20Dec2020

REMINDER - Christmas Eve 24th December at 11pm Midnight Mass
(Booking essential for this service please phone Fiona Vinnicombe if you wish to reserve a place on Tel: 07846 230189 or email fiona.vinnicombe@btinternet.com )

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A Celtic Advent Service 20th December 2020

Welcome and Opening Prayers

Lighting the Advent Wreath          4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT: LOVE

The fourth candle of Advent is the Candle of Love. Its light is meant to remind us of the love that God has for us. Jesus shows us God's perfect love. He is God's love in human form. The Bible says that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.".  Love is patient, love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful or conceited, rude or selfish. Love is not quick to take offence, it keeps no records of wrongs, it does not gloat over other people's troubles, but rejoices in the right, the good, and the true. There is nothing that love cannot face, there is no limit to its faith, to its hope, to its endurance. Love never ends.

We light this candle today to remind us of how God's perfect love is found in Jesus. (Light Advent Candle Four - Purple.)

Let us pray - Loving God, we thank you for your gift of love - shown to us perfectly in Jesus Christ our Lord. Help us prepare our hearts to receive Him. Bless our worship. Help us to hear and do your word. We ask it in the name of the one born in Bethlehem, Jesus our Lord. Amen

 

Responses:        

Open our eyes, lord to the coming of your light
lifting the burden of darkness from our lives.

Open our souls, lord, to the warmth of your coming
melting the hardness that keeps us from you and from each other.

Cherish our hearts, lord oppressed by wintriness -
assure us of your coming of your call to new life.

 

Confession and Lament

We live in a world oppressed by sin a world of hunger, pain, injustice

We acknowledge that we are part of this world and have not always played our part in confronting the darkness and bringing the light of Christ to troubled places.

We are part of the Body of Christ a Body which is broken by the sin of its members. We recognise that our lives are touched by the sin of others and that our sin touches theirs: the body of Christ called to bring light to the world is itself facing shadow and suspicion.

We acknowledge that we are part of this world and have not always played our part in confronting the darkness and bringing the light of Christ to troubled places.

We are unique individuals created in the image and likeness of God

We confess that we do not live up to God’s dream for us: that where God says, "let there be light!" we fear to come out of the shadows;
where God says: " you are salt for the earth" we rest content with blandness; where God says, "before I formed you in the womb I knew you!" we live estranged from him, afraid of the power of his love for us.

We acknowledge that we are part of this world and have not always played our part in confronting the darkness and bringing the light of Christ to troubled places.

We gathered aware of the shadow that sin casts upon the world.

But today we will part as people who have celebrated the healing love of God: God’s power to dispel the darkness of our hearts – and minds – and souls makes us well, gives us hope, shows us love. Thanks be to God.

 

Collect and Scripture Reading
Eternal God, as Mary waited for the birth of your Son, so we wait for his coming in glory; bring us through the birth pangs of this present age to see, with her, our great salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke 1.26-38      Glory to you, O Lord.

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.       Praise to you, O Christ.

Address

Reflection

This is the last Sunday before Advent, the last gasp of the waiting. We have all spoken to pregnant women and heard about the challenges of the last few weeks. The slow moving, the backache and indigestion, the relentless pummelling from baby kicks and elbows, and above all the anticipation of new life.

Anticipation is not always in a good way – yes the joy and wonder of new life, but how will she cope with the pain of childbirth? How will the family cope with a new member who screams and wont sleep. Will the baby love their new family? How will they cope financially, what if something goes wrong with the baby or the mother?

Imagine these worries for a young teenager, walking nearly 100 miles without a birth plan or midwife, without her own family or friends around. Wholly reliant on her husband Joseph and the good will of strangers.

The nativity story is often depicted as a glorious wonder of light and shiny clean straw and a peaceful clean Madonna who serenely sits accepting the weird visitors to her birthing room. The real story is more gritty, messier. The real story has blood, sweat and tears, but fears also.

I love this reflection for Mary:

The Mary of your Christmas Cards
I am the Mary of your Christmas cards. I listen calmly while the angel brings me news that will shake my life beyond all measure. I accept what has been ordained for me. I am young and dressed in blue.

I am the Mary of your Christmas cards. Despite travelling almost 100 miles on a donkey across a desert and giving birth in a stable, I am still immaculately clean and tidy, cradling my infant son, unperturbed by my surroundings. I am still young and dressed in blue.

I am the Mary of your Christmas cards, welcoming shepherds from the nearby fields and strangers from afar; a person who treats such events as if they happened every day, calmly pondering on them in my heart. I am still young and dressed in blue But is this really me? Do you have any picture of me beyond that of Christmas cards?

