Morning Service for Advent 2 2022


I have a favourite analogy, it comes to me often when trying to fit conflicting ideas and imperfectly understood concepts into my oh so small brain. It copes particularly well with paradox - that favourite standby of theologians when they try to tell you that black is both black and white. 

Morning Service for Advent 2 2022

HYMN Hark the glad sound – NEH 6/AMR 53 – 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 – Isaiah 11.1-10

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

HYMN Hark a herald voice is calling – NEH 5/AMR47 – Merton

1 Hark! A herald voice is calling:

‘Christ is nigh,’ it seems to say;

‘Cast away the dreams of darkness,

O ye children of the day!’

2 Startled at the solemn warning,

Let the earth-bound soul arise;

Christ, her Sun, all sloth dispelling,

Shines upon the morning skies.

3 Lo! the Lamb, so long expected,

Comes with pardon down from heaven;

Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,

One and all to be forgiven;

4 So when next he comes in glory,

And earth’s final hour draws near,

May he then as our defender

On the clouds of heaven appear.

5 Honour, glory, virtue, merit,

To the Father and the Son,

With the co-eternal Spirit,

While unending ages run. Amen.

GOSPEL – Matthew 3.1-12

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ”

Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptised by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptise you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”


I have a favourite analogy, it comes to me often when trying to fit conflicting ideas and imperfectly understood concepts into my oh so small brain. It copes particularly well with paradox – that favourite standby of theologians when they try to tell you that black is both black and white. 

The analogy is simply the rainbow, or rather the fact that white light can be broken into light of various wavelengths, giving all the colours of the rainbow, or spectrum. I remember going to the Science Museum when a child where they had rigged up a disc painted red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, all in neat divisions like pieces of pie. You pressed a button and a lo and behold the disc span and when it had reached a certain speed all the colours vanished and there was just a white spinning disc. That must have been almost 35 years ago and I can still see the disc spinning to this day. 

The point is that white light is made up from all those colours, if any were missing it wouldn’t be white. The paradox is that seen one way the disc was seven distinct colours, seen another it was just white. 

So what on earth has all that got to do with the Second Sunday of Advent? In the readings appointed for today we heard images of peace and justice, pictures of an ideal, a holy place when no one will hurt or destroy and even predators turn vegetarian. But we also heard of wrath to come, of people, like trees, cut down with an axe and thrown into the fire – with the message “repent or burn.” 

We delight in Jesus’s parables of forgiveness – of prodigal sons and women caught in adultery – of Jesus’s acceptance of outcast and sinner. We breathe a sigh of relief, glad to hear how tolerant our God is. But here comes John the Baptist, just when we’re looking forward to cosy images of a baby all wrapped up in his mother’s arms, with wondering shepherds and adoring kings – just when we’re writing Christmas cards and hearing news from old friends, just when we’re preparing for “the Christmas spirit” – just then, here comes John the Baptist to spoil the party, with his shaggy coat and shaggy beard and his “repent the end is nigh” message. It’s just not what we want to hear, it doesn’t fit with the season’s mood. 

But, of course, we remember that Advent is where we are, not Christmas, a season of preparation, not rejoicing, a season to prepare for the coming of the Lord. And uncomfortable though it might be, John the Baptist was the means God chose to prepare for the coming of Jesus. A call to repentance is part of the Christian spectrum – a way of life distinguished from the ways of the world – different motives, different duties, different priorities are inevitably part of the good news. 

Things perhaps didn’t turn out quite like John the Baptist had expected, or even hoped. He came from the desert looking like and sounding like Elijah calling people from the rush headlong to destruction, calling them to a life of different motives and different priorities, a life where God’s priorities of justice and compassion are honoured and taken seriously. Or else the wrath of God would come to burn with unquenchable fire. 

Jesus came and the vision was greater, stretching beyond the ancient people of Israel and out into all the peoples of the world. John preached hellfire and brimstone and in walked a gentle kind of man asking him for baptism. No wonder John asked perhaps doubtfully, “are you the one? Or are we to look for another?” Jesus didn’t come in anger and judgment but with gentleness and mercy, and even a little sadness. But he too told people to repent and our Christian baptism is one which invites us to live a life of repentance. A life striving to grow in the goodness and holiness that we see in Jesus. 

Sinfulness, falling short of the mark, being less than we might be, is part of our condition, part of the spectrum of who we are as human beings. Repentance and its corollary forgiveness is part of God’s spectrum that responds to who we are and how we are. It’s taken its place alongside all the images of peace and hope, love and acceptance, not to deny them but to stand alongside them as another aspect of the truth we need to hear.

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/AMR 49 – 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.


In this season of Advent, the season of watching and waiting, we know that we must set aside time to prepare for the coming of the son of man. But stay with us Lord lest we forget – lest we succumb to the frenzy of Christmas preparation. Watch over us Lord so that in moments of silence when we do not have to search for words, when we do not have to deliver anything, when we can just be, we start to listen and so hear your voice.

In these weeks we think of Mary carrying the child Jesus on a long journey at the orders of an occupying army and the pray for the success of campaigns involving the United Nations and the Queen Consort to raise awareness about violence against women. We bring before you all women who are vulnerable in their own homes and those trapped by hostile military forces, remembering especially the women of Ukraine.  We pray that this miraculous gift of carrying new life is seen as the miracle it is and not a weapon of war.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Lord our God, be present at all meetings and negotiations of those who govern. We pray for real communication which listens and keeps as its only agenda the heavy responsibility of shaping the lives of its people. We pray for our government as it faces the challenge of caring for those in need and the providing economic stability upon which we rely. 

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Our Christingle services are approaching when we remember the gifts with which you have blessed us: our earth which feeds us and your love which surrounds us. It is a time also when we think of the young people who are the victims of abuse by drug gangs, of the unscrupulous and we give thanks for the work of The Children’s Society which seeks, as it has always done, to identify  and protect the most vulnerable. 

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

God our father and our mother, we are mindful of those awaiting a delayed treatment; mindful of those in pain, those fearful of what lies ahead and anyone trapped in the maze of depression. Anxiety eats away at hope, but hope is embedded in all the gospel tells us. We ask that you bring this reassuring message to all in need, remembering in this parish Roger Lowman, Jennie Britten and the Boundy family as they continue to nurse John in his recovery.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for all who have come to the end of their earthly life and pray for those whose lives feel empty without them. We ask that you give comfort to the bereaved and everlasting peace to all who rest in your love.

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/AMR 269 – 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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