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                     St Clement Church Second Sunday in Advent Service

 

Dear All

Advent Two – it doesn’t seem possible that we are only three weeks away from Christmas.                                                                                                                                           As I prepared this service, I have watched scudding clouds, swaying trees, heavy rain, the occasional bit of brightness in the sky and then, more of the same.                                                                                                                                  Somehow, the weather seems to have mirrored not only the last ‘however many’ months that life has not been the same, but also my life this year.                                     It is Advent, the beginning of a new Church’s year, a time of preparation – I need to take stock, to change direction – do you?

With love

Liz xx

 

Let us pray

God of hope, who brought love into this world, be the love that dwells between us.                                                                                                                                                     God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.                                                                                                                                                God of hope, who brought joy into this world, be the joy that dwells between us.                                                                                                                                                                 God of hope, the rock we stand upon, be the centre, the focus of our lives always, and particularly this Advent time.

Amen

Hymn: 1   CREATOR of the stars of night

 

A prayer of Penitence

Gracious and loving God, open our hearts so that we are able to admit to you the fullness of our lives – that which is beautiful and good, and that which is hurtful and hateful.

We confess that we do not follow Jesus in all that we do.                                                                    We love with condition.                                                                                                                                  We judge and condemn.                                                                                                                              We cast the first stone, and fail to see our own failures and weaknesses.                                                                                     We do not turn to you as the source of our healing.

Forgive us, we pray. Forgive our sin and empower us to be imitators of Christ in love and service.

Amen

Let us pray the Collect for Advent 2

O Lord, raise up, we pray, you 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 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

Readings

Malachi 3. 1 – 4                                                                                                                                                Philippians 1. 3 – 11

Hymn: 407   Lord, thy word abideth

Gospel of Luke

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke                                                                  Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord’)

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.                                                                                                                 He went into all the region around the Jordon, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:                ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.                                                       Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,                               and the crooked shall be made straight,                                                                                   and the rough ways made smooth;                                                                                                        and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’

(This is the Gospel of our Lord. Response: Praise to you, O Lord’)

 

Reflection

 

In ancient times, when a king is going to visit a city, he sends before him someone to herald his coming, someone to announce that he will be arriving soon. The herald goes round the city and goes before the leaders of the city, telling them all, ‘The king is coming. He will be here any day. So, clean up your lives. Make sure you are all in obedience to the king’s commands so that you will not be punished when he arrives.’

The herald also serves as a city inspector. He goes around the city and makes a list of all the things that need to be fixed. He tells them, ‘Clean up your city. Sweep your streets. Get rid of all the rubbish lying around. Round up any criminals to make the city safe. Fix the roads; make them smooth and straight. Make sure the city is gleaming. Make sure the city is fit for a king to ride through.’ It is an embarrassment for that city and the people of the city, if they are not prepared properly for his arrival. If he comes, and they are not prepared, he may mete out some judgement and punishment upon the city and its rulers.

In our Gospel reading, Luke, who is probably not Jewish, is writing for non-Jewish people who may not know the story. So, unlike Matthew, Mark and John, who are Jewish, he goes into great detail to give the historical and geographical location of this momentous event. He wants to make sure that everyone knows the background. He wants to make very clear that this is a real time, in real history, with real people. It’s not a made-up myth or a good story with a helpful moral. This is fact. So, he lists the names of five important political leaders and two religious leaders ruling when John the Baptist introduces Jesus.                                                                                                                          Luke recognises that in relation to these other leaders, Jesus is no ordinary person. So important is he, that his coming is predicted by the prophet Isaiah whom John the Baptist quotes. The focus of the prophecy is about the coming of someone called ‘The Lord.’                                                                                              There have been 400 years of silence since God has last spoken through a prophet. The last prophet in the Hebrew Bible is Malachi. He says, ‘See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.’

So, many believe that John the Baptist is Elijah sent by God to warn and prepare people to meet his Son. The prophets predicted that God would enter the world in human form. John, like Jesus, conceived by a miracle, is the one chosen to announce the arrival of the Lord. John does so concisely and humbly, describing himself as, ‘The voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord.’’

It is at this time every year, the Second Sunday of Advent, the Church asks us to hear John the Baptist. Whether it is from the Gospel of Matthew, Mark or Luke, on this day we hear the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. John the Baptist doesn’t speak of a particular day, he speaks of a particular way – ‘the way of the Lord.’ He doesn’t speak about getting things ready. Instead, he speaks of getting ourselves ready.

So, in this time of Advent, how can we get ourselves ready, how can we prepare for ‘the way of the Lord?’                                                                                                                                                We all know that we get things wrong. We say things that we shouldn’t, we do things we shouldn’t, we ignore injustice, we don’t help when we should … they include things like: anger, pride, fear, greed, the need for approval, perfectionism, being judgemental, gossip, the need to control or be right, individualism, busyness, sorrow, self-hatred, despair - the list is endless. To prepare ourselves for ‘the way of the Lord’ we need to repent, and I don’t mean that we should be focused on condemnation and judgement, guilt and remorse or even saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ Repentance is about getting our life turned around and heading in a new direction. It means a change of mind and heart. The U-turn of repentance involves both a turning away from something and a turning towards something else.                                                                                                                          We need to consciously turn our gaze back to God – to intentionally begin to develop new ways of being, that are modelled on God’s own life. Things like love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice, peace, wisdom, patience, beauty, creativity. In so doing we are conforming ourselves to the image and likeness of God in which we are created. We are preparing ‘the way of the Lord.’

