December 5, 2021






We gather in preparation…

for Good News is about to be proclaimed.

We gather in expectation…

for joy is about to explode in our midst.

We gather in celebration…

for we are those people who have said

Yes to the manger

Yes to love enfleshed

Yes to the man for others

Yes to the wholeness of God.



With preparation and with expectation, let us celebrate.


PROCESSIONAL HYMN                                       COC 30(i) ‘Look towards Christmas’                                                                             Words © 1996  Shirley Erena Murray, Music © Colin Gibson


  1. Look towards Christmas! Advent is here:

welcome December, changing the year.

Whistle up, shepherds! Saddle up, kings!

Chorus up angels, flexing your wings.

Sing, sing, alleluia!

Sing, sing alleluia!

Sing, sing out the story,

sing about hope and peace.




  1. Set the world singing, make the world glad;

now is good reason not to feel sad!

Hear John the Baptist shout to prepare:

Good News is coming, earth be aware.

Sing, sing, alleluia!

Sing, sing alleluia!

Sing, sing out the story,

sing about hope and peace.


  1. Mary and Joseph, soon is the day:

ready the donkey, start on your way.

You are the chosen, willing to trust,

joyful your burden, carrying Christ

Sing, sing alleluia!

Sing, sing alleluia!

Sing, sing out the story,

sing about hope and peace.


E te whānau a Te Karaiti

ngā mihi aroha ki a tātou katoa.

Kia ora tātou.



PRAYER Dorothy McRae-McMahon

O God, all around us we find situations
which take away our faith in the birth of love among us.

If we have lost our sense of wonder and delight
and believe these things belong in children’s stories alone:
Forgive us God of sunrises and angel songs.

If we no longer expect surprises
and take the gifts of others and or own gifts for granted:
Forgive us, God of babies in mangers, in stables
and shepherds in fields.

When love for the world seems an impossible dream
and we give power to cynicism
and a spirit of defeat:
Forgive us God of the shining star of hope.

Jesus Christ came into the world as it was,
in all its humanness.
So in every generation, love will come again
Thanks be to God.

JESUS’ PRAYER Jim Cotter paraphrase

Eternal Spirit
Life-Giver, Pain-Bearer, Love-Maker,
source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
loving God, in whom is heaven:
the hallowing of your name
echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed
by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done
by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test,
strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory
of the power that is love, now and for ever.
On this second Sunday of Advent we remember God’s gift of peace
and that we are called to be people of God’s peace.

Muneeswari knows what it is like to be abused and keep silent. As a child like other Dalits, she lived apart, not allowed to wear shoes or cross the path of people from a different caste. As a mother and agricultural labourer, she has learned about her rights to fair treatment and the necessities for life, guaranteed in India’s constitution from the Women’s Development Resource Centre. She is now a proud member of her local sangam or association, helping other women like her. Her pay has tripled and her family has their own home.
God of peace and compassion
‘may’ we be people who shine
the light of peace in your world
through our words and by our actions. Amen
We send you to the Rainbow Room to hear stories, ask questions and have fun together.
We bless you. Amen.
Traditionally we shake hands to pass the peace and say “peace be with you.” Now that COVID-19 is here we ask that you pass the peace without shaking hands.

Gospel (1) Matthew 1: 18 – 2:2
The Birth of Jesus

Gospel (2) Luke 2: 1-12
The Birth of Jesus

Contemporary Reading From “The Bright Cloud of Unknowing”
By Barbara Brown Taylor

But what if the point is not to decode the cloud but to enter into it? What if the whole Bible is less a book of certainties than it is a book of encounters, in which a staggeringly long parade of people run into God, each other, life ... and never be the same again? I mean, what don’t people run into in the Bible? Not just terrifying clouds and hair-raising voices but also crazy relatives, persistent infertility, armed enemies, and deep depression, along with life-saving strangers, miraculous children, food in the wilderness, and knee-wobbling love.

