| ©2018 St. Blasius Old Parish Church, Shanklin

Hymn: O Come, o come, Emmanuel
Sleepers awake
SPIRITUAL COMMUNION SPIRITUAL COMMUNION St Blasius Home Page St Blasius Home Page St John’s Home Page St John’s Home Page
Hymn: Hark a thrilling voice is calling
Opening our hearts to God 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 Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Acknowledging our need of Forgiveness Remembering that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven and to bring us to eternal life: We confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all. (We keep a moment of quiet for silent reflection) Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our neighbourin thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life; to the glory of your name. Amen. Affirming God’s Forgiveness Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Collect Prayer 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.
Bible Readings Jeremiah 33.14-16 14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Reflections Reverend Jonathan Hall On this Advent Sunday, we mark the beginning of the Advent Season - this time of preparation for our celebration of Christmas. The message of Advent, is that God is with us, and that Jesus, the promised Messiah, is the one who leads us through all our times of darkness by the light, love and hope that he brings into the world. Alongside the Advent Study programme, our Sunday worship on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, also provides us with a reminder of the promises of God. expressed in his steadfast love for his people, through the words of the prophets, in the witness of John the Baptist and through the faithfulness of Mary. Each week, we light an additional candle on our advent ring, representing each of these. The first candle reminds us of God’s people, and the leaders he called to guide them through many different generations and in many and difficult situations. We think of the great Old Testament figures of Abraham, Moses, King David and many others – the great Patriarchs of the Jewish and Christian faith. It was through them that God gave his people the law – a guide to the way in which they should order their lives – basic principles on which community life should be founded. Jesus summed up all these laws in his twofold command to “love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength; and to love our neighbours as ourselves.” During this season of Advent, we do indeed have the opportunity to refocus on God and his act of love in sending his Son to share our human life with us. We also have the opportunity to look around us – to think of our neighbours, and where we see a need, respond in love and compassion. Many churches up and down the country will be running or supporting foodbanks, winter shelters, the work of Shelter, Crisis at Christmas, or many of the other organisations which during the coming weeks will be providing food, clothing and shelter for those in greatest need. This is all part of acknowledging that as God’s people today, we are called to live by his laws, his standards and values – at the core of which is the showing of love and compassion to those in need. Next Sunday, our candle will remind us of the Old Testament Prophets – like Malachi, Micha, Jeremiah and Isaiah from whom we heard in our reading this morning. The prophets were called by God to speak to his people at particular times, in particular situations. Often it was to challenge and rebuke. At times it was to guide and encourage. Always, however, it was to show that despite the failings of God’s people, God was steadfast in his love towards them. However, far they strayed form his path, he would reach out to save them. All of these words convey to us the same message of hope as they did to the people of Israel at the time of the prophets. In amidst the chaos and confusion of our world, God’s love is constant from the beginning of time to the end of time. And we can know that we are not alone, for if we would but open our eyes and see, God is alongside us, as our Saviour and friend – in the words and actions of all those who today strive to live by the teaching and example of Christ. The world can find a way forward in the face of even the greatest difficulty and suffering – if we would but listen to the words of the prophets who remind us of the need for justice, integrity and generosity of spirit in supporting the vulnerable – for it is when we live by these values that the love of God flows into our lives to comfort and heal. The third candle in our advent ring reminds us of John the Baptist – the one who was called to prepare the way of the Lord, by calling his people to repentance. The baptism to which John called people was all about acknowledging weaknesses and failings; and making a fresh start in relationship with God. Advent provides each one of us with a personal opportunity to reflect on our lives. To allow the light of God’s love to show us those areas that we need to change. Ways of behaving and relating to each other and to God which are not fully consistent with our