Where is your picture of me in the temple, as Simeon tells me how a sword would pierce my soul? The angel brought greetings and told me not to be afraid, so I am calm on your Christmas cards; but do you never see the terror in my eyes as I hear Simeon’s haunting words and I do fear what is to come? May be you do have a picture of me 12 years later – but have I aged in your eyes? Am I calm and serene, frantically searching for my son, lost on return from the temple?

He was calm – but not I. I was frantic. Do you have a picture of me 30 years after your first picture of me? Am I still dressed in blue? Are there lines on my face? Is my hair now grey? Do you see me at the wedding feast, recognising deep within that his time was coming and he would soon be no longer mine? Do you see me hurt by his rejection when he declared that all the world was his mother and his brother and his sister. I knew that he had a greater purpose –but do not imagine that there was no pain for me in this. How I aged in those three years. But am I still young in your picture? Was I not grey-haired as I stood at the foot of the cross? Do you know what it takes to watch your son being crucified?

Some parents still do. As they pierced his side, my soul, too, was pierced. Do you have a picture of me – in tears, distraught at the anguish of my son? Or am I still the Mary of your Christmas cards? They laid him in a tomb – it seemed so final – it seemed I had lost him for ever. Where was the angel now to tell me not to be afraid? My fellow countrywomen kept vigil; I was not along in mourning. But you who know what happened next, do you let me grieve for the end I thought he’d reached?

You know the end – you know the triumph of his resurrection, the Kingdom without end – and knowing this affects your picture of me. I remain always young and dressed in blue, calm and serene, humble and willing – never allowed to show fear, hurt, anger, pain and grief.

For many I remain the Mary of Christmas cards. If I am to be called blessed, please remember all I stand for. As you receive your cards this Christmas, please look at me and remember that this is just the beginning. 

Katie Baker, from Hay and Stardust compiled by Ruth Burgess,
Wild Goose Publications, 2005

Music

Litany of Praise
Gathering in this place where heaven and earth whisper greeting;
In this house where the High King of Heaven comes to meet us;
In the soft darkness of this place, we kindle lights of hope for the world. We join with the saints who have lived and loved this place to give glory and praise to God;

Just when life seems cosy and comfortably predictable

Angels appear unexpectedly and point us in directions
we would not have chosen
.

Just when we have reached the point
of comforting assurance in our respectability

Angels appear unexpectedly and pose uncomfortable questions
we would not have chosen to face!.

And when we have followed the promptings of angels and answered their disquieting questions and we feel that things can’t get any worse

Angels appear unexpectedly and remind us that all shall be well
and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

For the God of love works to good in all who fear Him

The God of love works to good in all who dare to listen for angels.

You speak to your people through angels

Keep our ears and hearts open to the whispers of angel voices.

Angels come among us and many have entertained them unawares

Keep us watchful and waiting for the spirit beings in our midst
teach us to recognise them in all their disguises..

Angels come among us their presence comforting or disquieting

Make us sensitive to their presence feeling them guiding us to the future pointing us to heaven where we will see and hear clearly what we have glimpsed in shadow.

Intercessions - Prayers by Michelle Brown

Sweet Jesus, king and babe, we kneel with wonder and worship you, new born. We stand weeping, with your mother at foot of cross. We shall stand before your throne, ruler of all, compassionate judge, and repent as we enter your kingdom. We pray for those in authority in this poor world, that they may play their parts in your plan wisely and well. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

As your mother, Mary, bowed her head in acceptance of your will, may we learn the humility to follow in your steps, Lord, and to serve, as you would have us serve you and your Creation: caring, doing and being with hope and courage. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

As Elizabeth believed in the miracle you wrought for her, dear Father, when John leapt in her womb with joy at recognition of his Saviour, may our hearts jump with awe when we meet you in your blessings with which you strew our way. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Logos, Word, which was and is and is to come, protect your people and your world, free us from the tyranny of virus and disease, of poverty, of war, of injustice and lack of faith, we pray that your kingdom may come and your will be done, and that we may come to dwell, with all those we love, in your peaceable kingdom.

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

 

Concluding with 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. 


We take the light of our prayer into the world

To pray for those unable to pray;
to offer ourselves as answers to prayer.

We take the light of our compassion into the world:

To come alongside those who are suffering anguish of heart anguish of mind and be as Christ for them.
 

We take the light of God's power into the world:

God's power made perfect in powerlessness
strength made known in weakness life made known in dying
.

May our God bless us

The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit

And until we meet again

May God hold us in the palm of his hand. Amen

© 2005 Wellspring                         © 2003 Wellspring