1st Sunday in Advent – prepared by Christine Jeffery
Call to Worship
God from true God, Light from pure light. Flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone.
Word became flesh, God became human. Grown in the womb, as one of our own.
Word of God’s life, born of a woman. Wisdom of God, and God’s only son.
He became weak, though he was powerful. Born with the poor, bringing God’s Kingdom.
Come and adore him, weak and defenceless. Into our history, the Christ-child has come.
Hymn (StF169) (Charles Wesley)
Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee
Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
Born thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a king
Born to reign in us forever
Now thy gracious kingdom bring
By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By thine own sufficient merit
Raise us to thy glorious throne.
A prayer in Advent
Father God, we thank you for sending Jesus your Son into the world to show us how to live our lives. You know Father that things are different this year because of the pandemic. The things we normally do at Christmas may not be possible this year, but at this moment we pray you will speak to and through each on of us. We are sorry for the times we have let you down. For things we may have said or done which were not very christian, please forgive us. Please speak to us as we worship you in our homes and show us what you want us to do for you this Advent and Christmas and in the future. Come into our complacency and stir us into action. Come into our false busyness and give us a word of peace. Come into our lack of preparation and show us the true foundation of this season. Come into our Christmas and make it your nativity. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer.
Reading – John Chapter 1, verse 1-18 The Word became flesh
Reflection John 1 vs 14 – The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us
A young boy, about three years of age, was very excited. His parents had carefully told him that this coming Christmas was going to be extra special for them as a family. Besides the usual celebrations including remembering Jesus Christ’s birthday, God was sending them a little sister or brother for them to love and care for. The great day arrived. His parents brought a little sister home to live with them. When the baby had been safely settled in her cot, the parents thought it would be good for their three year old son to be left alone with her for a short time. (I expect Mum and Dad had the door ajar a little) Her brother stood very close to her cot and whispered in her ear “Quick, little sister, tell me before you forget – What does God look like?”
Who can answer that question?
John’s gospel is an attempt to put into human words what God is like. But it’s success in showing God to us is not in the words of the book, but in the Word made flesh, even Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Jesus said “he who has seen me had seen the Father” – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. After a lifetime of preaching, a minister said that the five most important words in all the bible are – And the Word became flesh. Without this there is no life of Jesus, no Sermon on the Mount, no atoning death, no victory in resurrection. Without this there is no way we can know God as He wishes to be known.
1. The meaning go the Incarnation
Matthew and Luke tell us that God became flesh through the willing obedience of the Virgin Mary. They tell us of Mary’s faith, of Joseph’s fear, of the angels’ song, and of the shepherds’ worship. It is of these stories that the Christmas celebration is made. But underneath all the Christmas stories, the great and powerful truth rings out. “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The word was God. The word is life. The word is light, the word became flesh. God in flesh in the manger at Bethlehem. God in flesh who touched blind eyes and deaf ears, and lame legs and healed them. God in flesh who taught by the seashore of Galilee. God in flesh having a controversy at Jerusalem with the religious leaders of the day, God in flesh on the cross at Calvary, God in flesh who was raised from the dead. This God who pitched his tent among us calls us to believe and follow Him, but also warns us of the consequences of unbelief. All who believe in Him are not condemned but are given the gift of eternal life.
2. The purpose of the Incarnation.
The reason for the incarnation was to bring life to all. In John 1 vs 4 we read ’In Him was life and the Life was the light of men’. Also in John we read in Chapter 10 vs 10 where Jesus clearly says ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’. God’s purpose was to bring eternal life to us through he life to the Son, who is the Light of the World. Through Him the light shines into every dark nook and cranny of our loneliness, brokenness, and emptiness.
Eternal Life has two dimensions. There is the length of it and there is the depth of it. Eternal life with God is forever – that is the length of it. Eternal life with God is in the present moment, abundant, meaningful, filled full with courage and joy – that is the depth of it. Jesus has come to deliver each of us from the darkness of death into the light of life. It is not just existence but life which is full now, in the world and complete, finding fulfilment in the joy of all that heaven promises to every believer.
3. The Church and the Incarnation.
In John 20 vs 21 we read of the occasion after His resurrection when Jesus appeared to His disciples and said ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so I am sending you’. Later on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. The message of Jesus spread to all who would hear it and accept it. This same Holy Spirit is available today to each of us who believe, and we must pass it on to others. The world needs this message now more than ever, in these difficult times.
