Sunday Day Worship

Weekly Service Sheet 29th November 2020


Call:  O people of God, let us draw near to God.  O people who sometimes do not listen, let us listen to God’s name and be renewed by the ‘Name Above All Names’, the name of our maker, who made us, and who shapes us to be vessels of light in waiting times.   Come, let us worship.  Let us worship the ‘Name Above All Names’.                   Amen.


(If you have your own Advent candle at home you can light the first candle as you begin worship today with an alternative prayer: We light a candle of 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.                                    Amen.)


Psalms 80:1 – 7, 17 – 19


Prayer:  We come to God, sometimes aware, and sometimes not aware.
Sometimes aware of our need,
sometimes ignoring others’ needs.   You wait for us, O God, and as you wait, you call us to wait for you, too.  As we gather around your Word may we remember how you have helped us in the kindness of a stranger,  in the comfort of a friend, in the call for justice, in the shout for mercy.   And make us, who wait for you, approach you and each other with new vigilance, and with new hope. 


Hymn:  Great is the darkness that covers the earth  StF 405 not in R&S


As we hope to come towards the end of ‘lock-down’ mark 2, we are mindful that further restrictions are likely in the future and will result in our need to adjust what can be provided.  Thanks to everyone for their understanding and support of our leadership teams.


In the western world Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year.  During advent we are reminded that there was a time when the Christian Church was not founded and the people of God were waiting in darkness for the promised Messiah.  We glimpse through the prophetic writings of Isaiah how the people were waiting.  Theirs was not a time of excitement and expectation like ours might be today.  They were firmly in the dark and unsure and uncertain of what might be coming.  Nevertheless, they waited in patience and hope that one like King David would once again restore the nation and free the people from oppression, setting the captive free.


At the beginning of this Advent season we imagine the tension and with Covid-19 still embracing and strangling us, we might also hope for a better future with God’s rule, Jesus’ presence and the Holy Spirit’s power to set us free.


Prayer:  We have turned our face from you, O God, whose face is always turned towards us.  We have forsaken what we know is just.  We have ignored what we understand is true.  We have refused to believe what should be believed.   We have deceived ourselves in word and deed.   For this, we humbly repent,  and we turn our face towards you who waits for us, and makes us ever new.  Make us ever new now, O restoring God. 

God, your name is Love, and in your great love you have called us into community with each other.   With you and in you and because of you, 
we are nurtured in love.  Yours is the name that lasts for ever. 
Your love reaches into all corners, confirming those who wait for you that they wait in the name of Great Love.                                              Amen.


Hymn:  Lord of all hopefulness                StF 526 / R&S 531


Readings            Isaiah 64:1 – 9

                             Mark 13:24 – 37


In Isaiah 64, the children of Israel cried out for help from someone they could not see, nor could they be sure that they were seen.  The prophet prays and asks for an announcement of God’s presence in ways that would garner respect and recognition from both the children of Israel and their own enemies. They cried out for quaking mountains, burning brushwood, and boiling water.


Over and over in the Psalms, God’s people are told to wait: 


  • “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14); 
  • “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:9); 
  • “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).


The idea of waiting has several implications. First, that the Lord is worth waiting for.  No matter how long it takes, no matter what we have to go through, when we get to the place that God has purposed, planned, and provided, or we receive what God has promised, prepared, and produced, we will gladly testify that it was worth the wait.


Another implication of waiting is the reality that God reserves the right to keep us waiting; time was made for humans, not for God.


Sometimes we view of God’s response as slow, could it be that we are not ready for what God wants to give to us?  We would do well to remember that God is not human.  God’s Word is more powerful than any struggle we go through along our way.  God promised to be the God of Israel, and they were to be God’s people, wasn’t that enough to know?


This passage closes with an impassioned appeal for God to look favourably on the people of Israel, forget their sins against God, and to remember that they are God’s people. I am inclined to believe that the wait had far less to do with God remembering than it did with the people remembering; remembering that God is our caring and concerned parent. 


In this first Advent gospel reading, four times the disciples are called to keep awake, alert, on the watch. Something is going to happen.  The reader is drawn in with anticipation and expectation of an impending event. “In those days, after the suffering the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light…” (13:24). Wait! The something for which we wait is not the birth of the baby Jesus. It is not a manger or an overcrowded inn or shepherds in search of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Nor is it the baking of Christmas cakes, or wrapping up gifts. It is not what we expect to hear at this time of year, or perhaps, it is just not what we want to hear.


Early on Jesus calls the disciples to pay attention. Watch for deception. Watch out for yourselves. Watch during the difficult days ahead. In the face of environmental, political, social, and cosmic calamity - stay awake. It is as if there is the possibility that the disciples will miss that which should be seen and known. They do not seem to recognize Jesus, though they believe he is the Messiah. Despite their dull perception, Jesus urges them: stay alert and awake.


We enter the Advent season with a three-way call: to watch; to wait; to work. Watching can be hard. Waiting can cause disillusionment. Work can be difficult. Still, Jesus’ disciples are called to actively wait, with anticipation. We may not know what is to come, but we know Who is to come.


Offering:  God of light and night, you are to be found, whether at dusk or dawn.  Sometimes the light seems far, and the night seems long. 
May I find comfort,
whether in the soft night, or the kind dawn,  knowing that you created both,  and you wait for me, as I wait for you.          Amen.


Prayer: 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…                             Amen.


Hymn:  Longing for Light                 StF 706/ not in R&S


Blessing:  We have been called in, to be renewed in the name of the one who is love.  Even in the darkest night, even when there is only one small candle lit, your power and love restore us.   Let your light shine on us as we go from here, so that we may be warmed and strengthened to light your light all around.                                                                    Amen.

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