Sunday 29th November – Advent Sunday

Welcome

Welcome to our online service. As always, you can hit ‘play’ on the first video and it should all play automatically. Or you can scroll down the page, watch each video in turn and/or read along.

At ‘After Church’ time, 11.30, there will be our usual Zoom Coffee. It would be lovely if you could join us. Use the Contact page , above, to get the details if you need them.

YouTube Playlist

Service written out in full

Opening Hymn: Lo, He comes with clouds descending

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
and also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Lighting of the Candle for the First Sunday of Advent

Leader: Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord
All: Thanks be to God

Leader: Today is the First Sunday of Advent, in which we recall the hope we have in Christ. God told Abraham that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, because he trusted and put his hope in God. The Old Testament spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a Saviour would be born, a king in the line of King David. He would rule the world wisely and bless all the nations. We too believe in God’s promise to send Jesus again to this world to establish his kingdom upon the earth.

(A person lights the First Candle here)

Hope is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at the light of this candle we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Leader: Let us pray:
All: God of Abraham and Sarah and all the Patriarchs of old, you are our Father too. Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Son of David. Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth, to make our hearts ready and to place our hope in you. Help us today and every day to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your hope with others. We ask it in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem. Amen.

Confession

Let us take a moment to keep silence and reflect on the past week

Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
So let us turn away from our sin and turn to Christ,
confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

Lord God,
we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us
and restore us to the joy of your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Father of all mercies
cleanse you from your sins,
and restore you in his image
to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Blessed is the Lord,
for he has heard the voice of our prayer;
therefore shall our hearts dance for joy
and in our song will we praise our God.

Psalm 80: 1-8, 18-20

1    Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you that led Joseph like a flock;

2    Shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim,  
before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.

3    Stir up your mighty strength  
and come to our salvation.

4    Turn us again, O God;  
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

   O Lord God of hosts,  
how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?

6    You feed them with the bread of tears; 
you give them abundance of tears to drink.

7    You have made us the derision of our neighbours,  
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

8    Turn us again, O God of hosts;  
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

18  Let your hand be upon the man at your right hand, 
the son of man you made so strong for yourself.

19  And so will we not go back from you;  
give us life, and we shall call upon your name.

20  Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts;  
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever.
Amen

Hymn – All my hope on God is founded

Readings

1 Corinthians 1: 3-9 read by Euan from Husthwaite

Mark 13: 24-37 read by Colin from Crayke

Sermon – Revd Stephen Pope

Today is Advent Sunday, the first Sunday in our “Christian calendar”. It starts with Advent which leads us into Christmas, as Lent leads us up to Good Friday and Easter. Ascension Day is followed by Pentecost and then the mystery of Trinity Sunday. Then last Sunday we celebrated the last Sunday of the Christian calendar – Christ the King. That occasion not only reminds us of the kingship of Christ but also that, as our king, he is also to be our judge.

Today’s readings reflect a mixture of thinking about Christ as our judge and thinking of our Advent season. We were reminded during the lighting of our first candle of Advent that from the human perspective Christ was Jewish and a direct descendant of Abraham, the father of the Jewish race.

It is a tradition of the Anglican lectionary that on Sundays, we use a three year cycle having most of our gospel readings from one of the first three gospels each year. This year it is the turn of Mark’s Gospel, and for the last several years we have developed a tradition of introducing the “gospel for the year”for the sermon on the first Sunday of Advent.

Last year, we worked through Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew was a Jew writing to fellow Jews in ways that they could relate to in their tradition hoping that they would see that Jesus was the long hoped for Messiah.

The year before that we worked through the gospel of Luke. Luke was a Gentile whose main aim was to write an orderly, well-balanced account of the life of Jesus.

This year we will be looking at Mark’s gospel. It is noticeably the shortest of all the Gospels. Mark writes like a man on a mission with no time to waste. He writes succinctly and keeps the action flowing, often fast paced. There are a lot of stories – stories that Jesus told, stories of Jesus healing people, stories of how He responded to difficult people. Unless it is a parable, or teaching story, Mark rarely spends more than a few verses at a time on Jesus teaching so we don’t get stuck with too much concentrated thinking

The first sentence runs “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.

“Gospel”comes from an Old English word “godspel”. “God is a shortened form of “good”, and “spel” means story or word or news. The story, in fact, of God, in the form of his Son Jesus, spending time on earth. People could see him, hear him, touch him. They might even notice smelly feet at the end of a hot day walking in sandals.

We read in the old Testament of a few occasions when God appeared visibly to someone on earth and occasionally too in dreams. But never before in the Bible do we read of Him spending more than a conversation-length time here.

This is a major world event, and Mark is writing it up in a way that is very accessible.

