At this beginning of Advent, Jan welcomed us, God's people to worship and celebrate the coming of Jesus.
Call to Worship
We wait with joy for the Lord's coming,
In you O God we put our hope and trust.
The Lord who offers love and forgiveness,
The one whose power can move mountains and calm the sea,
We put our hope in you.
Our God who heals and cares for the poor and homeless,
In you O God, we put our hope and trust.
Hymn TIS 265 "O come, O come, Emmanuel." As we welcome Jesus into the world with this hymn, I think of how we welcome him daily into our lives, to grace our thinking and feeling as we reach out to those around us offering God's love.
Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving Jan prayed for us, speaking of how Advent is a time of promises and possibilities, when all sorts of things and all types of people are ready to flower, ready to emerge. For this we will wait and watch prayerfully expectant. It occurred to me that there are times when we fail to turn to God and ask for his guidance and creativity in our lives. It was for this neglect that Jan asked forgiveness and declared that because of God's grace that forgiveness is ours.
We responded Thanks be to God.
Our other Jan, then explained the origin of the lighting of the Advent Candles and referred to other symbols of Christmas such as Christmas bush.
Alexis then lit the Candle of Expectation.
For my family, this is the time when we write a Christmas letter, sharing with friends and family all the blessings God has bestowed upon us in the past year and for which we are grateful.
The Announcements followed, including one about the time of fellowship that would follow the service during the Friendship Circle Morning Tea and also one about having raised approximately $2400 in the Lamington Drive. Well done everyone!
During the Offering the Men's Group sang, reminding us that all of us have been given talents we can offer to God's service.
We then sang Hymn TIS 164 "The great love of God, is revealed in the Son" This Son came to this Earth to redeem each one of us and by flowing through us lightens burdens and creates new people, fit to show God to the world.
Readings: Brought to us by Stephen: Jeremiah 33: 22-16 "This is the word of the Lord." God promised that "this place of waste" would by God's power "be pasture for shepherds resting their flocks." God is about healing and restoration. Our country. Our city. Us. The planet. All Creation.
Luke 21: 25-36. The Evangelist tells his listeners that just as we know when summer is upon us that we will know when the Kingdom is coming. For me that is now, evidenced by people rising up against injustice to others and to the planet. I'm not expecting extraordinary events but simply people choosing God's way to make a kingdom operating according to his will! Evil only prevails for so long before God raises up leaders to reverse its effects.
Sermon Jan spoke on the theme of "Keep travelling with Jesus, seeing the signs of his coming." Jan focussed our attention on today being the beginning of the Church Year, when we start preparing for the coming celebration of the birth of Jesus and that we are the Church of Jesus.
Alluding to the reading, Jan spoke of the various signs of the changing season, which led on to thinking about the many predictions of the coming of Jesus in the Old Testament. The Jeremiah reading refers to a time when the cream of the Jewish people had been taken into exile and the Temple had been destroyed. They thought God had deserted them but they came to realise that God was with them...always...with or without a Temple. Similarly, we can worship God wherever we are (not just in church or in our daily devotions) but in and through our daily activities.
The Jewish people had to wait while God did his work among them before they had their land returned to them. We may have to wait too, while God carries out his plan for us, whatever is going on around us, God holds us close.
We keep on travelling because we know God has given us work to do but we can only do that work through his love and grace flowing through us. "It is only as we enter into a relationship with God through Jesus, that we find the power to change and we then allow God to give us forgiveness and peace." And then: "As God works in us, we can help bring about God's justice and righteousness into the world."
So, with another Advent "Let us draw near to God, trust God's promises and keep travelling with Jesus into this new time of seeing what God is and will do to keep bringing hope, peace, joy and love into the world." Amen.
As One Voice Bk 2 No. 3 "Christ be our Light" Longing for light, we wait in darkness. Longing for truth we turn to you. Make us your own, your own holy people, light for the world to see. We humans long for what is missing. The greatest discovery we can make is that that longing can only be met by God.
Musical Interlude A time for private prayer and contemplation.
Prayers for the People Ruth led us in prayer to out Almighty God and Creator, offering worship to him, our Heavenly Father, thanking him for his grace and mercy and expressing our expectation for the coming celebrations of Jesus' coming to be one of us. She prayed for all those in harsh circumstances, asking that they be given comfort by the Prince of Peace. She then prayed for those known to members of the congregation and for the leadership of MRUC, after which we joined in The Lord's Prayer
Hymn TIS 272 "Come thou long expected Jesus." "Let us find our rest in thee...joy of every longing heart...now thy gracious Kingdom bring...raise us to thy glorious throne." Enough said.
Blessing The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son Jesus Christ. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always.
For You the Deep Stillness
For you, deep stillness of the silent inland
For you, deep blue of the desert skies
For you, flame red of the rocks and stones
For you, sweet water from hidden springs.
From the edges seek the heartlands
and when you're burnt by the journey
may the cool winds of the hovering Spirit
soothe and replenish you.
In the name of Christ,
In the name of Christ.