Thursday, 10 December 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Service Advent 3 - 13 December 2020


      Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


One of the Classic Stories...,

Sunday 13th December 2020

Advent 3 Sunday year of Mark 9.30 am 

Gathering God’s People 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples 

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land. 

Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)       

Christmas is near at hand. But do we truly believe Christ is coming soon? Do we yearn for the day when faithful love and truth shall meet, when righteousness and peace shall kiss? Will we prepare our hearts to receive the coming miracle? It is time to get ready. 

Look! Faithful love and truth have met in this place. Righteousness and peace have kissed in our midst. Listen! God is speaking words of hope.

Christ is calling us into God’s flock.

See! The glory of God shines all around us. The love of Christ flows through our lives.

Come! Let us worship. 

Hymn TIS 265: O come, O come, Emmanuel

                       (tune - Veni Emmanuel) 

1.  come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.


2.  come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.


3.  come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death's abode.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.


4.  come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o'er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.


5.  come, O dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by our Advent hear;
disperse the gloomy clouds of the night
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

Translator: J. M. Neale (1851)
Tune: Veni Emmanuel (Chant) 

     Lighting of The Advent Candle - Joy 

The Advent season encourages us to be joyful always; to pray continually and to give thanks in all circumstances; this is God’s will, promised to us in Jesus Christ.
We light the candle of hope to proclaim that God’s light is coming into the world.
The first purple candle is lit
We light the candle of peace to proclaim that the Prince of peace is coming to us heralded by the angels’ message of peace and goodwill to all.
The second purple candle is lit
We light the candle of joy to proclaim that God came into the world to share our common humanity.
We rejoice that ‘humanity’ here embraces people of diverse cultures - Aboriginal people, and old and new settlers from a variety of backgrounds.
The pink candle is lit.
God of joy, we find great delight in the way you chose to share our humanity - born of a woman who glorified you.  Strengthen us to glorify you in faith and peace and joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

     Opening prayer 

Shepherding God, as lambs of your flock, we long to lie down in green pastures. Lift us into your lap and comfort our troubled minds. Give us your rest and strengthen our weary bodies. Guide us through this season of anticipation and hope, that we might lift our voices in laughter and song. Make our paths straight, that we might move boldly forward as we prepare for your arrival. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

God of shepherding love, we need your guidance this day. 

You proclaim that faithful love and truth have met, but we cannot see it.

You rejoice that righteousness and peace have kissed, but we can scarcely believe it.

Forgive our jaded hearts and correct our wandering ways.

Breathe your grace into our lives and give us the confidence to shout for all the world to hear: “Here is our God!” Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

“Comfort, O comfort, my people,” says our God. We have served our term. Our penalty is paid in full. Rejoice in the good news.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

In Christ, faithful love and truth have met; righteousness and peace have kissed. May we, who eagerly await his arrival, share the blessings of Christ as we share his peace with one another this day.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.) 


A Word with the Children/Young People 

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the oil of gladness chang­ing people’s lives from sadness to joy. Oil was used in a very special way in ancient times and even right through to the present time - not just for cooking or nowadays helping our cars work - it was and is used in the crowning ceremonies of kings and queens. The use of oil signified the sacredness of the occasion and the setting apart, of the person for their special role. We have some fragrant oil here today as we celebrate the joy of this Advent Sunday.  By anointing each oth­er’s hands we shall also be celebrating the sacredness of each person.

THE OIL OF GLADNESS: Small bowls/dishes of fragrant Australian oil.  Children and/or youth/ adults distribute the oil by making the sign of the cross on the backs of the hands of the people on the ends of the pews - saying ‘Receive the oil of gladness and joy’. The ‘end-pew’ person then marks the back of the hand of their neighbour with the oil - and so on...passing the oil along to the person in the aisle. 

Offering Prayer 

You have sheltered us in your flock, O God. You have gathered us in your arms and lifted us into your lap. May the gifts we offer you this day, reflect in some small measure, the immense gratitude we feel for the generosity of your love. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 179: Praise with joy the world’s creator

                        (tune – Praise My Soul) 

Praise with joy the world's creator,

God of justice, love and peace,

Source and end of human knowledge,

Force of goodness without cease.

Celebrate the Maker's glory,

Power to rescue and release.


