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Sunday, 05/12/2021: Advent 2

SENTENCE FROM SCRIPTURE –

Blessed be the Lord who sets his people free.

OPENING HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

COLLECT FOR PURITY

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.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

The first commandment is this:

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

There is no other commandment greater than these.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Description: Description: Description: Confession under section 67 NDPS Act to be admitted or not, yet to ...

CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.

There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you

and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ

that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.

We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins,

and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son

who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

God, who is both power and love,

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

KYRIE sung by Dougie Byers

COLLECT

Stir up our hearts, Lord,

to prepare the way of your only-begotten Son:

that, in his coming,

we might serve you with our hearts made pure;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen

PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING Malachi 3:1-4 read by David Kerr

The Coming Messenger

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.  But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

Daily Verse Reading – Malachi 3:1-4 | Daily Bible Readings

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

SECOND READING PHILIPPIANS 1: 3-11 read by Margaret Morton

Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 

Philippians 1:3-11: God's Good Work and Growing in Godliness - Words of  Faith, Hope & Love

For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING Luke 3: 1-6 read by Rev Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 3 beginning at verse 1

Glory to Christ our Saviour

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler] of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

Luke 3:1-6 | The Reflectionary

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.

Praise to Christ our Lord

REFLECTION

“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”

Thy Strong Word - Luke 3: John the Baptist Prepares the Way - KFUO Radio

Advent is about preparing the way for Christ in our hearts. It is about de-cluttering our hearts and making room for Christ in the innermost part of our being. De-cluttering our hearts is something all of us need to do this Advent to ensure that there is enough room in our lives and hearts for that which really matters- the Saviour of the World.

Making room for what matters in life was the subject matter of a business expert who was speaking to a group of students and, to drive home his point, he used the following illustration. As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason- jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

Rocks In A Jar — ScouterLife

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all. So, Advent is a time when we stop and consider if we have the big rocks of faith, love, hope and light in our jar of life- if we have them in our hearts before we begin to add the small rocks of Christmas decorations, the gravel of Christmas presents and Christmas food, and the water of television programmes and films. So, it is in a way fitting that on this second Sunday of Advent John the Baptist challenges us all to sort out our priorities and get ready for the coming of the Messiah.

John was related to Jesus and was born for a very specific purpose. John’s life purpose was to prepare the way for the Lord: in the hearts of the believers that were there and people who would come. John had a simple message. He was a wilderness preacher. He didn’t go into the cities to preach, but he stood outside the cities and preached: Prepare the way for the Lord.

Prepare the Way! - Worthy Christian Devotions - Daily Devotional

In ancient times, when a king was going to visit a city, he would send before him someone to herald his coming, someone to announce that he would be arriving soon. The herald would go around the city, and go before the leaders of the city, telling them all, “The king is coming. He will be here any day. So, clean up your lives. Make sure you are all in obedience to the king’s commands so that you will be ready when he arrives.”

Heralds of The King — Set Sail

This herald also served as a city inspector. He would go around the city and make a list of things that needed to be fixed. He would tell them, “Clean up your city. Sweep your streets. Get rid of all the garbage lying around. Round up any criminals to make the city safe. Fix the roads; make them smooth and straight. Make sure the town is gleaming. Make sure the city is fit for a king to ride through.” It was an embarrassment for that city, and the people of the city, if they were not prepared when the king did arrive. It was also an insult to the king if they had not prepared properly for his arrival. If he came, and they were not prepared, he might mete out some judgment and punishment upon the city and its rulers.

As we look at Luke 3, this is what we see going on. The King is coming, and He has sent a herald to announce His imminent arrival. The king, of course, is Jesus Christ. John has come as a herald to make sure that the king’s subjects are well prepared for the king’s coming. John has come to prepare the way. And John prepares the way by doing what a herald does: he proclaims a message. In other words, he preaches. That’s what preaching is, after all. It is a proclamation of God’s message. John the Baptist’s message is that the people need to sort out their lives and prepare for Christ’s coming. He does this by calling the people to repent and be baptized in our gospel reading this morning.

Smashwords – Repent and Be Baptized – a book by Mark Clarke

His ministry of repentance is clearly dated at the beginning of our reading in the list of names. It is interesting that though we have just read of one emperor, one governor, three tetrarchs, and two religious high priests, – quite a list of people who are important and prestigious in the eyes of the world, the word of God does not come to them. It comes to a relatively unknown man living in the wilderness. Do not feel like you have to be somebody well known and of great influence to be used by God. God uses you and me, not the most prominent or popular.

