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2nd 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):

God for whom we wait and watch, you sent John the Baptist to prepare for the coming of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth even to the point of suffering. This we ask through Christ our Saviour.

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

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Isaiah 40:1-11
00:00 / 03:18

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

2 Peter 3:8-15a
00:00 / 01:20

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 1:1-8
00:00 / 01:55

Listen to David speak to this gospel

A Humble Man
00:00 / 14:09

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

Sermon "Advent 2", 10th 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>

Professor Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, took over the presidency of The Tuskegee Institute (now The Tuskegee University) in Alabama in 1881. One day he was walking in an exclusive section of Tuskegee when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Mr Washington did not get angry, did not say, “Do you know who I am?” No! With a calm, inner peace, Professor Washington smiled, nodded, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he then carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognised him and later revealed his identity to the lady.

The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office and apologised profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labour. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend.”

She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.

The reason I tell you this is simple. A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights in honouring such selfless people. The beginning of the gospel of Mark that we have just heard and that story about Professor Washington serve to remind us that the second Sunday in Advent is about humility and the peace which it brings. <PAUSE>

So, John the Baptiser appears in the wilderness and before you know it he has become a MAJOR celebrity. Scripture tells us “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him”.

They didn’t just listen - they responded; they confessed their sins and were baptised!

Not only was John hugely popular, he was also hugely successful.

For all his popularity and success, though, John was strikingly different from the average person … then AND now! Many people respond to great popularity, success, authority, high position with arrogance, self-inflated ego, pride and swagger. From the very beginning, “The Baptiser” was different.

“It’s not about me” was the root of The Baptiser’s message. John was not trying to attract people top be popular. John wasn’t about protecting any authority or position he might have. John wasn’t interested in the limelight. John wasn’t interested in power and holding on to it. John wasn’t interested in the praise or admiration of others. <PAUSE>

John preached about someone else, someone who would come after him whose sandal thongs John did not consider himself even worthy to tie. John WAS interested in preparing the way for someone else, and he didn’t let personal position or ambition get in the way of doing his job well. <PAUSE>

John was a baptiser; his task was preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Baptism was not an invention of John, nor was it unique to the Israelites. From ancient times, baptism was a well-known symbol, an outward sign, of a new spiritual birth, of entering into a new form of life.

For those whom John baptised, it marked their confession that they were sinners. Yup, we’ve stuffed up! Yup, we’ve got it wrong!. When we admit that, we are laying aside our human pride and confessing the truth of what we really are … human … and frail.

But we are not making that confession blindly. We are making it in the light of the revealed knowledge that God loves us immeasurably, and atonement has been made for us in Jesus Christ. In other words, because God has revealed to us that he is for us, we are FREE in Christ both to fearlessly acknowledge our frailty before God, and free to accept God’s gift of atonement and His new creation of us in Jesus Christ.

Because we have met with the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we can entrust ourselves to Him fully and without reservation. Safe in His love, we can give over to Him even the crushing burdens of our darkest mistakes and fears.

So, the Christ-child is coming and in that coming, we are a new, humble creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15). We are set free (Galatians 5:1)! God has freed us to be the new, redeemed, healed, humbled and complete persons he has made us to be in Christ. God sets us free to be at peace in Jesus.

We can use this coming gift to hear and obey our heavenly Father, or we can reject it and continue to live as though God had not made us his covenant partner, as though he had not made us the beloved recipients of his overflowing grace in Christ. <PAUSE>

How humble should we be when we remember that God loves us so much that in the coming Christ-child he took humanity itself into Himself.

That is the way God chose to make us into a new creation. The Son of God, the Christ-child took humanity into himself, and in doing that he reconciled all who believe to God.

This is the God who in immeasurable love humbled himself to take all our burdens upon himself, including our ugliest mistakes, and turn us into a new and beautiful creation in His Son.

“The Baptiser” recognised this.

John’s ministry was a ministry of humility, “It’s not about me folks. It’s about the one who comes after me. I need to slip away from this limelight, this popularity so you can see, and follow, the true and living greatness of another.

With this humility comes the great peace in hearts and minds that is Christ Jesus. <PAUSE> I pray to God that people who find themselves in positions of power, authority, celebrity, or whatever, can drop all those airs of superiority and pride, and humble themselves before the mighty hand of God, because it’s really not about them at all.

When we are humble before God, when we are humble before each other … then, 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:

In Micah 6:8 You say, “O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Today we choose to walk humbly with You. We choose to live by Your Holy Spirit, to follow Your lead, and to feel Your peace. Help us to hear You clearly, for we do not want to walk by pride or self-sufficiency, we want to walk with You. <PAUSE>

Everlasting God, as we continue our Advent journey, preparing for the coming of Your Son, we now offer our prayers and petitions through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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, Your servant John the Baptist called people to change the way they lived and to prepare themselves for the coming of Your Son. Raise up, we pray, prophetic voices in our own time. Enable us to discern the truth which draws us closer to You. Give us the courage to reject the voice of the evil one tempting us to fulfil our selfish desires. We pray for all those who teach, preach and minister to Your people around the world. May they be as fearless in proclaiming the truth as Your servant John, and may we be ready to adapt and change in response to Your call through them.

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

Creator God, we pray for our world and the problems faced by so many of Your children, especially for all who live under conditions of war, terrorism and poverty. We pray for those who have little to eat, meagre dwellings and few material possessions.  Help us to care and to share and to give generously whenever we can, in the same way that you gave us your son Jesus Christ at the first Christmas.

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

Father God, Your Son Jesus lived an ordinary family life in Nazareth and so you understand the difficulties faced in family life. We pray for all of those involved in providing support for troubled families and strengthening our community life.  As we draw closer to Christmas, we pray for those families who will feel their problems increased by the need to provide what they cannot truly afford.

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

Merciful God, may Your blessing be upon all those who are sick, in pain, anxious or troubled. We ask You to be close to those passing through dark places, to those undergoing treatments at home or in hospital, and to give thanks for all working in Health Services who are treating them.

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, give rest to those who have gone from our lives to be with You. May they now live the life eternal and rest in everlasting peace in Your presence.  Strengthen the bereaved with the knowledge of Your loving presence in this their time of great sorrow.

(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.

Holy God, we ask You to help us make time for true preparations this Advent.  In the midst of the rush of life, help us find inner quietness and an awareness of Your presence. Let this Christmas be a time when we concern ourselves not so much with material things but focus more on the spiritual gifts You give so unselfishly

(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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