Sun 29/11/20

Broadcast and Livestreamed Opportunities to worship on 29 November
8.10 am Radio 4 Sunday Worship begins an Advent Series of worship with 'Cities of Promise - a place of good news'
9.00 am The Church of England Service is At Home with St Martin in the Fields and available at: Worship at Home for the First Sunday of Advent with St Martin-in-the-Fields | The Church of England
9.30 am  Christ Church Gipsy Hill continue to offer a more modern style of worship available at: Christ Church Gipsy Hill - Home | Facebook
10.00 am  The Cathedral Eucharist is available at: Chester Cathedral - YouTube
A wide range of Book of Common Prayer worship is available at: Online streaming of BCP services - The Prayer Book Society (pbs.org.uk)

A Sermon for Advent Sunday

29 November 2020

 Advent is a time of reflection and repentance and of waiting and preparation for Jesus to come into the world in human form, and also looks ahead to his return at the end of time.  Of course we celebrate his birth on Christmas Day, but the first century Jews had no idea when their Messiah was going to be born. In the same way we have no idea when Jesus will return. The readings through advent don’t just propel us towards Christmas, but they also challenge us to contemplate the final judgement. 

 

On the first Sunday of Advent the Church begins its telling of the Christian story once again, the readings today turn our attention to the last things.

 

In college this week we have been looking at the themes the last things, of judgement and salvation, of heaven and hell. The traditional view of hell is, perhaps, a place of torment, a place where your worst nightmares come true; a place of fire and brimstone that goes on for all eternity. Something akin to Dante’s nine circles of hell. But how can such a place exist? I can’t believe in a God who would create such a place and banish anybody there because of their sin. That doesn’t sound like a God whose name is love. That doesn’t sound like a God who died on the cross for you and me. That doesn’t sound like a God who “sent his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

 

The Bible tells us very little of what hell might be like. Perhaps the best known examples are the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke’s gospel (16:19-31) and Daniel (12:2) where the writer tells us that some of the dead can expect to wake to eternal shame and contempt. Frightening thoughts indeed. But in today’s gospel reading we hear a far more positive message from Jesus who is telling us to keep watch, to be ready for when he returns.

 

But the Advent hope, surely, is that Jesus will come to complete the work begun in creation, to square the circle, to make all things new. The hope is that Jesus will come “in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends the earth to the ends of the heavens.” Our hope is that by the Grace of God we shall be granted eternal life, our sin will be wiped clean through the death and resurrection of Jesus and we, too, can have a new beginning. In this new beginning there will be no more sadness, no more sorrow, for ”the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them” (Wisdom 3:1).

 

So we must wait and watch. But while we wait and watch me must prepare. We must literally prepare to meet our maker. If you knew when Jesus was going to return you would make sure that you were ready. But not even Jesus himself knows the day or the hour. There is an old adage that the best time to start something is forty years ago and that the second-best time is now. So we should start preparing now, we should make sure that our mind is focused on doing God’s work. On loving our Creator and our neighbour, and making disciples.

 

I conclude with a poem entitled Wachet Auf taken from the book Watching for the Kingfisher by Ann Lewin.

 

Advent.

Season when

Dual citizenship

Holds us in

Awkward tension.

 

The world, intent on

Spending Christmas,

Eats and drinks its way to

Oblivion after dinner.

The Kingdom sounds

Insistent warnings:

Repent, be ready,

Keep awake,

He comes.

 

Like some great fugue

The themes entwine:

The Christmas carols,

Demanding our attention

In shops and pubs,

Bore their insistent way

Through noise of traffic;

Underneath, almost unheard,

The steady solemn theme of

Advent.

 

With growing complexity,

Clashing, blending,

Rivals for our attention,

Themes mingle and separate,

Pulling us with increasing

Urgency,

Until in final resolution,

The end attained,

Harmony rests in aweful

Stillness, and

The child is born.

 

He comes,

Both Child and Judge.

 

And will he find us

Watching?

  

Jim Britcliffe
26 November 2020

Prayers for 29 November 2020
Advent Sunday

 

The Collect for Advent Sunday

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.  Amen.

 

The Post-Communion Prayer for Advent Sunday

 

O Lord our god,

make us watchful and keep us faithful

as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;

that, when he shall appear,

he may not find us sleeping in sin

but active in his service

and joyful in his praise;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession

 

In joyful expectation of his coming to our aid we pray to Jesus.

 

Come to your Church as Lord and judge.

Help us to live in the light of your coming

and give us a longing for your kingdom.

Maranatha**

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

 

Come to your world as King of the nations.

We pray for…

Before you rulers will stand in silence.

Maranatha

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

 

 

Come to the suffering as Saviour and comforter.

We pray for all who are affected by COVID-19 in any way and for…

Break into our loves,

where we struggle with sickness and distress

and set us free to serve you for ever.

Maranatha.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

 

Come to us as shepherd and guardian of our souls.

We remember and give thanks especially for…

Give us with all the faithful departed

a share in your victory over evil and death.

Maranatha

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

 

Come from heaven, Lord Jesus with power and great glory.

Lift us up to mee you,

that with all your saints and angels

we may live and reign with you in your new creation.

Maranatha.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

 

Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay:

give new courage to your people,

who trust in your love.

By your coming, raise us to share in the joy of your kingdom

on earth as it is in heaven,

where you live and reign with the Father and the Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.  Amen

 

**’Maranatha’ means ‘Come, Lord Jesus’.


Hymns

Longing for light, we wait in darkness  CHRIST BE OUR LIGHT - YouTube

Lo, He comes with clouds descending HELMSLEY-LO! HE COMES WITH CLOUDS DESCENDING - YouTube

Christ is surely coming Christ is surely coming - YouTube

Earth was waiting, spent and restless Earth Was Waiting, Spent and Restless - YouTube