Printable services for those unable to attend St C





               St Clement Church Community Midnight Mass 2023


Good evening to you all, at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve we will be celebrating Midnight Mass in our church building.  I’m aware that a number of folk who usually attend this service are unable to attend this year, so the below is a service of the word for you.  (You can read it before midnight if you wish!) May Christ’s love sustain you always.

Much love to you all,

Rev Di and family xx


Let us pray;

Eternal God, in the stillness of this night you sent your almighty Word to pierce the world’s darkness with the light of salvation: give to the earth the peace that we long for and fill our hearts with the joy of heaven through our Saviour, Jesus Christ.



Carol: ‘Once in Royal David’s City


Our prayers of Penitence

Hear the words of the angel to Joseph: ‘You shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.’ Therefore let us seek forgiveness from God through Jesus the Saviour of the world:


God our Father, you sent your Son full of grace and truth: forgive our failure to receive him.

Lord, have mercy.

Jesus our Saviour, you were born in poverty and laid in a manger: forgive our greed and rejection of your ways.

Christ, have mercy.


Spirit of love, your servant Mary responded joyfully to your call: forgive the hardness of our hearts.

Lord, have mercy.


May our God, of all healing and forgiveness draw us to himself, that we may behold the glory of his Son, the Word made flesh and be cleansed from all our sins, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


The Collect

Let us pray in the peace of this Christmas celebration that our joy in the birth of Christ will last for ever.

Eternal God, who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of your one true light: bring us, who have known the revelation of that light on earth, to see the radiance of your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.



Isaiah 9. 2-7

Titus 2. 11-14


Carol: ‘In the Bleak Midwinter


Gospel Luke 2. 1-14 (15-20)

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. 

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’


In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered. 

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


(This is the Gospel of the Lord.  Response: ‘Praise to you, O, Christ’)



Crossing the mind of almost everyone at this time of year is the fantasy of the perfect Christmas, and this fantasy can appear in many versions, but a standard one goes something like this;

A detached, attractive old house sits securely on its wooded parcel of land. There’s plenty of snow on the ground, and more is falling– gently, silently– through the cold crisp air, and inside the house, members of a large extended family are caught up in their celebration of Christmas.
Parents host their grown children and young grandchildren, various aunts, uncles, and cousins, and the occasional in-law, fiancé, or friend.
The entire clan is attractive, respectable, well-mannered, and well-spoken. Each member of the family is either successful in school, advancing in a career, or enjoying a comfortable retirement. 

No one is mentally unbalanced, seriously ill, unemployed, or even socially inept, and all have broad smiles and straight white teeth.

But the most extraordinary fact about this gathered clan is that all the members get along with each other! Despite hours of proximity, rich food, and strong drink, no simmering hostilities boil to the surface.
No grudges are revived, no harsh words are spoken or even muttered.
The animated conversation is mixed with frequent laughter, celebrated memories, and new stories.

Many hands in the kitchen make the preparation of Christmas dinner go quickly and peaceably, soon the table is covered with a variety of fragrant, tasty dishes, and everyone sits down to enjoy a splendid meal.
After the dessert, the air echoes with compliments for the cooks, the entire family helps clear the table and clean up, and it’s not long before the kitchen worktops are empty, and the automatic dishwasher hums contentedly.

The presents stacked beneath the tree are opened one by one, each gift delights who receives it, and it’s always the right size, colour, and style.
Children gleefully tear off the brightly colored paper and smile gratefully at their elders, no one lashes out in envy, bursts into tears, or damages one of the remarkably complicated toys.

Then a dreamy state of tranquility overcomes the revelers as the fire in the hearth burns low, and outside, the gentle snow continues to fall.

But there’s a problem with this lovely fantasy.

Christmas never happens this way.

For instance, Christmas Day may feature drizzle rather than snow.
Someone precious may be missing from the family circle, or someone hard to tolerate may be present– a ne’er-do-well, perhaps, or an obnoxious, screaming child, or a critical, controlling adult, or an insufferable bore. As for the rest, they are down-to-earth people with less-than-perfect profiles, a little overweight, perhaps, a little eccentric, a little shy.
The fact is, that most of us do not qualify as the best and the brightest.
We do not live lives of which fantasies are made.

Then there are the fights– arguments, or heated discussions, or vigorous family debates, depending on your family’s particular euphemism.
One brother-in-law remembers how much he resents another. A grown-up daughter again feels suffocated by her mother. A nephew despises the uncle who sold him the car with the dodgy engine.
An argument erupts in the kitchen over the way to make the gravy, and raised voices defend rival views about the matter.

Not, of course, all this happens every year, but any of it could!  And it shows a testimony to the courage of the human spirit in the way families gather again and again, despite the often painful consequences.

Add to this the labour, so much of which falls on the women of the household, who are expected to make everything perfect– the decorating, the tree, the gifts, the music, the food, the cleanup.

