Sunday 6th December 2020 Canvey Methodist Church Worship Services

Sunday 6th December 

1).Notices and Welcome

2).Advent Liturgy and Lighting Candles

3).Welcome and Opening words from Psalm 85:8-12.     

I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—  but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.

 

4).STF228-Hymn: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed.

https://youtu.be/_mCCwBqiQdk

 

1 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,  Great David’s greater Son! Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun! He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free; To take away transgression, And rule in equity.

 

2 He shall come down like showers, Upon the fruitful earth; And love, joy, hope, like flowers, Spring in His path to birth: Before Him on the mountains, Shall peace, the herald, go; And righteousness, in fountains, From hill to valley flow.

 

3 Kings shall fall down before Him, And gold and incense bring; All nations shall adore Him, His praise all people sing;For He shall have dominion, O’er river, sea, and shore, Far as the eagle’s pinion, Or dove’s light wing can soar.

 

4. To Him shall prayer unceasing, And daily vows ascend; His kingdom still increasing, A kingdom without end. The mountain dews shall nourish, A seed in weakness sown, Whose fruit shall spread and flourish, And shake like Lebanon.

 

5 O’er every foe victorious, He on His throne shall rest, From age to age more glorious,  All-blessing and all-blest. The tide of time shall never,  His covenant remove; His Name shall stand forever,  His changeless Name of Love.


 

5).Prayers of Praise, Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession, Lords Prayer.   Colin

 

God of all time and space, we praise and adore you

Christ our redeemer, we praise and adore you

Holy Spirit our comforter and encouragement, we praise and adore you. 

God of all time and space we are sorry for not giving you time, for not making space in our lives to acknowledge you our Creator God.

Christ our redeemer, we seek forgiveness for not acknowledging you as our Saviour, our rescuer often from ourselves, our rescuer from uncertain situations and our rescuer from desiring things we really do not need.

Holy Spirit we seek your forgiveness when we have not seen you in others trying to help us, when we have not helped others, when we have criticised others when we should have encouraged.

Gracious Lord for all these things we are sorry and seek forgiveness

Silence for own prayers  

God is love and forgives our sins through Jesus. Amen

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.

 

6).OT Reading- Isaiah 40: 1-11.    New International Version. 
Comfort for God’s People

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord[a]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.[b] Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass,  and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[c]  lift up your voice with a shout,

lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah,  “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him,  and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Footnotes

a. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one calling in the wilderness: / “Prepare the way for the Lord

b. Isaiah 40:3 Hebrew; Septuagint make straight the paths of our God

c. Isaiah 40:9 Or Zion, bringer of good news, / go up on a high mountain. / Jerusalem, bringer of good news.

 

7). S of F 1047- These are the days of Elijah

https://youtu.be/ca9LnzJnpjQ

 

These are the days of Elijah, Declaring the word of the Lord, yeah. And these are the days of Your servant, Moses, Righteousness being restored

 

These are the days of great trials, Of famine and darkness and sword, Still we are the voice in the desert crying, Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

 

Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds. Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call. Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee, Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

 

And these are the days of Ezekiel, The dry bones becoming as flesh. And these are the days of Your servant, David, Rebuilding the temple of praise

 

And these are the days of the harvest, The fields are all white in the world

And we are the laborers that are in Your vineyard, Declaring the Word of the Lord

 

Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds, Shining like the sun at the trumpet's call, Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee, Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

 

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, Shining like the sun at the trumpet's call

Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee, Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

 

There's no God like Jehovah! There's no God like Jehovah! There's no God like Jehovah! There's no God like Jehovah!

 

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call

Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee, Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

 

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call

Lift your voice, (it's) the year of Jubilee, Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

 

8).Gospel Reading- Mark1:1-8.    New International Version.
John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b] 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”[c]— 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”[d]

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”

Footnotes

a.Mark 1:1 Or Jesus Christ. Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean Anointed One.

b.Mark 1:1 Some manuscripts do not have the Son of God.

c.Mark 1:2 Mal. 3:1

d.Mark 1:3 Isaiah 40:3

e.Mark 1:8 Or in

f. Mark 1:8 Or in

 

9).Prayers for Others.        

Prayer update  4.12.20

1. Continued prayers are needed for Eva’s brother.  He is out of hospital now and staying with his daughter.  Thanks to God for having him in His care and we pray that he will continue to recover and regain his strength.

