St Mary’s Sunday Service for 29th November 2020

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Revd Canon Alison Peden, for providing us with this service to follow

There will NOT be a service this Sunday At st Mary’s

Advent 1  29th November 2020

Learn the lesson from the fig tree …

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:  Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility, that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Psalm 80
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
shine forth, you who are enthroned upon the cherubim.
In the presence of Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might and come to save us!

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry,
despite your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
   and given them bowls of tears to drink.
You make us the scorn of our neighbours;
   our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God;  let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
   the son of man whom you made so strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
   give us life, that we may call on your name.

Restore us, O God;  let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Gospel:  Mark 13:24-37
‘In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,    and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 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.
‘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. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 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. 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, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’

Reflection:  Most trees in Palestine are evergreen, because of the scarcity of water.  So when the deciduous fig tree puts out leaves, it is a sure sign that the seasons are changing, and summer is coming.  The people of Israel could look forward to joyful times like they had under Solomon, ‘all of them under their vines and fig trees’ (1 Kg.4:25).

But God had cursed the ground after the Fall, and withered fruitlessness was always a threat.  Jesus saw a fig tree with showy leaves but no fruit, and he condemned it – a symbol of the sham outward religion which he judged so severely (Mark 11:12-14).

In today’s gospel, Jesus gives us an image of hope: the branches becoming tender and ready to bear fruit.  What was apparently dead, shrivelled up and fruitless, comes to life.  Advent is a time when we wait, in the dead of winter, for the light and life of God to come to us that we may be fruitful in our discipleship.

Micah speaks of the peace that will come ‘in the last days’, when swords are beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, and ‘Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no-one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.’ (Micah 4:4) This is the hope we have and the promise that has been made to us.

From the hymn ‘Now the green blade riseth’:
            When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
            thy touch can call us back to life again,
            fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
                        Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Prayers of intercession
Creator God, drive away despair from our politics, revive our dreams of justice and truth, and restore our passion for what is good and right.  Bring hope where a peaceful future seems far away.  Govern the hearts and minds of all world leaders that they may act justly and honestly especially at this time of the global pandemic.

Mighty God, we pray for your church today.  Guide us through our journey through Advent. Help us as we try to set an example of a true spirit of preparation for that  precious gift of the Christ-child. 

Merciful God, comfort and heal those for whom this day will be long and painful, in hospital or at home and those struggling with despair or depression.  Give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of your salvation.  We pray especially for …

Advent Lord, draw near to us, strengthen our faith, deepen our love for you and for our neighbours and open our eyes to the wonder of your creation, so that when our Saviour comes he may find our hearts ready to receive him.

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 your Son our Lord. Amen

John Wilson, Bishop of Singapore and later of Birmingham, remembered saying this hymn by Charles Wesley every morning when he was imprisoned and tortured in Changi Gaol in 1943:    ‘and gradually the burden of this world was lifted and I was carried into the presence of God and received from Him the strength and peace which were enough to live by, day by day’.       It is sung at:

Christ, whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true, the only light,
Sun of righteousness, arise, triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near; Daystar, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn unaccompanied by thee:
joyless is the day’s return, till thy mercy’s beams I see,
till they inward light impart, cheer my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine; pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
fill me, radiancy divine; scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display, shining to the perfect day.Bottom of Form