Praise the Son who feeds the hungry,

Frees the captive, finds the lost,

Heals the sick, upsets religion,

Fearless both of fate and cost.

Celebrate Christ's constant presence -

Friend and Stranger, Guest and Host.


Praise the Spirit sent among us

Liberating truth from pride,

Forging bonds where race or gender,

Age or nation dare divide.

Celebrate the Spirit's treasure -

Foolishness none dare deride.


Praise the Maker, Son and Spirit,

One God in Community,

Calling Christians to embody

Oneness and diversity.

Thus, the world shall yet believe

When shown Christ's vibrant unity. 

Tune: Praise my soul the king of heaven. J Goss c. 1986 Wild Goose Publications

Authors: John L Bell, Graham Maule 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The Gospel Reading:                                        John 1:6-8, 19-28 

After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 

1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord  has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion — to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 8 For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord , my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. 

John 1:6-8, 19-28 

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ 21 And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ 22 Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ 23 He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’,as the prophet Isaiah said. 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ 26 John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. 

Preaching of the Word - One of the Classic Stories..., 

One of the classic stories that is repeated each December is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The timeless character of Ebenezer Scrooge demonstrates the consummate selfish, self-centred, unforgiving and unloving qualities of humankind.

This originator of the "bah-humbug" was the perfect embodiment of sin. Whether we read this famous story in a leather bound first edition or we watch one of the numerous Hollywood versions, and maybe even use it as a study, it is the timelessness of the tale that reminds us of our own need for repentance; it shows us the love and joy that follow true repentance.

Ultimately, Scrooge's repentance leads to rejoicing and a whole new awareness and understanding of himself and the world around him. The Good News of Dickens' story is that Scrooge is guided to repent for his past and present cold and heartless behaviour. After years in a selfish and miserly existence, a life absent of faith or friendship or love, his repentance brings forgiveness, and he is able to love and once again rejoice in life.

Our Advent scriptures also talk to us very clearly about repentance and rejoicing.

In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah invites us to "to be glad and rejoice in what God is creating."

St. Paul in the Lectionary reading from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 reading which we have not read today echoes this exhortation with the exclamation: "Rejoice always!"

John the Baptist completes his proclamation of repentance, begun in last week's Gospel. He invited us to make a straight path to God that we might be in a right relationship with God and with one another through repentance. In today's Gospel, he calls us to rejoice -- for the Bridegroom, Jesus the Lord, is at hand.

Repentance and Rejoicing are certainly corner stones of the Christian faith. They are eternally yoked to each other. As Christians we are called to Repentance which means to turn away from sin and turn toward God.

Repentance means focusing on God, instead of on ourselves, our own needs and wants, our own sin. Repentance requires that we turn away from ourselves and our sinfulness. Repentance calls us to focus on the Lord and His love for us and for those around us.

Genuine repentance leads us to rejoicing. This was demonstrated by a clergy person I heard about who spoke of an encounter he had with a congregation member. This congregation member was angry that God wasn't working more rapidly in his life in the midst of a variety of crises and upheaval. The minister and the congregation member talked together at great length. They prayed together. In the hope of bringing about repentance and a reorientation toward God, the minister suggested that the congregation member read three chapters of John's Gospel each day; the goal was to complete the twenty- one chapters in seven days.

On the second day after their consultation together, the congregation member phoned the minister. He shared that on the first night he, begrudgingly and out of a sense of obligation, began to read the Gospel of John. He barely made it through the fourth verse of the first chapter when he began to weep uncontrollably. He recognised, in just those first verses, God's incredible love for him and for the world God created. This man's repentance, his turning back to God, initially brought him to his knees in tears and then moved him to a posture of rejoicing for he recognised God's infinite love and forgiveness.

Genuine repentance leads us to rejoicing.

All too often we are so totally self-centred and self-absorbed that we shut God out of our lives altogether. It is difficult, if not impossible, to rejoice when this is the case. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, our lives can be miserable and unfriendly when Joy and Rejoicing are absent. The absence of joy is most noticeable when the selfish, self-centred, narcissistic, sinful, and darker side of each of us dominates and pervades our thoughts and actions. When we refuse or are unwilling to acknowledge the sin in our live and the sin around us, we will remain estranged from joy. It takes repentance to re-orient and refocus our lives on the Lord Jesus Christ, who will lead us once again to a posture of rejoicing.