 

2. Margaret has had a difficult time.  Her boiler broke down and she has been without heat and hot water for a couple of days.  Thankfully it is all repaired now.  

 

3. And, Margaret’s husband Chris had to go to the hospital for laser treatment on the eye that had very difficult surgery last year.  The laser treatment has caused problems.  Chris has an appointment to see the eye specialist next week so we pray that he will get the correct and best treatment.

 

4. Rosa’s daughter Claire needs our prayer.  She has been very low during this lockdown.  She lives in Leeds, so is away from family.  Rosa said she is getting better now but may she know our Lord's peace and strengthening to get through this time as she must get very lonely without her family nearby.

 

5. One of Roma's friends Stella, died on the 29th November.  Please pray for her husband Mick and all the family and for Roma, who will miss her friendship.  Also our prayers are for Ray's family.  He died recently, he was a bit younger than Roma and she grew up with him when they were teenagers.  It must be such a sad time for all of them.

 

6. Please pray for my cousin Angie and family.  Her husband Terry died last Friday.  He had been in a lot of pain and was taken into hospital for a few days but that was very distressing as he was unable to talk and Angie couldn’t be with him.  He was sent home on the Friday and passed away the same day.  It's a terrible shock to the whole family.

"You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.  You have recorded every one in Your book".          Psalm 56 v 8.   God loves us through our sorrows and reassures us of His presence.

7. Pray for Anna as she spends time at home.  May she be able to relax, be refreshed and have her soul restored after the last very difficult months in Beirut, helping and bringing God’s love to the families affected the devastating bomb blast.

God bless you all and have you in His loving care.

 

10).STF 182- Hymn On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist Cries https://youtu.be/pIr21lLgFpg

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry, Announces that the Lord is nigh;

Come, then, and hearken, for he brings, Glad tidings from the King of kings!

 

Then cleansed be every breast from sin; Make straight the way for God within;

Prepare we in our hearts a home, Where such a mighty Guest may come.

For Thou art our Salvation, Lord, Our Refuge, and our great Reward.

Without Thy grace our souls must fade, And wither like a flower decayed.

Stretch forth Thine hand, to heal our sore, And make us rise and fall no more;

Once more upon Thy people shine, And fill the world with love divine.

To Him Who left the throne of Heaven, To save mankind, all praise be given;

Like praise be to the Father done, And Holy Spirit, Three in One.

 

11). Sermon:  Beginnings,  Changing directions, Transformed Lives

Beginnings! Authors say that sometimes the first line of a new book is the most difficult sentence to write. It has to be succinct, pithy, memorable and a springboard for everything that is to follow. Here are a few first lines. I wonder if you can guess which famous books they come from?

1) “Call me Ishmael”.. Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

2) “It was the best of times,it was the worst of times….”A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens.

3) “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..Star Wars 4: A new Hope.

4). “Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to  say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”.....Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling.

5) “All children, except one grow up”..Peter Pan by J.M Barry.

 

Beginnings. They are important. The gospel passage opens with a very bold and assertive statement: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”- And yet we do not get to meet Jesus immediately. Rather we discover that the beginning of his story begins in the wilderness with the continuing story of someone else; a rather wild looking man called John. He might have been a maverick but he turned out also to be a messenger.

 

Mark1:1

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,

    who will prepare your way”[c]—

3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

    make straight paths for him.’”[d]”

 

Moreover Mark, the gospel writer, records that people from Jerusalem were actually coming out into the wilderness to hear John this maverick messenger and to have their sins dealt with. Considering that in Jerusalem  they already had the Temple just around the corner, whose whole purpose was to deal with sin, this may seem a little strange. Perhaps they recognised who John was, and connected his appearance with the residence of biblical prophecy, or perhaps they had found that the formal Temple practices had never really reached down into the parts of their lives that really needed God’s forgiveness and renewal and in desperation turned to someone who seemed like the “real deal” and who could help. Either way they came and they found in the wilderness a new beginning that lasted; a new beginning that led them eventually to Jesus the Messiah or anointed one.