His ministry of repentance takes place in the desert. In the desert, John came to know God better than people, and when God fully owned his heart and allegiance, John was ready.

What does this kind of desert hermit life do to a person? It produces someone who really doesn’t care what “civilized” people think about him. John didn’t structure his life in relation to societal norms and expectations, so when he burst upon the scene as a desert preacher, his words were unrefined, blunt, and uncompromising. Why would God use an eccentric, a maverick, a “loose cannon” in such a crucial role? Because the ordinary person would have bent too easily to the extreme religious and political pressures that came to bear on John. Ordinary wouldn’t do, so God fashioned John to be very different. Do you sometimes worry that you are “different,” that you don’t conform to the average, to the norm of society- if so, your differences may be his design to fit you for a very special task and mission. John’s mission meant that “He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”

Maggie Lindemann - Different (Lyrics) - YouTube

This itinerant preacher began to confront sin noisily. He probably wouldn’t have attracted too much attention if he hadn’t publicly rebuked King Herod Antipas for divorcing his first wife and marrying Herodias, his niece and his brother Philip’s former wife. Soon, John’s bold preaching drew a tremendous crowd from Jerusalem and the other towns of Judea. His message was this: the kingdom of God is at hand; the Messiah is coming soon and you’re not ready. You are sinful and corrupt. You must repent of your sins and be forgiven.

Metanoia – Coach Mahr

Repentance” is the Greek word metanoia, meaning “a change of mind, repentance, turning about, conversion. Repentance is much more than feeling a sense of guilt. After all, guilt doesn’t save. Unremedied guilt can beat a person down. Repentance is more than sorrow for getting caught or for doing something wrong. Repentance is an actual change of mind, an action, a step away from a sinful pattern or habit or act. It is change. God’s call isn’t to guilt or to sorrow, but to change. This was John’s message: repent! Change!

Aphesis Overview 2.29.2012

The second important word in vs. 3 is “forgiveness,” Greek aphesis, which means “release’ from some captivity, or it can mean ‘pardon or cancellation’ from an obligation, from a punishment, or from guilt,” John declared the existence of grievous sin, the necessity of repentance, and God’s offer of forgiveness. People of high station and low, he insisted, had committed sins and so needed forgiveness. But John didn’t leave them there; he offered God’s forgiveness, but he did it in a radical way, which brings us to the third important word in vs. 3-the word baptism.

Blessed by God" - Newberg First Presbyterian Church

John preached baptism to Jews not Gentiles. When John called on people to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, he called them to submit to the same kind of cleansing bath required of Gentile converts. What Jew, what “son of Abraham,” would so humble himself to do something that only “unclean” Gentiles must do? The common people repented and were baptized gladly, “but the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected John’s message and his offer of baptism. Spiritual pride prevented the religious elite from experiencing God’s plan for their lives. Is there a blessing from God that we are not able to receive because of our spiritual stiffness and pride?

Saviour Of The World - Good News Broadcasting Association

God is seeking to prepare you and me. He is seeking to de- clutter our hearts of rubbish or sin. He is seeking to cut through the mountains of our pride and invite us to humbly follow him; he is seeking to fill up the valleys of our despair and bring light and hope; he is encouraging us to straighten our crooked ways, particularly the manner in which we rationalise and justify our wrong actions, in other words, our moral rationalisations, and God is longing to make us fit to welcome the King, his Son Jesus. He wants to ensure our priorities are right and that there is enough room in our lives and hearts for that which really matters- the Saviour of the World. May it be so! Amen

THE CREED

Christ The Savior Lutheran Church

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,

God from God,

Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate of 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.

With the Father and the Son,

he is worshipped and glorified.

He 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.

PRAYERS

Let us pray...May 2019 - YouTube

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John to prepare the way for your Son.

Give your Church grace to hear the cry in the spiritual wilderness,

enable us to respond in repentance and faith,

and by your Holy Spirit transform our hearts.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John to straighten

the crooked and level the rocky path,

challenge devious minds with your justice and truth.

raise leaders of integrity, passion and goodness.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John to baptise

for repentance and forgiveness.

Give to all people humility

to examine their lives this advent

with honesty and devotion.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John

to announce the good news of peace.

We pray for families that are in conflict,

for relationships that are broken,

for countries living in fear

because of hostilities and war.

Help us and your appointed negotiators

to be your messengers of peace

that all might live in harmony and stability.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John to baptise,

and to draw others deep into Jesus’ love.

