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HAY & STARDUST Resources for Christmas to Candlemas

Ruth Burgess

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WILD GOOSE PUBLICATIONS


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Contents of book © the individual contributors Compilation © 2005 Ruth Burgess First published 2005 by Wild Goose Publications, 4th Floor, Savoy House, 140 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3DH, UK. Wild Goose Publications is the publishing division of the Iona Community. Scottish Charity No. SCO03794. Limited Company Reg. No. SCO96243.

www.ionabooks.com ISBN 1 905010 00 1 Cover painting and internal illustration © Scott Riley

The publishers gratefully acknowledge the support of the Drummond Trust, 3 Pitt Terrace, Stirling FK8 2EY in producing this book. All rights reserved. Apart from the circumstances specified below, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including photocopying or any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Non-commercial use: The material in this book may be used non-commercially for worship and group work without written permission from the publisher. If parts of the book are photocopied for such use, please make full acknowledgement of the source. Where a large number of copies are made, a donation may be made to the Iona Community, but this is not obligatory. For any commercial use of the contents of this book, permission must be obtained in writing from the publisher in advance. Ruth Burgess has asserted her right in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Overseas distribution: Australia: Willow Connection Pty Ltd, Unit 4A, 3-9 Kenneth Road, Manly Vale, NSW 2093 New Zealand: Pleroma, Higginson Street, Otane 4170, Central Hawkes Bay Canada: Bayard Distribution, 49 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1B3 Permission to reproduce any part of this work in Australia or New Zealand should be sought from Willow Connection. Printed by Bell & Bain, Thornliebank, Glasgow


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GENERAL CONTENTS Contents in detail 6 Introduction 13 Christmas Day 15 Once in Bethlehem 23 Birth 45 Light 65 Emmanuel 77 Christmas plays 103 Saint Stephen’s Day 169 Holy Family 173 Holy Innocents 179 Winter and New Year 191 Epiphany 203 Baptism of Jesus 227 Christian Unity 235 Homelessness Sunday 239 Candlemas 245 Sources and acknowledgements 261 Index of authors 263 About the contributors 265


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CONTENTS IN DETAIL $ $ $ $

Christmas Day

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At half past three in the morning 16 Who is without, who is within? 16 Tabgha 16 In your arms I lie 17 Praise God 18 Christmas responses 18 We remember your promises 19 Love and danger 20 How old were the angels? 21

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On the mountainside 24 Shepherd 25 Mary 26 Joseph 27 I was there 28 To the baby God 29 Someone to watch over 30 Mary 30 Lamb 31 Joseph 32 Kings – Wisdom 33 Kings – Stars 34 Kings – Anticipation 35 Someone to watch over (closing prayer) 36 The Mary of your Christmas cards 38 Theotokos – Broken dreams 39 Nativity 41 Stay my child 42 Christmas seen 44

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In the fullness of time 46 A rumour of Christmas 46 A work in progress 47

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Key to symbols Prayer Reading Biblical reflection Liturgy Responses Song Story Drama


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God made life 48 Meditation in front of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem 48 A new me 49 It’s Christmas 50 What glory this? 51 Christmas coming 51 Hush! Watch! Hear! 52 The Rotarian crib 54 Christmas is a time for my belly 55 Prologue 56 Give me tears for Christmas 57 In the beginning 58 The Word 59 Jesus is born 60 Occasional sightings of the Gospel 61 Christmas blessing 61 Night prayer with blankets 62 Christmas is when I am Joseph 62

Light 65

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O glorious God of the stars 66 A thought 67 Inside me 68 Light to your people 68 Thank you God 70 Christmas by candlelight 72 Light in the world 73 Photo intercessions 74 Closing responses 75

Emmanuel 77

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Isaac’s carol 78 Emmanuel God 80 Immanuel 80 A serious carol 87 Bethlehem 2002 87 Hidden journeys of the nativity 88 A prayer at Christmas 90

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Telling the story 90 Life and love 92 Our needs and those of others 92 Child of Bethlehem 94 Christmas reflection written with children and young people 95 Sometimes I cry 96 Prayer for children 97 Christmas baptismal hymn 99 Remembering with Mary 100

Christmas plays 103 Oh what a night 104 The shepherds’ play 112 Wow! Good News 120 Angels, Inc 128 Is it a King? 136 Christmas play – with or without puppets 144 Follow the star! 148 Only God would christen him Jesus 154

Saint Stephen’s Day 169

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On St Stephens day 170 Responses 170

Holy Family 173

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A series of responses 174 God in your mercy 176 Hear our prayer 177 His pulsing fist 178

