Weekly Worship

Circuit Worship Sheet: Advent Week 2 6th December 2020 prepared by Barbara Smith.

Call to Worship- Two Prophesies about the coming of Jesus:

Isaiah 9:6 NIV

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Malachi 3:1 MSG

“Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on his way!”

 

Hymn 169 Come thou long expected Jesus

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free,
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

 

Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art,
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

 

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a king,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

 

By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine own sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

                                    Charles Wesley

 

Prayers

Lord, we thank you for the season of Advent and the reminder of your coming to share our human life.  We thank you for prophets like John the Baptist who faithfully proclaimed the good news and for all those who passed the message on though many generations.  It’s so easy for us to rush through this season, getting caught up in all the busyness. But you lead us along a different path to a desert river and a prophetic voice with a call to repentance, a call to service and a call to immerse ourselves in living water that will never run dry. Forgive us that we are so slow to answer your call. Forgive us too, for failing to share the Good News of your coming. Please help us, this Advent, to joyfully answer your call, open our hearts to your coming and show us how to help others to meet you. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, 

Amen

 

The Lord’s Prayer – we say together

Traditional Form                                                  Modern Form

   Our Father, who art in heaven,                              Our Father in heaven,

   hallowed be thy name;                                          hallowed be your Name,

   thy kingdom come;                                              your kingdom come;

   thy will be done;                                                 your will be done;

   on earth as it is in heaven.                                   on earth as in heaven.

   Give us this day our daily bread.                            Give us this day our daily bread.

   And forgive us our trespasses,                               Forgive us our sins

   as we forgive those who trespass against us.           as we forgive those who sin against us.

   And lead us not into temptation;                            Save us from the time of trial

   but deliver us from evil.                                        and deliver us from evil.

   For thine is the kingdom, the power                       For the kingdom, the power

   and the glory, for ever and ever                             and the glory are yours, now and for ever.

   Amen                                                                  Amen.

 

Introduction to the Reading

Last year the Rev’d Jonathan Hustler, secretary of the Methodist Conference, wrote these words in his Advent Message about the reading we are about to hear-

“ Comfort, ye my people is a proclamation to an oppressed and depressed people that God is with them and that God will act for and through them.

I don’t think that there has been an Advent, in my lifetime, when this message of comfort has been so desperately needed.”

Jonathan Hustler wrote these words a year ago. I think he may have changed his mind about the worst time by now!

We are now desperately in need of God’s comfort-(love and strengthening). Happily, we have just had some good news from the Government, about Christmas, but not news as good as the news in this reading!

 

Reading Isaiah 40:1-11 NIV

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.

  A voice of one calling: "In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.  The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."

 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.  He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

 

Prayers of intercession

Lord, you are the Prince of Peace.  Please bring peace to all war torn areas of the world and to those who have no peace of mind during these difficult days.

Lord, hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

Lord, we pray for all people affected by the coronavirus: for the elderly, confined to their homes and often separated from family and other support and for those who have lost, jobs or income, and those who have no home.

Lord, hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

Lord, we pray for key workers: for all doctors and nurses, medical staff and hospital workers, for social workers, for care workers, and emergency responders and all whose work puts them in particular danger of corona infection.

Lord hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

Lord, we pray for the world: for the leaders of the nations and their governments, making very difficult decisions that will be a matter of life and death for many. We thank you that vaccines have been discovered so quickly and we pray that methods of distribution may not favour rich countries but may be fair to all.

Lord, hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

Lord, we pray for those in education: for those anxious about coming examinations, or on-line university education and  those responsible for teaching or keeping children safe in schools

Lord hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

Lord, we pray for the Church: for the witness of our fellow Christians throughout the world during this dark time. We pray for ministers and church leaders that they may have wisdom and courage, thinking particularly of our own ministers, Rev’d Lesley and Rev’d Kim, and all who work to maintain the church‘s ministry.

Lord, hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

Lord, we pray for those we love and for anyone that we know has particular needs

SILENT PRAYER

Lord, hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

Finally Lord, we pray for ourselvesAs once again we prepare for Christmas, give us your peace.  Help us to find time for quiet thought and prayer, that we may reflect on the wonder of your love and allow the story of your incarnation to penetrate our hearts and minds.  We pray also that we may take every opportunity to tell others the real meaning of Christmas and help us to show the truth of the Gospel by our words and loving actions.

Lord, hear us- Lord, graciously hear us

In the name of Christ our Lord, Amen

 

Reading Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”
 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’

 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Hymn 264 Make way, make way for Christ the King

Make way, make way, for Christ the King
in splendour arrives;
fling wide the gates and welcome Him
into your lives

Make way (Make way) make way  (make way),
for the King of kings for the King of kings);
make way (make way), make way (make way)
and let his kingdom in.

