Peace till we meet again
For our Christmas Kiddush, the Christmas dinner table is laid in the traditional festive manner, the centre-piece consisting of a triple candlestick with three tall white candles flanked by two small vases of freesia. In front of my place my wife has set the silver dish bearing the chola or special loaf of plaited bread covered with a white cloth.
Next to this stands the silver Kiddush cup, similar to a chalice, and the bottle of wine. Beside the dish is a salt cellar. A small candle has been placed in front of' each person's place and there is a box of matches by my wife's place (when she remembers it!).
So now the family and friends are all assembled and we are ready to begin.
Mother: Lighting the three
candles at each of which she
sings: The Light of Christ. All: Thanks be to God.
Each person then lights their own small candle from the triple candlestick.
Mother: Father of Mercy, 0 continue Thy loving kindness unto me and my dear ones. Make me worthy to rear my children so that they walk in the ways of righteousness before Thee, loyal to Thy teaching and clinging to good deeds. Keep Thou from us all manner of shame, grief and care, and grant that peace, light and joy ever abide in our home. For with Thee is the fountain of life, in Thy light do we see light
1st Reading: Usually the eldest son. Hebrews Ch. I, v. 1-12. Hymn: "Come all ye faithful"
or other suitable carol.
The 0 Antiphons: These are read in turn by each member of the family starting with:
Father: Let us pray that we may, open our hearts fully to welcome Christ in His coming; 0 Holy Wisdom, that came forth from the mouth of the Most High, You reach. from end to end of all creation, mightily and sweetly ordering all things.
All: Come to show us, your people, your paths of wisdom. Reader: 0 Mighty Lord our God and Ruler of the House of Israel, You appeared in the beginning both to Moses your prophet, and on Mount Sinai gave him your holy Law. All: Come, lend us your mighty arm, and in your power redeem us.
Reader: 0 Root of Jesse, You are a Sign for the nations before whom the voices of Kings are closed in stillness, to whom the Gentiles lift up their prayer.
All: Come, deliver your people, hasten Lord and save us.
Readers 0 Key of David and Sceptre of the House of Israel, whatever you open none shall close, whatever you close none shall open, All: Come and free us from prison, from death and darkness.
Reader: 0 Light from the East and Splendour of Light Eternal, you who are the Sun of Justice Eternal, let your light shine forth.
All: Come, let your light shine forth on us, in death and darkness.
Reader: 0 King of Nations, for whom the nations have longed, You are the cornerstone to join all nations, to bring all men together.
All: Come and rescue all mankind that you have created.
Mother: 0 Emmanuel, you who are our King and Ruler, the Expectation of the nations, the Salvation of all mankind.
All: Come and bring us salvation, 0 Lord our God.
Father: Let us pray that God's Life may dwell in us more and more abundantly. (Pause.) 0 Lord our God, You come in the fullness of time to rescue man from sin and darkness: come now in the days of your Church; fill us we pray with
your life and the blessed hope of eternal dwelling with You who live forever.
All: Amen, The Lord has made His Salvation known; in the sight of nations He has sealed His justice. All the *lids of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.
The Love Prayer: This prayer, translated from the Hebrew is taken from the Synagogue Service and dates from at least as early as the time of Our Lord so that he would have grown up knowing it. It is a magnificent expression of the Hebrews' understanding of God's love and of their joy in following His Law.
It helps us to realise that when Our Lord corrected the Pharisees of his day for their emphasis on the letter rather than the spirit he was nut minimising the sacredness of God's Law. He said himself that he came "not to destroy the Law and the Prophets but to fulfil them."
Father: With abounding love hast Thou loved us 0 Lord our God, and great and overflowing tenderness hest Thou shown us. 0 our Father, our King, for the sake of our Fathers who trusted in Thee and whom Thou diclst teach the statutes of Life, be also gracious unto us and teach us. 0 our Father, merciful Father, ever compassionate, have mercy upon us; 0 put it into our hearts to understand, to discern, to mark, learn and teach, to heed to do and to fulfil in love all the words of instruction in Thy Law. Enlighten our eyes in Thy Law and let our hearts cleave to Thy Commandments and unify our hearts to love and reverence Thy Name so that we be never put to shame. Because we have trusted in Thy holy great and revered Name we shall rejoice and be glad in Thy saving power. Thou hast chosen us from all peoples and tongues and hast brought us here unto Thy great Name forever in faithfulness, that we might in love give thanks unto Thee and proclaim Thy unity. Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord, who hast chosen Thy people in love.
Fathers Pours out wine for all. Then holding up the Kiddush Cu, sings, first in Hebrew: Blessed art Thou 0 Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. We give thanks to Thee our Father for this wine, remembering Israel Thy People, brought like a vine out of Egypt.
Wine is drunk.
Father: He uncovers the bread and sings, first in Hebrew: Blessed art Thou 0 Lord our God, who bringest forth bread from the earth. As
we break this bread thank Thee our Father for the Life and knowledge of Thyself which Thou host given us through Jesus Thy Son. Bread is broken, passed round and eaten.
The Meal is Served After the Meal: Singing of Psalm 125 (126) in Hebrew. Any suitable psalm may be substituted.
Father: This day Christ is born, this day the Saviour has appeared, this day angels are singing on earth, archangels are rejoicing. This day the just are glad and say: All: Glory to God in the Highest! Alleluia!
Father: Grant we pray Thee Almighty God, that we who are bathed in the new light of Thy incarnate Word may show forth in our deeds the light that by faith shines in our hearts.
When Our Lord comes to judge us, it will not be on how many prayers we have said or on how many holy books we have read, but rather on hOw seriously we have taken our responsibility towards our neighbour, on how we have treated Christ in others. Let us listen together to,his words and realise that he is addressing them to us now:
Reader: Usually second son, Matthew 25, v. 31-40.
Father: Lord Jesus, in thanksgiving for all the blessings of the past year and for the joy and _peace that you have brought to each one of us this Christmas, we make this offering to you in the person of your needy and suffering members. Help us always to be aware of our responsibilities towards our less fortunate brothers, and never through meanness or thoughtlessness to neglect them.
A Collection is taken for Inter Care
Father: Remember, 0 Lord, the starving peoples of the world. Lord hear us.
All: Lord, graciously hear us.
Mother: Remember, 0 Lord, the homeless people in our cities, sleeping on bombsites and railway stations because they have no homes. Lord hear us.
All: Lord, graciously hear us.
Further bidding prayers from anyone present, followed by community singing of hymns and carols.
* * * So to all of you at Christmas I wish the peace of the Holy Family as together in Christ we conclude our festivities singing: Shalom chaverim, (my brothers)
Peace, brothers, till we meet again, Shalom, Shalom,
Dr. David Rosenberg