Sunday 6th December 2020 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Welcome

Welcome to our online worship for this week. This is my (Revd Liz’s) last online service before moving on. I have been so touched this week by all the messages and cards and letters wishing us happiness and thanking us for being here. I was overwhelmed by the wonderful gifts that were presented at the Goodbye Zoom on Friday. Thank you all very much.

I hope to be back from services in time for Zoom Coffee tomorrow. Do join me at 11.30am. Details are in the weekly notice sheet.

As usual, there is a playlist with the whole service in as the first video or you can scroll down and select which to watch and which to read.

YouTube Playlist

Service written out

Hymn – Come, thou long expected Jesus

Greeting

The Lord is here his Spirit is with us

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Advent wreath

Light and peace, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord 
Thanks be to God 

Last Sunday we lit the First Candle in our Advent Wreath, and celebrated the patriarchs, this Candle reminded us of our hope in Christ. We light it again.

Today we light the Second Candle of Advent, the Candle of Peace. The prophet Isaiah called Christ “the Prince of Peace”. They told us how he would rule the world wisely and bless all the nations.

When Jesus came he taught people the importance of being peace-makers. He said that those who make peace shall be called the children of God. When Christ comes to us he brings us peace and he will bring everlasting peace when he comes again. We light the Candle of Peace to remind us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that through him peace is found. 

(A person lights Second Candle, the Candle of Peace)

Peace is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at this candle we celebrate the peace we find in Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: 
Lord Jesus, Light of the World, the prophets said you would bring peace and save your people from trouble. Give peace in our hearts at Christmastide. We ask that as we wait for you to come again, that you would remain present with us. Help us today, and everyday to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your peace with each other. We ask it in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem. Amen.

Confession

A voice cries out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ So let us listen, and turn to the Lord in penitence and faith.

Heavenly Father,
you have created a universe of light:
forgive us when we return to darkness.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you are the light of the world:
cleanse and heal our blinded sight.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
you give us light in our hearts:
renew us in faith and love.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Almighty God,
who in Jesus Christ has given us
a kingdom that cannot be destroyed,
forgive us our sins,
open our eyes to God’s truth,
strengthen us to do God’s will
and give us the joy of his kingdom,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Praise

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe.
To you be glory and praise for ever.

From the rising of the sun to its setting
your name is proclaimed in all the world.
To you be glory and praise for ever.

When the time had fully come
you sent the Sun of Righteousness.
In him the fullness of your glory dwells.
To you be glory and praise for ever.

Psalm

Psalm 85.1-2,8-13*

Lord, you were gracious to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.

You forgave the offence of your people
and covered all their sins.

I will listen to what the Lord God will say,
for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful,
that they turn not again to folly.

Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other;

Truth shall spring up from the earth
and righteousness look down from heaven.

The Lord will indeed give all that is good,
and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness shall go before him
and direct his steps in the way.

Reading – Isaiah 40:1-11

Hymn – On Jordan’s bank the Baptist cry

Reading – Mark 1:1-8

Sermon

If you had one chance to tell people about Jesus, what would you say? This is the position I found myself in this week – writing my very last sermon here. What is the most important thing to say? Is there anything I’ve missed out or not said enough?

It’s helpful, then, that our Gospel reading is from the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel. As you may have heard from Stephen last week, Mark was a man in a hurry – the first person to write a gospel. Mark is succinct, brief, short – however you want to describe it – there are no flowery bits or digressions in Mark. He goes straight for it.

Normally, when you read a story, you expect to be led gently through the narrative and discover the end of it, well – at the end. Mark doesn’t subscribe to that theory at all. In his very first verse, he gives away the biggest spoiler in the whole thing.

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

The good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We hear that and almost ignore it – that description just rolls off the tongue without even thinking about it, but it is actually saying two of the most important things about Jesus that can be said. Mark describes Jesus as Christ – which means Messiah, saviour – the one who is going to come and sort everything out for Israel and for the whole world. Then he calls him Son of God. This is a title which only became apparent to the disciples as they got to know Jesus better – being the son of God gives Jesus divine significance – more power and influence than any mere mortal – we’ve come to understand that this means that Jesus is himself God. To introduce this piece of writing with the announcement that Jesus is both Messiah and Son of God gives a very particular agenda for the reader.

