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1st Sunday of Advent

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

God of hope, When Christ your Son appears may he not find us asleep or idle, but active in his service and ready; through the same Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Isaiah 64:1-9
00:00 / 01:55

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Corinthians 1:3-9
00:00 / 00:52

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint Mark.

Mark 13:24-37
00:00 / 02:03

Listen to David speak to this gospel

A New Hope
00:00 / 11:43

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon "Advent 1", 3rd Dec 2023

MAY the words of my mouth and the meditations in our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. <Amen>

Happy New Year! As one annual “cycle” of our church year ends … another begins … and oh how we enter the year:

“In those days … the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

These are Jesus words to his disciples. The disciples have been admiring the temple and the large stones. They are impressed. Jesus, however, is telling them that change, BIG CHANGE, is on the way. The temple of THEIR LIFE is coming down.

It sounds ominous and it is. Advent (“The Coming” or “The Arrival”) is not just a liturgical season of the church year. It is a reality of life. It happens in all sorts of ways. It comes at various points in life, not just the four or five weeks before Christmas.

If you have ever experienced significant change in your life, whether desired or dreaded, you know about “those days.” You know about Advent. You know what it is like to enter the often ‘dark’ period of change. All change, whether welcome or unwanted, brings some kind of loss. It may be the loss of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, the loss of what is comfortable, familiar, safe. The loss of the way things used to be done. Regardless, the world as we have known it has ended and moved to something different.

Pause for a moment. Reflect upon what has happened to you, your family, your friends, our world … in 2023. What was! What is! <PAUSE> What is to come? <PAUSE>

Looking back on The Advents (the periods of change) of our lives sets before us important questions. How will we find our way forward when the usual lights that lit our path no longer shine? What do we do when it feels as if our world is falling apart? Where do we go when it seems as if darkness is our only companion and God is, perhaps, no where to be seen?

The dark times of life are threshold moments. The temptation is to do something; to fix it, to ease the pain, to escape the uncertainly, and to get back to what used to be. The God of Advent does not allow that. We can never go back to the way it was before the lights went out!

BUT REMEMBER … Advent is not so much about the losses as it is about the “NEW HOPE” and COMING of WHAT WILL Be.

That hope and that coming is the Son of Man, our Lord and Saviour - Jesus the Christ. <PAUSE>

Every time we tell the Advent stories of our lives we echo the prophet Isaiah’s cry, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down” (Is. 64:1). And God does. God is faithful. God strengthens us to the end. In the midst of our losses we lack nothing as we await the revealing of Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 1:7-9). The Advent times of life are times of waiting. In Advent times we live between what was and what will be. We are neither here nor there. We are betwixt and between. Advent times are times of transition and it is hard, sometimes even impossible, to see the way forward.

I put to you today that Advent times remind us that we do not know everything. We do not see all possibilities. We can neither predict nor control anything. We are not in charge.

Advent times remind us, challenge us, to give up our usual sources of illumination, to let go of our habitual ways of knowing, of doing things, and move forward, WITH A NEW HOPE, into the different, bright, light-filled world that our God has planned for us.

With that ‘first Advent’, it was clear that God’s rescue operation for humans and the world had been decisively begun but NOT YET completed.

Jesus really did launch God’s kingdom ‘on earth as in heaven’ in His birth, His public ministry, His death and His resurrection.

But it was clear, it IS clear, that the Kingdom would then need to progress through the humble, self-giving service of Jesus’ followers - you and me.

We celebrate Jesus’ first coming, and use that to fuel our NEW HOPE for ourselves, the world, and to strengthen us to work for God’s Kingdom.

So, let us journey through these weeks of Advent 2023 together, these weeks that will lead us to that silent, holy night and let us ponder and pray about what Advent all means:

what it meant that first time,

what it means today,

what it will mean in the future.

My prayer is that this Advent will help us as all grow ‘Advent people’:

people of light in a dark world, people filled with a NEW HOPE in times and places of despair. People who follow Jesus, and when we follow Jesus - to God will be the glory.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Everlasting God, as we come before You at the start of the Season of Advent we ask you to prepare us for the coming of Your Son Jesus Christ and to hear us when we pray in faith for the needs of Your people and the world and to thank you for Your goodness.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your Mercy” Our plea is, “Hear our prayer”

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Mighty God, we pray for Your people today, gathering worldwide in churches, chapels, cathedrals, homes, open space to praise You and to hear Your holy word. Give us a sense of expectation as we come together and inspiration and new hope as we go.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Creator God, drive away despair from our politics, revive our dreams of justice and truth, and restore our passion for what is good and right.  Establish Your just and gentle rule throughout the world especially where there is conflict; where peace seems so far away and so many have lost everything, even the faint hope of a peaceful future. Govern the hearts and minds of all world leaders and those in authority that they may act justly, honestly and according to Your will.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Father God, we pray for those amongst our families, friends and neighbours who will only see in Advent a hectic and worrying run-up to the excesses of a secular Christmas.  Help us as we try to set an example of a true spirit of preparation for that incredibly precious gift of the Christ-child.  May they receive new hope, see the true meaning of Christmas and experience Your love for them through the giving of your Son, Jesus Christ

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Merciful God, we pray for those for whom this day will be long and painful, for those in hospital or ill at home, those struggling with despair or depression and for all who care for them.  Comfort and heal all who suffer, give them courage and new hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of Your salvation. We especially raise before you all those who have asked for our prayers from around the world … those we know in New Zealand, in Singapore, in Argentina, in France, in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in Austria, in Ukraine, in China and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God we pray for those who have recently died and for those for whom this day will be their last.  Be near to all who mourn and comfort them with the knowledge that in the coming of Your son Jesus the gates of heaven will be opened wide for all who accept Him as Lord and Saviour.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Heavenly father, in a moment of silence we place before you our personal prayers for ourselves, our families, our friends, for all of those whom we love and, for our personal ministries.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Advent Lord, as we move into a new liturgical year, draw near to us, strengthen our faith, deepen our love for you and for our neighbours and open our eyes to the wonder of your creation, so that when our Saviour comes He may find our hearts ready to receive Him.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,

your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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