Whether such biblical encounters come disguised as “good” or “bad”, they have a way of breaking biblical people open, of rearranging what they think they know for sure so that there is room for more divine movement in their lives. Sometimes the movement involves travelling from one place to another. Sometimes it means changing their angle on what is true and why. Sometimes it involves the almost invisible movement of one heart towards another.

Certainties can become casualties in these encounters, or at least those certainties that involve clinging to static notions of who’s who and what’s what, where you are going in life and why. Those things can shift pretty dramatically inside the cloud of unknowing, where faith has more to do with staying fully present to what’s happening right in front of you than with being certain of what it all means.
The meeting --- that’s the thing


For the word of God in scripture and story,
for the word of God among us,
for the word of God within us,
We give thanks.

HYMN WOV 109 ‘Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!’
Words: © 1962 Timothy Dudley-Smith, Renewal 1990 Hope Publishing Company
Music: Walter Greatorex

1. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.

2. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age the same;
his holy name – the Lord, the Mighty One.

3. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

4. Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and for evermore!
REFLECTION Jim Cunningham

How far is it to Bethlehem?

HYMN CH3 278 ‘Now the star of Christmas’
Words: Shirley Erena Murray
Music: Noel Nouvelet (French Carol Tune)

1. Now the star of Christmas shines into our day,
points a new direction: change is on the way –
there’s another landscape to be travelled through,
there’s a new-born spirit broadening our view.

2. When the Christ of Christmas speaks to hearts and minds,
clears the clouded vision hurting humankind,
kindred spirits gather, drawn towards the light,
sharing revelation, joyful at the sight.

3. If we choose to follow, we may yet be wise.
Where the three kings travel, three great faiths arise:
Jesus Christ for Christians, Jesus, Judah’s son,
prophet for the Muslim, wisdom in each one.

4. Where the star enlightens, light is shared around.
God has drawn no borders, faith sees common ground:
peace the hopeful journey, justice without bar,
God’s illumination from the Christmas star.
HYMN OF DEDICATION COC 48 ‘Where is the room’
Words© 1992 Shirley Erena Murray: Music © 1993 David Dell

1. Where is the room,
where is the house of Christmas?
Where shall we welcome Jesus,
where are the signs of home?

2. Let Christ have space,
place at the heart of living,
centre for birth’s new breathing,
cradle for hope and peace.

3. Let there be room,
room for the friend and stranger,
room without hurt or anger,
room for whoever come.

4. Let love be here,
love for the Christmas stable,
love at our open table,
love to be shared all year.

Receive here our gifts, O God.
We bring them with thankful hearts
for all your kindness to us.
They are a sign of our love
for you and the world. Amen.

We recognise and bless the gifts brought to the table and those given
to support the mission of the church through automatic payment.

People share notices and visitors are welcomed. If you have a notice, please move to the front row, ready to speak briefly from the lectern.
For the benefit of newcomers, please introduce yourself before you begin.
We think today of the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone and the Liberian Council of Churches and the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone. We hold all refugees in our hearts. We pray in particular for those detained for many years in Papua New Guinea & Nauru. We give thanks for progress that has been made and pray that their calls for justice might yet find a compassionate response. In New Zealand, we remember those in Parliament, and today we name Joseph Mooney and Todd Muller, list MPs. Here in the Central Presbytery, we pray for the leaders and people of Knox Presbyterian Church, Dannevirke.

Renew your people, God,
and renew our life in this place.
Give us a new spirit of unity
with all who follow the Way of Jesus
and new bonds of love
with people of other faiths.

Bless the city in which we live
that it may be a place
where honest dealing,
good government,
the desire for beauty,
and the care for others flourish.

Bless this church
that what we know of your will
may become what we do,
and what we believe
the strong impulse
of our worship and work.


St Andrew’s is an open community and all are invited to Christ’s table.
Wherever you are on your faith journey, wherever you have come from and wherever you are going to, whatever you believe, whatever you do not believe, you are welcome to participate in the communion. This is God’s meal for all people.