With this knowledge, when we read the Gospel of Mark, it is almost like reading a detective story when you already know who done it. It gives you a different perspective and makes you ask different questions. Knowing that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God means that you can look for the evidence as you read it. It isn’t until chapters 8 and 9 that the disciples figure this out. Before that, all the healings and miracles and teaching combine to show that Jesus is someone very special indeed.

When you are training to be a priest, you do a lot of reading about what a priest is and does. One of the images that comes up quite frequently is a signpost. Part of the purpose of a priest is to point you towards Jesus. I hope that in my time here, I have done that. As I leave, I hope that you won’t stop returning to Jesus as the inspiration for your life as Christians. Return to Jesus and rediscover his teaching but, more than that, rediscover his significance.

In many ways, Advent is a good time to move on. The scriptures for Advent are all pointing to the future. We look ahead, not just to the celebration of the Saviour’s birth at Bethlehem, but also to the second coming. It really is all about Jesus.

Because Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, and because he is the Son of God, we are living in a transition between the old and the new. All that Mark writes about brings us to the end of Jesus’ earthly life and the shock of the resurrection. Mark leaves it there, but none of the various endings of Mark really bring a satisfactory conclusion and perhaps that is because the story isn’t finished.

The Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God may begin with Mark’s story, but it doesn’t end there. It is written in our lives. The Good News of Jesus is expressed when we, as Christians, care for the people around us as Jesus did; when we, as Christians, campaign for a fairer society and for God’s good creation to be looked after. It is not just priests who are called to be signposts. We can all live lives that make it very obvious which is the right way for people to travel.

This is the task I am leaving you with. Make sure that you are living so that, when people watch you, they see the way towards Jesus. Be confident that Jesus really is the Messiah and the Son of God and live expectantly, knowing that there is so much more to come, so that, when Jesus returns, he will find you, his faithful people, watchful and waiting. Amen

Affirmation of faith

We say together in faith

Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.

We believe in God the Father,
who created all things:

for by his will they were created
and have their being.

We believe in God the Son,
who was slain:

for with his blood,
he purchased us for God,
from every tribe and language,
from every people and nation.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit:

the Spirit and the Bride say,‘Come!’
Even so come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Hymn – Hills of the North rejoice

Prayers

Our God speaks tenderly to his people and cares for them as a shepherd cares for his sheep. Let us therefore bring to him our thanks and our prayers for our own needs and the needs of others.

In this Advent season we pray for God’s church throughout the world. We pray that she will indeed be a herald of good tidings, speaking in a strong voice of the glory of the Lord revealed in Jesus Christ.

We pray for all the nations of the world and their leaders. We pray that in all the uneven, rough and unjust places of the world the way of the Lord may be prepared to bring equality, healing and justice to all his people.

We pray for the communities in which we live, work and worship. We pray that with God’s help we will reveal his glory in the way we live and in his love we will be at peace with all people.

We pray for all those in particular need who are weak and vulnerable. We pray that they will be touched by God’s gentle tenderness bringing them comfort and strength.

Heavenly Father, we bring our prayers to you, trusting in your great faithfulness and compassion.  As we look forward to celebrating once again the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, help us also to look forward to the time of his coming again and to prepare ourselves for that day when your kingdom will at last be established on earth.

Original source: https://www.katharinesmith.org.uk

Collect

O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power
and come among us,
and with great might succour us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness
we are grievously hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory, now and for ever.
Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray for the coming of God’s kingdom
in the words our Saviour taught us.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Offertory Prayer

God of our future,
whose compassion is unlimited,
all that we have is yours
and to you we shall render account
for all you have given us
As we offer you these gifts we enjoy from your bounty,
grant that we may live well, love generously,
and seek first your kingdom,
on earth as in heaven,
through Jesus Christ
our most kind Judge and Saviour. Amen

The Peace

In the tender mercy of our God,
the dayspring from on high shall break upon us,
to give light to those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you and also with you.

Blessing

Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you,
scatter the darkness from before your path,
and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory;
and the blessing …

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

Hymn – Long ago, prophets knew

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.