This Sunday there will be no public worship but there will be a service of Morning Praise on Zoom at 10am. The service will be led by Revd Caroline Husband and the sermon given by Revd Helen Durant Stevensen.
At 6.30pm we will be joining Westbury Area Churches Together in a livestreamed Advent Carol Service on YouTube.
Normally we would be celebrating together at St Mary’s Old Dilton but unable to do so this year.
Don’t forget to bring your own mulled wine and mince pies! https://youtu.be/AC1va07cnzQ
Join us for the Zoom chat afterwards – details in this week’s e-newsletter or get in touch.
Please sign up for our e-newsletter or contact us for details on how to join any of our online services.
Collect for Advent Sunday
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to 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 the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
Isaiah 64: 1 – 9
64 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5 You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity for ever.
Now consider, we are all your people.
Psalm 80: 1 – 8
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
4 O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us the scorn of our neighbours;
our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
1 Corinthians 1: 3 – 9
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Mark 13: 24 – end
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.’
Reflection for Advent 1
Mark 13: 24 – 37
We’ve had lots of experience of living with uncertainty and waiting this year. We have been waiting for a vaccine, waiting to hear news about what we’ll be allowed to do over Christmas; many people have been waiting for news of loved ones in hospital, waiting for test results, waiting for restrictions to be lifted so that shops and businesses can re-open. We’ve done a lot of waiting already this year. And now, at the start of Advent this Sunday, we are being urged to wait again!
For this, we are urged to take the long view. We are being urged to be on the look-out for signs of Jesus’ return. Not to wait for Christmas exactly, as we all know when that will be. But rather to wait for the day when Jesus comes in all his glory, when he will bring in God’s kingdom in all its fullness, when there will be no more crying, or pain or suffering or tears. In the reading from Mark’s gospel, Jesus compares it to looking for signs of summer. When we see a tree coming into bud we know that summer is not far off. Or when someone goes on a journey, they leave someone in charge of his household to make sure all is kept safe. This is a different sort of waiting from what we’ve been used to this year. This sort of waiting is attentive, it is purposeful and alert. For this sort of waiting we need to keep our eyes and our ears open. This is about looking for signs of God’s kingdom among us which are signs of Jesus’ return at some point, we don’t know when.
To do this, we need to be alert to God at work. We need to be good listeners, patient, reflective and wondering. To be ready for Christ’s coming is much more than doing all the Christmas shopping, cleaning the house for our guests, writing cards and wrapping presents. We are talking about being ready for Christ with the whole of our lives. This involves being open to him in prayer, drawing close to him through our reading of Scripture, through our service of others, through our worship whether at home or in church, and recognising his presence in the world.
There are signs of hope in the world, even though it may seem dark and dismal and we are aware of much suffering. We are pleased at the prospect of new vaccines coming out. We are thankful for all who have given so much of themselves sacrificially during this most difficult of years: for the NHS workers, the carers, those who have looked after the elderly and vulnerable, those who have raised large sums for charity, and those who have volunteered to serve their local communities. We have drawn closer together as a community through this crisis, and we hope we can hold onto this in the future.
In what ways have you seen God at work in your world? Where have you seen signs of God’s kingdom among us? And what can we do, in our own ways, to be alert to its signs, and be a part of it?
With every blessing for a peaceful Advent as you watch and wait.
Rev’d Rebecca Harris, Team Rector