desire to follow in the way of Christ. That great advent collect prayer speaks powerfully of the way in which God will help us to do this, if we are willing to open ourselves up to him – during this time of Advent, may God indeed… “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light.” On the fourth Sunday in Advent, our candle reminds us of Mary the Mother of Jesus – and her special role in bringing the Messiah into the world. When the Angel told Mary that she was to be the mother of this special baby – she didn’t say “What’s in it for me?” Or… “Give me a chance to think about it – I’ll let you know next week!” She said, simply – “behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your will.” Advent gives each of us an opportunity to offer ourselves afresh in God’s service. A chance to say “here I am Lord, take me and use me.” Like Mary, we can open ourselves to God’s will and what he might be asking us to do for him in our lives at this time. For some, this might mean finding the courage to move in totally different direction, confident in the guidance of his Spirit. For others it might mean finding the strength to stick at what we are already doing, with fresh reassurance that God is with us. For others it may be about waiting and watching, being open to discern the lead of God’s Spirit when the time is right. The important thing is genuinely opening ourselves to God. As we Journey through Advent together this year, I hope that we can each taking time to pause and reflect, to hear again the promises of God spoken through prophets of Old and lived out in the lives of those God called to share in his plan for Salvation, so that the message of hope may touch our lives afresh today. For it will be by responding to the call during Advent to sharpen our faith and our commitment, that Christ will continue to bring healing into a broken and divided world, and light and hope into even the blackest of situations. Thanks be to God. Amen
Prayers (Based on an Advent prayer meditation by Nick Fawcett) Loving God, we thank you for the hope that you give us in Christ, the meaning and purpose, joy and fulfilment you bring us through him. Hear our prayer for those who find it hard to hope, those for whom life is hard. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We think of those who are in need around our world: The hungry and undernourished, homeless and refugees, sick and suffering - All those who are deprived of their dignity in their suffering. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We think of those who are caught up in war - overwhelmed by fear and hatred, their homes and livelihoods destroyed, each day lived under the threat of violence. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We pray for those who feel overwhelmed by life - Those who are lonely, frightened, sad, weary - many dreading what the next day might bring. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. Loving God, may the message of hope which Advent brings burst afresh into our world, bringing help, hope and healing. And may we, and all who follow in the way of Christ, play our part in showing his love, displaying his care, and fulfilling his purpose, so that he might come again this Christmas to all who have lost hope. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness.
God’s Blessing Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon us, scatter the darkness from before our path, and make us ready to meet him when he comes in glory; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Be with us all, ever more. Amen.
Hymn: Lo he comes with clouds descending
We gather together all our prayers and praises in the words that Jesus taught us… The Lord’s Prayer Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And 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.
Taize Song: Wait for the Lord
Sunday 27th November 2021 Advent Sunday Worship and Prayer
Luke 21.25-36 25 ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ 29 Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 ‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
1 Thessalonians 3.9-end 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

| ©2018 St. Blasius Old Parish Church, Shanklin

Hymn: O Come, o come, Emmanuel
Sleepers awake
SPIRITUAL COMMUNION SPIRITUAL COMMUNION St Blasius Home Page St Blasius Home Page St John’s Home Page St John’s Home Page
Hymn: Hark a thrilling voice is calling
Opening our hearts to God 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 Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Acknowledging our need of Forgiveness Remembering that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven and to bring us to eternal life: We confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all. (We keep a moment of quiet for silent reflection) Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our neighbourin thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life; to the glory of your name. Amen. Affirming God’s Forgiveness Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Collect Prayer 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.
