Weekly Online Service
29 November 2020 The First Sunday of Advent
Please find below our service for this week. You can also click on the PDF button to open and download a copy of the printed generic Service booklet.
You will find an opening hymn - words are included. This is followed by the service. Finally there is a closing hymn. Please feel free to follow along in whichever way you feel most comfortable. Words in bold are for everyone to join in.
Hills of the North, rejoice
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
All say Amen.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
and also with you.
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.
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
The Prayers of Penitence
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us, forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The first Advent candle is lit - the Partriarchs
God of Abraham and Sarah, and all the patriarchs of old, you are our Father too. Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of David. Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth to make our hearts ready for your Holy Spirit to make his home among us. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the light who is coming into the world. Amen.
The Collect of the Day is said or sung.
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.
The Old and New Testament Readings
Isaiah 64.1-9 - Read by Laura Cope
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5 You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity for ever.
Now consider, we are all your people.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
1 Corinthians 1.3-9 - Read by Ken Cope
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Mark 13.24-37 - Read by Dawn Cope
All sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
The Gospel reader says
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark
All say: Glory to you, O Lord.
‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27 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.
28 ‘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. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 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. 35 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, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
This is the gospel of the Lord.
All say: Praise to you, O Christ.
All sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
What are you waiting for?
It will come to an end, corona virus that is. We are confident a vaccine will be developed, but we just don’t know when. We are waiting. With a pregnancy we can forecast the end point, it is usually 38-42 weeks and ends in joy. Astroscientists tell us that the sun will cool and the earth will die, the end point is so far into the future we cannot forecast when. We are as much in the dark as those disciples were, not knowing when Jesus would return, they were waiting. Advent is a season of waiting, a time to be marked by urgent anticipation, by a longing for the fulfilment of what has been promised.
Mark’s text for Advent Sunday encourages us to look for Jesus to return. There is a time and place for sound biblical teaching on this, but in any case, the author of Mark’s Gospel seems less concerned with curbing extremism than with challenging complacency.
The “second coming” should not be simply a doctrine to which we officially subscribe just because we mention it in the creeds; it should be a defining reality that impacts our faith and lives. Such impact may be more affective and emotional than reasoning and intellectual. So Mark relies on metaphor, imaginative imagery, and paradox.
In fact, the entire thirteenth chapter of Mark’s Gospel presents a stream of thought that offers inconsistent messages. One popular proposal suggests that Mark stitched this chapter together from two “apocalyptic tracts” that originally contained competing ideas. We are invited to try this experiment: First, read Mark 13:1-2, 8, 14-22, 24-30. The text flows smoothly, warning Christians to prepare for an imminent disaster. Then to read Mark 13:3-7, 9-13, 21-23, 32-37. Again, the text flows smoothly, but it offers direction of another sort: that believers need to dig in, stay faithful, and prepare for the long haul.
The theory is that Mark had these two strands in his mind and, rather than choose between them, decided to weave them together into the merged text we now possess. In any case as that's only a theory, the text we now have does alternate between these paradoxical messages, as though Jesus (or Mark) cannot make up his mind: is the end at hand, or not? The key verses that strike many readers as a fundamental conclusion are that we need to live as though the end is at hand and we need to dig-in for the long haul because only God knows the eschatological timetable.
In the portion of the reading that serves as our guide, the emphasis seems to be on balancing chronological uncertainty with an absolute assurance that the end will ultimately come, in a glorious way that all followers of Jesus should anticipate. The chronology runs like this
1) Unprecedented suffering; 2) total darkness, the sun, the moon, and even the stars will cease to give any light.; 3) the Son of Man comes with power and glory; 4) angels gather in the chosen ones. The “generation” that experiences all these things is simply the followers of Jesus who continue the movement he began: that movement, the church, will not be extinguished but will endure until all is accomplished.
Thus, hope does not disappoint; salvation does become reality. Mark’s Gospel does not struggle with the question of God’s plan; we get no explanation as to why there is suffering, but we do get a promise: when all is said and done, we will have our happy ending and that it will never end. This triumph of hope, furthermore, will be truly cataclysmic: the world as we know it projects pessimistic outcomes, but that world belongs to God and it can be changed. It will be changed, and changed so radically that people will someday speak of a time when heaven and earth passed away.
Mark clearly wants this to be part of the faith that informs our daily lives.
In today’s church, many Christians seem to think, “Since the time of Jesus' coming cannot be known, we need not think much about it.” Mark draws the opposite conclusion: since the timing is unknown, we should think about it all the time!
Modern Christians often think, “Since the time is unknown, it could be hundred, or thousands, or millions of years from now.” Mark draws a very different conclusion: since the timing is unknown, it could be today! Maybe this evening, or at midnight, or when dawn breaks.
But does anyone actually think that way? Does anyone go through every day, wondering at morning, noon, and night if now is the time that someone long gone might return?
Yes. People who are in love do that. And that may provide the best context for assessing the intended impact of Mark’s little apocalypse. Elsewhere, Mark’s Gospel likens the time of awaiting Jesus’ parousia to the phenomenon of a newlywed waiting for the return of a “bridegroom” who has been inexplicably “taken away”.
There is much to celebrate in this wonderful world, but the days in which we live are described in Mark as a time for fasting as well as feasting, as a time in which we will often be acutely aware of the absence of our Lord and Saviour.
Of course, Christian theology affirms the presence of Christ through Word and Sacrament, in the fellowship of other believers, and so on. But Mark’s point remains: Christ is not with us as he once was, and he is not with us as he will be!
For many, life in this world is actually not very pleasant, especially in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. But even those fortunate enough to have a life filled with joy and blessing should not be satisfied to the point of complacency. There is more! There is better!
The season of Advent invites us to wait impatiently for the consummation of hope, longing to know God as fully as we have been known; to see no longer through a dark pane, but face to face; to love as we have been loved; to experience Jesus Christ as he is, and in so doing, to become like him. The wait will be worth it; it will end in joy.
The Rev’d Maureen Lunn, St Mary Magdalene, Enfield, 29/11/2020
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit
and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Intercessions list has been circulated with petitions for the Church, The World, The Community, Our Keyworkers, The Sick and the Deceased. The Diocesan Cycle of Prayer is found at:
This or another response may be used:
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith.
Strengthen N our bishop(s) and all your Church in the service of Christ, that those who confess your name may be united in your truth,
live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.
Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen; give wisdom to all in authority;
and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace;
that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.
Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours,
that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.
Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit …;
give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.
Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ …; according to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.
Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
We are the body of Christ.
In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
and also with you.
A sign of peace may be exchanged.
As our Saviour taught us, so we pray.
The Post Communion Collect
O Lord our God, make us watchful and keep us faithful as we await the coming of your Son our Lord; that, when he shall appear, he may not find us sleeping in sin but active in his service and joyful in his praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.
Lo, he comes with clouds descending
Lo, he comes with clouds descending
once for favoured sinners slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
God appears on earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold him
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced and nailed him to the Tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing
shall the true Messiah see.
Those dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshippers:
with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!
Yea, Amen, let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own:
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.
Material from Common Worship 2000 is included in this service and is copyright © The Central Board of Finance of the Church of England.