Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.


Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.

            ~Jerry Bridges


Receiving the gift of grace, we are called to live as children of the light. In this holy calling we have John the Baptist as our guide. You can tell the story of Jesus leaving out all sorts of important details. In John’s gospel the shepherds, angels, and manger are all absent. But the gospel writers agree, you cannot tell the story of Jesus without John the Baptist. You simply must have the one who comes solely to point others to Jesus. This is our calling as well. We who are forgiven and redeemed, we who are claimed and called, are the ones who point to Jesus. We do this with our lives; we do this with our words. We point to Jesus when we feed the hungry, when we invite those we know and love to know the gift of grace we see in Jesus. We point to Jesus when we allow the holy light of the season to shine through all we do and all we are.


Come and see!

The light of God has come into our world

to proclaim God’s justice and love;

It has overcome the darkness and brought new life.

Come and follow!

Christ our companion has redeemed our world

He draws us into a loving family

From every tribe and family and culture.

Go and tell!

The Spirit has equipped us for service

To love our neighbours as we do ourselves

To bring God’s salvation to the ends of the earth.

Come and see, come and follow, go and tell!

In God’s Love the nations of the earth will put their hope.

            ~ adapted from a prayer by Christine Sine on Godspacehttp://godspace-msa.com/  

CHILDREN’S SONG  Voices United #56  Jesus, Our Brother


Almighty God, you have filled all the earth with the light of your incarnate Word. By your grace empower us to reflect your light in all that we do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.






We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.


     During worship, and in the Bible, we hear a lot about God’s grace being given to human beings.  But, what exactly is the grace of God?  Well, the grace of God is a gift. 

     We just celebrated Christmas.  No doubt you all received presents.  Here is my question:  did you receive those presents because you earned them by behaving well 100% of the time, or because you deserved them, or because you think your family and friends should give you presents; did you have to earn those presents?  I am guessing that you answered “No” to every one of those statements.  And you would be correct.

     The grace of God is the love that God has for us, no strings attached.  God loves us, forgives us and hugs us on our good days, our bad days, our days when we have a hard time keeping our faith and every day in between.  God loves us and does all this because God loves us.  Not because we have earned God’s love, deserve God’s love, because we behave well 100% of the time, or because we expect God to give us love, forgiveness, a relationship with God.  God does all this simply because God loves us.  Period.  That’s it.  Just like your parents.  God’s love goes on and on, forever, even after we die, that is why it is called grace.  It is a gift.  So, just like the gifts we receive at Christmas, baby Jesus being the best Christmas present EVER, we accept this wonderful gift, thank God for it and share the love of God with others.  That is what makes God’s gift so special – we can live it and share it.  May you have a wonderful New Year discovering how much you are loved by God, and how you can give that love in return!




     In Kenya, 1.5 million people live with HIV. In the Rift Valley of Kenya, 7 percent of the people who live there are HIV positive. That’s roughly 892,707 people. Sadly, the grandmothers whose children have died of AIDS are often left alone to care for their grandchildren. To add insult to injury, their church community condemns them.

     Why? Because some pastors who don’t know the facts about HIV believe and teach that faithful Christians cannot contract the disease. They think HIV is a result of sexual sin and that it’s a judgment from God for sexual immorality—a disease for sinners.

     “The pastors had little information about HIV and AIDS; to them, and others in the community, it was a strange disease. Their theological interpretation of the disease was based on the way they read about the incurable diseases mentioned in the Old Testament. The pastors said that they had believed and taught that a believer in Christ cannot contract HIV—that HIV is a disease for sinners. HIV was a result of sexual sin and was a judgement from God for the sexually immoral,” writes Esther Mombo, regional coordinator of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy, and Pauline Wanjuru, lecturer in the faculty of theology and director of partnerships and alumni relations at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya.

     With support from your Mission & Service gifts, Mombo and Wanjuru led a series of workshops in one Rift Valley community that has been hit especially hard by HIV/AIDS. The workshops invited grandmothers and pastors to meet and discuss the nature of the disease and the stigma around it.

One grandmother who attended the workshops was 70 years old. She had lost both her daughter and her son and was left to raise three grandchildren on her own. Instead of stepping up to help, her neighbours refused to visit her because they said her daughter and son had been sexually immoral. Her pastor wouldn’t even attend her children’s funerals because he didn’t want to be seen associating with her family. When she went to church, the pastor preached about the punishment for sexual immorality.