Bible Readings Jeremiah 33.14-16 14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Reflections Reverend Jonathan Hall On this Advent Sunday, we mark the beginning of the Advent Season - this time of preparation for our celebration of Christmas. The message of Advent, is that God is with us, and that Jesus, the promised Messiah, is the one who leads us through all our times of darkness by the light, love and hope that he brings into the world. Alongside the Advent Study programme, our Sunday worship on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, also provides us with a reminder of the promises of God. expressed in his steadfast love for his people, through the words of the prophets, in the witness of John the Baptist and through the faithfulness of Mary. Each week, we light an additional candle on our advent ring, representing each of these. The first candle reminds us of God’s people, and the leaders he called to guide them through many different generations and in many and difficult situations. We think of the great Old Testament figures of Abraham, Moses, King David and many others – the great Patriarchs of the Jewish and Christian faith. It was through them that God gave his people the law – a guide to the way in which they should order their lives – basic principles on which community life should be founded. Jesus summed up all these laws in his twofold command to “love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength; and to love our neighbours as ourselves.” During this season of Advent, we do indeed have the opportunity to refocus on God and his act of love in sending his Son to share our human life with us. We also have the opportunity to look around us – to think of our neighbours, and where we see a need, respond in love and compassion. Many churches up and down the country will be running or supporting foodbanks, winter shelters, the work of Shelter, Crisis at Christmas, or many of the other organisations which during the coming weeks will be providing food, clothing and shelter for those in greatest need. This is all part of acknowledging that as God’s people today, we are called to live by his laws, his standards and values – at the core of which is the showing of love and compassion to those in need. Next Sunday, our candle will remind us of the Old Testament Prophets – like Malachi, Micha, Jeremiah and Isaiah from whom we heard in our reading this morning. The prophets were called by God to speak to his people at particular times, in particular situations. Often it was to challenge and rebuke. At times it was to guide and encourage. Always, however, it was to show that despite the failings of God’s people, God was steadfast in his love towards them. However, far they strayed form his path, he would reach out to save them. All of these words convey to us the same message of hope as they did to the people of Israel at the time of the prophets. In amidst the chaos and confusion of our world, God’s love is constant from the beginning of time to the end of time. And we can know that we are not alone, for if we would but open our eyes and see, God is alongside us, as our Saviour and friend – in the words and actions of all those who today strive to live by the teaching and example of Christ. The world can find a way forward in the face of even the greatest difficulty and suffering – if we would but listen to the words of the prophets who remind us of the need for justice, integrity and generosity of spirit in supporting the vulnerable – for it is when we live by these values that the love of God flows into our lives to comfort and heal. The third candle in our advent ring reminds us of John the Baptist – the one who was called to prepare the way of the Lord, by calling his people to repentance. The baptism to which John called people was all about acknowledging weaknesses and failings; and making a fresh start in relationship with God. Advent provides each one of us with a personal opportunity to reflect on our lives. To allow the light of God’s love to show us those areas that we need to change. Ways of behaving and relating to each other and to God which are not fully consistent with our desire to follow in the way of Christ. That great advent collect prayer speaks powerfully of the way in which God will help us to do this, if we are willing to open ourselves up to him – during this time of Advent, may God indeed… “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light.” On the fourth Sunday in Advent, our candle reminds us of Mary the Mother of Jesus – and her special role in bringing the Messiah into the world. When the Angel told Mary that she was to be the mother of this special baby – she didn’t say “What’s in it for me?” Or… “Give me a chance to think about it – I’ll let you know next week!” She said, simply – “behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your will.” Advent gives each of us an opportunity to offer ourselves afresh in God’s service. A chance to say “here I am Lord, take me and use me.” Like Mary, we can open ourselves to God’s will and what he might be asking us to do for him in our lives at this time. For some, this might mean finding the courage to move in totally different direction, confident in the guidance of his Spirit. For others it might mean finding the strength to stick at what we are already doing, with fresh reassurance that God is with us. For others it may be about waiting and watching, being open to discern the lead of God’s Spirit when the time is right. The important thing is genuinely opening ourselves to God. As we Journey through Advent together this year, I hope that we can each taking time to pause and reflect, to hear again the promises of God spoken through prophets of Old and lived out in the lives of those God called to share in his plan for Salvation, so that the message of hope may touch our lives afresh today. For it will be by responding to the call during Advent to sharpen our faith and our commitment, that Christ will continue to bring healing into a broken and divided world, and light and hope into even the blackest of situations. Thanks be to God. Amen
Prayers (Based on an Advent prayer meditation by Nick Fawcett) Loving God, we thank you for the hope that you give us in Christ, the meaning and purpose, joy and fulfilment you bring us through him. Hear our prayer for those who find it hard to hope, those for whom life is hard. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We think of those who are in need around our world: The hungry and undernourished, homeless and refugees, sick and suffering - All those who are deprived of their dignity in their suffering. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We think of those who are caught up in war - overwhelmed by fear and hatred, their homes and livelihoods destroyed, each day lived under the threat of violence. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We pray for those who feel overwhelmed by life - Those who are lonely, frightened, sad, weary - many dreading what the next day might bring. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. Loving God, may the message of hope which Advent brings burst afresh into our world, bringing help, hope and healing. And may we, and all who follow in the way of Christ, play our part in showing his love, displaying his care, and fulfilling his purpose, so that he might come again this Christmas to all who have lost hope. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness.
