St Mary’s Sunday Service 13th December 2020

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Rev Canon Alison Peden, for this service wich

we hope you will follow if you are unable to come to St Mary’s this Sunday

There is a service at 11.15am on Sunday at St Mary’s

Advent 2    13th December 2020   
‘John … came as a witness to the light

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.   

Lord have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Collect:  God of power and mercy, you call us again to celebrate the coming of your Son.  Cleanse us of all that hinders love of you, that when he comes, he may find us waiting in awe and wonder for him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Reading:  Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Gospel:   John 1:6-8, 19-28
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Reflection:  John is not called ‘The Baptist’ but ‘The Witness’ in the 4th gospel – one who who testifies to Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the light. In a way, the whole of this gospel is a trial of Jesus:  Where is he from? Who is he?  What is his authority?

Good witnesses are observant and perceptive;  they are unafraid;  they are not concerned about themselves, but with the truth.  John the Witness perceived that Jesus was the Messiah they were hoping and longing for, the light of the world, which would never be vanquished by the darkness.

John was also unafraid to confront those who were challenging him in the court of truth – and it eventually cost him his life when Herod had him beheaded.  His own fate was of less importance to him than witnessing to the One he knew, and thereby making a clear path for the Messiah.

Jesus charged his disciples to be his witnesses ‘in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).  Our own lives witness to the truth of the one we know as Lord and Saviour by remaining steadfast in hope and standing firm in the faith that has been handed down to us by God’s witnesses through the ages.

Let us bear witness to the light in these dark days, even if our own lives makes that hard.  After all, the Greek for witness is ‘martyr’.

Prayers of intercession
Holy God, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ our Saviour we ask that you will make us a holy people, fit to greet him with eager hearts. May we journey through Advent to a holy, peaceful and joyful Christmas and bear witness to you, the Light of the world.

Creator God, help the leaders of nations to seek justice and peace. May there be good news for the poor and the broken-hearted; release for those illegally imprisoned and an end to the conflicts throughout the world which lead to so much grief and mourning.  Bring a true spirit of cooperation between communities and nations.

Father, your son Jesus lived an ordinary life in Nazareth and understands the difficulties faced in families.  Heal relationships that have become strained and stressed, and open all our hearts to the grace that the Christ Child brings.

Merciful God, bless those who are in pain or sickness, those who are anxious or troubled. We know that you are always present with us, even when sometimes you seem far away. Help us to know your presence when we pass through dark places, and sustain us and all who suffer with the peace that is beyond understanding.

Gracious God, may those who have died may be granted the joy of your heavenly kingdom, especially those we now remember with love.  Be present with those who face death today, especially those in danger through their Christian witness.

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, God our maker. Out of nothing, you called all worlds to be, and still you draw the universe to its fulfilment. Dawn and evening celebrate your glory till time shall be no more. In Christ your Son the life of heaven and earth were joined, sealing the promise of a new creation, given, yet still to come.
Taught by your Spirit, we who bear your threefold likeness look for the City of Peace in whose light we are transfigured and the earth transformed. As children of your redeeming purpose who await with eager longing the fulfilment of all things in the coming of your Son, we offer you our praise, with angels and archangels          and the whole company of heaven singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you. most loving Father. In Jesus you showed us yourself. Our hope is built on him, the first, the last, the living one. Obedient, even to accepting death, he opened the gate of glory and calls us now to share the life of heaven.
Before he was given up to suffering and death, alight with the vision of a feast that heralded a kingdom yet to come, at supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying:  “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.”
After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer: O God, who set before us the great hope that your Kingdom shall come on earth and taught us to pray for its coming: give us grace to discern the signs of its dawning and to work for the perfect day when the world shall reflect your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

The essentials of our Christmas faith are sung here:

The holly and the ivy when they are both full grown –
of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
       O, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
       the playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir!

The holly bears a blossom as white as any flower;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour. O …

The holly bears a berry as red as any blood;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to do poor sinners good. O …
The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn. O …
The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall;
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.  O …