     At the workshops, this woman bravely told her story to the pastors who attended. She also shared with them how it felt to be shamed for loving her children and grandchildren. Another grandmother explained that her grandchildren were born with the virus and thus couldn’t have been involved in any sexual immorality. Yet another spoke of God’s love for everyone.

     As the grandmothers told their stories, they felt more and more confident in their knowledge and experience. The pastors learned more about the disease and made a commitment to extend compassion and offer pastoral care to the grandmothers. For these pastors, the experience was a true epiphany.

     Beliefs inform actions. How we think affects what we do. All of us know from our own life experience that when we know better, we do better.

     Your Mission & Service gifts support people around the world in speaking their truth so Christ’s light of love can shine in all we think, say, and do. Thank you for your faithful support.


God of all wisdom and might, send your Spirit this day that we might hear your word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believe in you. May your scripture be a feast upon our lips and a gladsome song to be sung for all eternity. Amen.  

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14

God promises to bring Israel back to its land from the most remote parts of exile. In Zion Israel will rejoice over God’s gifts of food and livestock. Young women will express their joy in dancing; God will give gladness instead of sorrow.

7Thus says the Lord:  Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.”
8See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here.

9With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

10Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.”

11For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again.
13Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry.  I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

   14I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,
says the Lord.


Psalm 147:12-20

Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. (Ps. 147:12)

 12Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem;
  praise your God, O Zion,
who has strengthened the bars of your gates
and has blessed your children within you.
14God has established peace on your borders

  and satisfies you with the finest wheat.

    15God sends out a command to the earth,
a word that runs very swiftly. R
16God gives snow like wool,

  scattering frost like ashes.
God scatters hail like bread crumbs.
Who can stand against God’s cold?
18The Lord sends forth the word and melts them;

  the wind blows, and the waters flow.
God declares the word to Jacob,
statutes and judgments to Israel.
20The Lord has not done so to any other nation;

        they do not know God’s judgments. Hallelujah! R

Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14

In Jesus, all of God’s plans and purposes have been made know as heaven and earth are united in Christ. Through Jesus, we have been chosen as God’s children and have been promised eternal salvation.

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Gospel: John 1:1-18

John begins his gospel with this prologue: a hymn to the Word through whom all things were created. This Word became flesh and brought grace and truth to the world.

     1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

  6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

  10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

  14And 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. 15(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ ”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

SONG  Voices United #50  He Is Born


I am curious as to how many of you write out New Year’s resolutions.  I gave it up years ago.  It seems that no matter how much I promised myself I would change, improve, strive for perfection, ultimately, it just seemed like too much work.  Actually, what usually happened was that while my spirit was willing, my flesh was very, very weak and I would fail to live up to the, dare I say impossible, standards I had set for myself.  As a result, I would submit myself to self-inflicted verbal abuse and feel horrible that I could not even fulfill the smallest of goals.  Ultimately, I beat myself up so well that it was easier not to make goals in the first place.

Yet I wonder how many of our new year’s resolutions, either written or mentally notated, stem from the innermost belief that people will not deem us loveable or acceptable unless we somehow raise our standards of our personal best.  Rather sad that our motivation to improve comes from a drive, almost despair in some people, for love and acceptance.  I realize I generalize, but then, the more I look at the situation, the more it seems that I am not far off the mark. 

So, OK, we stick to our resolutions, lose the large amount of excess kilograms, join a fitness club, buy a home exercise machine, turn away from the sugar, give up the cigarettes, the booze, stop swearing, try to be more understanding…and where do we end up?  True, our physical health and emotional health improve, but the desire for love and acceptance is conditional upon whether or not we stick with this regime.  Spiritually, then, we are still a mess. 

What I admire about the scripture chosen for today is the overwhelming message that God loves us, unconditionally, and that when we embrace this, miraculous, radical changes are in store! 

Look at the wonderful imagery in the first lesson.  We have been shown favor by God just because God loves us, unconditionally; God’s love clothes us with the garments of salvation.  The beauty of salvation is more wonderful than the most expensive and lavish wedding attire! 