God’s Blessing Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon us, scatter the darkness from before our path, and make us ready to meet him when he comes in glory; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Be with us all, ever more. Amen.
We gather together all our prayers and praises in the words that Jesus taught us… The Lord’s Prayer Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And 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.
Taize Song: Wait for the Lord
Sunday 27th November 2021 Advent Sunday Worship and Prayer
Hymn: Lo he comes with clouds descending
Luke 21.25-36 25 ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ 29 Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 ‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
1 Thessalonians 3.9-end 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

| ©2018 St. Blasius Old Parish Church, Shanklin

Hymn: O Come, o come, Emmanuel
Sleepers awake
Opening our hearts to God 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 Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Acknowledging our need of Forgiveness Remembering that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven and to bring us to eternal life: We confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all. (We keep a moment of quiet for silent reflection) Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our neighbourin thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life; to the glory of your name. Amen. Affirming God’s Forgiveness Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Collect Prayer 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.
Bible Readings Jeremiah 33.14-16 14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Prayers (Based on an Advent prayer meditation by Nick Fawcett) Loving God, we thank you for the hope that you give us in Christ, the meaning and purpose, joy and fulfilment you bring us through him. Hear our prayer for those who find it hard to hope, those for whom life is hard. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We think of those who are in need around our world: The hungry and undernourished, homeless and refugees, sick and suffering - All those who are deprived of their dignity in their suffering. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We think of those who are caught up in war - overwhelmed by fear and hatred, their homes and livelihoods destroyed, each day lived under the threat of violence. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. We pray for those who feel overwhelmed by life - Those who are lonely, frightened, sad, weary - many dreading what the next day might bring. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness. Loving God, may the message of hope which Advent brings burst afresh into our world, bringing help, hope and healing. And may we, and all who follow in the way of Christ, play our part in showing his love, displaying his care, and fulfilling his purpose, so that he might come again this Christmas to all who have lost hope. Reach out to them in their need, and may the light of Christ break into their darkness.
Taize Song: Wait for the Lord
Sunday 27th November 2021 Advent Sunday Worship and Prayer
SPIRITUAL COMMUNION SPIRITUAL COMMUNION St Blasius Home Page St Blasius Home Page St John’s Home Page St John’s Home Page
Reflections Reverend Jonathan Hall On this Advent Sunday, we mark the beginning of the Advent Season - this time of preparation for our celebration of Christmas. The message of Advent, is that God is with us, and that Jesus, the promised Messiah, is the one who leads us through all our times of darkness by the light, love and hope that he brings into the world. Alongside the Advent Study programme, our Sunday worship on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, also provides us with a reminder of the promises of God. expressed in his steadfast love for his people, through the words of the prophets, in the witness of John the Baptist and through the faithfulness of Mary. Each week, we light an additional candle on our advent ring, representing each of these. The first candle reminds us of God’s people, and the leaders he called to guide them through many different generations and in many and difficult situations. We think of the great Old Testament figures of Abraham, Moses, King David and many others – the great Patriarchs of the Jewish and Christian faith. It was through them that God gave his people the law – a guide to the way in which they should order their lives – basic principles on which community life should be founded. Jesus summed up all these laws in his twofold command to “love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength; and to love our neighbours as ourselves.” During this season of Advent, we do indeed have the opportunity to refocus on God and his act of love in sending his Son to share our human life with us. We also have the opportunity to look around us – to think of our neighbours, and where we see a need, respond in love and compassion. Many churches up and down the country will be running