Sunday 6th December 2020

Worship at Home;

Welcome to this Act of Worship at Home for Sunday 6 December, the Second Sunday in Advent.

Here are some words from Psalm 96, selected verses.

The Lord reigns…

He will judge the peoples with equity…

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. They will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the peoples in his truth.

And the Advent Collect.

Almighty God, give us grace

to cast away the works of darkness

and to put on the armour of light

now in the time of this mortal life,

in which your Son Jesus Christ

came to us in great humility;

that, on the last day,

when he shall come again

in his glorious majesty

to judge the living and the dead,

we may rise to the life immortal:

through him who is alive

and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

And now a Poem by John Betjeman. ‘Advent 1955’

The Advent wind begins to stir

with sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir.

It’s dark at breakfast, dark at tea,

and in between we only see

clouds hurrying across the sky

and rain wet roads the wind blows dry

and branches bending to the gale

against great skies all silver-pale.

The world seems travelling into space,

and travelling at a faster pace

than in the leisured summer weather

when we and friends sit out together.

For now we feel the world spin round

on some momentous journey bound.

journey to what? to whom? to where?

The Advent bells call out ‘Prepare,

your world is journeying to the birth

of God made man for us on earth’…

‘The time draws near the birth of Christ’ –

A present that cannot be priced

given two thousand years ago.

Yet if God had not given so,

he still would be a distant stranger

and not the baby in the manger.

A Reflection: ‘Builders of the Kingdom’

One of the joys of being in a united church – and there are many – is that you discover the spiritual riches of a church other than your own original one. Since coming here, I have discovered some wonderful hymns I did not know, but which Methodists sing, and not only by Charles Wesley! One particular one is the Advent hymn ‘There’s a light upon the mountains’, and especially its third verse:

He is breaking down the barriers,

he is casting up the way;

He is calling for his angels

to build up the gates of day:

But his angels here are human,

not the shining hosts above;

For the drum-beats of his army

are the heart-beats of our love.

There’s a thought. It is so easy in the present situation to think that all the action is going on out there, and all we can do is simply sit and watch. But, no. God is still building up his Kingdom through his Spirit working in and through people like us. We do not need to be mere spectators, we are agents of the Kingdom. How? We can all contribute our own distinctive building blocks to the Kingdom…

Every prayer for the world we live in is a building block of the Kingdom , and so are…

Every prayer for an individual we know,

Every phone call

to someone lonely and isolated

Every tedious piece of church administration

Every donation, money or goods,

to the Food Bank

Every donation to Christian Aid

Every fairly traded item

we buy in the supermarket

Every attention paid to someone,

or a friendly smile….

All these are building blocks that we are laying to build God’s growing Kingdom in the world today. May we all resolve to lay one, or two, or even more, of these building blocks on this holy day.

The Hymn.  ‘There’s a light upon the mountains’ (StF 188):

There’s a light upon the mountains,
  and the day is at the spring,
When our eyes shall see the beauty
  and the glory of the King;
Weary was our heart with waiting,

  and the night-watch seemed so long,
But His triumph-day is breaking,

  and we hail it with a song.

There’s a hush of expectation,

  and a quiet in the air;
And the breath of God is moving

  in the fervent breath of prayer;
For the suffering, dying Jesus

  is the Christ upon the throne,
And the travail of our spirit

  is the travail of His own.

He is breaking down the barriers,
  He is casting up the way;
He is calling for His angels

  to build up the gates of day;
But His angels here are human,

  not the shining hosts above,
For the drum-beats of His army

  are the heart-beats of our love.

Hark! we hear a distant music,

  and it comes with fuller swell;
‘Tis the triumph song of Jesus,

  of our King, Immanuel:
Zion, go ye forth to meet Him,
  and my soul, be swift to bring
All your finest and your noblest for
  the triumph of our King.

Our prayers

Lord, at this Advent season, as we look forward to Christmas with expectation and joy, we thank you for all the memories of Christmases past – family gatherings, carol services, Christmas festival services, Light Up a Light services for the hospices. We treasure those precious memories.       .

And we look forward to this year’s Christmas. We know that it will be different, but even so, do not let us lose the sense of wonder and its central meaning: the glorious truth that Jesus was born, lived our life, died our death, and rose from death, so that eternal life is ours.

And so we think of our family and friends. We thank you for the relaxation of restrictions and pray that all may act wisely. May all have a blessed Christmas. For some it may be tinged with sadness as they remember those no longer with them, leaving a gap. Bless them particularly, we pray.

We pray for those providing essential services: staff working in hospitals, the police, the fire service, the lifeboats, and so many others. Keep them safe through all the pressures, we pray.

Thank you, Lord, that we can share this moment together – not in the same place, not perhaps at the same time, but none the less together. Bless our Minister, give wisdom to our elders, bless our fellow members and friends – all held together in the embrace of your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

We say together:  

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.  Amen.

An Advent Blessing

Look forward in hope,

to the coming of your Saviour,

prepare the way for Christ our Lord,

welcome him with love and faith.

ALL: and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen

Thank you for being with me.

And our thanks to Rev Tony Coates for preparing and leading this Act of Worship for us.           

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