Waiting and anticipation
Call to Worship
Across the universe creation waits for the prophets to speak their words of expectation and their vision of renewal
May we gather round them today once more and let their longing grip us and lead us into birth and blessing
So come now my friends this is the meeting place of promise and prophecy let us listen through the ancient words that we might be ready to hear a baby’s cry. Amen
Prayer of Confession
In this season of sales, shopping, and stress, God of Light, we confess how easy it is to slip off your paths.
We can become so focused on having good times, we forget to take the time to do good for your people.
We slip easily into Santa suits, but find Jesus Christ an uncomfortable fit for our lives.
We find ourselves strangely jealous over the gifts others receive, yet have trouble accepting those gifts of peace and serenity you hand out so freely. Forgive us, Breath of Salvation.
By your mercy, we can once again walk the streets of your kingdom, being alert for the signs of your grace and hope in our midst.
Teach us your ways of peace and reconciliation, that we may truly live as the disciples of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: you will be swept away in the waters of mercy, salvation carrying you home to God’s heart. Peace, serenity, healing, hope – these gifts, and more, are ours in this Advent season of watching and waiting. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
We bless you, our Lord God,
that you have come and have redeemed your people,
raising up for us a strong saviour from the family of your servant David, as you promised through your prophets long ago.
You have rescued us from the grip of our enemy;
you have enabled us to serve you without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before you, all our days.
We thank you that you have given to us, your people, the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of our sins;
and that by your tender mercy, the Sun has risen into heaven to shine on all who live in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.
Luke 1: 46-55 The Magnificat
Luke 1.68-79 The Benedictus
These hymns, songs of blessing and hope for the future, are spoken by the two parents of the two most major characters in Luke: Zechariah on the occasion of the birth of his son John (the Baptist) and Mary having just heard she is pregnant
There are many obvious parallels between these two birth narratives in Luke’s Gospel, and it seems that Luke is at pains to emphasise not only the similarities but also the differences between John and Jesus.
Zechariah’s hymn falls into two sections, making it absolutely clear that John is one whose role is to prepare the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus.
In the first section, many links to Old Testament prophecy are made, and the focus is on Jesus as the fulfilment of prophecy.
The second section of the hymn sets John’s birth in context within the broad sweep of Luke’s Gospel: John is a prophet who is to prepare the way of the Lord, and who will herald good news that will bring light, life and peace.
In this way it is made clear that John himself is not to be the object of attention, but rather his role is to direct others to Christ.
Both of these parents show remarkable fortitude.
Both John and Jesus will live dangerous and daunting lives. Both could bring disfavour to their parents. Both will be outsiders, fighting against the established ways of life that God’s people are following. Both will be prophets. Both will prepare the ways that will open the doors to heaven. Both will die a dreadful death.
Both will be a blessing to God, our heavenly father.
But only one will shoulder the load of human sin. Only one will be deserted by his friends and followers. Only one will rise from death. Only one has seen God.
Only one will be our saviour. Only one has prepared our place in heaven.
Both these parents glorify God and enable us too to glorify his name. These songs of blessing and hope don’t just talk of eternity; they talk of our situations today. In times of trouble and angst, praise God.
In the lonely places The wilderness Where we stand forlorn Windswept and alone Your voice calls out
Prepare a way for the Lord
In the dark places The shadows Where we hide our fears Embrace our tears Your voice calls out
Prepare a way for the Lord
For the desert places in which we walk The streets we roam The paths we cross Guide our feet Take us to places Where you would go
Give us words that you would use
That in this Advent season of promise and preparation We might point the way with John the Baptist To the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Benedictus (Hauser) www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGbHnJCDMyE
On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIr21lLgFpg
I Cannot Tell Why He, Whom Angels Worship www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh0RKetMB0o
Prepare Ye (Godspell) www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSIs1MHdFQY now showing its age!