Sunday, 12th December 10.30 am Order of Service

WELCOME

Carol O come, O come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan
s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o
er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death
s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav
nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai
s height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

PRAYER

Children’s Talk Mary had a little Lamb

Many years ago, a woman named Sarah Hale wrote one of the best-known and best-loved children’s poems ever written. Most of you probably know that poem. It is “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It goes like this:

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

Christmas will be here soon — the day we celebrate the birthday of Jesus. It is the story about an angel who appeared to Mary and told her that she would have a child and that she would name him Jesus. Sometimes, Jesus is called “The Lamb of God,” and since Jesus’ mother was named Mary, I thought I would read a new poem called “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It may never be as popular as the original poem, but it might help us to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Mary had a little Lamb,
He was born on Christmas day.
She laid him in a manger bed
To Sleep upon the hay.

Angels filled the night-time sky
And they began to sing.
Shepherds heard them all proclaim
The birthday of a King.

Wise men saw a blazing star
Up in the sky that night.
They followed it until they found
The King of love and light.

Mary had a little Lamb,
But He wasn’t hers, you know,
He was the very Son of God,
The One who loves us so.

The Father of this little Lamb
Loved the world so much
That He sent his only Son to earth
So we could feel His touch.

He came to give us joy and peace
And take away our sin.
So when He knocks on your heart’s door,
Be sure to let Him in.

Why do I love this precious Lamb?
What can the reason be?
The answer is quite plain to see,
It’s because He first loved me!

Carol 32 The Virgin Mary had a baby boy

The Virgin Mary had a baby boy,

The Virgin Mary had a baby boy,

The Virgin Mary had a baby boy,

And they say that His name was Jesus.

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

Oh yes, believer! Oh yes, believer!

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

The angels sang when the baby born,

The angels sang when the baby born,

The angels sang when the baby born,

And proclaimed Him the Saviour Jesus.

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

Oh yes, believer! Oh yes, believer!

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

The shepherds came where the baby born,

The shepherds came where the baby born,

The shepherds came where the baby born,

And they say that His name was Jesus.

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

Oh yes, believer! Oh yes, believer!

He come from the glory,

He come from the glorious kingdom.

READING MATTHEW 3:1-12

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him
.”’

4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt round his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptising, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 ‘I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’

ISAIAH 11:1-10

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

2

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him –
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord –

3

and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4

but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

5

Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash round his waist.

6

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.

7

The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8

The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

9

They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting-place will be glorious.

SERMON A HOPEFUL PREPARATION

Advent is the season of waiting leading up to Christmas. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and it ends on Christmas Eve.

It is a time of happiness, celebration, and hopeful anticipation of the arrival of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

We look for His arrival in three ways:

• We look back – We reflect on that first Christmas

• We look within – For a fresh visit from God’s Spirit

• We look forward – We await Christ’s second coming.

Waiting can be hard. Most people don’t like to wait. Advent requires “active waiting” … it encourages us to prepare and anticipate.

Today Advent’s theme is preparation … specifically today is about removing all the barriers to His presence … repentance.

Our theme today is from Matthew 3:1-12. It’s not a great “Christmas text” but it is a perfect “Advent” text.

The story is told of a king from days of old who had a boulder placed on a roadway leading into his great city. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants came by and simply walked around it. Some of his most loyal subjects passed by and loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.

The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant understood what many of us never discovered. Roadblocks and hindrances, when we deal with them, can lead to great blessings.

How do you handle roadblocks in your way? We all have friends who allow the roadblocks, whatever they may look like, to stop their progress.

Have you ever placed spiritual roadblocks (hindrances) in your own path and thwarted the blessings of God?

When it comes to living the full life that Jesus offers us, I am convinced that major roadblocks are our own resistance and the limits we place on God.

1 – Maybe the roadblock we place comes in the form a small view of God and His will for us.

2 – Maybe the roadblock we place comes in the form of resistance to obedience.

3 – Maybe the roadblock we place comes in the form of fear and worry.

Whatever the case, these types of roadblocks hinder us from receiving all the Father has in store.

It reminds me of a meditation in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s book “The Spiritual Exercises.” It’s about the incarnation … God taking on flesh as a human named Jesus. Ignatius has us imagine God gazing upon the world, wanting to bring His salvation. He paints a vast mural of persons, various in dress, actions, and colour. Some were located in the city, some in remote deserts. Some of the people lived near the sea; others lived in the mountains. Some dwelled in peace and others in war; some weeping and others laughing; some well, others ill; some poor, others rich; some being born and others dying.

But there is great blindness in humanity. The people have not only lost their way; they have lost their souls as well. So Ignatius writes of the great entry. God, in the person of Jesus, chooses to be one of us. As a baby in an earthly village he enters our world.

Ignatius rightly pictures the entry of God not only portrayed as a religious experience by individual persons, but as an invasion of history itself, a breaching of the geopolitical and social worlds of all humankind.

But, this global emphasis did not originate with Ignatius did it? It is clear from Isaiah 11 that the Messiah, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord would rest, was to be of vast importance, not only to Israel but also to the Gentile world, and the world itself.

Isaiah tells us that the Promised One, with the wisdom and understanding of God’s Spirit, will judge injustice and strike the ruthless and wicked. He will carry a peace to the world that transforms even the animal kingdom.

Wolves will eat with lambs, leopards with kids. Lions will browse with calves, cows, and bears. Babies will play near cobras as if they were kindly neighbours. A little child will lead the entire earth, where “They will neither harm nor destroy.”

Matthew’s words remind us that the advent of Christ will require a personal reform that includes our personal relationships. The reforming power of God’s advent, must penetrate our interior lives. This was the message of John the Baptist.

But many Christians seem to have a problem with the total message of the Incarnation and Christ’s Advent. They tend to select some safe portion of their lives which they open to God while they slam shut all the others areas.

If we restrict or restrain the entry of God into our lives, we cannot help but limit the power of God’s grace.

When we wonder why our path of discipleship seems to lead nowhere, it may be because we have set up too many roadblocks.

The coming of Christ is an event for the universe. It is an event for history and an event for each of us in our personal struggles and interpersonal relationships.

PRAYER

Carol 21 Joy to the World

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Benediction

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