The wilderness is, at one and the same time, a place of flight, struggle, lostness and hunger, and one of new beginnings and birth. Back in Moses’s day, at the time of the Exodus, the people of Israel escaped slavery in Egypt and fled into the wilderness. Although a relatively safe environment, compared to what they had left behind, the wilderness was not an easy place to find themselves living in. The clue is in the name. It was a wild place!  But there, the People of Israel  found a place to start, a place where they could be formed as the people of God. At the time of the exodus the quick way back to Canaan would have been straight up the Kings Road- along the coast via Gaza, a route that took traders and armies from Egypt to Damascus and to all points in between. The Israelites, however, went a circuitous route through the Sinai wilderness and there they profoundly encountered God.

Isaiah, too in his day, indicated that the way back from exile in Babylon would be through the wilderness . A physical place but in a metaphorical sense, a way of being away from the centre of things, off the beaten track . Wilderness experiences can be places of self discovery and renewal.

An encouragement, perhaps to us, to reflect upon the role of wilderness in our lives (maybe during the covid lockdown wilderness) and the space between captivity and promised land?

Where shall we start? Well Mark today says, “At the beginning”! At ‘John the Baptist’s”  message from the wilderness, (as recorded inMark's gospel); that the beginning starts with repentance- then we get to meet Jesus- who brings us good news of  forgiveness and a new life.  

Repentance involves a change of direction. The Greek word used here is “Metanoia” which literally means after-thought or beyond-thought, with meta meaning "after" or "beyond" (as in the modern word "metaphysics") and nous meaning "mind" (as in the modern world "paranoia"). “Metanoia” is therefore understood to speak of "a transformative change of heart; especially: a spiritual conversion. It suggests a repudiation of past actions and attitudes, a change of mind and even of atonement. As people from Jerusalem heard John the Baptist’s Metanoia call to repent, they did all of the above. 

As we face our new post covid “Beginnings”, as we emerge from the chrysalis of safety restrictions into a new God given and vaccine enabled life, we do so as today’s messengers of the good news of Jesus Christ.

The past is behind us and the call to be witnesses for Jesus now and in the future remains. 

The two lockdowns might have hit us hard, leaving us with a loss of confidence, with fears that we never had before,  and maybe also with accumulated sorrows from bereavement or loss of health. 

To us, Jesus draws alongside offering forgiveness, Hope and strength to serve. A metanoia is called for; A change of heart and mind.

Transformed lives- 

There is an old gospel song that says,  My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. Strength for today, is mine always, and all I need for tomorrow. My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, All I have to do is follow”.

God sees us not as we were, nor as we are, but as we will be. And how is that? God sees you and I as being “Clothed in Christ and His righteousness”. 

We may see only obstacles and inadequacies, but because we are in Christ, God sees only a straight highway coming out of the desert we have all been in. 

Isaiah 40:5- A highway in the desert for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level,  the rugged places a plain.

For you and I, this is not so much about a level playing field but about all obstacles and hindrances being removed in Christ! 

Isaiah 40:8 - The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

Jesus, God's Word, endures forever, a friend and guide through and beyond desert or covid places.

How can we see our way forward? The answer is both exciting and glorious. John’s message to the people of Jerusalem should bring us from the knees of repentance to the quiet hope of filled and enabled lives. 

Mark 1:8- I baptise you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus knows the way through the wilderness and as we follow Him, He then baptises, immerses us in and with His Spirit, enabling us with gifts, and fruit grown in our lives, all to be used in our service and witness for Him.

Let us pray.

Holy Spirit, meet us where we are. When we feel that we are in a desert. Help us to know that with you, no desert is a desert only, but is instead a place of nurture and learning; When we see only an abandoned and lonely places, help us to see what you see, a place of light, life and hope. Please lift us up, fill us with your grace, equip us with your gifts and grow within us fruits of grace to strengthen and enliven our witness and service for you and your kingdom of love.

Amen

 

12). STF 663 -I the Lord of Sea and Sky

https://youtu.be/mgLwH5RdtPk

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard My people cry. All who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save. I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright. Who will bear My light to them? Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night.

I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart

I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have born my peoples pain.

I have wept for love of them, They turn away. I will break their hearts of stone,

Give them hearts for love alone. I will speak My word to them,

Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame, I will tend the poor and lame. I will set a feast for them, My hand will save, Finest bread I will provide, Till their hearts be satisfied.

I will give My life to them, Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart

13). Prayer of Dedication and Benediction

Almighty God, we commit the gifts of our lives and the fruit of our service to you, for the glory of your name and the extension of your kingdom.

And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forevermore. 

Amen