Call to Worship
L. The spectacular mercies of the Advent Christ be with you all.
And also with you.
L. That we may be glad whenever the Lord Jesus comes to us;
May Christ’s own goodness be consolidated in our hearts.
L. That we may honour God together with our sisters and brothers of every race;
May the Lord increase our love for each other and all humanity.
Hymn: TIS 155 – How Great Thou Art (v. 1,2,4) Each time I sing this hymn I am reminded of the amazing gifts we have had bestowed upon us and how we take them all so much for granted. Not only do we take for granted the gift of this planet but we lose the sense of the great treasure we have been given in God's love.
Prayer of Adoration
Bradon prayed on our behalf to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reflecting on our failure to appreciate all that God is to us but acknowledging that we have, however imperfectly, experienced God's glory, truth and forgiving love. And so, we offered our adoration, praise and thanksgiving.
Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon
"Because most of us are slow learners, lukewarm believers, yet effusive excuse-makers, let us pause, take stock, and confess our sins. Let us pray.
Because we have sometimes busied ourselves religiously,
as if the success of God’s kingdom depended solely on us:
Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Because we sometimes opt out, and with a perverse piety
leave everything up to God and the holy angels:
Christ have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Because your mercy is over all your works, and your grace is greater
than our pride, foolishness and weakness:
Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy."
"My Friends, stand up straight, lift up your downcast eyes, your redemption is at hand. In Christ Jesus our sins are forgiven and the final victory is assured.
Thanks be to God."
"May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all people,
that we may be free from shame and holy at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."
I have kept this section almost as Bradon delivered it. Too good to do anything else.
Hymn: TIS 158 - God Has Spoken by His Prophets. God speaks to us in so many ways. One way that humbles me is when he speaks to me through the kindness of other people.
Offering. We returned a little of God's mountain of blessings to us, for the work of his kingdom.
Bible words for today Oliver read from Numbers 6:24 The Lord bless you and keep you. These word evoke confidence and comfort.
The Advent Candles
Bradon explained that in lighting the first of these candles we were remembering that Advent was a reliving of the promise given for all - we are reliving the anticipation of his coming. Hope for us all,
Hymn: TIS 265 – O Come, O Come Emmanuel. A plea and invitation to Jesus to do his work amongst us. Are we ready? Are we really sincere in praying those words? We can't pray them and then stand in the middle of the road, blocking Jesus' way.
Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16. The day is coming. If we take that as a personal message if could mean today - now. Think on that. Luke 1:26-38. There is much in this reading. The announcement of the birth of someone who began a new kingdom on Earth. That is mind- blowing enough. But that an insignificant young woman should be the way it would come about is a lesson to everyone hearing these words. Ordinary people like we are have been commissioned to bring the Kingdom of God to the world. There is a thought.
Sermon: Bradon reflected in his life, speaking of the times he spends waiting - as we all do from time to time. He spoke about the time we spend waiting in the Uniting Church, with an example of his recent experience of having a meeting about a meeting. He then related this concept of waiting in the season of Advent when we are reminded of those who waited for the coming of God. The Bible is full of people who were waiting for some great happening. The people waited to leave Egypt. They waited in the wilderness to enter the Promised Land. They wait for the coming of Israel. But then the word comes to Mary - the waiting was almost over. But after nine months - which can be very fast - or slow, the world had to wait another 30 years. Surely the waiting was over - surely the kingdom was going to be restored. When Easter Saturday arrived the disciples were perplexed - surely this was it! Are we still waiting? Think of all the world's problems. With the help of Dr. Seuss, Bradon reminded us of all the things we wait for.
Is that how it is for us? Are we just hanging about waiting for God to act? Look again. Jesus came to pronounce the arrival of God's Kingdom. It's here. It's happened - but only partially fulfilled. We have seen the possibility but we're in a type of shadow.
We should think about our waiting a little like waiting on tables - serving. It's a time to work - not a time to have hope but to give hope. A time not to be hanging onto the past but a time to be creating the future for all. Today is our day!
Prayer of the People & Lord’s Prayer: Bradon prayed for those for whom time goes too swiftly: for those for whom time goes too slowly. He prayed for political prisoners waiting for justice. He prayed for our loved ones - for the sick - for the churches who want to return to past glories that they will focus on new things for the future, Bradon prayed for the bereaved - for those who think their anguish will never end. And then he prayed for the concerns of our own community and we joined together in the Lord's Prayer.
Hymn: TIS 572– O Thou Who Camest From Above. The hymn says if all: Thou who came from above: kindle a flame; trembling to its source return, in humble prayer and fervent praise; stir up thy gift in me; ready for thy perfect will, my acts of faith and love. What people we would be!
Benediction: Bradon prayed to the God of hope that we will all be filled with joy and then sent us out in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Closing May the feet of God walk with you,
and his hand hold you tight.
May the eye of God rest on you.
and his ear hear your cry.
May the smile of God be for you,
and his breathe give you life.
May the child of God grow in you,
and his love bring you home. Amen.