A Shorter Communion Service for Advent 4

HYMN - Creator of the stars of night NEH 1 - Conditor Alme

1. CREATOR of the stars of night, 
Thy people's everlasting light,
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all, 
And hear thy servants when they call. 

2. Thou, grieving that the ancient curse 
Should doom to death a universe,
Hast found the medicine, full of grace.
To save and heal a ruined race.

3 Thou cam'st, the Bridegroom of the bride
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine:

4 At whose dread name, majestic now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
And things celestial thee shall own,
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.

5 O thou whose coming is with dread
To judge and doom the quick and dead,
Preserve us, while we dwell below,
From every insult of the foe.

6. To God the Father, God the Son.
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Laud, honour, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally. Amen

PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
When the Lord comes, he will bring to light things now hidden in darkness, and will disclose the purposes of the heart. In his light let us examine ourselves and confess our sins.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour,
through our own fault,
in thought, and word, and deed,
and in what we have left undone.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen

THE COLLECT

God our redeemer,
who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son:
grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,
so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen


FIRST READING - Luke 1.46-55.

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

HYMN - For Mary, mother of the Lord NEH 161 - St Botolph

1. For Mary, Mother of the Lord
God's holy name be praised,
Who first the Son of God adored
As on her child she gazed.

2. The angel Gabriel brought the word
She should Christ's mother be;
Our Lady, handmaid of the Lord,
Made answer willingly.

3. The heavenly call she thus obeyed,
And so God's will was done;
The second Eve love's answer made
Which our redemption won.

4. She gave her body for God's shrine,
Her heart to piercing pain,
And knew the cost of love divine
When Jesus Christ was slain.

5. Dear Mary, from your lowliness
And home in Galilee,
There comes a joy and holiness
To every family.

6. Hail, Mary, you are full of grace,
Above all women blest;
Blest in your Son, whom your embrace
In birth and death confessed.

GOSPEL - Luke 1.26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

SERMON

God spoke

Jesus the baby, slippery and wet, streaked with blood, Mary’s tears. He screams, shock of leaving the warmth and womb, the soothing heartbeat, the comfortable darkness; now terror of light and noise and sensation. Cold air in new lungs, a gnawing hunger, this is the world, this is life - Jesus cries.

And the word became flesh…

Jesus the boy, so eager to know, so much to see, running through town, playing on the hillside, laughing with friends, parents to provide, teach and direct - carefree days.

And the Word became flesh

Jesus the apprentice, learning the trade at father’s elbow, calloused hands, splinters and dust, wood to be cut, joints to be made, products to sell, homes to repair. A job, a way to live, earn bread - not his life’s work.

And the Word became flesh…

Jesus the young man - in the synagogue, arguing with the rabbi, reading the scrolls, studying and thinking, puzzling and debating. Finding a voice, hearing a voice, discerning the truth, appalled at the call. A man named John, crying in the streets, “start again, be new”. The pull of the water, the going down, the coming up, overwhelmed, embraced, loved, driven out, out to the desert

And the Word became flesh…

Jesus the rabbi, walking and talking, always moving, friends and followers, bemused family, hostile voices, the hurt and confused, the frightened and the lost, the healed and the found, and for ever giving, giving, giving.  The way clearer every step, every step nearer the end, 

And the Word became flesh…

Jesus the crucified, powerless, tortured, wretched, searing pain and endless mocking, streaked with blood, Mary’s tears. Terrible thirst, agony on agony, holding on to hope, but there is only absence.

And the Word became flesh…

Jesus the risen, the cool of the garden, the crowded upper room, the waters of Galilee, the busy streets of Jerusalem, a Roman prison, in bread and wine, in believers’ meeting, in the hurried prayer, in a million ways, on a million days…

The Word becomes flesh… today and every day in and through those who call him friend.

And the darkness comprehendeth it not.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7

INTERCESSIONS - Christine Hill

Heavenly Father, as we come before you in prayer today help us shut out for a while the clamour of the world and our busy lives in the run up to Christmas, and remember the true meaning of Advent. At this difficult time for everybody, we pray that we may not forget to give you thanks for all your blessings. 

We pray that those in authority would use their power with true concern for the well-being of the people they serve. At this time we pray especially for European leaders involved in Brexit talks and for a resolution so that all countries may begin to move forward in unity.

We also pray that our Government may act compassionately when they make decisions about health and economic matters during and after this pandemic. Give them the wisdom to guide us effectively and to invest in long-term solutions that benefit all of society equally.