God’s love is constant.  We trust that the four seasons will carry on as usual from year to year; trust that the flowers will bloom, the seeds we plant will grow.  Even when the weather and the crop do not materialize as we believe they should, still, we trust in the continuity of the cycle of life.  Trust then, the constant, gracious love of God.  Even when it seems that God’s love has disappeared, trust anyway.  You will not be disappointed.

We have been given a new name.  Names are very important.  For the Hebrew people, names were, and still are, chosen with great care.  For in the name was summarized the interior character and being of the person.  That is why Abram went from ‘exalted ancestor’ to Abraham, ‘ancestor of a multitude’, why Jacob went from ‘one who undermines or grabs’ to Israel, ‘a prince who prevails with God.’  With a change in name came a change in status, an enrichment of an existing relationship.  Before, our name was ‘creation’.  Now, we are called ‘children.’  Before, we were given breath.  Now, we are given new life through God’s embrace.

Ponder the wonder of this news, the beauty of the imagery the writers of these scriptures use to show the richness of God’s love and mercy.  Embrace in your heart all those who are dear to you, through whom Christ shines.  Reflect on the blessings God has given you through these people. 

The writer of the letter to the Ephesians praises God’s grace in Jesus Christ giving thanks for the faithfulness of Christ’s followers, holding them up in prayer in order that they may discern the will and grace of God for themselves. 

Perhaps this is a healthier option than writing out resolutions and goals which are impossible to keep.  If we would focus our energy into our prayers for others, I believe our lives would be a lot healthier.  If I had to rely on my own will to get through life I probably would have given up years ago.  But entering into a difficult situation, knowing that others are praying for me, gives me amazing calm and courage.  Rather than beating ourselves up with words, why not empower each other in prayer.  For when we are praying for another and for God’s purpose and direction for that individual, we slowly begin to dissolve the wall of conditions we have set up around our hearts that the other person must meet before we will love or accept them. 

There is much wisdom in these words from Ephesians.  So much so that I would like us all to take three minutes — yes, three– today to quietly sit and reflect on the past year, its blessings, its friendships, its brokenness and the reconciliations that need to take place in this new year.  Three minutes to pray for the members of your family, your friends, the community of believers with whom you worship, albeit virtually and distanced, at this moment.  Three minutes to acknowledge the presence of God in your life over the past year, three minutes to pray for God’s direction in the coming year. 

May you know what is the hope to which you have been called, what the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints are, however God will manifest them in your life.  Amen.

SONG  Voices United #72  From Heaven Above To Earth I Come


Joining our voices with the song of the angels, let us pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

Redeeming God, you gather together your people from the farthest parts of the earth. Protect your church from stumbling. Let it not be overcome by sorrow, division, or despair. Make us radiant with goodness, that we might live always to the praise of your glory. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You bring together heaven and earth. All creation testifies to your splendor. Hold the ecosystems of this earth in delicate balance, from coastlands to farmlands, forests to wetlands, deserts to rainforests. Show us new ways to live in harmony with the world around us. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You overflow with grace upon grace. Expand the imaginations of those who serve in positions of authority. Open their hearts to the needs of their nations and communities. Protect all those in harm’s way and those risking danger for the sake of others. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You bring consolation to those who weep. Embrace those who feel far-off, excluded, or defeated. Accompany those living with chronic and invisible illness. Sustain the weak and weary. Refresh those who labor under the weight of pain or sickness, especially Alena, Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn & Douglas; Debbie & Dwayne; Nicole; Sandy Lange, Matthew Grossman, Gordon Fulford, for all those infected with the corona virus, or whose loved ones have died because of it. … Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You come to us in the beauty of darkness and of light. Bring justice and reconciliation to communities divided by oppressions and misuse of power. Guide us to speak holy words of advocacy and truth. Help us to honor your image in one another. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You turn our mourning into joy. We give thanks for those who have died in faith. With all the saints, give us our inheritance in Christ. In the fullness of time, gather us all together in your mercy. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, come quickly to us with grace upon grace as we lift these and all our prayers to you, in the name of Jesus.




Almighty God, who sent the Holy Spirit to Mary, proclaimed joy through the angels, sent the shepherds with good news, and led the magi by a star, bless you this day ☩ through the Word made flesh. 


SENDING SONG  Voices United #74  What Child Is This?

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