We come to bless our crib … by that we mean to ask God to bless everyone who will come to pray, with wonder, awe and love, before this visual image of the poverty and simplicity of our Saviour’s birth. St Francis of Assisi, who lived over 800 years ago, was the first to make a crib … then he used live animals and people: today we use figures to help us celebrate and ponder the mystery of God’s love appearing in human form.

[READER    the Ox]
For the People of God the Ox was a symbol of strength, ruggedness and power, all of which is to be harnessed to the service of humankind and the Kingdom of God.

Lord God, help us to harness our power and gifts to Your Service.

[READER     the Donkey]
The Donkey’s wandering is a symbol of freedom and choice. It is also a reminder that our forebears, the People of Israel, wandered aimlessly away from God and His Covenant.  An uncommon animal in Israel, and ritually unclean, yet it was good enough to carry Mary to Bethlehem, and later to carry Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to face His Passion.

Lord God, never let us wander away from You, but help us use our freedom to carry your love to the world.

[READER     the Shepherds]
Shepherds, especially the night watch, were among the lowest paid workers of the time. Despised, placed on the margins of society and religion, without power or influence, these men of poverty were the first to hear the Good News that ‘Today a Saviour has been born to you’.

Lord God, give us the love and the insight to welcome the poor into our hearts and homes and then discover that we have welcomed Christ Jesus.

[READER     Joseph]
Joseph, the man of dreams, and strong gentle man of faith: silent in the background, but ready to do whatever God might ask of him.

Lord God, come and gentle our strength; deepen in each of us the strong faith and  tender love of Joseph that we may dream Your Kingdom, and serve its Coming.

[READER     Mary]
Behold the handmaid of the Lord…the one who bore Jesus in her heart’s love before ever in her body’s womb.  Blessed is she who believed the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.

Lord God, fill us with grace that we may always say ‘YES’ to Your Word and overshadowing Spirit, that Jesus may ever take flesh in our lives.

Now all is ready.  We will sing one verse of ‘Away in a Manger’, No 66 as the Christ Child is carried to the Crib.

Let us now dedicate our Crib, and pray God’s Blessing upon all who gaze with wonder and pray with love before our God made man, Jesus!

Blessed are You, Lord God of all creation.  Through all ages you prepared a people as Your own.  When the time was ripe, You sent us a Saviour, conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin, a man like us in all things but sin. Loving Father, we pray, bless this our Crib + that we may marvel at Your goodness, imitate Your love, and journey in Your light, until the great day of Jesus coming in Glory, when we will live for ever and ever


Blessing of Christmas Tree

READER: The erecting and decorating of Christmas Trees originated in Germany some three hundred years ago, and came to this country during the reign of Queen Victoria. It’s meaning comes from the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden which we find in the Book of Genesis. It was originally called the ‘Paradise Tree’, symbolising the Tree of Life in the Garden. It was decorated by apples (and we have some apples on our tree), symbolic of the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil that the first Eve and the first Adam ate in disobedience to God. It also carried candles – lights to express the Jesus Light of the World,  Light of Forgiveness scattering the darkness. And it was decorated on Christmas Eve – the traditional Feast of Adam and Eve in the Eastern Church.

This year, however, this tree takes on a new meaning for us: as the rain forests are being destroyed and the eco-systems of our world are breaking down through the plundering and abuse of our beautiful planet, let this tree remind us that God entrusted the Earth to humanity (symbolised by Adam and Eve), to care for and live in communion with all creation. Let us listen to words of Pope Francis concerning the effects of Global Warming:

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will be felt by developing countries. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to global warming. Changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognised as refugees. Our lack of response to these our brothers and sisters points to the loss of a sense of responsibility for each other upon which society is founded.’

So, as we draw close to Christmas Eve, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Second Adam, gift of the Second Eve, Mary, we put in place the symbols of the First Adam and Eve. This reminds us that Mary’s loving obedience ‘untied the knot’ of Eve’s disobedience, and that Jesus, the New Adam, came to be the One who saves us from the First Adam’s sin. Jesus, the New Adam is the One who renews and heals all Creation and calls us to share in His redeeming work. The Tree that brought death is transformed by the Cross of Jesus Christ into the Tree of Everlasting Life. For on Christmas Day, we do indeed greet the Saviour!