So it’s no wonder then that our fantasy of Christmas– our pursuit of an elusive perfection– so often leads to frustration and disappointment, and when the leftovers are stored away, and the rubbish taken out, we may find ourselves wondering whether Christmas is really for us. Perhaps Christmas is only for the perfect– those perfect people who live in an imaginary subdivision just over the horizon.

But when the fantasy of the perfect Christmas fills our heads with doubt, we can do ourselves a favour by going back to the beginning.
We can look at the original Christmas and recognise that the first Christmas was far from perfect. Forced by government bureaucracy, Joseph brings his pregnant wife to Bethlehem for the sake of the census, not a single relative with a bedroom to spare remains in the old hometown, and there’s not a hotel room to be had for love or money.
The young couple find some space out back of an inn, inside a stable filled with farm animals. A couple of local women help with the birth and chuckle over the new-born boy. Joseph, meanwhile, tries to get his wits about him.
The months since he found out about this disturbing pregnancy that nearly brought his relationship with Mary to an end have been hard. The dream, demanding that he accept the child, was followed by this awkward travel to Bethlehem, and now this sleepless night in the stable.

Nor is it a perfect Christmas for Mary. The unease of pregnancy and the discomfort of travel give way to the pains of labour.  Once her baby is delivered, Mary soon yields to her hunger for sleep. Yet this sleep is suddenly broken by the unexpected arrival of shepherds from the countryside. These ruffians approach, caps in hand, their eyes wild as they proclaim a story of angels filling the night sky with song.

Joseph wonders if they’ve been hitting the wine a bit too hard, then, they fall to their knees and ask to see the baby. They delight in Mary’s little one, after which, quickly as they came, they go off into the night, shouting songs of praises. They are drunk, but not with the wine of this world. Their hearts overflow with heaven’s joy.

Christmas in the stable is far from perfect. The circle around the manger is made up of people with problems, but Christmas in the stable is real.

And that small stable becomes a big enough place to encompass the world, a world of imperfect people like you and me.

The perfect Christmas of our fantasies is something we try to accomplish on our own; if we just bake more cakes and buy more food and drink, give more presents, smile more broadly, then it is sure to happen– or so we imagine. We try to live up to some fictional standard and we can end up sorely disappointed. So the gospel story comes to us as an awkward surprise, a Christmas gift we did not foresee.

God in Christ accepts us in our incompleteness, our imperfection.
God in Christ comes to us in an eminently imperfect, unmanageable way, with all the disruptions of a baby born in a stable and put to bed in an animal trough.
God in Christ relates to our little, imperfect selves by becoming smaller, less powerful, more dependent than any of us who are old enough to walk and talk. And the good news is that God knows our imperfection, and God loves us as we are.
God does not require us to be perfect. God only asks that we become real, as real as the events in that Bethlehem stable, as real as divine love.

What we need to do is remarkably simple: put down the burden of the perfect Christmas and accept the freedom of the real Christmas.
We can gather around the manger with people who have problems, like Joseph and Mary, with hard-living people like the Bethlehem shepherds.
Here imperfect people like you and me finding a surprising acceptance, and Christmas, whatever the reality of the day may hold, becomes perfect for us.



Carol: ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing


Affirmation of our Faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist. 

We believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again. 

We believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world. 

This is the faith of the Church. This is our faith.

We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 


Our Intercessions this night are taken from the book: Times and Seasons

In peace let us pray to the Lord.

Father, in this holy night your Son our Saviour was born in human flesh.  Renew your Church as the Body of Christ.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


In this holy night Mary, in the pain of labour, brought your Son to birth.  Hold in your hand all who are in pain or distress.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


In this Holy night your Christ came as a light shining in the darkness.  Bring comfort to all who suffer in the sadness of our world.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


In this Holy night the angels sang, ‘Peace to God’s people on earth.’  Strengthen those who work for peace and justice in all the world.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


In this Holy night shepherds in the field heard good tidings of joy. Give us grace to preach the gospel of Christ’s redemption.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


In this Holy night strangers found the Holy family, and saw the baby lying in the manger.  Bless our homes and all whom we love.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


In this Holy night heaven is come down to earth, and earth is raised to heaven.  Hold in your hand all who have passed through death in the hope of your coming kingdom.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


In this Holy night Christians the world over celebrate Christ’s birth.  Open our hearts that he may be born in us today.

Holy God Hear our prayer.


Father, in this Holy night angels and shepherds worshipped at the manger throne.  Receive the worship we offer in fellowship with Mary, Joseph and the saints through him who is your Word made flesh, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught us; Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,

for ever and ever.



Carol: ‘O Come, All Ye faithful



The Peace

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called the Prince of Peace.

May the peace of God be always with us. 




May Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, fill us with peace and goodwill and make us partakers of the divine nature; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us, those whom we love, and remain with us always.



























Page last updated: Wednesday 20th December 2023 4:47 PM
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