|New Book now Available|
Here is an anthology of over 1100 brief prayers and thought-starters, for each day of the year, with almost 400 original prayers by Bruce Prewer.
Included is both a subject index and an index of authors-- an ecumenical collection of about 300 different sources.
| Title: Brief Prayers for Busy People.|
Author: Bruce D Prewer
Available from Australian Church Resources,
web site www.acresources.com.au
or by order from your local book shop
or online on amazon.
Luke 2:1-14 (Sermon 1: “Let Us Go To Bethlehem”}
(Sermon 2: “The Price of One”)
Isaiah 9: 2-7
ENTRY INTO CELEBRATION
The impossible is about to happen -- in a stable!
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them has the light shined!
This is the evening when creation stood still and held its breath,
for God was doing the most unbelievable, dangerous thing.
This is the evening when God embraced humanity
from the inside, as one of us, from birth to death.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
Those who lived in a land of deep darkness,
on them has the light shined.
O sing to our God a new song,
for he has done marvellous things.
You, Lord, have enlarged the hope of nations,
you have multiplied their joy.
Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth
break out into joyful songs and sing praises.
Most holy Friend, you have made this deep night more radiant than the summer sun at noon. As the Light of Christ is born among us, may we welcome him as one of us yet worship him as one with you, the holy Saviour of humankind! To you, Father Son and Holy Spirit, we give our praise and adoration for ever!
REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS
Dear fellow worshippers, as we come together to welcome the Light that shines in the darkness of this night, let us not only be those who celebrate but also be numbered among those who are the recipients of that saving grace of Christ Jesus.
Let us pray.
God of this holy night, because we have sought you spasmodically, without the same dedication of time and effort that we give to passing fads and diversions, have mercy on us.
Kyrie: sung. (Taize: Kyrie 8)
God of this holy night, because we have not keenly loved and served you in the happiness or sorrows of our neighbours and enemies, have mercy on us.
God of this holy night, because we have not even respected ourselves enough to be honest in affirming personal strengths and admitting our weaknesses, have mercy on us.
God of new-born hopes and enduring promises, forgive your people their delinquency and folly. Please take away the shame of things done and left undone, and restore to us the eagerness and joy that made shepherds run to see the new thing God had done. Through Jesus Christ, your Holy Child.
It is written: “The grace of God has now appeared on earth for the salvation of all people.” “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” My friends, look no further: here is all you will ever need!
The peace of Christ be with you always!
And also with you!
See “More Australian Psalms” page 125
Ó Open Book Publishers
Such a vulnerable little thing,
wrinkled and covered with vernix
who coughed and gave a cry;
the midwife feeling blest
handed him to the torn mother
who nestled him on her breast.
Such a vulnerable little thing,
bare as a new-hatched galah
blinking at the stable lamps;
the father looked proudly on
not at all taken aback
by the weakness of his son.
Such a vulnerable little thing,
love framed in flesh and blood,
a God who’s born to die;
the cattle munched their straw
and shepherds came to see
as they never had before.
Ó B D Prewer 2001
God of wondrous surprises, you make a light to shine in the darkness; a light which nothing can ever smother. Grant that we who celebrate Christ’s birth this night, may attain the fullness of joy as we serve him day by day, that the world may discover that it too is filled with his glory. In his holy name we pray.
BRIEF SERMON 1: “LET US GO TO BETHLEHEM”
And Joseph went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem..... to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And the shepherds said: “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
The word “Bethlehem” for a Christian can have a magic ring to it. But it was and is a real town, set in the Judean hills. Over the last fifty years, and especially during the last decade, it has not been a magic place but one of tensions and violence; subject to the ongoing struggle between the long-term resident Palestinians and the ubiquitous Israeli military.
With my wife Marie, and two good friends Alison and Vere, I visited Bethlehem one bright afternoon in springtime. It was before the present phase of turmoil. After the normal pilgrim visit to the sacred sites, we entered a souvenir shop to buy some presents for the folks back home.
When we had bought our gifts, the Palestinian shopkeeper said to us: “Are you believing Christians?” “Yes” we answered. “Good,” he replied with a smile, “so am I.”
