Children’s Challenge : Colour your own advent wreath (link below) and ask your parents to send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add these to the website for next Sunday.
Don’t Forget: Coffee and Catch up this Sunday,29th November at 10:45 via Zoom. We’d love to see you there.
The link is on the latest Churchwarden’s newsletter that was emailed this week.
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Advent Sunday Service. We are now only four Sundays away from Christmas and the church enters a season of preparation, of watching and waiting for the Christmas season when we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus. The living, loving God entering the world he created and becoming one of us.
Traditionally we would be lighting the first candle on the Advent Wreath and whilst we don’t have that with us. It doesn’t stop us from lighting one. So why don’t you pause this video, gather a candle and a method of lighting it and light it with me?
So we light the first candle for Hope
Jesus, you are light even in the darkest places.
Help us to trust in you when we are lost or lonely.
Shine hope into our hearts we pray. Amen
Gathered here today,
we have lit a candle for hope,
knowing that in dark times
there is always a light that can be lit.
Let us, people in dusk and dawn,
light the light of vigilance,
knowing that God is always calling us
to justice, mercy and humility –
at this time of year,
and all times of the year.
Adapted from © ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.
Reproduced with permission.
Lets worship God together:
Tell Jesus what he means to you.
Take a moment for Jesus to tell you what you mean to him
I wonder how you are feeling this morning after the announcement of the winter plan and the tiers that we will be going into once we leave lock-down this coming Wednesday. If your conversations have been anything like mine, both on my frontline and within the family there is likely to be a real mixture of thoughts, feelings, opinions and intentions, some of which you may or may not agree with. And if there is one thing we can be certain, it is that we will not be celebrating in the ways that we have done so in previous years. New ways will need to be found or lived with until ‘things return to normal’ or ‘as normal as it can be’.
But that doesn’t take into account or acknowledge the long term consequences bubbling along under the surface,
be that the impact to the economy and international aid
be that concerns around health, mental health and well-being,
be it concerns around finances perhaps from the perspective of the loss of a job or income, or from the perspective of a business owners as they face an uncertain future and carry the weight of responsibility for their employees.
Be it those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and who are unable to say good-bye
And this is only the tip of the iceberg… In all of this it is reasonable to think that the outlook is pretty bleak at this time and it is reasonable to wonder where God is in it all.
Our Gospel reading this morning, although at first reading may seem difficult to understand and even quite dark is perhaps strangely appropriate for this Advent Sunday and where we find ourselves.
The passage we read from, at the end of Mark 13 is part of a larger body of work which is known as the ‘Little Apocalypse’ and extends throughout the whole chapter as we have this. In order to make some sense of this, there are some jigsaw puzzle pieces that we need to put together.
Firstly there is the style of writing. It uses the apocalyptic language of the Old and New Testament and specifically that of the book of Daniel which it quotes directly in verses 14, 19 and 26.
Secondly the setting of teaching is just outside Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, opposite the temple. Jesus is with Peter, James, Andrew and John, so he is speaking to his disciples, those who have followed him rather than the crowds. This is the longest section of Jesus’ teaching in Mark and has been likened to the farewell discourses found in John 14-16 and at the end of Matthew and the Luke and is a reminder to watch for the coming of the Son of Man.
Thirdly, the first section of our reading and the preceding verses speak of persecution and destruction to come and points to the end of the world, with the Son of Man coming and gathering up those who are faithful. This is partly fulfilled in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple, which took place in AD 70 when the Roman Army under Titus, first besieged and then finally destroyed both the city and temple, but there also remains an element which points toward the future and to the end of time, the time of which is not yet known and is only known by the Father.
Lastly against this backdrop the parable of the fig-tree and the man leaving his servants in charge of the household to await his return, is a reminder that there will be signs that will point towards what is coming and the disciples are to remain awake, and watch out for the signs.
So what can we take from this? In preparing this service, in noting where we are and in reflecting on the reading set for today, it does seem to emphasis this sense of darkness and uncertainty, the sense of unfairness and injustices that make up our everyday. But at the end of this is the reminder to watch and be alert to the signs of God’s kingdom in the world around us and reminds us that we have a job and role to play in it all. This I find is the glimmer of hope, which points us beyond ourselves and our present into the future hope of all that is to come. As was said in our opening prayer “knowing that in dark times there is always a light that can be lit.”
As I was pondering this I realised it was like the reminders to move that Fitbit gives you 10 mins before the hour at which point, I frantically jump up and pace the hallway to get that 250 step count in, unless of course, I am caught up in something and then I can either feel the vibration but don’t move and then suddenly realise I am past the hour or simply miss it altogether. At the start of this Advent Season in a year which has been so different to all that we have known, our gospel reading reminds to look ahead and watch for the signs of all that is to come.
The following song, reflects the sense of lament we have seen in our readings this morning and the plea with God to come and be presence.
As you listen to this ponder when times are dark, what keeps you watching and waiting.
Below are a number of options to help you pray for the world, our community, those we know who need our prayers and ourselves.
A reflective and active way into prayer.
Use a labyrinth (examples below) image as a way of demonstrating that it is worthwhile persevering and waiting. Follow the path – we can see how we move in and out from the center of prayer and the labyrinth can help us keep hope and persevering
A prayer for all ages
God of goodness, you know what is most important:
love, justice and honesty.
Help us to know what is most important in our lives
and to work for that, and to wait for that,
and to keep remembering.
Because you know what is most important:
love, justice and honesty.
Prayers of Intercession
After each bidding, the response is: Lord, we pray.
For those who have waited for years for the dawn…
For those for whom hope seems dim…
For those whose morning brought the unexpected…
For those struggling to adjust to new realities…
For those whose fires have grown dim…
For those who are ignoring the signs of the times…
For those who are struggling to keep awake…
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.
The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.
“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”
Blessing and Dismissal
As you step into this coming week, may the lord be with us in our preparation, in our watching and in our waiting.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
As we await our coming Saviour,
Go in the peace of Christ
Thanks be to God