Repentance is not just about getting to Christmas. It becomes a way of life, a way of being. To be sure, the way to Christmas is through John the Baptist, the wilderness and repentance. But, repentance doesn’t end with Christmas, it ends with the fulfilment of a promise.

Amen           

Shadows of Christmas   by D. Denise Dianaty

Advent is our hope against darkness,                                                                                                          Living into the expectation of Christ                                                                                                          Who is the Light born to dispel shadows                                                                                                     From the hearts of the People of Advent.

At the centre of his holy Nativity are                                                                                                          Shadows of pasts, Crucifixion, and Ascension                                                                                         In the dark of night, from the dark of the stable                                                                                      Emmanuel, the Light was born at Christmas.

In the shadows of all our Christmases                                                                                                          We see shadows of the past behind us,                                                                                                   And live the present in the shadows of hope.                                                                                                              In the shadows of hope, look to an eternal future.

 

Affirmation of our Faith

Let us declare our faith in God

We believe in one God                                                                                                                                     Father, Son and Holy Spirit.                                                                                                                     He is the true and living God,                                                                                                                         worthy to receive glory and honour and power.                                                                                     He created all things,                                                                                                                              by his will they existed and were created.                                                                                              We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ;                                                                                                         all things came into being through him.                                                                                                        He is the image of the invisible God                                                                                                           the first born of all creation.                                                                                                                   In him all things in heaven and on earth were created.                                                                          He himself is before all things,                                                                                                                   and in him all things hold together.                                                                                                                            Being in the form of God, he emptied himself,                                                                                        he took the form of a slave, and was born in human likeness.                                                                  Being found in human form, he humbled himself,                                                                                     he became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.                                              Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;                                                                                   he was buried; he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.                                      God also highly exalted Jesus:                                                                                                                   he gave him the name that is above every name.                                                                              God has put all things under his feet:                                                                                                     he made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body.                                                                       We believe that Jesus died and rose again:                                                                                       through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.                                                           As all die in Adam,                                                                                                                                        so all will be made alive in Christ.                                                                                                                  Thanks be to God                                                                                                                                          who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen

Hymn: 15   The Lord will come and not be slow

Intercessions

Let us pray

As we bow our heads and still the busyness of our minds, may we open our hearts to the wonders of God’s creation, the greatness of the gift of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ and the everlasting support of the Holy Spirit.

Holy God, as we pursue the many imaginative ways in which our Churches approach Christmas during Advent, help us to understand through them the different truths about your amazing Love and Grace.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                              Lord, graciously hear us

Creator God, we pray for those whose responsibility is to manage the world’s economy…, and for those who have difficult decisions top make; we pray for wisdom and courage to do what is right especially in the light of new mutations of the Covid virus. We pray for all who are terrorised throughout the world especially where fragile economies and international friendship and understanding are threatened as tourists no longer visit places affected by recent terror attacks.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                              Lord, graciously hear us

Father God, we pray for those we see and talk to every day or every week; for those we often argue with or misunderstand; for those who brighten our lives and make us smile; for a greater thankfulness and appreciation of those we usually take for granted.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                   Lord, graciously hear us

Loving God, all the needs of your children are already known to you and so with God-given love we bring to mind those who are suffering physically or emotionally, that they may find you there beside them in these dark and painful times.                                                                                                                                                  We remember especially at this time: Ollie, Ken and Diane, Daphne and Dave, Margaret and Brian.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                             Lord, graciously hear us

Gracious God, we pray for the dying and those who have passed from this earthly life. May they know the eternal peace of heaven, and may those who miss them be comforted.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                   Lord, graciously hear us

Merciful God, who sent the prophets to preach repentance, may we take heed of their warnings and turn away from our sinfulness so that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen     

 

Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus 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.                                                                                      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

 

Prepare     by Cindy Thomas

A feeding trough in a hillside cave,                                                                                                             a little straw, a swaddling cloth -                                                                                                                  A baby took his first breath                                                                                                                        unnoticed by a town that had                                                                                                                       no room.

Nobody knew that time had been invaded,                                                                                                 split in two, as human and divine                                                                                                           were forever fused                                                                                                                                         in flesh and bone, tissue and blood,                                                                                                        the fragile body of a new born child.                                                                                                              Nobody knew that within his tiny chest                                                                                                           beat the very heart of God.

It doesn’t take much to receive him,                                                                                                          No fanfare, no gilded cradle. He doesn’t ask                                                                                          to be swaddled in silk or                                                                                                                                 adorned with gold.                                                                                                                                              He only asks for a longing heart,                                                                                                                  an earnest cry, a yearning soul                                                                                                                          where he can grow,                                                                                                                                         human and divine forever fused                                                                                                               in you. 

 

The Peace

God will speak peace to his people,                                                                                                             to those who turn to him in their hearts.                                                                                                 The peace of the Lord be always with us.

                                                                                                                                                        

Hymn:  466   Thou whose almighty word

 

Blessing 

Eternal God and Father,                                                                                                                           by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed:                                           guide and strengthen us by your Spirit,                                                                                                      that we may give ourselves to your service,                                                                                                 and live this day in love to one another and to you;                                                                               through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

Amen                                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 


Page last updated: 2nd December 2021 7:59 AM