We then spent time with him chatting about the demoralising situation of the thousands of Christian Palestinians who were living in Bethlehem. He told us of his long Christian heritage, with believing forebears who had been living in Bethlehem for at least 1700 years. But these days they were like prisoners in their own town, unable to travel further afield without a permit from the Jewish authorities. They were often searched or harassed. We were deeply moved by his story.
That seemed sad then. In the years since, things have gone from bad to worse. Bethlehem today is not a magic place. It is set firmly in this real world of gross injustices, seemingly unsolvable political dilemmas, and human suffering.
Bethlehem was not a magic place either when Mary and Joseph arrived there to take part in a census. It was a part of Roman occupied territory. The census was not a popular event. It was a Roman imposition, mainly for taxation purposes. Soldiers were on the streets. ordinary people were harassed. Welcome to the real world, Jesus son of Mary!
Our faith is not a pretty thing belonging to magic land. It began in a genuine Bethlehem, among the rough realities of this mortal existence. It flowered among poverty and injustice, and fruited despite misunderstanding, misrepresentation, calumny and persecution. It flourishes today only where people are committed to the faith while taking full account of all the ugly factors that turn some other people into cynics or even terrorists.
Bethlehem is special because it is and was so real. There, long ago, one more human baby was delivered and greeted the world with crying. There began a unique Life that showed us forever the true God dealing with real human beings with a saving grace that can make all things new. Christmas faith is for real people of flesh and blood, not for fairyland.
Bethlehem. O fabled Bethlehem! Welcome to the real world, Jesus, son of Mary, Son of God.
O little town of Bethlehem
how troubled we see you lie
above your tossing, dream-wild sleep
the silent stars go by.
Yet in your bloodied streets shines
the everlasting Light,
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in you tonight.
BRIEF SERMON 2: THE PRICE OF ONE
Note: this sermon requires a Christ Candle near the crib, and at least another dozen candles.
John had confidence in the light of Christ: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never smother it.”
At Christmas we usually to light many candles. Maybe we would do better to light just one. One solitary candle burning in the darkness. As we will right now.
(Pause: Music, as all lights are extinguished, except for the one candle left alight
beside the crib. This is sermon continues in near darkness.)
That one candle speaks to us of the inestimable value of one special baby, and through that one baby the inestimable value of every other baby born into this chaotic and evil old world.
Tragically, it seems to me that our nation, like many other western nations, has a very selective view on which babies matter and which ones do not. We assume that a baby born in Melbourne, Perth, or Hobart, is extremely valuable. If they are very premature, we will willingly spend thousands of dollars keeping them alive through the critical weeks that follow. Yet we act as if a baby born in Dacca, Beijing, Nairobi, or Brasilia is not so valuable. One dies, or thousands die, and we seem to care not.
To our national shame (and the shame of rival indigenous political groups that can’t get their act together) children born in the homes of aborigines have a mortality rate five times that of the average. Do we care? Do we really care? Are some children in Australia far more valuable than others?
We read accounts of suicide bombers wiping out Israelite children; and of violent attacks of Israelis military on Palestinian camps which kill a many infants. We hear on news broadcasts of US air attacks on Afghan rebel towns in which innocent little children are killed. Do we let that disturb us even for one second? Are Iraqi infants less valuable than those in the USA, England or Australia? Are some kids precious while others are disposable?
These questions may be not the cosy words you came expecting to hear this evening. Right?
You most likely came expecting comfortable news, a feast of “good tidings and great joy.” Okay, I get that. Frankly I would far rather concentrate on those themes myself. This incarnation business discomforts me as well as you. But unless we face up to the fact that the Holy Incarnation in Mary‘s tiny son, has sanctified for all time every single child, our Christmas celebrations have become shamelessly trivial.
There is a valid sense that when an indigenous baby dies through lack of medical facilities, another little christ dies. When one single Palestinian or Iraqi or Sudanese or Chinese or Peruvian baby dies either through lack of care or through wanton violence, then a christ dies, and the heavenly host of angels who are meant to sing songs of joy find themselves shedding tears of anguish.
One child matters to God. The value of one is inestimable in the eyes of that same God who created the Bethlehem miracle. Among the many things we celebrate on this holy night, this is one we must take to heart.
