Armadale UCA

6th December 2020

` Get ready - God Is Near`

Advent 2

Rev Fiona Winn

Welcome and Grace

Advent liturgy
and
opening prayer

Advent 2
This second Sunday in Advent we light a candle for peace.
Prayer:
God of the quiet earth, as we light this second Advent candle,
we pray that You will help us think of peace…
pray for peace…act for peace - that the world may be at peace and all its people live in peace.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
We light the candle. We come to pray and our hearts cry out
`How long?`
You are God over all.
You come to this world in Your Son, Jesus Christ.
You speak through prophets moved by Your Spirit
to encourage hope and faith and love;
to lift up tired hearts, to encourage faint hearts,
to warm cold hearts and bind up broken hearts.
You meet us here in our waiting, in our searching,
in our hoping, in our fear.
We long for peace. We long for the One who will bring peace –
and yet we know His way is not easy.
His way is demanding and uncompromising –
and yet we continue to believe His way
is the way to deepest joy, truest comfort, life in all its fullness.
Come Lord Jesus come. Come Lord Jesus come.
Fill our hearts with hope, our minds with truth, our lives with compassion.
Fill our worship and contemplation with joy and wonder and gratitude.
And forgive us…
For our despair and dismay at the state of the world;
the world You made and saw was good.
Lord have mercy…Lord have mercy…
Forgive our self-serving ways as we remember You have given us
Your own self in the Child of Bethlehem.
Christ have mercy…
Christ have mercy…
Forgive our complacency about and complicity in the sufferings of the world
Lord have mercy…Lord have mercy…
`Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.` Ps. 85: 7, 8
We hear Christ`s words of grace `Your sins are forgiven`
Thanks be to God. Amen

TIS 270 `On Jordan`s banks the Baptist`s cry`
St. John`s College Cambridge https://youtu.be/qVCv6vSVxEc
Canto Deo https://youtu.be/zq0f0Qo6A24

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Come, then, and hearken, for he brings
Glad tidings from the King of kings!

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
Make straight the way for God within;
Prepare we in our hearts a home,
Where such a mighty Guest may come.

For Thou art our Salvation, Lord,
Our Refuge, and our great Reward.
Without Thy grace our souls must fade
And wither like a flower decayed.

Stretch forth Thine hand, to heal our sore,
And make us rise and fall no more;
Once more upon Thy people shine,
And fill the world with love divine.

To Him Who left the throne of Heaven
To save mankind, all praise be given;
Like praise be to the Father done,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One.

Charles Coffin
Trans. John Chandler

Prayer

Readings
Isaiah 40: 1-11; Ps. 85: 1-2, 8-13; Mark 1: 1-8

Isaiah 40: 1-11 Israel’s Punishment Will End (ERV)

Your God says,
    “Comfort, comfort my people.
Speak kindly to Jerusalem and tell her,
    ‘Your time of service is finished.
    You have paid the price for your sins.’
I, the 
Lord, have punished you twice
    for every sin you committed.”
Listen, there is someone shouting:
“Prepare a way in the desert for the 
Lord
.
    Make a straight road there for our God.
Every valley must be filled.
    Every mountain and hill should be made flat.
The crooked roads should be made straight,
    and the rough ground made smooth.
Then the Glory of the Lord will be shown to everyone.
    Together, all people will see it.
Yes, this is what the 
Lord himself said!”
A voice said, “Speak!”
    So the man said, “What should I say?”
The voice said, “People are like grass.
    Any glory they enjoy is like a wildflower.
When a wind from the Lord blows on them,
    the grass dies and the flower falls.
    Yes, all people are like grass.
Grass dies and flowers fall,
    
but the word of our God lasts forever.”
Zion, you have good news to tell.
    Go up on a high mountain and shout the good news.
Jerusalem, you have good news to tell.
    Don’t be afraid; speak loudly.
Tell this news to all the cities of Judah:
    “Look, here is your God!”
10 The Lord God is coming with power.
    He will use his power to rule all the people.
He will bring rewards for his people.
    He will have their payment with him.
11 Like a good shepherd, he takes care of his people.
    He gathers them like lambs in his arms.
    He holds them close, while their mothers walk beside him.

Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13 (ERV)

To the director: A song of praise from the Korah family.