or supporting foodbanks, winter shelters, the work of Shelter, Crisis at Christmas, or many of the other organisations which during the coming weeks will be providing food, clothing and shelter for those in greatest need. This is all part of acknowledging that as God’s people today, we are called to live by his laws, his standards and values – at the core of which is the showing of love and compassion to those in need. Next Sunday, our candle will remind us of the Old Testament Prophets – like Malachi, Micha, Jeremiah and Isaiah from whom we heard in our reading this morning. The prophets were called by God to speak to his people at particular times, in particular situations. Often it was to challenge and rebuke. At times it was to guide and encourage. Always, however, it was to show that despite the failings of God’s people, God was steadfast in his love towards them. However, far they strayed form his path, he would reach out to save them. All of these words convey to us the same message of hope as they did to the people of Israel at the time of the prophets. In amidst the chaos and confusion of our world, God’s love is constant from the beginning of time to the end of time. And we can know that we are not alone, for if we would but open our eyes and see, God is alongside us, as our Saviour and friend – in the words and actions of all those who today strive to live by the teaching and example of Christ. The world can find a way forward in the face of even the greatest difficulty and suffering – if we would but listen to the words of the prophets who remind us of the need for justice, integrity and generosity of spirit in supporting the vulnerable – for it is when we live by these values that the love of God flows into our lives to comfort and heal. The third candle in our advent ring reminds us of John the Baptist – the one who was called to prepare the way of the Lord, by calling his people to repentance. The baptism to which John called people was all about acknowledging weaknesses and failings; and making a fresh start in relationship with God. Advent provides each one of us with a personal opportunity to reflect on our lives. To allow the light of God’s love to show us those areas that we need to change. Ways of behaving and relating to each other and to God which are not fully consistent with our desire to follow in the way of Christ. That great advent collect prayer speaks powerfully of the way in which God will help us to do this, if we are willing to open ourselves up to him – during this time of Advent, may God indeed… “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light.” On the fourth Sunday in Advent, our candle reminds us of Mary the Mother of Jesus – and her special role in bringing the Messiah into the world. When the Angel told Mary that she was to be the mother of this special baby – she didn’t say “What’s in it for me?” Or… “Give me a chance to think about it – I’ll let you know next week!” She said, simply – “behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your will.” Advent gives each of us an opportunity to offer ourselves afresh in God’s service. A chance to say “here I am Lord, take me and use me.” Like Mary, we can open ourselves to God’s will and what he might be asking us to do for him in our lives at this time. For some, this might mean finding the courage to move in totally different direction, confident in the guidance of his Spirit. For others it might mean finding the strength to stick at what we are already doing, with fresh reassurance that God is with us. For others it may be about waiting and watching, being open to discern the lead of God’s Spirit when the time is right. The important thing is genuinely opening ourselves to God. As we Journey through Advent together this year, I hope that we can each taking time to pause and reflect, to hear again the promises of God spoken through prophets of Old and lived out in the lives of those God called to share in his plan for Salvation, so that the message of hope may touch our lives afresh today. For it will be by responding to the call during Advent to sharpen our faith and our commitment, that Christ will continue to bring healing into a broken and divided world, and light and hope into even the blackest of situations. Thanks be to God. Amen
Luke 21.25-36 25 ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ 29 Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 ‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
1 Thessalonians 3.9-end 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Hymn: Lo he comes with clouds descending
God’s Blessing Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon us, scatter the darkness from before our path, and make us ready to meet him when he comes in glory; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Be with us all, ever more. Amen.
We gather together all our prayers and praises in the words that Jesus taught us… The Lord’s Prayer Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And 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.
Hymn: Hark a thrilling voice is calling