Sunday, 29th November

Together in Prayer
First Sunday of Advent


Greeting
O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall declare you praise!
Reveal among us the light of your presence
that we may behold your power and glory.


The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.
Amen.


Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high is breaking upon us
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.


Preparing our hearts
One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life;
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.
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.


Reading:
Isaiah 2:1-5
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.


In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.


O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!

Thought for the week: Rev Joe Knight
It is the beginning of advent. It’s my favourite time of year, when, in the dark days of winter we put up extra little lights around our homes and neighbourhoods, remembering and making memories of love and cheer, and giving thanks for gifts received and the gift of giving.
The lead up to Christmas is often a chaotic one. So much so, that when Christmas Day arrives many people are relieved it’s all over! To them, Christmas day concludes a frenzied season, bustling with demands and distractions. But for Christians, Christmas begins a season of celebration, and advent prepares the way, rooted in the wonderful promise: He is coming, the dawn is breaking upon us, hence the Isaiah reading that says, ‘Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!’
Remembering this, though it is a season of wonder, advent remains a season of fasting. It’s not quite the same as a lent fast. For instance, we still (and should!) enjoy treats like chocolates and mince pies. The ‘fast’ in advent is a chance to embrace the sense of waiting for God, a waiting for God to turn the embers of our hopes into real experience, it’s a waiting where we acknowledge the darkness around us – we acknowledge our need for light, for a saviour.
I’ve been learning a little recently about an ancient rhythm of prayer called the ‘Great O Antiphons’ (*antiphons are the refrains used before and after a reading or canticle). The ‘o’ antiphons are advent prayers, dating back to the 6th century. And, for those of you with a keen eye on the lectionary, you may have noticed that the 17th December is labelled ‘O Sapientia,’ without giving an explanation of what it means!
O Sapientia, meaning O Wisdom, is the first of the seven antiphons, prayed each day on the lead up to Christmas Eve. They recall the story of the Old Testament and the promise of a saviour. In fact, each antiphon inspires a verse from the great Christmas hymn, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’. These prayers invite us to remember what life was like before Christ (both in world history and in our own story), to remember the yearning for God to come to the rescue. And they invite us to invite God, again, into our world and into our lives.
As we begin advent and a new Christian year, we look back and forward. The troubles of this year may make the darkness feel closer and heavier than at other times. And so, I believe we can draw great strength from this season of waiting. We know God is near, we know that the people who walk in darkness will see a great light, we know we can begin again, and so we join the great O Antiphons, and pray, ‘Come, Lord, do not delay, and make your home with us.’ Amen.


Collect for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.


Intercessions

Come, Lord, come down, come in, come among us,
Enter into our darkness,
Surround us with your light,
Fill the void with your presence,
Refresh, renew, restore us, and your world
And reveal your glory.
This advent, Lord we remember
You came into the world to set us free.
In this advent, we wait again,
acknowledging our need of you
in our lives and in your world.
Give us an awareness of your presence,
And make us hungry for you,
May you shine on those in darkness,
For those clouded in troubles,
May you bring them into your light
That in your light, we may see
And know that you are God
Lord of love,
Come among us.


This advent, we pray for all
who are tired of waiting,
who are struggling for hope
who are in the depths of
sickness, weakness or bereavement.
We pray for them,
and all who care for them.
We pray for strength and grace to persevere.
We pray for friends and families
who are uncertain about Christmas
we pray for peace and unity
Lord of love,
Come among us.


Lord we thank for your great gifts,
We thank you for the hope you bring
for this life and beyond.
We thank you for the gifts of this year.
We thank you for the hope
of a Covid-19 Vaccine, and we
pray for health workers, scientists
and governments as they find safe ways
to help keep others safe.
We pray for all who face financial
distress, either from the pandemic
or reduced aid to developing nations.
We pray for the poor and their release,
Give vision and wisdom
Compassionate God.
Lord of love,
Come among us.


This advent, come to our world,
To our communities,
To our neighbours, friends and family.
Lift those who are weighed down,
Bring joy where there is despair
May this season remind us all
Of Jesus, who gave up his throne
for the poverty of a manger,
humbling himself, drawing near to us,
and inviting us to live life with you.
Help us, this day and always,
to act justly, love mercy
and walk humbly with you, our God.
Lord of love,
Come among us
Amen.


We join all our prayers into one, by saying the Lord’s Prayer
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 Blessing
Lord, set your blessing on us
as we begin this day together.
Confirm in us the truth
by which we rightly live;
confront us with the truth
from which we wrongly turn.


We ask not for what we want
but for what you know we need,
as we offer this day and ourselves
for you and to you
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour
Amen.