22 Dec Worship at Home: A service of Lessons and Carols with Christian Aid
The sight of glory (Service of Lessons and Carols)
There is something glorious about Christmas. The music and wonder of Carol Services and Midnight Mass offer moments that lift our hearts and touch our lives.
John’s gospel invites us to see glory in something very different, perhaps even surprising. In a new born baby, resting in an animal feeding trough, the glory of God is made known, completely and wonderfully.
Reading – John 1.1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Reflection by Dr Rowan Williams
“The Lord is our righteousness”
That, says the prophet, is what the long-awaited saviour will be called. To get some sense of what this means, we need to set aside a lot of the associations that the word ‘righteousness’ has for us today. It often sounds a bit judgemental and superior. But for the Jewish prophets, it meant being fully in harmony with the way things were.
To be righteous was to be in a truthful and fitting relationship with what was real–with God and with God’s world.
No wonder, then, that Jesus tells us that it is ‘blessed’ to be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. We long to be at home with what’s real, not to live in little worlds of our own invention. And the gift that is there for us in the coming of Jesus is the gift of a renewed and restored relationship to what is real.
We are all in one way or another stuck in little worlds of our own invention, stuck in an unreal, self-centred, short-term frame of reference, and we need to be pulled out of these fantasies into the light of reality – like the shepherds being startled and shocked by the blaze of light filling the night sky, so that they set off with a cleansed and renewed vision, eager to see what God is doing, to see the truth and respond to it.
All our service of and attention to the world’s needs grows out of this. We see freshly; we see the dignity and beauty of human beings denied, frustrated, disfigured all around us, and we sense arising in us a hunger to see more fully the truth of what God has given in each and every person, and to welcome the gifts they offer us.
“The Lord is our righteousness”: what does this mean? That in the Spirit of Jesus, we begin to see with God’s own eyes the full glory of the world God has made and to respond with love and delight.
Rowan Williams is Chair of Christian Aid and former Archbishop of Canterbury.
How might you see things differently today? What glimpses of glory might delight your heart and change your perspective?
And seeing differently, how might you act differently today?
God of glory,
Open our eyes to see your presence today
and to find, as we do,
that our lives are filled with
love and delight
towards you and the world you have made
Explore the reading and reflection featured here further by watching our service of Lessons and Carols for Christmas, broadcast on 22 December.
On Christmas Eve you can read our final reflection for Advent from DJ David Whiteley. Our daily Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas reflections featuring full audio and music begin on Christmas Day with Archbishop Justin Welby.
What brings joy today?
The gift of music
What’s your favourite Christmas Carol? Record your family singing it and send it to your wider family and friends.
Who needs comfort today?
Those who can’t get to church
Some people will be sad that they can’t go to a Carol Service this Christmas. Make a poster of your favourite carol to put in your window so that people can be cheered up when they see it.