Whenever we welcome and honour one little one in the Lord’s name. we welcome the Lord himself.
Every time we devalue another person’s child, we devalue our own.
Every time we ignore the plight of even one little mite, we ignore the plight of Christ.
One candle. Our Christ candle. God’s has placed a divine price on each baby, each human being. God loves each single infant as if that infant were the whole of humanity. That is the best possible news we can celebrate at this season. Because of it, we can dare light many other lights in the hope that we will respect and cherish every one of them
(Other candles are re-lit, Music.)
In conclusion, with thanks to John Bell, Wild Goose Publications and the Iona community, I quote:
Not the powerful, not the privileged,
not the famous in the land,
but the no-ones and the needy
were the first to hold God’s hand.
Not a well established family,
with an heirloom christening shawl,
but a homeless, wandering couple
parented the Lord of All.
God, determined to be different
from the standards we think best,
in his choice of friends and family
lets forgotten folk be blest.
(Full lights turned on)
I DO BELIEVE
I believe in God, whose light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never smother it.
I believe that on a night like this night in Bethlehem there was born a Saviour,
who is Christ the Lord.
I believe in the Word who has become incarnate, our very flesh and blood,
yet full of grace and truth.
I believe in the blessed appearing of the salvation of our God,
that is for the happiness of all people.
I believe in his name as Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of peace;
Of the increase of his rule and of his unique peace,
there will be no end.
The zeal of the God of hosts will do this.
This I surely believe!
INTERCESSIONS: INCLUDING OTHERS IN THE GOOD NEWS
(For 2 voices)
God of light and love and awesome humility, we pray this evening
for our sisters and brothers of every land around this planet.
Where there is faith, may it burn brighter.
Where there is doubt and anxiety, let faith be born.
Where there is conflict, bless your peacemakers.
Where there is peace let it foster justice.
Where there is hunger, bless your food bringers.
Where there is abundance, may it be shared.
Where there is despondency, bring your sure hope.
Where there is high spirits, let there be gratitude.
Where there is bondage, bless your liberators.
Where there is liberty, may it be treasured.
Where there is worship, fill it with great joy.
Where there is despair, let there be Gospel.
God our most Holy Friend, please receive and audit these prayers, and bless to all people the ‘good tidings of great joy.’ In the name of Christ Jesus and to your praise and glory,
A GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,
it is our delight to give thanks and praise.
We thank you, most lovely and most loving God,
for the glorious plan cherished in your heart before the universe began.
For your patience through unmeasured ages when you raised up humanity
from the dust of the earth and placed your mark upon us,
for the calling of Abraham and Sarah to go forward in faith,
for your liberating intervention in the affairs of generations of Hebrew people,
for those from Moses to Ruth, and from Isaiah to Elizabeth, who helped
prepare for the fullness of time:
We thank you, God of purpose and wisdom.
For Joseph and Mary, and the donkey that bore her to the town of Bethlehem,
for the shelter of a stable, the travail and birth of Mary’s first Child,
for the first baby breaths and first cries, and the warmth of swaddling cloths,
for the faithfulness of shepherds and the joyful songs of angels:
We thank you God of humility and immeasurable love.
For all the shining years that followed;
for the Gospel displayed throughout Galilee,
the parables that awaken us,
the love that welcomes us,
the grace that heals us,
the Cross that astounds and redeems us,
and for the resurrection that calls us into unlimited life:
We thank you, God of overflowing and boundless glory!
Therefore with angels and archangels......................
** Holy Communion may follow here.
BENEDICTION: GOING OUT WITH JOY
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them has the light shined.
Go and continue to celebrate this amazing thing that God has done.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to all.
The saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the incarnate love of the eternal God,
and the encircling fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
most certainly be with you
this night and forever more.
My Best Mate, (first edition 2013)
ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:
ISBN : 978-1-937763-79- 4: USA
Third edition May 2014
ISBN 978-1-62880-033-3 Australia
Jesus Our Future
Prayers for the Twenty First Century
Second Edition May 2014
|Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt, unanswered prayers, refugees, death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.||
Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years. These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever. Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.
This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future. He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.