To start with, Mark, after next pointing out briefly a prophecy about Jesus from Isaiah, moves straight on to writing about Jesus’ relation John the Baptist, and a few verses later, Jesus is being baptised by John and is promptly launched into his ministry.

OK, we may wonder, but what is at the heart of Mark’s gospel? We find the answer in the middle of his gospel. In the eighth out his 16 chapters there is a key conversation Jesus has with his chief disciple, Peter. Jesus, after asking his disciples who people think he is then asks the disciples who they think he is. And Peter, in an inspired moment says “You are the Christ”.

What does that mean? Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word we pronounce Messiah. Both words mean ‘Anointed’.

In the Old Testament we only meet three groups of people who get anointed – Kings, Priests and Judges. Jesus will turn out to be all three. And he will be a King like no other, partly because He will have to die before he will be a King, and partly because very few kings on earth have seen them selves as servants of their people, rather than the people being the subjects (or servants) of the king. No wonder after Peter’s realisation, Jesus tells the disciples not to mention this to anyone else.

Have I whetted your appetite to read more of Mark for yourself in your own time?

In which case, here’s a suggestion – ‘Taking something up for Advent’. As opposed to ‘Giving something up for Lent’. You could try reading a small section or two every day or two. If you are a fast reader, read the passage again out loud, or ask someone else to read it to you. Over coffee or a cup of tea if you like. Reading fast is good for thoughts the brain can process, but slower reading is more likely to connect with what the heart is feeling.

Either way, if something seems to speak to you from what you read, thinking about it again later can be helpful. And you can talk back to God any time. He would love that.

Perhaps the verses trigger a question? Fine, ask Jesus the question. When I do this, sometimes I get a sense of his response straight away, On other occasions, I have to wait before I get an answer. But no immediate answer doesn’t mean God hasn’t heard. Sometimes He has to wait until the right time for me to be able to appreciate His reply.

The key is in the part of Mark’s gospel we had as our second reading.

Be alert! (includes listening!)

Watch!

If something gives you a quiet nudge to do something, to say something, to ask about something, to try something different, talk to God about it, and see what happens.

With Covid-19 causing the changes it has, so much feels odd, unnatural – especially not meeting friends and relatives at home, or meeting fellow Christians in our churches. The church NEEDS people to try thinking ‘What if?’ and ‘Why don’t we…’ to attract people who need Jesus in their lives and want to worship Him, for their sake as well as ours.

Risky? We need to start somewhere. Jesus took a risk contracting to the size of a human cell at the start of his life in Mary’s womb.

What can God (perhaps helped by our reading of Mark’s gospel this Advent) do through our part in the jigsaw of life, if we keep alert – and perhaps doing something different too?

Affirmation of faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

Hymn: God is working his purpose out

Intercessions

Loving God,
In your word the Bible we read how you created the world and it was Good.
We read of how sin entered the world and it was no longer the good you had intended,
And Jesus came on a mission of salvation.
This year we have seen the chaos and upset caused by a disease we are struggling to control.
We pray that you will open our eye to see where you are at work,
and where we can work with you in this situation.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Loving God,
We ask that you will give us a greater appetite for discovering Your love for us,
both in your written word the Bible,
and in the pictures and example it gives us of your living word, Jesus.
Strengthen our trust in you, that we may more easily follow the way that Jesus taught.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Loving God,
You saw that for Adam to be alone was not enough –
he needed a companion and a community life.
Many people are struggling in various degrees of isolation because of lockdowns.
May we be ever alert and watchful for those who are struggling in this way
and guide us as we seek to support them.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Loving God,
We pray for those who are discovering you in online services and want to discover more.
We pray that they will find the Christians they do meet as warm and friendly as Jesus was,
And that our churches too may grow as a result.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Loving God,
We pray for those who are struggling to put their prayers into words.
May they find reassurance that to You, the unspoken prayers are noticed and received gladly, and may they also sense you Peace breathed over them

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Loving God,
We pray too for those who are ill and struggling….
Take a moment to bring before God those you know of who are ill, those working to care for them, those near death, and those mourning the death of loved ones.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Finally, rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints,
we commend ourselves and the whole of creation to your unfailing love.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer,
and make us one in heart and mind
to serve you with joy and courage for ever.
Amen.

The 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.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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.

Offertory Prayer

Generous God, we thank you for all you have given us.
We thank you for all the ways that we can give to you in return.
We ask that through our gifts we will see your kingdom grow
in our hearts and our homes,
our neighbourhoods and our nation,
to the glory of your name.
Amen

Hymn: God is our strength and refuge

Blessing and Sending Out

The love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself,
the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in his service,
the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts;
and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ, Amen.

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.

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