Virtual Services

2nd Sunday of Advent – 6th December 2020

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to our time of  worshiping  God together. Today is the second Sunday of advent , the season when we prepare for the coming of our Lord. There has been a lot of  talk about how

Christmas will be different this year. But for Christian’s why will it be different.  What we are celebrating is no less important to us this year than it was last year. What will be different is the way we are able to celebrate and who we will be able to celebrate with. But how much of what will be different actually has anything to do with our personel relationship with God through the incarnation of his anointed one  The answer is nothing . Wherever we are, whoever is with us we can still give thanks to God   , on Christmas morning.  We are still able to be part of a service of thanksgiving Whether that be via a website,  television, radio or in a church building . Yes the worship we can do together as a church family will be different But is that necessarily  a bad thing? Perhaps instead of advent being the normal hectic countdown to December 25th in which all   our efforts are focused on completing the familiar expected seasonal church activities  this unusual year has  given us the opportunity  to look at the advent of our Lord afresh and  focus on what really matters our own personal relationship with God

Words of preparation.

We have come together in the name of Christ
To offer our praise and thanksgiving
To hear and receive God’s holy word,
To pray for the needs of the world,
And to seek the forgiveness of our sins,
 that by the power of the Holy Spirit
we may give ourselves to the service of God.

All: We come from scattered lives to meet with God.

Let us recognize his presence with us.

Silence is kept.

As God’s people we have gathered:

let us worship him together. 

Worship

Confession

Jesus said “before you offer your gift, go and be reconciled” . As sisters and brothers in God’s family’
We come together to ask our Father for forgiveness

We have not always worshipped God, our creator.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We have not always followed Christ, our Saviour.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We have not always trusted in the Spirit, our guide.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
You made us to be one family,
yet we have divided humanity.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
You were born a Jew to reconcile all people,
yet we have brought disharmony amongst races.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
You rejoice in our differences,
yet we make them a cause of enmity.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you
our lack of care for the world you have given us.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you
our selfishness in not sharing the earth’s bounty fairly.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We confess to you
our failure to protect resources for others.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you our selfishness and lack of love:
fill us with your Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you our fear and failure in sharing our faith:
fill us with your Spirit.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We confess to you our stubbornness and lack of trust:
fill us with your Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May God who loved the world so much
That he sent his Son to be our Saviour
forgive us our sins
and make us holy to serve him in the world,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Psalm 2

Why are the nations so angry?
    Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
    the rulers plot together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.
“Let us break their chains,” they cry,
    “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”

But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
    The Lord scoffs at them.
Then in anger he rebukes them,
    terrifying them with his fierce fury.
For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne
    in Jerusalem,[a] on my holy mountain.”

The king proclaims the Lord’s decree:
“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son.[b]
    Today I have become your Father.[c]
Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
    the whole earth as your possession.
You will break[d] them with an iron rod
    and smash them like clay pots.’”

10 Now then, you kings, act wisely!
    Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11 Serve the Lord with reverent fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Submit to God’s royal son,[e] or he will become angry,
    and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
    But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

 

Lighting the candle

People went to deserted places
to hear what was most important.
Gathered here today, we light a second candle
as a symbol of our pilgrimage
towards the things that will last for ever:
righteousness, loving-kindness,
peace and an eternal home in you, O God,
who calls all things towards the fullness of life.
Amen.

Word

John the Baptist prepares the way

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b] as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way’[c] –
‘a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.”’[d]

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptise you with[e] water, but he will baptise you with[f] the Holy Spirit.’

The baptism and testing of Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

Mark 1
1-11

Advent means the arrival of someone or something important. Currently we are at the advent of a vaccine for Covid 19 . Something that we have been waiting for for sometime, to restore us to something like things were before this pandemic. However, it will be some years before its benefits are felt worldwide.  The nation of Israel  had been waiting millennia  for the Messiah  , God’s anointed one to come and restore the nation to its former glory.

