Morning Service for Advent 2 2021

HYMN Hark the glad sound – NEH 6 – Bristol

1 HARK the glad sound! The Saviour comes,

The Saviour promised long!

Let every heart prepare a throne,

And every voice a song.

2 He comes the prisoners to release

In Satan’s bondage held;

The gates of brass before him burst,

The iron fetters yield.

3 He comes the broken heart to bind,

The bleeding soul to cure,

And with the treasures of his grace

Enrich the humble poor.

4 Our glad hosannas, Prince of peace,

Thy welcome shall proclaim,

And heaven’s eternal arches ring

With thy belovèd name.

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


We recall our Lord’s command to love and in a moment of silence we confess 

the many ways we fail to keep his command:

Most merciful God, 

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God.  Amen

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


O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power

and come among us,

and with great might succour us;

that whereas, through our sins and wickedness

we are grievously hindered

in running the race that is set before us,

your bountiful grace and mercy

may speedily help and deliver us;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, Amen.

FIRST READING – Malachi 3.1-4

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

HYMN Long ago prophets knew – NEH 10 – Personent Hodie

1. Long ago, prophets knew 

Christ would come, born a Jew,

Come to make all things new;

Bear his People’s burden,

Freely love and pardon:

Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring!

Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing!

When he comes,

When he comes,

Who will make him welcome?

2. God in time, God in man, 

This is God’s timeless plan:

He will come, as a man,

Born himself of woman

God divinely human:


3. Mary, hail! Though afraid, 

She believed, she obeyed.

In her womb, God is laid;

Till the time expected,

Nurtured and protected:


4. Journey ends! Where afar 

Bethlem shines, like a star,

Stable door stands ajar.

Unborn Son of Mary,

Saviour, do not tarry!

Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring!

Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing!

Jesus comes!

Jesus comes!

We will make him welcome!

GOSPEL – Luke 3.1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,

as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”


“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of the Lord…” 

As I said earlier, today is the Sunday in Advent we remember prophets. We remember prophets because they are the special mouthpiece of God, his means of communication with the world. Or at least that is how they were understood. 

The role of prophet to any people is not going to be comfortable. Almost by definition a prophet must herald change, he comes specifically to demonstrate the need for change, the imperative for change. Prophets have the ability to imagine a different future, a future in the hands of God, a future far from the imagination of the current holders of power. Prophets are dangerous to kings, they have the habit of revealing the limits to political power and are not constrained by its sanctions. 

You might be able to identify one or two prophets of our own day – Martin Luther King, Desmond Tuttu, Oscar Romero….

Prophets were significant to the history of the Hebrew people, in their heyday they were a constant reminder that the King was not beyond the demands of justice, and that the last word always lay with God. But by New Testament times it was believed that the day of prophets was over, over by some 400 years. And along comes John. 

He comes from the wilderness, a place of freedom, a place that is cruel and harsh but a place that allows solitude and silence, and where there is no one to tell you what to think.

The first hermits of the church went out into the deserts of Egypt and Syria in the 3rd and 4th centuries – they were known as the ‘Desert Fathers’. Lots of stories were told of them, here is one:

Abba Ammoun came to Clysma one day to meet Abba Sisoes.  Seeing that Abba Sisoes was grieved because he had left the desert, Abba Ammoun said to him, ‘Abba, why grieve about it?  What would you do in the desert, now you are so old?’  The old man pondered this sorrowfully and said to him, ‘What are you saying to me, Ammoun?  Was not the mere liberty of my soul enough for me in the desert?’ 

If the desert is a place of freedom it is also a place where God might have some space to speak – and be heard.

John comes from the wilderness with a message from God, a simple message, a message carried by all prophets before him, it is a message of repentance, but what it means is “change”. Because repent doesn’t mean going back to where you were, it means in go on to where you should be, going back is never an option. Harry Williams summed it up as follows, “repentance means: discovering that you have more to you than you dreamt or knew, becoming bored with being only a quarter of what you are and therefore taking the risk of surrendering to the whole, and thus finding more abundant life…”

Repentance means coming to yourself, your whole self, not being satisfied with less. For John it was true of his people, they had become less, much less, than they could be, much less than their journey and the graciousness of God had led them to. For us it is true as a church, a community, a fellowship of the body of Christ, we could be and we should be more, we could be a clearer sign of the gospel of Christ, we could be a brighter light set on a hill. Christ has no hands and feet but ours. 

It is also true for us as individuals, God challenges us to grow in faith and love. It is a daily mission to answer that challenge – which will mean a daily need for repentance – for searching and trying to respond to the love of God as fully as we possibly can.

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

HYMN O come, O come, Emmanuel NEH 11 – Veni Emmanuel

1. O COME, O come, Emmanuel!

Redeem thy captive Israel,

That into exile drear is gone

Far from the face of God’s dear Son.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

2. O come, thou Wisdom from on high!

Who madest all in earth and sky,

Creating man from dust and clay:

To us reveal salvation’s way.

3. O come, O come, Adonai,

Who in thy glorious majesty

From Sinai’s mountain, clothed with awe,

Gavest thy folk the ancient law.

4. O come, thou Root of Jesse! draw

The quarry from the lion’s claw;

From those dread caverns of the grave,

From nether hell, thy people save.

5. O come, thou Lord of David’s Key!

The royal door fling wide and free;

Safeguard for us the heavenward road,

And bar the way to death’s abode.

6. O come, O come, thou Dayspring bright!

Pour on our souls thy healing light;

Dispel the long night’s lingering gloom,

And pierce the shadows of the tomb.

7. O come, Desire of nations! show

Thy kingly reign on earth below;

Thou Corner-stone, uniting all,

Restore the ruin of our fall.


Father, As we worship together this morning, the second Sunday in Advent, we come before you in thanksgiving.  Christmas preparation helps us focus on your amazing love. Thank you for the birth of Jesus, the gift of redemption and the joy of a restored relationship with you.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We thank you for the gift of prayer.  Help us to follow Jesus’s example by spending time alone with you each day.  Forgive us when we get so caught up with the physical preparation of this season that we miss the most important preparation of drawing closer to you.  May we appreciate all that you have done for us through Jesus and allow His life to influence ours.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Our hearts go out to the many refugees who are fleeing poverty, corrupt regimes and persecution.  We pray that the charities who are involved will be given finance, manpower and access to enable them to provide relief.  Please give them your protection and expose the corruption of those taking advantage of the traumatic circumstances the refugees are experiencing.  We ask that governments will work together to quickly find a humane solution to the plight of these people.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for Boris Johnson, all members of our government and the medical teams involved in making decisions regarding Covid 19 and the new variants.  Please give them wisdom and give everyone in the community a sense of responsibility towards each other.  Thank you for the vaccines which have enabled us to move forward with normal living.  Please make us aware of people who are struggling as a consequence of Covid. Help us to be prepared to give our support.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Although life can throw up difficulties, it is important to appreciate that we have many blessings and good things to be grateful for.  Let us take a moment to thank God for the blessings that we enjoy…

Thank you for the democracy,  freedom of speech and worship we have in this country.  We pray for Christians who face persecution and will not be able to worship openly this Christmas.  Please protect them and keep their faith strong.  May they have a wonderful sense of hope and joy as they reflect on the birth of Jesus.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for members of our benefice who are having problems with health, those who are suffering from depression, grief or experiencing other difficulties.  Please help them to trust you with their burdens and be encouraged by answers to their prayers.

May we all experience your peace and joy as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

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

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.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face to shine upon and be gracious unto you.

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

The Lord God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

the holy and undivided Trinity, guard you, save you,

and bring you to that heavenly city,

where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen

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.

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