At this Table we give thanks for justice, love, peace and freedom.
At this Table we give thanks for friends and strangers together
in community in this safe place.
For everyone born a place at the Table.
We are all invited.

COMMUNION HYMN COC 14 (ii) ‘Come now, Lord Jesus’
Words: © 1992 Shirley Murray Music: Traditional Zulu arr. Roy Tankersley

1. Come now, Lord Jesus,
enter our Christmas,
be to us no stranger
in this new made manger. 2. Come, small and human,
born of a woman,
yet a child much greater,
of our own Creator.

3. Come, cold and crying
comfort denying,
no place to receive you,
few yet to believe you. 4. Come, poor and simple,
our flesh your temple
in your body feeling
hurt as well as healing.

5. Come, gift and token,
bread to be broken —
star and sign still point you,
myrrh will anoint you.
We remember the stories from our tradition....
How on many occasions Jesus would share a meal with friends.
Bread and wine, the very basics of life, shared in community.
How bread would be taken, a blessing offered, and then shared amongst them.
And all ate.
How some wine would be poured out, a blessing offered, and then passed amongst them. All of them drank.
When they gathered in this way it was a time of concern,
conversation and celebration.
The bread and the wine symbolised
human lives interconnected
with other human lives,
and the power of giving and receiving.
We remember that on the night before his death
he shared the Passover Meal with his disciples
and gave the meal a new significance and purpose.
May the passion for life as seen in Jesus
and in the lives and struggles
of many other committed and faithful people then and now,
enable us to dream and to risk....

Together may we re-imagine the world.
Together may we work to make all things new.
Together may we celebrate the possibilities and hope
we each have and are called to share.
For everyone born, a place at the Table.

We break the bread for the broken Earth,
ravaged and plundered for greed.

May there be healing for our beautiful blue and green planet.

We break the bread for our broken humanity,
for the powerful and the powerless
trapped by exploitation and oppression.
May there be healing for humanity.
We break the bread for those who follow other paths;
who travel on a different road from us;
those who think and act differently;
those whose belief system is different to ours;
those who see our world through different eyes
of ethnicity and culture.

May there be healing where there is pain and woundedness.
We break this bread for the unhealed hurts and wounds
that lie within us all.
May we, too, be healed.


This is the cup of peace and of new life for all.
A sign of love for the community of hope.

A reminder of the call
to live life fully,
to love wastefully,
and to be all that we can be.

Come then, life-giving Spirit of our God,
brood over these bodily things,
and make us one body with Christ;
that we may no longer be in bondage
to the principalities and powers that enslave creation,
but may know your liberating peace
such as the world cannot give.


(The bread and wine will be served in the pews. During this “Covid Time” we celebrate Communion using ONLY gluten free bread.
Wine is served in small glasses – the lighter colour is fermented wine –
the darker colour grape juice)


HYMN WOV 439 ‘God who sets us on a journey’
Words: Joy Dine (1937 – 2001) © Revd Mervyn Dine. Reproduced with permission;
Music: Hyfrydol , public domain
1. God who sets us on a journey
to discover, dream and grow,
lead us as you led your people
in the desert long ago;
journey inward, journey outward,
stir the spirit, stretch the mind,
love for God and self and neighbour
marks the way that Christ defined.

2. Exploration brings new insights,
changes, choices we must face;
give us wisdom in deciding,
mindful always of your grace;
should we stumble, lose our bearings,
find it hard to know what's right,
we regain our true direction
focused on the Jesus light.

3. End our longing for the old days,
grant the vision that we lack –
once we've started on this journey
there can be no turning back;
let us travel light, discarding
excess baggage from our past,
cherish only what's essential,
choosing treasure that will last.

4. When we set up camp and settle
to avoid love's risk and pain,
you disturb complacent comfort,
pull the tent pegs up again;
keep us travelling in the knowledge
you are always at our side;
give us courage for the journey,
Christ our goal and Christ our guide.





Thanks to Peter Franklin, our organist this morning.

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