If for some reason you are not yet in the Advent and Christmas spirit, or if you feel like Scrooge before his conversion, then be reminded as John the Baptist reminds us, the season of Advent calls us to repentance. Advent invites us to make a straight path, to turn from materialism and commercialism, hedonism and greed, infidelity and neglect, distrust and racism, laziness and selfishness, pride and turn from sin.

Advent calls us to repent so that we might rejoice this Christmas season. And like the wolf and the lamb, the lion and the ox in today's reading from the Hebrew Scripture, we might experience Christ's peace and wholeness through Repentance and Rejoicing.

Today's newspaper reminds us that there are only eleven shopping days left until Christmas. So, whether our list is completed, or we are only just beginning, might we add two more items to our list: the two R's. And if we add the Repentance first, we will be led to Rejoice! For basically, Repentance means to 'get right with God,' to reposition our lives toward God, to 'make straight our path.' As we get right with God, we also will become right with ourselves and with each other.

In such a loving triangular relationship: God, neighbour, self, there can only be rejoicing.

Eleven shopping days.... are Repentance and Rejoicing on your list? 

Hymn TIS 274: The people that in darkness walked
                        (tune - Dundee) 

1 The people that in darkness walked

have seen a glorious light;

the light has shined on them who dwelt

in death's surrounding night.


2 To hail you, Sun of righteousness,

the gathering nations come:

rejoicing as when reapers bear

their harvest treasures home.


3 To us a child of hope is born,

to us a Son is given;

him shall the tribes of earth obey,

and all the hosts of heaven.


4 His name shall be the Prince of Peace,

for evermore adored,

the Wonderful, the Counsellor,

the great and mighty Lord.


5 His power increasing still shall spread,

his reign no end shall know:

justice shall guard his throne above

and peace abound below. 

Words: John Morrison 1781.

Music by Thomas Ravenscroft (c.1592-1635) 

Intercessory Prayers   

0 God, for whom we wait and long, we bring to you our prayers for your world and for your church.

Promise of righteousness, come. Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and hear the cries of all who plead for justice. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of freedom, come. Bring good news of release to the oppressed, free those in chains of misery and despair. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of peace, come. Heal ancient feuds and hatreds and deliver your people from the horrors of war. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of forgiveness, come. Look with mercy on our wrongdoings and help us to turn from our sinful ways.

Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of salvation, come. Remember your people, according to your ancient promises, and send your Messiah. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of love, come. Hold in your tender embrace all who are lonely, friendless, forgotten, rejected. Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of comfort, come. Bring the balm of your presence to all who know pain, anguish, sorrow or grief. Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of hope, come. Let us see that the time of your coming is near and keep us watchful for your return. Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of glory, come. Draw your saints, in this world and the next, into the light of your eternal presence.

Come,0 God for whom we wait and long, and, in your mercy, hear our 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. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 786: Word of God, come down on earth

                      (tune – Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier) 

1 Word of God, come down on earth,

living rain from heaven descending;

touch our hearts and bring to birth

faith and hope and love unending.

Word almighty, we revere you;

Word made flesh, we long to hear, you.


2 Word eternal, throned on high,

Word that brought to life creation.

Word that came from heaven to die,

crucified for our salvation.

Saving Word, the world restoring,

speak to us, your love outpouring.


3 Word that caused blind eyes to see,

speak and heal our mortal blindness.

Deaf we are, our healer be,

loose our tongues to tell your kindness.

Be our Word in pity spoken;

heal the world, by our sin broken.


4 Word that speaks your father’s love,

one with God beyond all telling.

Word that sends us from above

God the Spirit, with us dwelling.

Word of truth, to all truth lead us;

Word of life, with one bread feed us. 

Words: James Quinn

Music: Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier (Johan Rodolph Ahle 1625-1673 ) 


         Christ is coming soon. Love is on the way. But Christ is already here.

        And love is all around us.

        Faithful love and truth have met.

        Righteousness and peace have kissed.

        We wait for the fullness of God’s kingdom.

        Christ is coming soon.

        Love is on the way.


        Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
         (Tune – Aubrey) 

May the feet of God walk with you, and his hand hold you tight.

May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear your cry.

May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give you life.

May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring you Home. 

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)       Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)


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