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Strengthen your Church in the service of Christ, and bless all bishops and clergy, especially those that minister here in our Benefice.  We pray for them as they lead the services over Christmas time and pray that the words they preach bring comfort and joy to all who attend the services, whether physically or virtually.  Open especially the hearts of those who are not regular church goers, that they may find something in the Christmas message to bring them further into faith.

Thank you for all those who have worked so hard this year to keep us informed, inspired and comforted by online services, preaching and teaching.

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

As many families prepare to come together at Christmas we give thanks for the chance to spend time with our loved ones and we pray for those who will be alone at Christmas or who will struggle with family relationships. We pray especially for those who have to make difficult decisions this year about who they can and cannot visit and ask that we may all be aware of those in need and offer support where we can.

Where we can not be with our families and loved ones in person, may we be comforted in knowing that You are always with them. 

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for your healing for those who are sick with the virus and for all who suffer with other physical or mental illnesses. We pray especially for those known to us and those on our benefice prayer list. 

Bless our hospitals and all those people who work in them and in other areas of health and social care. We thank you for the knowledge and skill of the scientists who have developed the corona virus vaccines and pray that you will grant wisdom and sympathy to all those involved in rolling out the vaccine programme. 

Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Eternal father, we remember all those who have died recently. We pray especially for those who died alone because of isolation requirements, and for their families who mourn them and who grieve because they could not be with them. May they all find peace in you.

Loving Father, as we approach a Christmas season that looks very different from normal, we thank you, that where there is weariness, you bring rest; where there is hopelessness, you bring encouragement; and where there is despair, you bring hope.  

Merciful Father, 

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

THE PEACE

In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. The peace of the Lord be always with you:

and also with you

HYMN - Hills of the north rejoice NEH 7 - Little Conrad

1 Hills of the North, rejoice,
river and mountain-spring,
hark to the advent voice;
valley and lowland, sing.
Christ comes in righteousness and love,
he brings salvation from above.

2 Isles of the Southern seas,
sing to the listening earth,
carry on every breeze
hope of a world's new birth:
In Christ shall all be made anew,
his word is sure, his promise true.

3 Lands of the East, arise,
he is your brightest morn,
greet him with joyous eyes,
praise shall his path adorn:
your seers have longed to know their Lord;
to you he comes, the final word.

4 Shores of the utmost West,
lands of the setting sun,
welcome the heavenly guest
in whom the dawn has come:
he brings a never-ending light
who triumphed o'er our darkest night.

5 Shout, as you journey home,
songs be in every mouth,
lo, from the North they come,
from East and West and South:
in Jesus all shall find their rest,
in him the universe be blest.

The Preparation of the Table

Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the splendour, and the majesty;
for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
All things come from you, 
and of your own do we give you.

Eucharistic Prayer H 

The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.
When we turned away
you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.

You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.

In Christ you shared our life
that we might live in him and he in us.

He opened his arms of love upon the cross
and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.

On the night he was betrayed,
at supper with his friends
he took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to them, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his body is the bread of life.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
he gave you thanks, and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his blood is shed for all.

As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy gifts
make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.

With your whole Church throughout the world
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
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.
Lead us not into temptation 

but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, 

and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many, we are one body, 
because we all share in one bread.

Jesus, lamb of God: have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us
Jesus, redeemer of the world: grant us your peace.

As Mary’s body was given for Jesus,
so Jesus’ body is given for us.
Here the Word made flesh
comes to us,
cradled in bread and wine.

Post Communion PRAYER

Heavenly Father,
who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of the promised saviour:
fill us your servants with your grace,
that in all things we may embrace your holy will
and with her rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

BLESSING
Christ the Sun of righteousness shine upon you, 
scatter the darkness from your path,
and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory.
And the blessing of God Almighty, 
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you, 
and remain with you always.  Amen

HYMN - Lo! he comes with clouds descending

1 LO! he comes with clouds descending,
Once for favoured sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluya!
God appears, on earth to reign.

2 Every eye shall now behold him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at nought and sold him,
Pierced and nailed him to the tree,
Deeply wailing
Shall the true Messiah see.

3 Those dear tokens of his passion
Still his dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To his ransomed worshippers:
With what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

4 Yea, Amen! let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory:
Claim the kingdom for thine own:
O come quickly!
Alleluya! Come, Lord, come!

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ. Amen