Holy Innocents 179

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To live in light 180 You share our anger 180 God of earth and heaven 181 Your child’s coming was my child’s going 182 Herod 184 The innkeeper’s wife 184


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Herod and the children 188 Putting Herod back into Christmas 189 Weep with us 190

Winter and New Year 191

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Something wise, something joyful 192 Instrument of peace 192 From the damp 193 Year’s end 193 Watchnight service prayer from Iona 194 We would let go of the past 195 Always Emmanuel 196 Step softly 197 Let us give thanks 198 A blessing as you journey into the new year 199 New Year blessing 200 Christ, the Morning Star 201 Benediction 201

Epiphany 203

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Gladly we come together 204 Responses for Epiphany 205 The strange coming 206 Journeying with the Magi 207 Field mushrooms 209 Christmas gifts 210 The three kings 210 Epiphany 211 Three wise men 211 Light of the world 214 MAGI 215 Bowed psaltery moments, Iona 2000 216 The wise man 219 The travellers 220 Giving 221 A lesson in humility 221 Winter blessing 222

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Follow that star 222 The Professor 223 Until the needles dropped 225

Baptism of Jesus 227 Responses 228 Father to son 229 Mother to son 231 Turn us around 233

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Christian Unity 235

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Your body, the church 236 Have mercy on your church 237 God of many names 238

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I never knew his name 240 Two voices 241

Homelessness Sunday 239

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Candlemas 245

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Thoughts and prayers for Candlemas 246 An old saint for new ways 247 Benedictus 255 Closing responses 256 Candlemas 256 Celebrating old age 257 A flame that cannot be put out 258

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Key to symbols Prayer Reading Biblical reflection Liturgy Responses Song Story Drama


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Introduction Hay & Stardust is a resource book which covers the period from Christmas Day to Candlemas. It is a companion volume to Candles & Conifers (Wild Goose Publications), which covers the period from All Saints’ Day to Christmas Eve. Whilst a number of complete liturgies are included, most of the material in this book consists of the stuff that liturgies are made of – stories, prayers, ceremonies, songs, responses, poems and biblical reflections. Also included are a number of Christmas plays; props include puppets, knuckledusters, big flashes, sticking plasters, sacks and stars! You have been warned. The material in Hay & Stardust is arranged chronologically, with sections relating to particular days and to general Christmastide themes. I have, in the contents pages, classified the material into types, for ease of reference. My grateful thanks to all the contributors for their rich and imaginative material that I have been privileged to edit. One book swiftly turned into two! Opening my mail has been a delight. Thanks are also due to the Wild Goose Publications team, to Jane Darroch-Riley, Alex O’Neill, Tri Boi Ta and Sandra Kramer for their professionalism, encouragement and support; and to Neil Paynter, whose attention to detail is becoming legendary; I am hugely and gratefully in debt. One of our regular contributors, Ian Cowie, died whilst this book was being put together. He and his prayers and his humour will be greatly missed. I close with words from his New Year Blessing: Now we arise and go forth on the journey before us, knowing that, where Christ leads, life is a journey home. Therefore we travel in faith, in hope and in love. Ruth Burgess Summer 2005


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ONCE IN BETHLEHEM


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Once in Bethlehem

Shepherd Until tonight I could not fit the size of God into my head. I thought he was a God for prophets and kings, men of words and wisdom. But tonight I am looking at God made small, small enough for me, small enough to pick up and hold like a lamb. I could not talk to a God in the clouds; but tonight when I look and smile and talk nonsense to this tiny thing, I know that I am talking to God. And it is God who smiles back at me and waves his perfect hands in delight. And tonight in your smallness, God, you seem bigger and more powerful to me than you ever did before. I can hold you now, hold you in my head and hold you in my arms, and know that you are holding me in yours. Lisa Debney

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Mary Your eyes are open now. Those eyes which will open the eyes of others. You study my face and, just for the moment, though you came for the world, you are mine and mine alone. I made you and you made me and we gaze at each other in equal wonderment. Your eyes are open now, and so dark-bright – sent from a night full of light and stars – that I could watch you for ever, watch your chest rise and fall as you breathe the cattle-soaked air. I would like this moment to last for ever, you are so wonderful to me, so truly wonderful as you are. But not my will, Lord, but yours be done. I must hand you over for the world cries out for you, though I cry out to let you go. Just for tonight let the future leave us in peace. Close your eyes, baby. Close your bright eyes on the dusty darkness of the world. There is majesty in you but for now let it hide, let it hide like a gem while you sleep. Lisa Debney


