Holy Communion for Advent 2: The Prophets

We meet in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Amen

Song: How lovely on the mountains

https://www.divinehymns.com/lyrics/how-lovely-on-the-mountains-song-lyrics/


God summons the innocent

God summons the guilty

God summons us with love

God welcomes the poor

God welcomes the rich

God welcomes us with love

God judges the just

God judges the faithful

God judges us with love



We light this candle for all God’s prophets

confronting injustice

and restoring the dream of

a world of freedom and peace.

O God, as we wait for your promise, give us light, give us hope



Saying Sorry to God:

Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations

into the peace of your kingdom:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.


You come in word and sacrament

to strengthen us in holiness:

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.


You will come in glory

with salvation for your people:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.


Almighty God,

who forgives all who truly repent,

have mercy upon you,

pardon and deliver you from all your sins,

confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,

and keep you in life eternal;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.


The Collect

Almighty God,

purify our hearts and minds,

that when your Son Jesus Christ comes again as judge and saviour

we may be ready to receive him,

who is our Lord and our God.

Amen


Old Testament Reading: Is 11:1-10

40 “Comfort my people,” says our God. “Comfort them! 2 Encourage the people of Jerusalem. Tell them they have suffered long enough and their sins are now forgiven I have punished them in full for all their sins.”

3 A voice cries out, “Prepare in the wilderness a road for the Lord! Clear the way in the desert for our God! 4 Fill every valley; level every mountain. The hills will become a plain, and the rough country will be made smooth. 5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it. The Lord himself has promised this.”

6 A voice cries out, “Proclaim a message!” “What message shall I proclaim?” I ask. “Proclaim that all human beings are like grass; they last no longer than wild flowers. 7 Grass withers and flowers fade when the Lord sends the wind blowing over them. People are no more enduring than grass. 8 Yes, grass withers and flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever.”

9 Jerusalem, go up on a high mountain and proclaim the good news! Call out with a loud voice, Zion; announce the good news! Speak out and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah that their God is coming!

10 The Sovereign Lord is coming to rule with power, bringing with him the people he has rescued. 11 He will take care of his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs together and carry them in his arms; he will gently lead their mothers.


Song: Purify my Heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IvXA0yRDwY

The Gospel Reading: Matt 3:1-12

Alleluia alleluia

I am the light of the world says the Lord

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew

Glory to you, O Lord


1 This is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It began as the prophet Isaiah had written:

“God said, ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you to open the way for you.’ 3 Someone is shouting in the desert, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel!’”

4 So John appeared in the desert, baptizing and preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptized,” he told the people, “and God will forgive your sins.” 5 Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.

6 John wore clothes made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced to the people, “The man who will come after me is much greater than I am. I am not good enough even to bend down and untie his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you, O Christ


Sermon:

Prophets: not profits…



This week our Advent journey brings us to the prophets.

They are the voices calling out to us to give us God’s view on things.

They tell us what’s really happening- what a disaster might mean; what is the truth under the surface of an event or action; how to interpret the times.

They also tell us what we should do.


They don’t necessarily spell out the future – they don’t give us details on what exactly is going to happen. What they say has meaning for the people who first hear it and for every generation after that.



Isaiah

So this week we have Isaiah’s words first of all.


Isaiah calls out long, long before John the Baptist.

Isaiah recognises that God’s messenger will be coming. The message is true in Isaiah’s time and true in John’s time … and true for us.



What does he say? First of all – Isaiah proclaims Comfort, God’s reassurance, in a time when people were distressed; they had enemies, there was suffering and injustice. In the middle of all the pain and mess, Isaiah shouts out- God is still here and He cares for you. The hardship and difficulty doesn’t just disappear but God is there in the middle of it all; God gives us the strength to keep going, peace and joy in the middle of it all

It’s a bit like the message this Christmas… Comfort and Joy. In Isaiah’s time, the message was particularly for people who suffered because they had strayed from God’s path. They would not be punished for ever.



Isaiah then announces Prepare!

God’s people had wandered off the right path- but God had not abandoned them. Isaiah tells people to get ready for God to come close to them and lead them to a safe place, a better place, like a shepherd leads his sheep. Actually Isaiah isn’t very specific about what his people should do- but he’s helping people who feel lost or abandoned to look up- see what’s happening around them. It’s like they’ve been locked in a darkened room not knowing what is going to happen. But now they take their first steps out into the sun light. They are to expect better things ahead. God has not given up on them.

We shouldn’t think that what’s happening to us is as a direct result of an individual’s wrongdoing but Advent is always a time for having some sober reflection – what happened so that we’re in this situation? What can we learn from it? How should we act to prevent something like COVID happening again?


These words encouraged Isaiah’s people in the middle of war, hardship and oppression. They also echo down the centuries to John the Baptist who picks up on Isaiah’s words.



John the Baptist

John is a prophet too.

The start of Mark’s gospel tells us that we’re reading something new- it’s the beginning of the gospel (the good news) about Jesus Christ.

So it’s a new thing but also it’s still part of all that God has done before.

Mark quotes Isaiah (actually there’s both Malachi and Exodus in this quote too!) to let us know that this is all part of what God has done before and now continues. John is standing in the long line of prophets.

We’re reminded again that the Old Testament and the New Testament belong together; we hear God speaking to us from both; what we read in the New Testament is rooted in what has gone before.


God’s people wait with patience.

In John’s time as in Isaiah’s time, people were anxious for God to act; for difficulties to be over; for change to come.

God was still with his people; God still answered their prayers but the great change that they longed for- God’s chosen one had not yet turned up.

We also wait for God in our lives. We live in such a fast paced society that it’s difficult to be patient. We shop instantly, message instantly, and expect to get what we need instantly.

But God’s people had to learn to wait.

Waiting means that we need to be faithful.

We learn endurance or resilience.

We grow stronger and value what we have more.

Right now, we need to be patient. We long for the current crisis to be over. I know that I’m tempted to skip washing my hands or wearing a mask when I was much more careful before. We have an end in sight but we still need to persist.

Whilst we wait for God to act in our lives, like God’s people have up and down the ages, we keep going with daily prayer; reading our bibles and joining in worship. We look out for ways to connect with each other and love our neighbours. We grow stronger and more resilient as a result. Resilience is the kind of quality that no-one really wants. It means being able to keep going when things are tough. Who wants that? We’d much rather we didn’t have anything tough to endure. But stuff happens to people all the time. Learning to keep going with God through our difficulties makes us stronger.


The Holy Spirit is here

John was preparing his people for Jesus to come. But the promise John makes is true for us as it was then. John wanted people to prepare for Jesus- and they did that by being baptised in water. It was a sign of what was to come. What John did, helped people get ready for Jesus. We who live long after Jesus has come to earth, receive the second part of this promise. We can receive God’s Holy Spirit in our lives now.

We long to be right with God, to be able to live our lives with patience and endurance and strength.

But we don’t have to make those things appear in our lives by our own efforts.

We do need to co-operate with God, to submit to him but He gives us the power to change. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we can have his Spirit live in our hearts and lives right now.

As we worship together this morning, you might like to take the words of on of our songs and make that a prayer to ask God to come again into your life by his Spirit; as we share communion we can particular focus on receiving from God too.

It might be that as in our healing services, it’s for a specific need or reason; but it might be that we’re just asking for God’s Spirit to be with us again.

As we journey into Advent, preparing for Jesus to come at Christmas, we can also ask for the Holy Spirit to be with us now.


The Creed

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father,

from whom every family

in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,

who lives in our hearts through faith,

and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,

who strengthens us

with power from on high.

We believe in one God;

Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Our Prayers

In joyful expectation of his coming to our aid, we pray to Jesus.

Come to your Church as Lord and judge.


We pray for … … … in the Church


Help us to live in the light of your coming and give us a longing for your kingdom.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.



Come to your world as King of the nations.


We pray for … … … in our world


Before you rulers will stand in silence.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.



Come to the suffering as Saviour and comforter.


We pray for … … … who are ill


Break into our lives, where we struggle with sickness and distress,

and set us free to serve you for ever…….

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.


Come to us as shepherd and guardian of our souls.


We remember … … …. all who mourn


Give us with all the faithful departed

a share in your victory over evil and death.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.


Come from heaven, Lord Jesus, with power and great glory.

Lift us up to meet you,

that with St Catherine and all your saints and angels

we may live and reign with you in your new creation.


Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.


Silence is kept.


Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay;

give new courage to your people,

who trust in your love.

By your coming, raise us to share in the joy of your kingdom

on earth as in heaven,

where you live and reign with the Father and the Spirit,

one God for ever and ever. Amen.


We share the Peace


Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God. We meet in the name of Christ and share his peace.

The Peace of the Lord be always with you

And also with you


Song: In Christ Alone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPv4vnW6X-Q


Holy Communion


The Lord be with you

and also with you.


Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.


Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.


It is indeed right and good,

to give you thanks and praise,

almighty God and everlasting Father

through Jesus Christ your Son.

He is the one foretold by all the prophets,

whom the Virgin Mary bore

with love beyond all telling.

John the Baptist was his herald

and made him known when at last he came.


When we turned away

you did not reject us,

but came to meet us in your Son.


You embraced us as your children

and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.


In Christ you shared our life

that we might live in him and he in us.


He opened his arms of love upon the cross

and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.


On the night he was betrayed,

at supper with his friends

he took bread, and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to them, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.


Father, we do this in remembrance of him:

his body is the bread of life.


At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,

he gave you thanks, and said:

Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;

do this in remembrance of me.


Father, we do this in remembrance of him:

his blood is shed for all.


As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,

send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine

may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.


As we eat and drink these holy gifts

make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.


With your whole Church throughout the world

we offer you this sacrifice of praise

and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:


Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.


We continue with the words of 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


We break this bread

to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,

because we all share in one bread.

Jesus, Lamb of God,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

grant us peace.


Draw near with faith.

Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ

which he gave for you,

and his blood which he shed for you.

Eat and drink

in remembrance that he died for you,

and feed on him in your hearts

by faith with thanksgiving.


Song during communion Create in me a clean clean heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wveqWij0a_Y

Prayer of Spiritual Communion


Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,

for all the benefits you have given me,

for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.

Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,

I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.

O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,

may I know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen


Almighty God,

we thank you for feeding us

with the body and blood

of your Son Jesus Christ.

Through him we offer you our souls and bodies,

to be a living sacrifice.

Send us out in the power of your Spirit

to live and work to your praise and glory.

Amen.



The Blessing


The peace of God,

which passes all understanding,

keep your hearts and minds

in the knowledge and love of God,

and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.

Amen.


Song: O praise the Name of the Lord our God

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYdGxKkAwlM



Dismissal

With love and compassion,

come, Lord Jesus.

With judgement and mercy,

come, Lord Jesus.

In power and glory,

come, Lord Jesus.

In wisdom and truth,

come, Lord Jesus.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. Amen.



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