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A Question of Angels


Mary how did you recognise
an angel’s voice?

What does liquid gold sound like
when it is clothed in light
and shaped by words of incarnation?

What does it feel like, Mary
to be held in the gaze of an angel
and behold the light of salvation?

Does the light move in a helix of coils
curling round the edge of wings
where angel-light meets open air?

Is the air white hot like a thousand suns
or blue cold with sharp and intense light
round an angel?

And do angels catch your breath
when you exhale
and forget to breathe in again?

How long do you stand there
until your senses bamboozled and overwhelmed
return to normal?

And to be this close to heaven’s realm?
What does it feel like?

Is it over in a second
or a lifetime?

Do they use words
or is it just a deep down knowing
a perfect realisation and an obvious certainty?

And what does the world taste of afterwards
the air: does it tang of the burning
that follows a lightning strike?

and does everything seem muffled now
in a reluctant winter light

because you have been told, Mary,
of both the hope and the fear
the future now brings?











Still the darkness gathers, O God
Still the light thins
and the nights deepen

Yet still we believe
Still may you hear us whisper, O God
the prophet’s promise
that will let the light in
that will move every word into skin
and realise love among us

May we believe in this promise again
in the words we speak around Aleppo
in the questions we ask about poverty
in the rumours there are for peace
May we believer in this promise, again

And when stable-sides
are found in the most unstable places
and stars light up hungry tables
and shelters for refugees
may we believe again
in the promise
that these,
these places
are where your incarnation reaches,
our advent words
become’s emmanuel’s mangers

So may we talk more
may we speak more of the prophets
may we fill the darkest places
with words of light
that these too
become mangers:
places where heaven spills over
and rebirth is met

May we believe in the promise again
in this place
in every place
in this moment
in every moment
in this season
in every season

may winter get no darker come the solstice
but may the promise be trusted most keenly
that we will speak the words
hope brings
in the birthing

So be it


Short Prayer


Tonight, O God
May we hear angels sing
with alleluias filled with wonder
and skies flowing with gold

May we see shepherds smile
and wise ones wonder
as they travel
to the manger side

and may we watch
as stars slide
lighting up the sky
with a story of love

and in-between the rustling of hay
and the lowing cattle
may we hear the greatest wonder
make his fist sound

and in among all our words
and through all our songs
may we share the light
that will light up the world,

So be it


I wish for you


I wish for you
the breath of angels
to fill you tonight

I wish for you
the quiet dreams
of hope tonight

I wish for you
the light of God
to surround you tonight

I wish for you
the sound of alleluias
to follow you tonight

Wise One:

I wish for you
the light of stars
to guide you tonight

Worship Leader:
I wish for you
that the son of peace
is born in you tonight


Candle Lighting


May there be a pause tonight
in the conflicts of the world tonight
a pause that allows the world to breathe
with promise again
enough to take a breath tonight
and know God has set free a promise
a promise of the one made all of light
who is our salvation tonight

Candle 1

May there be a longing tonight
deep enough to hold all longings in the world tonight
from Aleppo to our neighbourhood
of peace and truth
that feels God’s longing tonight
as the son of light falls from heaven
into the vulnerable darkness of earth
in bring it hope tonight

Candle 2

May there be despair tonight
despair in the corridors of darkness
worry at the tables of power
concern round the thrones of despots
whose wisest move tonight
is to know what is happening tonight
in every crack the universe
and lets the light in tonight

Candle 3

May there be love tonight
fully human and enfleshed tonight
that gives of itself for humanity
and offers a child
born for us all tonight:
a God who takes this personally
and bundles into skin
the gift of Emmanuel tonight

Candle 4


Watchnight Prayer


It is a thin place here, tonight, O God
Thin and waiting,
and we your people gather
because we dare believe tonight

something moves in the heavens tonight
so that all the light of the universe
pours into this moment
and this child
we long
to be born
in us

Is this going to be okay, O God, tonight
that your promised son
is dropped from heaven
into a manger stall
and a young woman
who has never been a mother before
cares for him

we know the anxiety
of a father at birth
the fear and joy
this must bring you
How vulnerable do you want love to be, O God, tonight

Yet we wait for this moment
because we dare believe
that such love
given so generously
human shaped and vulnerable
stable-focussed and in a manger laid
is our hope
and the world’s saviour

So we will wait tonight, O God
with the host of heaven
holding back their alleluia choruses
and good news
and peace messages
till the moment of birth
for there is no where else to be tonight
except here
at manger-side

with you
labouring with love
and Emmanuel’s quickening
and in hope and fear
wonder if this is going to be okay tonight

for love to be born
as one of us

Holy God
we dare believe
it is okay
it is good news
it is a wonder
and it is the miracle of our salvation

So we will wait with you
for birth and promise
to take shape
round this miracle of belief

So be it




Let the words stop for there is nothing left to say

Let the silence fall for only silence holds the whole thought of God

Let the angels hold their breath before the alleluias are set free

Let the stars hesitate as they draw towards the birthplace of light

Let the story unfold with the rumour of what is about to happen

The light is on the way…



It has only just begun

perhaps the universe gave a great sigh last night
after all that build-up of expectation
all that patient longing
all that hoping and believing
such a big effort

but now it has only just begun

now comes the real labour
now we find out what you are like
now we find out what all your words mean
now we get to see you in the flesh
now we get challenged

now everything changes
from darkness to light
from conflict to peace
from difference to diversity

now the real story begins
where promise becomes presence
and the real effort starts
and invitations go out
to move the world
from where it is
to where you long for it to be
from expectation
into transformation

Loving God
with us now
it has only just begun
may we begin again
with you

So be it


The Conversation


1: “Mary!” called the angel.

2: “Me?” asked Mary.

1: “Yes!” replied the angel.

2: “What?” wondered Mary.

1: “Good News” stated the angel.

2: “Really?” responded Mary.

1: “For you” smiled the angel.

2: “Is that so?” questioned Mary.

1: “A child” stated the angel.

2: “For me?” returned Mary.

1: “And the world” confirmed the angel

…Long Pause

1: “Well?” asked the angel.

2: “Well, what?” requested Mary.

1: “Good idea?” inquired the angel.

2: “Don’t know” hesitated Mary.

1: “Poor, raised” declared the angel
“Oppressed, freed” insisted the angel
“Hungry, fed” affirmed the angel
“Rich, reduced” promised the angel
“Braggarts, crushed” maintained the angel

…Long Pause

2: “Yes!” said Mary


We do not believe the darkness in our world needs to continue, that we need to live in fear of the future and live by fear in the now.

This we believe:  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of darkness—on them light has shined.

We do not believe that hope has been extinguished from our world, that Aleppo is forgotten, that those who hurt are left on their own

This is believe: The Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel which means God is with us.

We do not believe life has to be unbearable for the many; that hunger and poverty are the only way for the the world to work, and conflict is inevitable

This we believe: Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God and tell them their warfare has ended

We do not believe that the lowliest and the least shall remain nameless and that wealth and might decide social order

This we believe: You O Bethlehem, one of the least, from you shall come forth one who will shepherd my people Israel

We do not believe that conflict and violence are the only ways to win peace or prejudice is the only way to relate to each other

This we believe: Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

We do not believe that the promises of old have passed away and we have been abandoned and left to our fate or that we need lose heart and become discouraged

This we believe: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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