Weekly Worship for 13.12.2020

Circuit Worship Sheet: Advent Week 3

13th December 2020 prepared by Rev’d Kim Shorley.

 

Call to Worship

I will bless the Lord at all times

praise will continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall rejoice in the Lord;

let the humble hear it and rejoice.

Come, glorify our God with me.

Let’s exalt God’s name together!

Singing the Faith 186
   1     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.

 

   2     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 the same;
          his holy name — the Lord, the Mighty One.

 

   3     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.

 

   4     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 (b. 1926)
 

Prayer of Praise and Confession

Lord, we lift our hearts in praise to you, seeking to learn from the example of Mary, glad that you are our Saviour and that you remember us.

We praise you for calling humans to do your work in the world, for choosing ordinary people to do extraordinary deeds.

We praise you for your holy name, known for generations, and we praise you for the mercy you show to those who honour you.

We praise you for the workings of justice, when the mighty and proud have been brought down, when the lowly and hungry have been lifted and fed and the rich made to realise the emptiness of material things.

We praise you for the promises you have kept and place our trust in you for the continuing promises which you make to all the descendants of Abraham, to all who follow you and seek to obey your commands.

We hold before you the shame we feel for our faults, knowing that so often we fail to respond to your calling.

Often our excuses seem to be good ones, but when we think of someone like Mary – willing to risk her life and reputation – we become more aware of the conditions we attach to our willingness to serve.

You call us in different ways, according to our abilities and potential.

Forgive us when we identify with the mighty and proud rather than the lowly and hungry.

Forgive us and call us once again to do your will.

A time of silence

All powerful God, at this time of Advent, let the splendour of your glory rise in our hearts like the dawn, that the darkness of the night may be scattered and the coming of your only son may reveal us children of the light.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen

 

Singing the Faith 706
  1     Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
          Longing for truth, we turn to you.
          Make us your own, your holy people,
          light for the world to see.
                   Christ, be our light!
                   Shine in our hearts.
                   Shine through the darkness.
                   Christ, be our light!
                   Shine in your Church gathered  today.

 

   2     Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
          Longing for hope, many despair.
          Your word alone has power to save us.
          Make us your living voice.

                   Christ, be our light!


  

3        Longing for food, many are hungry.
          Longing for water, many still thirst.
          Make us your bread, broken for others,
          shared until all are fed.

                   Christ, be our light!


   4     Longing for shelter, many are  homeless.
          Longing for warmth, many are cold.
          Make us your building, sheltering others,
          walls made of living stone.

                   Christ, be our light!


   5     Many the gifts, many the people,
          many the hearts that yearn to belong.
          Let us be servants to one another,
          making your kingdom come.

                   Christ, be our light!
Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)

 

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The Good News of Deliverance

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
   because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
   to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
   and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
   and the day of vengeance of our God;
   to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
   to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
   the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
   they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
   the devastations of many generations.


For I the Lord love justice,
   I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
   and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
   and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
   that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
   my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
   he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
   and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
   and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
   to spring up before all the nations.

 

Prayer of Intercession

Christ through whom all things were made:

sustain all creation

Christ exalted in the lowest and the least:

give us humility

Christ present in the poor and oppressed:

fill us with compassion

Christ forsaken in the hungry and homeless:

minister to them through our hands

Christ present where two or three are gathered:

be known among us.

Christ present in word, sacrament and sign:

grant us your peace.

We share together in the prayer that Christ gave us
 

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              as we forgive those who sin

   against us.                                                  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

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

   Amen                                                          Amen.

 

 Luke 1:46b-55

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

 

Reflection

Methodist’s have long been known as ones who are ‘born in song’ and as I have listened to the laments over the restrictions in our worship life, alongside those in our everyday life, the absence of singing is what pains us most.  Singing fills many a Methodist with joy and the surge in Zoom choirs during lockdown demonstrates how singing (despite it being remotely) is good for your mental health.