We thank you for the love

that comes through baptism

and ask that you will keep all your children

safe in your care and love.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John empowered by your Word

to speak your words of healing to all,

who are in anguish, despair, distress or depression.

In the quiet we lift to you people known to us.

Loving God, whose heart is compassion

touch your people with your healing power and presence

and give them inner wholeness in body and in mind.

For those we have named in the quiet of our hearts,

come Emmanuel and journey with them

and bless them on their difficult journey.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John to announce

your saving and redeeming presence.

Receive into your tender care

those who have died in faith,

May they come to see your salvation.

Bless any family for whom this month

marks the death of a loved one,

grant them your peace and comfort.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Saving God, you sent John

to open hearts and minds

to the love and care of your Son.

In this advent season meet with us,

draw us closer to you,

that we might know and rejoice

in Emmanuel God with us.

God is gracious

Your salvation is near

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

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.

Do not bring us

to the time of trial+

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power

and the glory are yours,

now and forever. Amen.

HYMN

Description: Description: Description: Description: Elevation Worship - The Blessing (Lyrics) ft. Kari Jobe & Cody ...

BLESSING

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, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

11 Responses

  1. I just wondered if any of one on your church has Learning difficulties .

    They may find Prospects across Scotland .org.uk

    Helpful. There are zoom activities .
    Fortnightly and meet new friends all over Scotland in a Safeguarded place on zoom.

    Tho having our first Carol service since Covid started on Saturday on Bridge of Allan but will be on live via the Facebook
    Page Prospects across Scotland. 2:30 this Saturday the 4 th December .

    I am in another church in Dumfries.

    I
    Grew up in Ayr Episcopal church. ..as a child..

    The website is Prospects across Scotland .org.uk.

    If you know of anyone in your church
    with Learning difficulties
    They or their Carer could contact Ivy Blair for links
    and support the page on Facebook .
    And Pray for this work.

    I had a. Small group at home.
    and we later
    joined Prospects across Scotland officially aswell.
    and became part of the. Ist Zoom group .
    And it’s called Prescious Gems
    it’s is on Monthly
    .
    Most groups are held in churches all over Scotland.

    we started beginning of the Covid
    So been on. Zoom since. 2020.

    On various activities
    Music.etc.

    Anyway I just wondered if. Anyone in your church knew about Prospects.
    Or anyone with Learning difficulties.and there going to do more training in 2020. Re Autism aswell.

    Etc for churches to educate. Accessible ways to help churches to
    be inclusive
    for people with Learning difficulties .

  2. The prospect of Gordon or I getting to church to worship seems highly unlikely.
    On line we see and hear fellow worshipers and that is as near public worship as possible for us.
    I thank Janice and all who prepare on line worship.

    If we encounter any of our “church” friends outside , that is a total joy.
    I met with Heather at the wetlands where she serves.
    That was after nearly two years.

    Love to all at St John’s from Joan

  3. Thank you Janice for an excellent newsletter and virtual service. It is amazing that COVID came also just as social media blossomed (or not so amazing). in 2004, I was involved in the design and dedication of a memorial to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force at the National Memoriail Arboretum in Staffordshire, At the foot of the facing panel, I added the words `And they shall rise up with wings as eagles’ Memories came flooding back

  4. Hi Janice,

    Sorry to see the bruises on your face from the dental work. I hope you are not in too much pain. Enjoyed the Sunday service. I watched the recording.

  5. Finally found how to access St John’s online and thoroughly enjoyed it particularly your thought provoking sermon with lots of background information Thank you for looking after us in the pandemic Keep well Love Rosie and Terry

  6. I welcome this sermon and indeed the sermon I had best valued was one when the preacher ended his sermon :

    ” Do not have any expectations of me and I will not have any expectations of you”

    Welcome words to any members of a clergy family!
    Joan x

  7. Dear Janice,
    I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only just discovered the St John’s web site!! Thank you for all that you are doing and lovely images which give food for thought. I saw you on zoom at the retreat last week but then you disappeared – I hope you enjoyed it. On Sundays I’ve been watching the SEC eucharists on YouTube usually with lovely organ music.
    Blessings and love from Ann

  8. Hi Janice,
    I haven’t been coming to church because I am shielding my self as well as shielding my two very elderly parents, ( Mum is 94 years years old this December and Dad is 96 years old this coming March ) they are my main reason for not coming to church, but I get too come to our church on line of which I am greatly pleased, thank you for that wonderful service this morning God bless.

  9. We pray for Janice and hold her before His healing power.

    Thank Janice that we can worship on line , because for us at home “God does not live in houses made with hands” but on the airwaves

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