PRIEST:   O God, who by the Power of Your Word and Hovering Spirit
                     did create all things and made them good
                     and created men and women in your own image and likeness:
                    pour your blessing upon this Paradise Tree …

PEOPLE:                 BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:    May it be a sign for us children of Adam of our need of a Saviour
                      and of the sublime gift of Jesus Christ who recreates us
                      in the glorious image of the Second Adam …

PEOPLE:                  BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:     May it be a sign for us of the Tree of the Redeeming Adam, Jesus,
                      who embraced the Wood of the Cross for our Salvation and Healing …

PEOPLE:                  BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:        We bless and dedicate, O God, this Tree to your Honour and Glory
that it might shine with Light where once there was darkness,
that it might express the fruit of Redemption
where once sin held the sway,
that it might stand to remind us that Jesus came as the Saviour
who died on the Tree so that the Tree of the Cross might ever give Life

              AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

PEOPLE:                AMEN!

Pope’s Prayers for Action on Global Warming


Loving God, we praise Your name with all you have created.
You are present in the whole universe, and in the smallest of creatures.
We acknowledge the responsibilities you have placed upon us
as loving stewards of Your creation.                                                                                   We know we are called to live in a communion of love and justice
with all the creatures of the Earth, with the forests, seas and land.
We are called to purify and protect the air we breathe, the water we drink.

May the Holy Spirit inspire us all
to embrace the changes needed to heal our Common Home, the Earth.
Give courage and wisdom to political leaders to fulfil their promises
and take decisive action to care for the Earth                                                                     and bring true justice and equality to the poorest and most vulnerable.                                                                                  Guide us to commit our and all nations to the care of our Common Home.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son…AMEN!

You are the wisdom that guides us,
You, are the love that unites us
You are the divine energy that empowers us.

Come, lead us into all Truth liberating us
to become Your Church, the sacrament of God’s Loving for our 21st Century world.

Come speak to your Church through the voices of the silenced, the hurting, the wounded.
Come so that we may listen with love to unfamiliar voices for through them You speak
healing and hope to the People of God, renewing and reforming us in love.

Teach us the way we must go, what we must change
Show us new ways to be Your Church
and make this Journey of Synod Your own!

All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place, person and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.



Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil.  Amen
.     (Pope Francis)


Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us. 

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us. 
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us. 
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us (after each line)

Saint Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Husband of Mary, Mother of God,
Loving guardian of the Virgin Mary,
Adoptive father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Tender husband and father of the Holy Family,

Joseph, man of justice, bearer of peace
Joseph, man of honourable and respectful love,
Joseph, man who shared the Dream of God
Joseph, man of gentle strength and strength of gentleness,
Joseph, silently obedient of the Father’s Will,
Joseph, model of faithfulness,

Example of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model for all workers,
Sign of the holiness of home life,
Safe carer of women,
Pillar of families,
Compassion for the wearied, Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Protector of Holy and Universal Church,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us and give us peace.

V. He made him the father of His household:
R. And carer of all His children.

Let us pray.
O God, who in Your immense providence chose blessed Joseph to be the tender husband of the Mother of Your own Son, and loving face of Your own Fatherhood: grant, we ask You, that we may have him for our intercessor in heaven, whom we reverence as our guardian on earth: through Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Mary, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.


ENTRANCE HYMN                           Allegri’s Misere


Richard lights one of the Seven Candles with each Response of  this Jewish Blessing

O God, You have called us to peace, for You are Peace itself.May we have the vision to see that each of us, in some measure, can help realise these aims:

Where there are ignorance and superstition,
Let there be enlightenment and knowledge.

Where there are prejudice and hatred,
Let there be acceptance and love.

Where there are fear and suspicion,

Let there be confidence and trust.

Where there are tyranny and oppression,
Let there be freedom and justice.

Where there are poverty and disease,
Let there be prosperity and health.

Where there are strife and discord,
Let there be harmony and peace.

A prayer from the Jewish Liturgy of Hanukkah (Feast of Lights)

RICHARD: These candles which we now light`
are in remembrance of the miracle of our deliverance,
of the wondrous and glorious deeds
that You performed for our Fathers of old
and still perform for us today.
For the eight days of Hanukkah these candles are holy,
and we cannot look at them
without giving praise and honour to You, O Lord,
for the wonders and miracles You have performed
and for Your Glory.

