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Advent Forest Church 2020

 Isaiah 9: 2, 6: 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.
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.

First Stop: The labyrinth  Angel wings

Mary: My name is Mary and I have met an Angel! The angel was bad enough, I was terrified. There was just this overwhelming sense of light and of God’s presence. It is difficult to describe, but it is wonderful and scary all at the same time, but then to be told I was going to have a baby!!

. But it wasn’t just the baby bit that was scary; it is who this baby is going to be. This baby isn’t Joseph’s (and don’t take that the wrong way), this baby isn’t really mine; this baby is God’s child, God’s son. Now I know what you are going to say, we are all God’s children, but this is different, this is God’s son, there was no man involved here. And this baby in me is going to be born, and grow and live and show us about God. And God chose me to be his mum. If that is not scary I don’t know what is!

So now all that is left to do is wait. Wait for this baby growing inside me, wait for the son of God to be born, wait for my son to be born.

Luke 1: 26-27: In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee named Nazareth. He had a message for a young woman promised in marriage to a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Her name was Mary.

 Second Stop: Bottom of the Pagoda steps Bark Stars

 Wise Man: There will be no camels; we are going on horseback, at least for some of the way. And we won’t arrive there a few hours after everyone else, it will be weeks, perhaps – or months.

We are not in a hurry. That is not the way we work; we are not Europeans. We will discuss the phenomenon – the star – and if it does not go away, and if we are still curious, we will travel.

We will look in the wrong place. Yes I admit that, because wise men, monarchs, intellectuals – call us what you will – are not infallible.

We expect  new power to emerge from the side of the old one. We expect the destination we seek to resemble what our common sense deduces. We will be upset, angry even, to find that Herod is ignorant and his living space is not the birthplace. We will find it hard, and intellectually demeaning to bow the knee to the son of refugees.

And all this …. all this upset will be compounded when it comes to journeying back and we discover we have to go home by another way. That is the trouble with God. God doesn’t not let you leave as you came. God sends you back, stripped of your presumptions, making for home by another way.

‘The Wise man’s Journey’ from ‘Cloth for the Cradle’ Wild Goose Worship Group

 Matthew 2: 1-2

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterward, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”

 Third Stop: Medicine Wheel (standing stones) Stable Rock

Luke 2: 1-7: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Prayer for Refugees
Almighty and merciful God, whose Son became a refugee and had no place to call his own; look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger, homeless and hungry.

As we hold the stable in our hands let us remember those without even a stable to shelter under. Bless those who work to bring them relief; inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; and guide the nations of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fourth Stop: across the bridge on the grass Sheep rock

 Shepherd:
It’s kind of difficult to explain, Mr Cohen…. and I can well understand why you are angry… I mean to say… I would be angry too of I were in your position.

I know I have only been working for you a week. But I can assure you it’s not the kind of thing I do often. I always stay on the job. But what I said is perfectly true… you can ask Larry or Dave… admittedly, it does seem a bit incredible…

I mean there were noises in the sky… musical noises, and we did go to the village… just the three of us, and there was a baby, a boy…. And we weren’t drunk, just a bit emotional.

OK, that doesn’t explain where the sheep got to. And I know it’s highly unusual for Goldberg the butcher to be selling lamb at bargain prices. But Mr Cohen there are some things in life more important than sheep…..

No I don’t want to go into the priesthood, I want to be a shepherd. But shepherds can believe in God too, can’t they?

Christmas Script from ‘Cloth for the Cradle’ Wild Goose Worship Group

Prayer
Lord, thank you for your love.  Help us to love all other people as you have loved us.  Give us courage to show kindness to people that others overlook. Amen

Fifth Stop: past the two bridges Kings rock

Wiseman: We’ve come a LONG way!  And I mean a LONG way!  Setting off from our home, back east, seems like a distant memory.  We’ve crossed land and sea following that star. That shone so bright promising to lead us to the new king.  It’s been quite a journey!

We almost didn’t make it when we took a wrong turn and called in on most definitely the wrong king, Herod.  He was a nasty character!  Didn’t trust him!  In fact, I think he would have harmed the new king, given half a chance.

But here we are, at last, the star led us right here, and the baby king is more of a toddler king by now.

We gave him gifts fitting for a king, the son of God and a saviour.  We were outsiders there, really, but it felt important to be there, to catch a glimpse of what is to come.

And now we watch, and we wait to see what happens when he grows up…

In the meantime, we have a long journey home.  I hope we can remember the way!

Matthew 2:13-14 “After they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt.”

Prayer
Lord, bring your hope and peace to all people in our world.  Give us opportunities to reach out to people in our communities who come from different countries and cultures and particularly to those who are refugees. Amen

 Sixth Stop: in front of Willen Hospice Baby Jesus

 John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 Prayer
Mary sits, the child rocked in her womb now rocked in her arms.
Joseph stands, the child given to him, now bound in his heart.
We kneel, the child come to us now capturing our love.
O God come to us once more, bind us to you with cords of love.
Lead us with reins of kindness and bring us to fulness of life. Amen

‘Shine on Star of Bethlehem’ Kate McLlhagga

 May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen