PARISH of WIGMORE ABBEY Advent Sunday
A Liturgy for Advent Sunday 29 th November 2020 Greeting Maranatha! Come, universal Christ, come soon! The glory of God shall be revealed: all humankind shall see it together. Maranatha! Come, universal Christ, come soon! Those who are losing their faith, listen, and those burdened with oppression and failure: soon God’s restoration will come, God’s justice will be revealed. Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of our God. Hosanna in the highest! Maranatha! Come, universal Christ, come soon! Opening Prayer The Lord is here. His Spirit is with us. Holy God, Holy and Mighty One, Holy and Strong One, Abide in us. Holy God, Holy and Incarnate One Holy and Indwelling One, Abide in us. Holy God, Holy and Life-giving One, Holy and Guiding One, Abide in us. Confession In the presence of God, we reflect on the past week We have been afraid of the fierceness of your love, which sears our hearts as with a laser: Lord have mercy. We have refused to believe that you are gentle in judgement, that your hands loosen the knots of our bitterness: Christ have mercy. We have failed to see that your eyes are wise in discernment that your justice restores us and heals: Lord have mercy. WORDS OF FORGIVENESS May the God of lovebring us all back to God’s presence, forgive us our wrongdoing, and assure us of Christ’s eternal love. Amen. Collect Living Presence, utterly truthful, of whom we are aware at times we least expect, revealed in people we have judged least likely, keep us watchful and expectant, ready to be needled into repentance and surprised by joy. We pray this through the One in whose constant coming we trust, whose day is always near. Amen. Reading: from the Gospel of St Mark 13:24-37 Jesus said: 24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ Advent Sunday Reflection In his poem ‘The Coming’ by R S Thomas we read these words: And God held in his hand A small globe. Look, he said. The son looked . . . On a bare Hill a bare tree saddened The sky. Many people Held out their thin arms To it, as though waiting For a vanished April To return to its crossed Boughs. The son watched Them. Let me go there he said. The season of Advent is both within time and without time. It prepares us for a certain time in history when, in a certain location, a child was born who came to be known as The Christ; recognised by some but rejected by many others. Yet this time of preparation is for always and outside of a particular time and place and an open invitation to all of humanity. It is both a once in a lifetime event, but every year the Church calendar invites us to participate and prepare ourselves afresh for the coming of this Child. However, if such preparation and participation is to have any significant meaning for us we have to take it seriously. We have to take it seriously for ourselves, our family and our community. In fact, we have to take it seriously for the whole of humanity and the created world. For this is an epic story that has the potential to turn our world upside down, not in a happy-ever-after scenario, but in the reality of what it means to be human and connected to all that is. In his poem, Thomas looks at the Earth from God’s point of view. It is a view from a particular point as all views are. It is a looking in love at a created order gone wrong, at the disconnection between people and between them and all of creation. It is recognition of the stern love that is required to re-establish the harmony and oneness of everyone and everything. The option for such healing is the ‘bare tree on a bare hill’ to which ‘many people / [hold] out their thin arms.’ Most of us reading this reflection (including myself), would have to admit that we lead fairly cossetted lives. Yet Thomas reminds us of the rawness that is the life experience of so many people – far too many. Whilst we live with the thought that this is as good as it gets, others live with the hope that it will simply get better than it is. It is a hope that the bare tree saddening the sky will, to quote another of Thomas’ poems, see ‘love in a dark crown / of thorns blazing, and a winter tree / golden with the fruit of a man’s body.’ This is the cost of redeeming, transforming love, which the son in Thomas’ poem accepts, ‘The son watched . . . / Let me go there he said.’ The son is not commanded to go, but rather chooses of his own volition to go and share his life and his love with this broken world. This is our world, yours and mine. Again, to this world at this season of Advent the son comes, because ‘God so loves the world he gives [his permission to] his only son’ (John 3:16) to inhabit the cross as the expression of the meaning of God’s unconditional love; the Christ who comes as the God- with-us both to share and transform our humanity. In the words of T S Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’ where does this journey of preparation and participation lead us? ‘Were we led all that way for / Birth or Death? There was a birth, certainly, / We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death. / But had thought they were different . . .’ The coming of Christ is both birth and death and being born again. In reality they are two sides of the same cross, tenanted on a bare hill, untenanted but present in each person’s soul, which includes yours and mine. ‘The Coming’ makes clear, as does the Advent season itself, that hope stirs and we are not alone. The cross bears the creative tension of this paradox of death and birth and our deepest yearnings for redemption and resurrection. The words of the son that bring this poem to a close, ‘Let me go there he said’, remind us of the intense compassion of our God who draws towards us in Christ. The Advent season is deep in meaning. To not take it seriously is to risk damaging our (spiritual) health. Affirmation of Faith Let us affirm our faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit I believe in God the Father, from whom every familyi n heaven and earth is named. I believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love. I believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high. I believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Prayers of Intercession (as led by Culain and not those below) Watchful at all times,l et us pray for strength to stand with confidence before our Maker and Redeemer. That God may bring in his kingdom with justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. That we may seek Christ in the Scriptures and recognise him in the breaking of the bread let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. That God may bind up the broken-hearted,restore the sickand raise up all who have fallen.let us pray to the Lord:Lord, have mercy. That the light of God’s coming may dawnon all who live in darkness and the shadow of death,let us pray to the Lord:Lord, have mercy. That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world,l et us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. We commend ourselves and all for whom we pray to the mercy and protection of our heavenly Father. Silence is kept Almighty God, as your blessed Son Jesus Christ first came to seek and to save the lost: so may he come again to find in us the completion of his redeeming work;f or he is now aliveand reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen. The Lord’s Prayer may be said Closing Prayer Father, you have revealed your love by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into our world. Help us to welcome him with joy, and to make room for him in our lives and homes, that we may abide in him and he in us; through the same Christ our Lord,who lives and reigns with you, O Father and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen. Material for this service is taken from the following publications: Times and Seasons (Church House Publishing, 3 rd Impression, 2016)Unfolding the Living Word by Jim Cotter (Canterbury Press, 2012)Out of the Silence . . . Prayer’s Daily Round by Jim Cotter (Cairns Publications, 2006)The Rhythm of Life by David Adam (SPCK, 1996)
A Liturgy for Advent Sunday 29 th November 2020 Greeting Maranatha! Come, universal Christ, come soon! The glory of God shall be revealed: all humankind shall see it together. Maranatha! Come, universal Christ, come soon! Those who are losing their faith, listen, and those burdened with oppression and failure: soon God’s restoration will come, God’s justice will be revealed. Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of our God. Hosanna in the highest! Maranatha! Come, universal Christ, come soon! Opening Prayer The Lord is here. His Spirit is with us. Holy God, Holy and Mighty One, Holy and Strong One, Abide in us. Holy God, Holy and Incarnate One Holy and Indwelling One, Abide in us. Holy God, Holy and Life-giving One, Holy and Guiding One, Abide in us. Confession In the presence of God, we reflect on the past week We have been afraid of the fierceness of your love, which sears our hearts as with a laser: Lord have mercy. We have refused to believe that you are gentle in judgement, that your hands loosen the knots of our bitterness: Christ have mercy. We have failed to see that your eyes are wise in discernment that your justice restores us and heals: Lord have mercy. WORDS OF FORGIVENESS May the God of lovebring us all back to God’s presence, forgive us our wrongdoing, and assure us of Christ’s eternal love. Amen. Collect Living Presence, utterly truthful, of whom we are aware at times we least expect, revealed in people we have judged least likely, keep us watchful and expectant, ready to be needled into repentance and surprised by joy. We pray this through the One in whose constant coming we trust, whose day is always near. Amen. Reading: from the Gospel of St Mark 13:24-37 Jesus said: 24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ Advent Sunday Reflection In his poem ‘The Coming’ by R S Thomas we read these words: And God held in his hand A small globe. Look, he said. The son looked . . . On a bare Hill a bare tree saddened The sky. Many people Held out their thin arms To it, as though waiting For a vanished April To return to its crossed Boughs. The son watched Them. Let me go there he said. The season of Advent is both within time and without time. It prepares us for a certain time in history when, in a certain location, a child was born who came to be known as The Christ; recognised by some but rejected by many others. Yet this time of preparation is for always and outside of a particular time and place and an open invitation to all of humanity. It is both a once in a lifetime event, but every year the Church calendar invites us to participate and prepare ourselves afresh for the coming of this Child. However, if such preparation and participation is to have any significant meaning for us we have to take it seriously. We have to take it seriously for ourselves, our family and our community. In fact, we have to take it seriously for the whole of humanity and the created world. For this is an epic story that has the potential to turn our world upside down, not in a happy-ever-after scenario, but in the reality of what it means to be human and connected to all that is. In his poem, Thomas looks at the Earth from God’s point of view. It is a view from a particular point as all views are. It is a looking in love at a created order gone wrong, at the disconnection between people and between them and all of creation. It is recognition of the stern love that is required to re-establish the harmony and oneness of everyone and everything. The option for such healing is the ‘bare tree on a bare hill’ to which ‘many people / [hold] out their thin arms.’ Most of us reading this reflection (including myself), would have to admit that we lead fairly cossetted lives. Yet Thomas reminds us of the rawness that is the life experience of so many people – far too many. Whilst we live with the thought that this is as good as it gets, others live with the hope that it will simply get better than it is. It is a hope that the bare tree saddening the sky will, to quote another of Thomas’ poems, see ‘love in a dark crown / of thorns blazing, and a winter tree / golden with the fruit of a man’s body.’ This is the cost of redeeming, transforming love, which the son in Thomas’ poem accepts, ‘The son watched . . . / Let me go there he said.’ The son is not commanded to go, but rather chooses of his own volition to go and share his life and his love with this broken world. This is our world, yours and mine. Again, to this world at this season of Advent the son comes, because ‘God so loves the world he gives [his permission to] his only son’ (John 3:16) to inhabit the cross as the expression of the meaning of God’s unconditional love; the Christ who comes as the God-with-us both to share and transform our humanity. In the words of T S Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’ where does this journey of preparation and participation lead us? ‘Were we led all that way for / Birth or Death? There was a birth, certainly, / We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death. / But had thought they were different . . .’ The coming of Christ is both birth and death and being born again. In reality they are two sides of the same cross, tenanted on a bare hill, untenanted but present in each person’s soul, which includes yours and mine. ‘The Coming’ makes clear, as does the Advent season itself, that hope stirs and we are not alone. The cross bears the creative tension of this paradox of death and birth and our deepest yearnings for redemption and resurrection. The words of the son that bring this poem to a close, ‘Let me go there he said’, remind us of the intense compassion of our God who draws towards us in Christ. The Advent season is deep in meaning. To not take it seriously is to risk damaging our (spiritual) health. Affirmation of Faith Let us affirm our faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit I believe in God the Father, from whom every familyi n heaven and earth is named. I believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love. I believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high. I believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Prayers of Intercession (as led by Culain and not those below) Watchful at all times,l et us pray for strength to stand with confidence before our Maker and Redeemer. That God may bring in his kingdom with justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. That we may seek Christ in the Scriptures and recognise him in the breaking of the bread let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. That God may bind up the broken-hearted,restore the sickand raise up all who have fallen.let us pray to the Lord:Lord, have mercy. That the light of God’s coming may dawnon all who live in darkness and the shadow of death,let us pray to the Lord:Lord, have mercy. That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world,l et us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. We commend ourselves and all for whom we pray to the mercy and protection of our heavenly Father. Silence is kept Almighty God, as your blessed Son Jesus Christ first came to seek and to save the lost: so may he come again to find in us the completion of his redeeming work;f or he is now aliveand reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen. The Lord’s Prayer may be said Closing Prayer Father, you have revealed your love by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into our world. Help us to welcome him with joy, and to make room for him in our lives and homes, that we may abide in him and he in us; through the same Christ our Lord,who lives and reigns with you, O Father and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen. Material for this service is taken from the following publications: Times and Seasons (Church House Publishing, 3 rd Impression, 2016)Unfolding the Living Word by Jim Cotter (Canterbury Press, 2012)Out of the Silence . . . Prayer’s Daily Round by Jim Cotter (Cairns Publications, 2006)The Rhythm of Life by David Adam (SPCK, 1996)
PARISH of WIGMORE ABBEY
Advent Sunday