Lord, you have been so kind to your land.
    You have brought success again to the people of Jacob.
You have forgiven the bad things your people did.
    You have taken away the guilt of their sins! Selah
8I heard what the Lord God said.
    He said there would be peace for his people and his loyal followers.
    So they must not go back to their foolish way of living.
He will soon save his faithful followers.
    His glory will again live in our land.
10 God’s love will come together with his faithful people.
    Goodness and peace will greet them with a kiss.
11 People on earth will be loyal to God,
    and God in heaven will be good to them.
12 The Lord will give us many good things.
    The ground will grow many good crops.
13 Goodness will go before the Lord
    and prepare the way for him.

Mark 1: 1-8 John Prepares the Way for Jesus (ERV)

1 The Good News about Jesus the Messiah,
the Son of God,
begins with what the prophet Isaiah said would happen.
He wrote:
Listen! I will send my messenger ahead of you.
    He will prepare the way for you.”
“There is someone shouting in the desert:
‘Prepare the way for the Lord.
    Make the road straight for him.’”
So John the Baptizer came and was baptizing people in the desert area. He told them to be baptized to show that they wanted to change their lives, and then their sins would be forgiven.
All the people from Judea, including everyone from Jerusalem, came out to John. They confessed the bad things they had done, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.
John wore clothes made from camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
This is what John told the people: “There is someone coming later who is able to do more than I can. I am not good enough to be the slave who stoops down to untie his sandals.
 I baptize you with water, but the one who is coming will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

TIS 713 `Dona nobis pacem cordium`
https://youtu.be/oUXpKQWZlr0

Dona nobis pacem cordium.
Give us peace in our hearts
Ps. 85: 8
I will hear what the Lord has to say, a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people and his friends,
and those who turn to him in their hearts.
Jacques Berthier

Reflection and Q and A

Reflection – Advent 2 – Get ready! God is near.

The second Sunday in Advent we hear a reading from the prophet Isaiah and a reading in the Gospel of Mark about John the Baptist.
Seven hundred years separate these two characters and yet their words echo and amplify the same message of salvation promised in the covenant God made with His people long before.
Isaiah speaks of mercy and forgiveness. He points forward to a time when God`s reign will come, when God Himself will come. It will be a time of peace, justice, tenderness and righteousness. It will be a time of good news - not bad news or fake news…Good News.
What a word to our world so divided, polarised, filled with such animosity towards and undisguised contempt for those who are different from us.
Isaiah`s prophecy provides hope for a time coming. He sees this far off. He can`t have known what he was saying or how it would be fulfilled. He didn`t know about a man called John. But he knew what he had been given to say and he said it.
His words we hear now in 2020 and, with him, we long for this time to come in our day and into our world: this time of comfort, wholeness, completeness – the shalom of God.
Imagine such a time of peace, justice, tenderness, righteousness.
We must get ready. We must prepare.
This Advent what does that mean for us?
What do we need to get ready?
What do we need to do to get ready?
Take stock.
Who are we? Where are we heading?
Do we need to change anything?
If Isaiah looks and speaks forward, Mark looks and writes back. In John the Baptist, he sees the fulfilment of Isaiah`s prophecy. John is the one who was sent before. John is the one sent to prepare the way, to make the road straight, calling out in the desert, gathering people together, baptising them in repentance, getting them ready... for Jesus – the one who would come after, who would baptise also – but with the Holy Spirit.
What does that mean - `to be baptised with the Holy Spirit`?
Why is baptism important? Does it matter?
John is not an easy character. He is uncompromising. He lives a strange, alternative life. He speaks without fear or favour – a true prophet.
Notwithstanding his unambiguous call to repentance, the clear truth of what he says doesn`t put people of – quite the opposite! Crowds flock to hear him. They know the truth of what he`s saying. They know their need to sort out their lives and get right with God.
That is the clarion call of John the Baptist. Don`t we know that the truth will set us free- however painful...?
Like Isaiah, John points forward to the One coming, who is greater than he. John knows who he is in relation to this One. He is under no illusions. Clear sighted, he knows he is not worthy to do the most menial of tasks for Him. This is not false humility. It is reality.
Here is the call of Advent, the call of Isaiah and John: not to some sentimental, tinsely fairy tale but to the reality of our lives, the reality of the world. a call to the reality of Jesus Christ – and where we stand in relation to Him.
For some that will be music to their ears;
for others it is the ominous tolling of a bell they wish only to silence...
Which are we?
The second lit Advent candle reminds us of those fearless ones who saw and pointed to a reality we would be wise to face – essentially the reality of Christ.
`The second for the prophets who said that Christ would come
with good news for many and angry words for some`.
Are we brave enough? Do we dare?
Advent calls us to face up and `fess up to who we are and what we`ve done. And when we`ve done that, perhaps we will be better placed to look out for and recognise the One who is coming soon, our peace and the hope of all the nations.