PENITENTIAL RITE: All say together Pope John II’s Prayer which he prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem during his Pilgrimage of Jubilee Reconciliation, Year 2000 

God of our Father,
You chose Abraham and his descendants
to bring Your Name to the nations:
we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those
who in the course of history
have caused these Your children of Yours,
the Jewish People, to suffer;
and asking Your forgiveness,
we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood
with the Jewish People of the Covenant … AMEN!

ACT OF REMEMBRANCE The Holocaust Martyrs, the Lighting of the HMD Memorial Candle and the reciting of the prayer found on a piece of paper in the clothing a dead child discovered when Ravensbruck Concentration Camp was liberated 1945


The great Hebrew Blessing of Aaron in the Book of Numbers: as you leave the church today, you are invited to pause briefly to say a prayer before the Window of Holocaust Martyrs and Victims (at the Lady Chapel) .



Priest This past year has been extraordinary, calling us to dig deep into our spiritual reserves as we were deprived of the Eucharist and gathering together as community in Christ, while at the same time summoned to find new ways of service and presence here in the inner city of Bristol. We are filled with hope that this New Year will bring healing to our Covid-stricken world. As we embrace this New Year, we accept the challenge to be prophets of justice and unity in a divided world, to be a light of faith, a vision of hope and a heart of love for the poor, the broken and the excluded of our city and our Earth. We know that we cannot serve God’s Option for the Poor and proclaim the Gospel of Joy, we cannot bring healing and live as sisters and brothers with all creatures and our ‘Common Home’ without a deep communion with our God Who is Love, an unbreakable communion with the Universal Church and a close communion with each other in our parish family. 

Lay Leader  In this Year of St Joseph, the Guardian and Protector of the vulnerable we recognise with sorrow that too often the Church we love has failed to protect and keep safe our children and vulnerable adults; we have also failed to be a ‘Living Parable of Communion’: too often we have not welcomed with a warm and open heart those different from us; too often we have wanted to remain cosy in our own small religious world, while God was calling us to engage compassionately and with the courage of prophets, with the real world of pain and hope, of despair and joy.  So we acknowledge that we, the Church in this place, have failed our God,  our city and our world.

Priest As we are about to set foot upon this Year of Our Lord, 2021, we come to affirm our faith in the Living God, Creator, Redeemer, Life-Giver; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nourished as we are by God’s Word and guided by God’s Spirit, we dedicate ourselves anew to the work of the Kingdom, to fill this Year with the Mercy, Compassion and Love of Christ and His Holy Spirit.

So now I ask you, my brothers and sisters,
Will you affirm your faith in the Father, the Creator, the Life-giver?

PEOPLE    I affirm with joy that I and every human person is a child of God, created in the Divine image, called and gifted to continue God’s creation of our Universe.

Lay Leader Will you affirm your faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, Brother and Redeemer, who gives Himself to you in Word and Eucharist?

PEOPLE    I affirm with gratitude that Jesus is my Saving Brother, speaking Divine Truth to my mind and heart by His Word, and nourishing His Love in me by the great gift of the Eucharist; calling me to a life of prayer and contemplation so that I may live as brother and sister with all people; challenging me to strive for peace and justice in a broken world, urging me to proclaim the Good News of Mercy and Healing by my action, life-style and words.

Priest Will you affirm your faith in the Holy Spirit, Breath and Flame of God?

PEOPLE    I affirm with profound openness of heart that the Holy Spirit is the breath of God’s Life and the Fire of God’s Love within me: bidding me to welcome and use the Spirit’s Power for deep prayer, radical action and loving community and so to be part of God’s Renewal of the Face of the Earth.

Lay Leader Will you, as we  set out together on this New Year, affirm your faith in the Church of God as a living Bread of Christ in God’s Hands to be broken and given for the life of the world?

PEOPLE I affirm with deep love that, despite its many failures and profound inadequacies, the Church will always remain God’s gift proclaiming the Gospel down the centuries, calling me to prayer, challenging me to live community with love, to heal every disunity, to share my gifts and insights, to foster Christian freedom and mission and to be Bread in God’s Hands broken to give life to the world.

Priest  At the turning of the Year may this affirmation deepen our faith, envision our hope and enlarge our love; as this Year of our Lord 2021 begins may the Holy Trinity continue always to empower our Mission of Mercy & Healing to our torn world.


Renewal of our Allegiance to Jesus Christ [each one is invited to approach to approach the altar to be anointed with Blessed Oil for the Mission of Christ in this New Year]