Light - Worship for the first Sunday in Advent
Opening words: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never put it out.
Gathered here today, we light a candle of hope, knowing that in dark times there is always a light that can be lit. Let us, people in dusk and dawn, light the light of vigilance, knowing that God is always calling us to justice, mercy and humility – at this time of year, and all times of the year. Amen.
Hymn 445 Lord the light of your love is shining https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rce9UHYZwl4
We come to your house, God, sometimes aware, and sometimes not aware. Sometimes aware of our need, sometimes ignoring others’ needs. You wait for us, O God, and as you wait, you call us to wait for you, too. As we gather around Word and Bread, may we remember how you have helped us – in the kindness of a stranger, in the comfort of a friend, in the call for justice, in the shout for mercy. And make us, who wait for you, approach you and each other with new vigilance, and with new hope. Amen.
God, your name is Love, and in your great love you have called us into community with each other. With you and in you and because of you, we are nurtured in love. Yours is the name that lasts for ever. Your love reaches into all corners, confirming those who wait for you – that they wait in the name of Great Love. Amen.
Hymn 31 Amazing Grace
Isaiah 64.1-9; Psalm 80.1-7 &17-19; 1 Corinthians 1.3-9; Mark 13.24-37
Hymn 18 All over the world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF9h9n19yz0
Comment on Bible Readings
Waiting that is the very essence of advent that we are waiting for something to happen, we know that we are waiting for Christmas, but imagine years ago imagine in the time of Isaiah, people didn't know what they were waiting for. Isaiah is pointing out that they are waiting for a Messiah, waiting for someone he will come and set them free. Today we are waiting for a vaccine, a vaccine that will set us free and enable us to live the way we used to, a vaccine which means that we can meet together with our family and with our family and friends without masks and be able just to chat and talk in ways we can't do now.
The passage in one Corinthians it is written by Paul to remind them and us of the range of benefits that we enjoy in Christ new sentence it is these benefits that Jesus brings to us and gives to us as presents at Christmas. The reading from Marks gospel is where Jesus tells his disciples that we do not know when he will return and therefore we should be on standby at all times.
Jesus has left for us various presents, gifts to help and to support the church who are waiting for his return. There are seven gifts that Paul tells the Corinthians and I would just like us to consider this morning that Jesus has left for you and I to help us and supporters as we work for him.
Gift 1- peace
Jesus gives to us peace a peace beyond all understanding a piece which is a stillness a quietness, an absence of conflict, not in the world but in ourselves in our own lives. God gives us peace With God and with one another, never underestimate the value of peace. At a time when we are in isolation and we're talking a lot about people’s mental health, to have that peace, sense of well-being is so important gift that Jesus gives to us.
Gift 2 - everywhere
For 33 years Jesus did not travel far. But after His resurrection and ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, he was available to everyone everywhere. Even if we can’t meet in the church, we are still bound to each other via the spirit of God which is everywhere, out walking we can be with God and feel His presence.
Gift 3 - speaking
To people living in what had been the Greek Empire the powers of persuasion, speaking and knowing the truth were very, very important to them in fact the Romans loved speaking, they loved arguing, they loved debating and finding out what was right and wrong and this was paramount to them. Paul reminds them that God’s power enables us to speak His truth and His message. God speaks through other people and through The Bible, His word is still here today, we have images of what Jesus is because we hear them in the written word or we see them through the actions of other Christians.
Gift 4 - knowledge
Jesus gives us knowledge, He shows us the truth about God, about His life and about how to live. This knowledge is found in knowing Him, in being filled by His spirit, in reading his word and praying for discernment. But when we seek then we shall find. Not only can we know Him, but we also have the knowledge to be able to share with others.
Gift 5 - changed
We have the evidence of changed lives, we can see the effect that Jesus has on people, He changes us into the people that He would have us be. He sees in us, perfection and enables us to become more perfect. We are changed because of Jesus, living in our lives. The Corinthian Christians once lived for themselves and did not believe Paul’s message. Then they came to realise that what he said about Jesus was true. Their lives were turned around and transformed. Paul could bear testimony or witness to that.
Gift 6 - more gifts
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, God sent His Holy Spirit as a gift to the church and that Spirit in turn gives gifts to enable us to preach and encourage. Gifts and yet more gifts, Jesus just keeps on giving. How good is He!
Gift 7 - fellowship
People who followed Jesus and belonged to Him were drawn into a fellowship, and so are we. We are drawn into the fellowship of God the father, the Son and the Holy Spirt, and drawn into the fellowship of each other. When we belong to Jesus, we belong to each other and are like a huge family, the family of God.
We are currently living in a time of great uncertainty, we know that we are looking forward to Christmas, but what will it be like? We are waiting for the way out of COVID which even now is still uncertain. Yet we are not alone, Jesus has left us with great gifts to celebrate, gifts of hope to help us overcome all that life might throw at us. We too can experience His peace, His grace and His presence everywhere , we are given the ability to speak for Jesus and have knowledge of the truth, and we can see changed lives around us and we are given special gifts and fellowship in the church.
As we begin Advent and wait for Christmas, let us recognise the gifts that Jesus has given to us, let us be ready to praise and worship Him for these gifts. Let us be ready to receive them this Christmas time.
Hymn 631 Tell out my soul https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqwoqRo9N6E
For those who have waited for years for the dawn… For those for whom hope seems dim… For those whose morning brought the unexpected… For those struggling to adjust to new realities… For those whose fires have grown dim… For those who are ignoring the signs of the times… For those who are struggling to keep awake… Amen.
We have been called in, to be renewed in the name of the one who is love. Even in the darkest night, even when there is only one small candle lit, your power and love restore us. Let your light shine on us as we go from here, so that we may be warmed and strengthened to light your light all around. Amen.
God of light and night, you are to be found, whether at dusk or dawn. Sometimes the light seems far, and the night seems long. May I find comfort, whether in the soft night, or the kind dawn, knowing that you created both, and you wait for me, as I wait for you. Amen.
Prayers for those on our prayer list
Prayers for the world
The vaccine for COVID – that it will work and bring us freedom back.
American election and peace and acceptance for the outcome.
Those in hunger, refugees, third world counties struggling with COVID
Prayers for Blaby
Families that are struggling at this time.