For the writer of today’s  bible message the arrival of the Messiah became apparent when Jesus met with John the Baptist. But rather than look at this reading with the eyes and ears dulled by 2000 years of Christian familiarity let us try to approach the  introduction to this book as the readers and listeners would have done when it was first written sometime between AD 62 and AD 70. These were the years of the Roman Jewish  wars which culminated in ad 70 when  the Romans  captured Jerusalem  and destroyed both the city and the temple .Israel ceased to exist as a political nation

  It was a century after publication that  the book was attributed to Mark Exactly who Mark was remains uncertain. At a time of national turmoil,  when the very centre of Israel’s  religious  and political life was destroyed this book minus the much later additions of verse numbers and  sub headings burst onto the scene.  The first sentence was the original frontispiece and what an impact that sentence would have made.

For a start it contained the Greek word euangelion which has been  translated into English as Gospel, a word   we take  to mean Good news . But today  that phrase  neither does justice to   the original Greek word  nor to the significance of the advent of Christ to an individual.

 The English word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell (“good story”). The classical Greek word euangelion means “a reward for bringing of good news”. In ancient times it was the word used to signify that what followed was an official Royal proclamation. Throughout the Roman empire the term was also used to announce the appearance of or accession to the throne of the emperor .

When  people heard  euangelion they  understood they were about to hear a weighty, authoritative message  about  an event  that  had  changed the condition in which they lived , something that changed not only the politics but also  the possibilities,.

 So the   title sentence  declared  that this is an official proclamation concerning  a change in the prevailing system of things that brings life changing ramifications with the inauguration of the new reign of Jesus the anointed son of God.

The original reader would be aware  that the full understanding of the authority of this  Jesus  hinges on listening to the entire proclamation, that is reading the entire good news story, only then would the reward on offer become apparent  and open to adoption in their life situation. It is not possible to fully grasp the enormous consequences of this message by listening to selective small sections.

 

The book opens with a composite quotation from Malachi 3:1and Isa.40:3 Texts which readers would  recognise as prophecies about the  Jewish expectation of the day of the Lord,  when Israel’s God comes in power to dispense salvation and judgement, the day of his indisputable rule over his world. The Malachi prophecy ends with” see I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” In the figure of John the Baptist, that herald the second Elijah  Isaiah’s voice in the wilderness had come. He dressed much  like the great prophet and for food he ate what was available in the wilderness and like the ancient prophets he preached repentance. Encouraging people  to turn away from  disobeying God and to make a positive turn back to God. As a sign  of their repentance  they were to be baptized by John in the river Jordan. Like the heralds of important Roman officials of the time John declared that someone of prominence would soon arrive .He  will baptise people that turn to God with the Holy Spirit. Not merely an outward washing with water but the inward rebirth which is the mark of the coming of God’s Holy Spirit.

Then suddenly here he is Jesus from Nazareth  in Galilee. An unknown northerner, with a very common name, from a humble village in an unpopular provincial region. Hardly the embodiment of a figure of great power and authority that people envisaged as the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. But immediately things begin to happen as Jesus emerges from the water of baptism he sees heaven torn apart and the Spirit  of God descending on him and a voice from heaven using words echoing  Isaiah 42:1 blended with  psalm 2:7 declares him the Son  of God. Although we are not told  and should not assume that  the voice was heard by anyone else,   this is the decisive moment,  with no prelude, no explanations , no family background , no Christmas story  here is the central figure the anointed one has arrived. The Holy Spirit  is once again active in the land working through the ministry of Jesus. The challenge of the introduction to this official proclamation is will you allow yourself to be spoken to by this figure? Will you enter into the changed state of affairs that his story is about. Have you got eyes to see that the promised Messiah has appeared and will you respond appropriately.

  One more important point   the title sentence,  reads “the beginning  of the gospel”,  the author regards the whole book as but the start of making real the rewards of the good news in our  life. We who have accepted Christ and have ears to hear his message are now open to the motivation, guidance and transformation of   the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Thus Our relationship with God will be   evident in the way we conduct our selves . Our relationship with God is witnessed by the interaction we have with God through ,  our private prayers ,reading His Holy Word and subsequently the everyday interactions we have with people wherever we find ourselves . That relationship is not manifested by the things we do out of duty because tradition demands or expect it nor is it measured by the number of  church activities and services that we are involved in. We need to guard against   letting go the commands of God whilst holding on to the traditions of man.  Our relationship with God is made obvious by the things we do instinctively that clearly  demonstrate God’s love residing in us through the presence of the Holy Spirit . We are not far from the kingdom of God when we understand that to love God with all our heart and our neighbour as ourselves is more important than all our other offerings. So what is more important to us maintaining the traditional events of the season or helping those less fortunate than ourselves?

