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Worship for 13th December 2020

Third Sunday of Advent

To listen to the sermon and a hymn dial

01604 266000.

Sunday 13th December 10:30 AM

(or whenever you wish)

This week’s message has been prepared by Rev Romeo Pedro.

This short act of worship is for use from home.  Pause to settle yourself in God’s presence, knowing that other people are sharing in worship with you.

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Light the first, second, and third candles, and use the following words:

The third candle on our Advent wreath is the joy candle because “God has done great things for us, and we rejoiced” (Psalm 126:3). The coming of Jesus our Saviour and Friend gives us joy.

Pray:

Dear God, in the coming of Jesus Christ you have done great things for us and we rejoice.

Lead us to give thanks in all circumstances, believing this is your will for us in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

STF 330 Joy to the world!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!
Let all their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders, wonders of his love.

Prayers of Praise, Thanksgiving and Confession

Jesus, we praise you that you come among us quietly, carefully, lovingly, unexpectedly. We praise you that you are patient and wait for us. Thank you for being our friend.

God of the mystery, sometimes we don’t see what is important: (pause with hands over eyes) help us to open up. (remove hands)

Sometimes we don’t hear what other people are saying: (pause with hands over ears)
help us to open up. (remove hands)

Sometimes we keep silent when we should speak: (pause with hands over mouth)
help us to open up. (remove hands)

“Holy Spirit, Comforter, come and breathe upon the worries that can keep us far from you. Enable us to discover the wellsprings of trust placed in the depths of our being” Amen.

[Prayer provided by Sheila Howard (by Brother Roger of Taizé)]

Bible Reading

John the Baptist denies being the Messiah

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’

21 They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’

He said, ‘I am not.’

‘Are you the Prophet?’

He answered, ‘No.’

22 Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptise if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’

26 ‘I baptise with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

STF 198
Emmanuel, Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
His name is called, Emmanuel.
God with us, revealed in us,
His name is called, Emmanuel.

A reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Advent

Our lives feel so very real and large to us that it can be very difficult to imagine being part of anything bigger than ourselves. Our daily needs and struggles can feel overwhelming and the call to think about – let alone act in service of – anything beyond our daily survival can feel like more than we can manage.

When we couple this with the constant call from motivational gurus to make ourselves the centre of our own universes, we may begin to think that the solution to our problems is to become more self-centred, not less.

It is not self-protection but self- giving that opens us to the best possible human life (and this is true for individuals, organisations and people groups). The challenge is for us to really believe this.

The Pharisees who had been sent to question John wanted a simple answer that would clarify his identity so they could work out how to respond. But, John refused to be distracted by questions that focussed attention on him. He never lost sight of the fact that his ministry was simply a preparation for the more important ministry (of Jesus) that would follow. Even when he was asked why he felt he had the right to baptise, he simply redirected attention to the one who would come after him. When we allow our hearts and desires to be captured by God’s vision of a world of love and justice, and when we allow this vision to lead us beyond ourselves into a much bigger world, we discover a new sense of abundance, purpose and meaning to our lives.

There are so many voices in our world telling us that our first priority should be ourselves. We are constantly trained to focus on our own pleasure, or security, or health, or beauty. The implied promise is that if we put ourselves first we will find our greatest happiness and fulfilment. Yet, our generation is one of the least fulfilled and the most miserable in history.

The idea of giving ourselves for something bigger than ourselves has largely become lost, but with it, we have lost our souls and any real sense of meaning in our lives.  John’s story reminds us that abundant life is found not when we focus on ourselves, but when we give ourselves to something bigger, and when we use our lives as signposts to point beyond ourselves to God’s Reign of love and justice.

How can you live as a signpost that points beyond your own concerns and dreams to those of Christ today? Perhaps the biggest shift that most of us need to make in order to become signposts for God’s Reign is to use our energy more for the sake of others than for ourselves.  It is tempting to make our lives about our own goals and desires. But, when we give our lives in service of others, we not only contribute to the healing of our world, but we also find the richest, most fulfilling life possible.

This week, find one way that you can bring joy to others by giving yourself for others and making a commitment to practice this as a daily discipline.

Prayers of intercession

We pray today for all who are downtrodden, all who are oppressed, all who know the heavy hand of marginalisation on them.

God, we turn to you, remembering the words of Mary, praying that you will lift up the lowly, you will raise the voice of justice, and you will scatter oppression. May all who are oppressed be set free. We ask this, in joy and gratitude. In your name we pray.

We pray that we might find rhythms of life that sustain us here. Rhythms for cultivating and renewing the earth; human community; justice; and creativity. We ask this, in joy and gratitude. In your name we pray.

“We thank you that we are able to talk with you about our current challenging situation in the life of our circuit: the uncertainties of our times both locally and nationally leave us struggling to know quite what to do first.

Loving God you know the place we are in and we take comfort from that assurance.
May we be much more accepting of your promises, that you’ve given us, that you are always with us in all of our life’s journey.
We recognise that we can’t go on as we are with our existing levels of attendance commitment and the number of buildings to be maintained.
Give us all a new vision of what you want the future to look like and the part that we might play in it. May we discover new avenues of witness and service forced upon us by our present predicament.
Bless our ministerial and leadership teams.
Give them wisdom as they endeavour to lead us in uncharted waters.
Help us in these times, like those who have gone before, to respond in faith, ready to follow where you will lead, working for your Reign and the glory of your name in Northampton and surrounding area”. 

Amen.

(Prayer written by Derek Taylor)

The Lord's Prayer

Please use the version that you prefer

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.

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.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
Now and for ever.

Amen.

STF 487 You shall go out with joy

You shall go out with joy
and be led forth with peace,
and the mountains and the hills
shall break forth before you.
There’ll be shouts of joy
and the trees of the field
shall clap, shall clap their hands.

And the trees of the field shall clap their hands,
and the trees of the field shall clap their hands,
and the trees of the field shall clap their hands,
and you’ll go out with joy.

Blessing

Gathered in, Loving God, we have been nurtured by your Spirit of Life. Now, sent out, we go in the assurance that your Word lasts for ever, and your promises are true. Let the lowly be lifted up. Let the hungry be fed. Let the mighty listen: God, who is merciful, hears all. Come, let us go in the blessed joy of God’s kindness.

Why not put your candle in the window every Sunday evening throughout Advent!

 

Worship materials prepared by Rev Romeo Pedro

Webpage: Paul Deakin

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