A Prayer for Advent 2

A prayer for our world this week

In this second week of Advent, we light the candle of peace. What does it mean for us to seek God’s peace? Is peace a lack of conflict, or is it more? The word so often used for peace in the Bible can also be translated as wholeness. May we seek God’s wholeness this week.
Heavenly Father, our world is facing enormous problems which seem of such magnitude that we cannot easily imagine how we can live at peace. Global terrorism, economic crisis, a rampant pandemic, environmental challenges and poverty. This week in our world we pray for peace. For peace for the victims of war, the refugees, the widowed and the orphans: for peace between family and friends, and for those who have quarreled and need to be reconciled; for peace in our own divided hearts.
We know that without justice, without respect for the race, colour, ethnicity, history and culture of others; while the arms race continues unabated; without a proper sharing in the trade and stewardship of earth’s resources; while money is used to enslave rather than to serve - there can be no peace. Specifically today -:
We pray for the Tigray region of Ethiopia, and a UN aid deal that bears hope of ending a deadly conflict that has led to death, displacement, and lack of supplies for basic needs.
We pray for workers’ rights, fair pay, health benefits, and economic justice for the many who experience scarcity as a part of everyday life as evidenced by the plight of the “invisible” working women of
We remember this week World AIDS Day on December 1 and pray for the 38 million people living with HIV/AIDS across the globe, and pray for continued efforts to rid the world of this decades long pandemic.
We pray for the Earth, where climate change affects us all. We pray that more nations will follow the example of New Zealand by declaring a climate change emergency and a pledge for the government to become carbon-neutral by 2025.
We pray for rapidly escalating number of people around the globe being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope new technologies and vaccines will be successful in saving lives and restoring people to health.
Fill us with your Spirit as we seek your peace for all people, and all of creation. May we continue the collective work of reconciliation that we may truly bring about your wholeness in this broken world. God of peace, make us whole
We pray for homeless people and for refugees who have no country to call their own.
We pray for people who are lonely, because they have lost a partner, because no-one seems to care, or because of handicap or illness.
We pray for friends and family who are ill at this time, and remember them in the quietness of our hearts.
Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

A prayer for the Church and our spiritual leaders

Lord God, John the Baptist called the people to change their lives and make themselves ready for the coming of your son. Raise up we pray, prophetic voices in our own time. Enable our souls to discern the authentic voices which draw us closer to you. Give us courage to reject those voices which pander to our selfish desires and speak words devoid of your challenge to real commitment. We pray for all those who teach and preach, those who minister to congregations to bring your Gospel truth to life in human hearts. We pray for our minister Fiona, our congregation here in Armadale.

Finally a prayer for ourselves from Bruce Prewer

Advent Friend, we want to be ready for you but we are set in our bent and bumpy Ways.
Create in us the capacity for repentance and the vulnerable grace of openness.
Use our friends and our critics to straighten twisted motives and smooth rough moods.
Make us ready for more and more of your healing baptism in our lives.
Grant an increase of your nurturing Spirit in the ordinary affairs of each day.
 We pray in Jesus’ name.   Amen!

The Lord’s Prayer

This prayer is based on material found at the following websites -:
re:Worship (re-worship.blogspot.com)
Untitled Document (bruceprewer.com)
World in Prayer

TIS 647 ` Comfort, comfort all my people`
https://youtu.be/B8DXPAYWr-c

Refrain

Comfort, comfort all my people with the comfort of my word.
Speak it tender to my people: All your sins are taken away.

Verse 1

Though your tears be rivers running,
though your tears be an ocean full,
though you cry with the hurt of living, comfort, comfort.
Every valley shall be lifted, every mountain shall be low,
every rough place will be smoother: comfort, comfort.

Refrain

Comfort, comfort all my people with the comfort of my word.
Speak it tender to my people: All your sins are taken away.

Verse 2

Though your eyes see only darkness,
though your eyes can see no light,
though your eyes see pain and sorrow: comfort, comfort.
Every night will have its morning, every pain will have an end,
every burden will be lightened: comfort, comfort.

Refrain

Comfort, comfort all my people with the comfort of my word.
Speak it tender to my people: All your sins are taken away.

© Robin Mann 1975.

Blessing

May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
grant you peace in your heart and mind and life.
And may we become peacemakers in a broken, fractious world.