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WINTER AND NEW YEAR


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Something wise, something joyful Walk wisely in this world. Listen before you speak. look deeply before you leap. Share love with those who walk beside you. And, on long winter nights when the moon is hiding and frost crusts the soil, do not be afraid to try out something different, something wild, something joyful, just for the hell of it and hope that it leads you to heaven. Ruth Burgess

Instrument of peace After St Francis To the ice of hate may I be an axe of love to frostbitten injury the salve of pardon to cold waters of doubt a bridge of faith to the dark soil of despair a seed of hope to the snowstorm of sadness a shelter of joy to long nights of darkness a lantern of light. Mary Palmer


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Winter and New Year

From the damp From the damp that lingers and fingers our flesh, God, in your warmth, deliver us. From the mist that chides and hides your joy, God, in your light, illumine us. From winter’s sleep that chills and stills our strength, God, in your morning, waken us. Ruth Burgess

Year’s end A small iron gate set in an old stone wall. I open it and walk into a wonderful meadow. During the early autumn months the trees are aflame with colour and the wind rustles through the leaves. Gnarled old oaks, what a story they could tell! By the end of October there are deep carpets of leaves lying in large circles around the trunks of the trees. As you push your feet through them they make a delicious crunching sound. One windy day I looked up and saw hundreds of golden leaves scudding through the air, like birds migrating before the winter comes. Now, the trees are bare – beautiful flowing lines and shapes, so proud and so ancient. I hear a scuffing sound nearby and a large brown hare leaps majestically into the air. I watch him bounding over the wet tufts of grass, until he disappears suddenly into a dark patch of undergrowth. Soon, a soft white blanket of winter mist will drift across this landscape, as November becomes December, and the air will feel fridge-cold and crisp against one’s cheeks. The bare oak trees will be enveloped in the mist as a pale watery sun sinks lower towards the horizon and eventually disappears behind a thick grey blanket of cloud. Winter will have crept in quietly, settled herself, and stretched out frosty arms to greet the new year. Pat Stubbs

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Watchnight service prayer from Iona God with us – as the wind comes rushing through the darkness across miles of wild ocean and batters this building, as the gales howl through the gaps and hurl sleet against the windows, we know that we are held safe, out of this raging and wrathful world in a sheltering place, as though in the hollow of your hand: strong and caring God. God with us – we know, too, that you are present in the power of creation: the energy of wind and water, the majesty of Ben More crowned with snow, the mystery of the night sky, the intricate beauty of a shell. On a day like this we feel the beat of your heart; on a night like this we are so close, we hear you breathing, and we are inspired, caught up in your life: strong creative Spirit. God with us – on a day like this, on a night like this; in a place like this, in a world like this – a world of suffering and hope, of tears and laughter – at the turning of the year we turn to you. Jan Sutch Pickard


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Winter and New Year

We would let go of the past Eternal God, Creator, Son and Spirit, at the start of this new year, with your help, we would let go of the past. We would lay down our failures, guilt and shame, and lift up our eyes, and look to the future. Let the grace of your presence strengthen our resolve, enlighten our minds, clarify our wills, and inflame our hearts with love for you and for all people. So may we live dedicated lives in peace, and with courage, faith and cheerfulness, until the year’s end. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen John Harvey

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Always Emmanuel God, above time, above space, yet with us and in us in Christ, we who are creatures of time and space come to you tonight with thankfulness. We give you thanks for the year that is passing. We thank you for the many ways in which you have touched us, in moments of great happiness or in deep distress. You have been present in Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. We thank you for the people who matter to us, near and far, who have given themselves to us and through whom you have been present to us in their love. We thank you for your church, the community of faith in whose company we have journeyed, whose friendship we value, whose challenge we welcome, and whose wide boundaries are not defined by time, by space or by death. As we move on now into a new year, give us grace to leave behind our regrets and our failures and any sense of guilt, to let go of the past with gratitude,


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Winter and New Year

and to leave in your hands the future in faith – to live each moment in joyful discipleship, in the company of him who is always Emmanuel, God with us. Amen John Harvey

Step softly Step softly into your weeping world, incarnate God; embrace it in your love. Bring light into broken lives, warmth into frozen hearts, hope to those at war. May your peace pervade every place. Help us to approach this new year filled with the joy of your companionship, as we step out in faith with you, ready to face the future, whatever it may hold. Carol Dixon

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If you would like to buy a copy of Hay & Stardust, please return to the information page for this book on our website: www.ionabooks.com

Hay and Stardust  

This companion volume to Candles & Conifers is a collection of worship and meditation resources for the season of Christmastide - including...

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