Even though  the Holy Spirit is active right now  in the world , many people in the world plot against the Lord and his anointed one disregarding his teaching and so there is a future dimension of God’s Kingdom still  to come. The ultimate judgement of evil, the final establishment of justice, the eradication of disease, poverty and death will find their fulfilment when Jesus the son of man returns in glory, raises up those who have been faithful to him and judges the world. When that unannounced great and dreadful day of the Lord comes how will Jesus judge  our relationship with him. ? Are we a sheep or a goat ? Have we stayed alert and kept watch or will he come and find us shirking the task ?Are we honouring Jesus with our lips but not really with our heart. Are we infact a camel trying to get through the eye of a needle? Do we need to prepare the way of the Lord by repenting  our failings, turning afresh  to God  allowing his Spirit to   transform our attitudes and  behaviours til we are truly faithful to Jesus and his teachings  filled with the peace and joy of the rewards  the good news offers.

Now is the time to  honestly review our relationship with God before he comes .

Perhaps you would find the time to Read Malachi chapters 3 and 4 then

Read the entire gospel of mark it doesn’t take very long less time than watching an episode of the crown or a football match.

Said response

Jesus, what can I give, what can I bring
To so faithful a Friend, to so loving a King?

Saviour what Can be said about God’s Son

In praise of your name for the things you have done
Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part
Of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart

You deserve my every breath, for You’ve paid the great cost
Giving up your life to death, even death on the cross
You took all my shame away, there defeated my sin
Opened up the gates of heaven and have beckoned me in

Jesus What can I give, what can I bring,
as my lowly offer to the king of kings

 I will offer up my life in spirit and truth
Pouring out the oil of love, as my worship to you
In surrender I must give my every part
Lord, receive this sacrifice of a broken heart

Witness

Prayers

God our heavenly Father ,

We thank you that we are free to worship you. We lift to you fellow Christians in so many parts of the world who are not free to praise you We pray for all those who face persecution , imprisonment and death because they acknowledge you as Lord and Saviour. Pour out your Holy Spirit  on them and give them strength to face their accusers. . Change the hearts and minds of those who threaten your followers and let them see the beauty of your coming Kingdom of justice, peace and love

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Loving Lord we thank you that we live in a country where there is ample food, we pray for the millions of people around the world who are facing famine and severe malnutrition. We particularly lift  to you Chad, Madagascar, Haiti, Mozambique, Liberia , Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Rwanda. Lord we pray for the leaders of the rich nations  of the world that you will inspire and lead them with the gift of your wisdom and  guide them  to share their resources and send aid to these people. Father do not let the needy be ignored.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We thank you Lord for the development of vaccines for covid 19.  We thank you that we live in a country with a National Health service. We pray Lord for people  affected by this pandemic who live  in countries where  medical treatment is not freely available to all.  We particularly lift to you , India, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia and the United States. Speak your word of peace in their midst and give them hope in their troubles. Enlighten the leaders of the nations and all those who possess power and money that they may avoid indifference, that they will seek the common good .

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for our community of Totley, for all who live and work here.  We thank you for all your blessings in the past and we pray for your guidance in the future. Especially we pray for those families struggling with work related stress. For families affected by the financial worries. For families grieving the loss of a loved one. We lift to you all who are suffering in mind body or spirit and ask that  you will comfort and support them in their times of trouble.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

  Lord our God show us our place in this world . Make us watchful and keep us faithful, help us to serve others where we can as Christ has served us.  So that when our Lord comes he will not find us sleeping but active in his service and joyful in his praise

Merciful  Father

Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son , our Saviour Jesus Christ

Amen

We say together 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.
Amen.

Community

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.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Blessing and Dismissal

Closing prayers

God, you are everything to us,

giving us life,

filling us with love,

and setting us free from sin

that we might live in you.

Accept the work of our hands,

take our lives,

give us your peace

and renew us in the service of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all,

now and evermore.

 Amen.

 

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ

Amen

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church

There are also the sermons available from the Bishop’s senior staff here: https://www.sheffield.anglican.org/video-sermons.