He comes the broken hearts to heal,
the prisoners to free;
the deaf shall hear, the lame shall dance,
the blind shall see.

And those who mourn with heavy hearts,
who weep and sigh,
with laughter, joy and royal crown
he'll beautify.

We call you now to worship him
as Lord of all,
to have no gods before him,
their thrones must fall!

                 Graham Kendrick
 

Reflection

A good cover may make us pick up a book but a good first-line will make us want to read it! Consider these first lines-                         

 "All children, except one, grow up."- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." -1984 by George Orwell

 "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink." I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Don’t these opening lines make you want to read on?

Mark’s Gospel -our Gospel reading for this new Lectionary year and for today- opens with a breathtaking statement- The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.”   What a statement!!!  Surely these words hook people in and make them want to read more!

Having captured our attention, Mark quickly makes sure that we know that the story, he is about to tell, really starts in the Old Testament with prophets who prophesied about a forerunner who would get people ready for the promised Messiah.  He quotes from the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, who lived hundreds of years earlier:

 “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”
 a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”

It’s sad that some Christians seldom read the Old Testament’s prophetic books- (a look at the wear on the edges of our Bible’s pages should show us which books we miss out!)  Of course, we are made aware, each Christmas and Easter, of how many Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Sadly though, unless we read The Prophets for ourselves, we probably don’t realise how many other Old Testament prophecies have also been wonderfully fulfilled, or are still awaiting complete fulfilment.

Of course, there is far more to learn from the prophets than just their foretelling, but reading prophecies that have come true will surely strengthen our faith as we realize how the whole story of redemption hangs together. It will also encourage us to look forward, with confidence, to Christ’s Second Coming, about which there are many prophecies.

To return to Mark’s Gospel!. -John the Baptist, who had been expected for 100s of years, appears on the scene as early as verse 4, and Mark makes sure we know that John is a true prophet, by showing us how like Elijah he is with his uncompromising message, rough clothing, leather belt and meagre diet.

 

So John was a true prophet, but what did he preach?

Mark says that John preached that, the longed-for Messiah was coming very soon, and people must, urgently, prepare themselves for Him by confessing and turning from their sins and being baptised.  John’s ministry was amazingly successful.  Thousands of people went out to him, and were baptised in the Jordan.

 

One of the reasons that John’s preaching was so effective was that he was so completely humble.  Jesus said that John was the greatest person that had ever lived, up to that time, but John said of himself that he was not worthy to even be the slave of the great Messiah.  The fact that he was so humble and lost himself completely in his message, made people want to listen to him.  Surely there is a lesson here, for all of us who long for people to listen to our message about Jesus. 

 

John faithfully passed on to others the Good News of Jesus and became very famous and successful.  However, as the Messiah’s herald, he realised that his life was only significant in relation to Jesus.  It’s the same with us- our life stories may seem to be all about us, but, if we are Christians, they are really all about Jesus and the part he plays in our lives, especially how we follow his example in helping others.

 

John the Baptist said, he baptised with water but that Jesus, would baptise people with the Holy Spirit. We Christians, who have been baptised by the Holy Spirit, should be living proof of the truth of this. We represent Jesus; we are walking advertisements for the gospel. What kind of advert are we? Do our lives make others want what we have?

People we know may never read Mark’s Gospel but they will read our lives. Paul told the Corinthian church that they were open letters, seen and read by everyone. ( 2Cor 3:2).  Let’s pray that people, meeting us, will be hooked by what they read, want to read on and will soon discover “Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”. Let’s also, this Advent, resolve to make a new start in reading the Prophets so that we more fully understand  God’s ancient plan of salvation and His absolute faithfulness in keeping His promises. Amen

For further consideration

  1. How can we prepare the way for others to find Jesus?
  2. What would help us appreciate the Old Testament prophets, especially the writing prophets, more?

 

Hymn 186 Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy name--the Lord, the Mighty One.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by;
proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children's children and for evermore!

            Timothy Dudley Smith

 

Blessing (We say together)

May God make us increase in love for one another;
May Christ Jesus teach us how to live in God’s ways;
and may the Holy Spirit give us deep peace, as we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord, this Christmas and at the end of time. Amen 

 

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord.  In the name of Christ.  Amen.

 

Please be assured that members of the church are still here if you need anything at all during this time. 

 

Circuit staff can be contacted by calling 01933 312778 for Rev’d Lesley Dinham / 01933 622137 for Rev’d Kim Shorley. 

 

Words for the hymns are re-produced from Singing the Faith Music Edition. CCLI reproduced under licence No. 1243274.


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