, you can read to the sermon, below:



May the words of my mouth and the meditations in our heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord, our strength and redeemer. <Amen>

Our gospel this evening is sometimes called “Zechariah’s prophecy” or “The song of Zechariah”. Zechariah, the father of John The Baptiser” tells us that the Lord God of Israel, has raised up a mighty saviour, one that would save His people from their enemies.


It may not seem like it to you this evening but this is really rebellious stuff! This would not have sat at all well with the Jewish authorities and their Roman masters.


Think about it … this vast thing that was called “The Roman Empire”, where does it  get its power and authority? Well, in Zechariah’s day, it starts with the emperor, Caesar Augustus. A man so powerful that when he said “Let’s count all the people we have in our world, that was it and a census was taken! Caesar Augustus was the leader of the world and he (Rome) maintained this authority and power through military conquest, and to be blunt about it … through violence.


Now, tonight, here is what I want you to see. Christmas time. Sentimental time? Sure. A good family time? Yes, and that's great. Christmas stories in the Gospels, beautiful tales we tell each other and children … Definitely. Absolutely. Charming. <PAUSE>


However, if it's all that we see, we are going to miss a lot of the power of these stories.


Listen again to Zechariah’s words … “a mighty saviour who will save His people from their enemies”!


Do you see what Zechariah is doing? Here you have Caesar Augustus, at the height of his powers, reigning as the Emperor of the world and commanding a worldwide census … and Zechariah undermines the “myth” of Caesar as the ruler of the world.


Zechariah undermines Caesar and the entire Roman empire with a new narrative. The narrative of a new King. Who is this King?


Well, he is not born of the royal line of Rome. He's born of a royal line going back to David.


Who is David? Not a Roman king, but an Israelite king.


More to it, he comes into the world not in a palace but in a stable or a cave or something in some out-of-the-way place called Bethlehem of Judea.


Where? That’s not a world capital. It’s a little dusty outpost of the Empire.


He is wrapped in swaddling clothes. He is not a tall, mighty, powerful warrior brandishing spear and shield.He is visited by shepherds. What? Those folks who are looked down on by the rest of society.


That's His court? Shepherds? He's in a barn? Wrapped in swaddling clothes?


This narrative of the birth of Christ that we re-live tonight … do you see … is undermining the great Roman narrative of power, tyranny and military force.


The True King, the son of David, is born in humility, poverty, simplicity, and nonviolence.


Caesar Augustus, like all great worldly powers before and since. is backed up by military force, backed up by the club, the sword, and the spear and today we would say the gun, the bomb, and the rocket.


So it always goes. That's the master narrative of all worldly powers. I'm not just pointing the finger at Augustus. That's the story behind Napoleon, the story behind Charlemagne, the story behind Genghis Khan, Hitler, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin! <PAUSE>


Now, tonight, is the story that Zechariah’s song points us towards. A story about this baby King, Son of David, born in humility but with more power the armies of Caesar Augustus.


This King, and that's the story of the Gospels, the story of the Pauline epistles, this baby King, WILL come of age as the crucified and risen Lord and will indeed become the King of the world.


It's not Caesar Augustus who will reign and his descendants. It will be Christ.


Now, to bring my message together and up to the present day, so you don’t think I’m just telling old battling narratives from two thousand years ago …


Where is Caesar Augustus today? He's a distant memory. His descendants, where are they? Long gone. Where is Roman power? Roman Empire? Long disappeared. Where do all the empires of the world go? Eventually into the dustbin of history … BUT …


where are the members of Christ’s family today - here you are and your brothers and sisters in Christ are gathering EVERYWHERE around the world tonight. Kim and I got crushed by the multitudes of them at every holy site we recently visited in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, Jerusalem, Galilee. They were from all over the world and you, and they, are the embodiment of Christ's Empire. The empire that IS still alive and well and it flourishes all over the world.


Zechariah sang of a new Saviour, pointed us to a new King. Rome and all empires maintained by force WILL crumble. Christ WILL prevail.


So, how about that for a properly rebellious story of Christmas. <PAUSE>


In the name of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Pause and Reflect


Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by listening as "The Apostles Creed" is read to us.
(click the "play" button below when you are ready to listen) 

apostles creed AD
00:00 / 01:03

 ... and now ... let us pray for the Church and for the World, giving thanks for God's goodness.

(click the "play" button below when you are ready to begin) 


The Lord's Prayer


Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ has taught us:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.   Amen.


Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:


God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing


The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Carol


Let us continue with our closing Carol and please do feel free to sing along.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:



Go now to love and serve The Lord,

Go in peace.


Amen, we go in the name of Christ.

Are you missing Holy Communion? Click here.

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