This letter is going to run two weeks together as I’m unlikely to be able to get the posted letters out next week before Christmas Day. We are working hard to make sure that we can celebrate Christmas in a way that will lighten our lives and prepare us for light returning in so many ways. I know that many of us are struggling with the isolation we are being forced to live with and many are ready to rebel. However, there appears to be some light and we need to look after one another for a few months longer. I’m really glad that so far the incidences of Covid within our congregations have been mild, and we need to aim to keep it that way.
Our morning service this Sunday 20 December will be at 10:15am for a 10:30 start and will be led from Ansty Road via zoom by myself.
Our Carol Service will also be Sunday 20 December at 6:30pm, led from Ansty Road & via zoom.
Our Christmas Morning Service will only be available & via zoom 10:15 for 10:30 am
Our Communion Service at 10:30am on Sunday 27 December is due to be led from Ansty Road & via zoom by myself. It will focus on giving thanks for St.Columba’s on what is our last Sunday. However I’m conscious that this is within the 5 days where the Government is allowing more household mixing and I’m getting nervous about adding church to the mix. It might be useful for you to let me know if you intend being in church that morning as we might decide to just use zoom, in which case I could work alone from St. Columba’s.
Whether you wish to be in church or not will be your own decision, but please do not come if you feel vulnerable or ill and please obey the restrictions that are in place. Remember we are in Tier 3 because it is deemed that there is a very high risk of spreading the virus and the hospital is working at capacity. For those who prefer to join via zoom the link is
You can also join by phone by dialling one of the following numbers
0131 460 1196, 0203 051 2874, 0203 481 5237, 0203 481 5240
When asked to enter your Meeting ID, key in 831 4268 9496#- if asked for a Participant key just dial #. If asked for a password it is 512001
A reminder that we are supporting a number of charities as part of our Carol Service. For Ansty Road that is The Coventry Boot Fund and St. Andrew’s Home. Our Church Meeting agreed that we would support both from the proceeds of the charity fund, but if you would like to add to those sums please send your gift by cheque to Caroline or via the church account Sort code is 202355 a/c no 60995746. Mark it for the Charity Fund in the reference box. For St. Columba’s it is to Christian Aid, https://www.christianaid.org.uk or send a cheque to me made payable to St. Columba’s URC, but tell me it’s for Christian Aid.
Be blessed, Craig
Worship for Sunday 20th December
No wind at the window, no knock on the door
No light from the lamp stand, no foot on the floor
No dream born of tiredness, no ghost raised by fear
Just an angel and a woman and a voice in her ear.
No payment was promised, no promises made;
No wedding was dated, no blue print displayed.
Yet Mary, consenting to what none could guess,
replied with conviction, “Tell God I say, “Yes”’.
John L. Bell (b1949) © WGRG, The Iona Community 1992
Into our world as into Mary’s womb
Come, Lord Jesus
Into the forgotten planes as into the stable
Come Lord Jesus
Into the lives of the poor, bringing hope
Into the lives of the powerful, bringing caution
Into the lives of the weary, bringing rest
Into the lives of the wise, bringing restlessness
and into our lives and longings
whatever our estate
Come Lord Jesus
This is the good news
Christ is coming
and blessed are those who wait on the Lord
Therefore come quickly Lord.
(Cloth for the Cradle p57)
Come that we may know mercy
for the times when we have known no hope
for the times when we have acted in power
for the times when we impose upon the weary
for the times when we have not listened to wisdom
Come that we may know grace
that we may know your blessing
that we may live following your Way
this day and each day.
Bible: Luke 1:26-38
“Do not be afraid” What apt words for our time.
Mary was not to fear the angel or the challenge before her. The same phrase had been heard time and again throughout the Hebrew Bible. First by Abraham as God made a covenant with him, then by Hagar in the wilderness as she feared for the life of her son. From Moses as the Israelites fled Egypt, from Boaz as he arranged to marry Ruth, from Elijah as he spoke with the widow of Zarephath and then by the angel to Elijah as he faced the soldiers of King Ahaziah. That is just a few examples as so many times people have had to face an uncertain future and be reminded to be unafraid.
Later Jesus would repeat this to James and John as they were called to be disciples, then to all the disciples as they faced a future empowered by resurrection and then to John as he received the book of Revelation.
“Do not be afraid.” How much do we need that for ourselves?
You will know your own fears, for yourself and your family.You will know the fear we all have for public health, for our economy, for a changing political landscape. As we look back through history we can see that humanity has often been here before, and that at such times some have been aware of God’s presence encouraging them to be courageous. But that does not mean that we ignore the reality of particular grief, dread, dismay. It does not mean we ignore injustice, oppression, abuse. It does not mean that we no longer hold to account those who profit from fear. Mary’s response will challenge the powerful and proclaim good news for the lowly and hungry.
“Do not be afraid.” It is time to step forward with faith.
We can hardly wait, dear God.
Looking out upon a world
that is far too familiar with Isaiah’s sorrows,
the mounting ashes of our failures
and the heavy heart of human suffering,
your coming cannot be too soon.
So pour out your Spirit now, today.
Bind up broken hearts
and release the good word
and the goodwill
that we have held back too long.
Announce your clear intentions now.
Garland your sorry world with joy
and clothe it with
the splendour of your presence here.
Plant a new way of life
in which truth and justice
stand rooted like a tree.
Psalm 126 paraphrase
Make us into a new race of people
who love justice,
cherish their commitment to each other
and are eager for your coming.
We can hardly wait. Amen
Lord Jesus Christ,
born for us in a stable,
making your humble way into our lives,
we praise you for your tireless search
for lost humanity.
Hold us we pray.
And so that we might serve you,
and you alone,
grant us your Spirit’s wisdom
to know and reject all that is evil and harmful,
to turn only to you for our pleasure,
and to spend ourselves for the sake of your kingdom and its peace. Amen
Duncan Wilson: URC Worship Book
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.
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!
© Timothy Dudley-Smith,
Lessons and Carols 20 December 2020
Voluntary: Love came down at Christmas
Lesson 1 Mark 1:1
RS 167 Once in royal David’s city
Lesson 2 Psalm 80:1-7
RS 135 Joy to the world
Lesson 3 Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11
RS 144 It came upon the midnight clear
Lesson 4 Mark 1:2-8
Song: What joy is mine
Lesson 5 Luke 2:1-7
RS 145 O Little Town of Bethlehem
Song Silent Night, Holy Night
Lesson 6 Mark 1:21-45
Song: O Holy Night
Reflection Mark’s Christmas
Hymn: Dream a dream, a hopeful dream
Poem read by David Monks
Song God rest ye merry gentlemen
Prayers of Intercession
Lesson 7John 1:1-14
RS 160 O Come all ye Faithful
Share in your own mince pies, mulled wine, coffee and tea from home.