North Hertfordshire Methodist Circuit. Worship prepared for Methodists at Baldock, Arlesey, Stotfold and High St Stevenage
Sunday 29th November 2020
This short act of worship has been prepared for you to use while we are unable to attend church. If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you.
29th November 2020 High Street Written Sheet (Click here to download)
Message from Our Minister
Welcome and Call to Worship
Praise be to you, O God, the source of all holiness,
By whose Spirit we are made whole and brought to perfection. Praise be to you, O God, source of all being, eternal Word and Holy Spirit, as it is was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen (MWB, p29)
Hymn: STF 177
Lo, he comes with clouds descending
Lord, we thank you for the richness of your creation:
For the enormity of our universe, so utterly vast that it takes our breath away-our minds simply cannot take it in. We thank you for the smallest creature, perfect in detail, incredibly made. We acknowledge that you have not only made the World, but you have created us. We thank you for giving us the ability to think, to plan and to choose.
King of glory who reigns forever, we thank you for being so ready to forgive us whenever we turn to you and honestly acknowledge your power and our own need. We praise you for the joy of knowing that no matter who we are or what we have done or failed to do, we can still experience the joy of forgiveness and beginning again in the name of Jesus.
King of kings, we thank you for the fellowship of your Church, the community of those who have confessed their sin and are receiving your promise of life made whole.
Thank you for the infilling, overwhelming power and presence of the Holy Spirit; for the way he lifts us up, transforms our lives and is the source of the thankfulness that wells up within us. We bring our thanks as we continue to watch and pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him, you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The Coming of the Son of Man: “But in those days, after that suffering, 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. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of Heaven.
The Lesson of the Fig Tree: “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
The Necessity for Watchfulness: “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the Master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Pause for thought: Keep awake?
The beginning of Advent is a beginning in a number of different ways. Advent is an ancient season of preparation, and the celebration of the first coming of Christ to the World and for the anticipation of his second coming. Most Advent themes are highlighted by traditional readings and four/five symbolic candles. The first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the Church year, the liturgical journey that explores not only the story but also the meaning of salvation, even in the dark time as we are today. Psalm 27:14 says: Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage. Our Bible readings today echoed the Psalmist’s words: “be watchful, keep awake!” Two weeks ago, our Bible reading from Matthew 25:20-21 was about the benefits of using our talents and gifts. When the Son of Man comes, we will hear the words “well done good and faithful servant, enter the joy of your Master.” These words are costly.
Mark 13:24-37 says times such as the evening, midnight, twilight, and morning correspond to the four watches of the night on the Roman reckoning. The message of the reading from Mark is spelt out in the final verse which is said to apply, not only to the four disciples who wrote the four Gospels, but to “All” readers: stay awake, be ready for the end which may come at any time.
Keep awake! Have you ever been unable to sleep for two nights and felt how heavy your eyes and head were? Obviously, staying awake in this way is impossible, so what exactly was Jesus talking about? “Keep awake” were the final words of Jesus before the story of his passion and death: “since no one knows the exact schedule for the end of this age and the coming of the Kingdom, everyone should be ready at all times. Obviously, Jesus was talking about staying spiritually awake! How shall we do this with all the distractions and attractions that around us today? A friend sent me this image to illustrate how Covid19 is one of the distractions we have in our world today.
This image made me seriously think. Let me borrow your imagination for a second; There are two stations and two queues. One station has the words “Jesus is coming, this is how to get saved” and the other Station has “Corona Virus is coming, how to be safe”. While the queue for Jesus’s station is empty, the Corona Virus queue has so many people that the line bends around the corner. Does this sound familiar in today’s time? This is the physical aspect of what we see today. There are political divisions in governments around the world, and even in the body of Christ. Confusion, joblessness, hatred, injustice, social exclusion, and the discrimination in our world today are all distractions which are the signs of the darkest time of our time. For example, have you been following news in the U.S.A of what is happening? The truth is people are so close to losing hope.
Our Bible readings are both encourage us to stay awake to signs that offer hope of the coming deliverance which will come at an unexpected time! These signs Jesus was talking about are easy to miss if we are not paying attention to what is taking place around us.
What should we be doing while we wait? While we keep awake not only physically but also spiritually? Should we just “be and stand still?” Obviously not!
For us to hear the words “well done good and faithful servant, enter the joy of your Master, and sit at the right hand of the son of God who is superior to men and angelic beings,” we need to have a close and personal relationship with God by confessing with our lips that Jesus is our Lord even in the darkest time of the year, even in the darkest time of this pandemic, hoping and believing in our heart that God who raised Jesus from the dead has all the power to save us. Spend time in His word which will never pass away. Remembering that we have been only saved by God’s grace and mercy through faith. This salvation is the free gift of God to all humanity. In advent, as we wait with anticipation, Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Be alert for signs of the Kingdom, seek me with all your heart, mind, body and spirit. Keep awake physically and spiritually in the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Let us pray: Lord our God, keep all your servants alert and watchful as we await the return of Christ your Son, so that when he comes and knocks at the door, he may find us vigilant in prayer with songs of praise on our lips. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Lord’s Prayer: Our Father………………….
Hymn 338: There is a redeemer
Then will the glory of the Lord be revealed, and all will see it together. Wait for the Lord; be strong and brave and put your hope in the Lord! Amen.