Let us pray.
Dear Father, we ask for your Holy Spirit to fill each one of us. We are all different and have different needs. Lord Jesus Christ you taught us to love our neighbour and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick and to assure the isolated of your love, for your name’s sake. Amen.
Hymn StF 175. (Tim Hughes)
Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, Let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore you
Hope of a life spent with you
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether wonderful to me
King of all days
So highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly you came to the earth you created
All for love’s sake became poor
And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
Prayers of Intercession
The Wise Men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.
We offer you our gifts today, our time, talents and treasure
The Wise Men brought gold to Jesus, we bring you the gold of our obedience. Help us to live as you want us to.
The Wise Men brought frankincense to Jesus, we bring you the incenses of our worship. You are God and we worship you.
The Wise Men brought Myrrh to Jesus, we bring you the myrrh of the world’s sadness. Help us to look after one another better. Father, the list is endless still because of this Coronavirus. Here in England we are in our second lockdown. Again we especially ask for your help and guidance for all in need, including the economy, those struggling financially. The poor and the vulnerable who are being hit the hardest. The NHS and all key workers who have and will continue to give of their time and service where it is needed most. All hospitals and care homes. The government and all in political life, medical and scientific advisers, who are having to make very hard decisions on our behalf. Father we especially thank you that a vaccine will hopefully be available early next year. Father we pray that you will meet each one of us at our point of need daily.
Thank you Father that although we know not what the future holds, we know that you hold the future and we trust in your unending care. Amen.
Hymn StF 185. (Charles Silvester Horne)
Sing we the King who is coming to reign,
Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain,
Life and salvation his empire shall bring
Joy to the nations when Jesus is King.
Come let us sing: Praise to our King,
Jesus our King, Jesus our King;
This is our song, who to Jesus belong:
Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.
All men shall dwell in his marvellous light,
Races long severed his love shall unite,
Justice and truth from his sceptre shall spring,
Wrong shall be ended when Jesus is King.
All shall be well in his Kingdom of peace,
Freedom shall flourish and wisdom increase,
Foe shall be friend when his triumph we sing,
Sword shall be sickle when Jesus is King.
Souls shall be saved from the burden of sin,
Doubt shall not darken his witness within,
Hell hath no terrors, and death hath no sting;
Love is victorious when Jesus is King.
Kingdom of Christ, for thy coming we pray,
Hasten, O Father, the dawn of the day
When this new song thy creation shall sing,
Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all this day and for evermore. Amen
Advent greetings to you al. We thank Christine Jeffery for the “At Home Service” this time and Peter & Janet for the newsletter. (You can download the newsletter as a PDF file here>)
There are two important things to tell you about this week –
Firstly, following the latest Government announcements we can advise you all that Mary Tavy Chapel will re-open for Sunday services at 10.30am on 6 December and Jo Milner is the appointed preacher. We look forward to welcoming her. The chapel Covid arrangements (as far I know at the time of this email) will be the same as they were up to the beginning of November when ‘lockdown 2’ started. Our area is in Tier 2 (High Alert Level) and we should all make ourselves aware of our new personal obligations going forward but community worship is permitted as before. I want to emphasise that we must adhere to social distancing rules when inside the church building. Be careful and considerate to others. I cannot at this point say what arrangements will be for Wednesdays going forward as the ‘leaders’ have not had the chance to discuss yet. Watch this space.
Secondly, the way in which our ‘At Home service’ is to be provided is changing slightly but is definitely continuing. The Tavistock Circuit has acknowledged the valuable contribution this has been to people in their homes, week by week. Across the Circuit our churches have been providing a similar written document to those who have requested it, but sourced from different people and places. From the beginning of December the Circuit preaching plan has a ‘row’ called ‘At Home’ and a designated preacher will each week produce an ‘At Home service’ for use across the Circuit for those churches that choose to make use of it. I have been very grateful to those preachers I have used to date. Since it was my idea – Steve our Superintendent has put me down to do the first one on 6 December! After that I will be ensuring that we get the weekly copy and I will circulate it as before.
I hope that all makes sense. Keep calm and carry on spreading the Advent hope. The Christmas Tree is up outside the chapel. Thank you Santa!