Here in Mary’s song (which is reminiscent of Hannah’s song of praise in 1 Samuel 2:1-10) we have words that rejoice in the Good News.  Despite it looking as if God’s promises have failed to appear, a newness has begun, and it reassures all those who have groaned under the weight of injustice/ enslavement/ oppression that they have not been abandoned.  Here as Mary and Elizabeth meet (Luke 1:39-45) to celebrate (and wonder) at their pregnancies we come face to face with both the subversive nature of God and the upside-down vision of God’s kingdom.  Subversive in that the officially sanctioned priest Zechariah, who is Elizabeth husband, has been struck mute by his disbelief in the power of God (Luke 1:20) whilst a young, unwed, pregnant women – a thoroughly marginalised person in her own culture – joyfully sings some of the most important and prophetic words in Scripture.  Upside down in that Mary reveals a Kingdom that would be for those who thought themselves lost, and not for those who believed themselves to be righteous; it would be where the first would be last and the last first, where wealth, social status, worldly success and riches would stand for nothing (as Jesus was later to demonstrate in his teachings).

These words echo the majority of our Old Testament prophets and within the reading from Isaiah we note an ambiguous “me.”  Is the ‘me’ Isaiah? Is the ‘me’ the Messiah? Is the ‘me’ those who fight for justice? Is the ‘me’ me? The answer to all of these questions is “YES.”

Whilst Mary’s song proclaims the reversal of ‘the powers that be’ as an already accomplished fact it remains true that we continue to live in a world where many face hardship and hunger.  The 2020 report from the Action Against Hunger network reported that 690 million people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and this number sadly is once more on the increase. Our rejoicing therefore comes as we, like her, have the opportunity to become “God-bearers” theotokos — pregnant with Spirit-led possibilities — for God has chosen to move in and through us, not apart from us.  A genuine, spiritual joy does not sugar coat life’s challenges with platitudes of “there, there it will be all right” instead joy (which is a decision as much as it an emotion) offers to sit with the oppressed, the broken hearted and the downtrodden and offers eyes of compassion and hands, and lives that embody God’s present and loving kindness.  

Like Mary’s song, Howard Thurman’s poem The Work of Christmas* focuses on the joy that God’s justice is coming: It did not end with a little baby in a manger, but continued through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the testimony of the disciples and the witness of the early church and continues to work in the world through us today and and this justice will continue to bring restoration, to feed those who are hungry, to liberate the oppressed, to rebuild the broken, and to bring peace to all people.

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost,

to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry,

to release the prisoner,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among the people,

to make music in the heart.

 

As our Christmas excitement begins to mount, and as we hear Christmas music being playing in shops and in our homes (whether secular or sacred) we turn once more to the world God has made, and we become God’s heralds. 

With joy we proclaim the coming of Christ, who will bring joy to those who have never experienced it before in the whole of their lives. With joy we testify to Christ’s strength and might, but also to his compassion.  With joy we speak about the faithfulness of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of our lives.  With joy we bring our lives before God, aware of our gifts and our frailties,to rejoice once more at the wonder of God’s love for us and our world.

Now surely that really might get us into the true Spirit of Christmas.  Amen

 

For Further Consideration/Conversation

How might God be calling you to Magnify God’s name at home, in your workplaces, in your community.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ How does it feel to hear these words at the end of a year as tumultuous as 2020? 

 

Singing the Faith 330

   1     Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
          Let earth receive her King;
          let every heart prepare him room,
          and heaven and nature sing,
          and heaven and nature sing,
          and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

 

   2     Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!
          Let all their songs employ;
          while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
          repeat the sounding joy,
          repeat the sounding joy,
          repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

   3     He rules the world with truth and grace,
          and makes the nations prove
          the glories of his righteousness
          and wonders of his love,
          and wonders of his love,
          and wonders, wonders of his love.

Isaac Watts (1674–1748)

 

Blessing

At this time of Advent, fire our imaginations with the sweep of your salvation.

Catch us up in the case of your kingdom, already breaking into this world in our ransomed lives yet waiting for its final fulfilment when Christ shall come again.

Let your Spirit, wild as the wind, gentle as the dove, move within us and among us, to enliven our witness and strengthen our faith so that we may serve you with joy.

 

Amen. Come Lord Jesus

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. 941649.

 

*The poem “The Work of Christmas” is from Howard Thurman’s The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations and is used by permission of Friends United Press. All rights reserved.

 

Additional materials used with permission from The Methodist Worship Book and Candles & Conifers (Wild Goose Publications)


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