The Worship Group of Broadway United Reformed Church led the service on the Third Sunday of Advent

WORSHIP GROUP SERVICE : SUNDAY 13th DECEMBER 2020 : ©BROADWAY UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

LOOKING FORWARD IN THE LIGHT OF CHRIST

Order of Service

WELCOME MARK
CALL TO WORSHIP MARK

HYMN 134 R&S On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry …
On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Come then and harken, for he brings
Glad tidings from the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
Make straight the way for God within;
And in each heart prepare a home
Where such a mighty guest may come.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
Our refuge and our great reward;
Without thy grace we waste away
Like flowers that wither and decay.

To heal the sick stretch our thy hand,
And bid the fallen sinner stand;
Shine forth, and let thy light restore
Earth’s own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee
Whose advent sets thy people free,
Whom, with the father, we adore,
and Spirit blest, for evermore.

Charles Coffin (1676-1749)
Tr. John Chandler (1806-76) altd.
Rejoice and Sing (1992), Copyright United Reformed Church, Oxford University Press
Broadway United Reformed Church, Worcestershire. Copyright Licence CCLI 162033: 5C03

PRAYER OF ADORATION MARION
Praise to you Lord God. You are greater than we can imagine, but we see signs of your greatness all around us.
From the highest mountain to the deepest valley,
the tiniest stream to the immense oceans,
the myriad of plants and trees,
the micro-organisms to the largest animals
the sky with all the stars and planets, and the vastness of space.
And yet, you sent your Son, for us

So, we share together in these words – the Advent Responsory. I will read the lines marked with V, and will you
please join in with those marked R.
The Advent Responsory
You can hear the Responsory here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3p9z1uCFLY
V: I look from afar:
R: And lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth.
V: Go ye out to meet him and say:
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel?
V: High and low, rich and poor, One with another,
R: Go ye out to meet him and say:
V: Hear, O thou shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come?
V: Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come
R: To reign over thy people Israel.
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R: I look from afar: and lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole
earth.
V: Go ye out to meet him and say:
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel?

Source: Daily Devotions from the URC email 1st December 2020
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.

But Lord, we know that, even as we look forward to your coming we often lose our focus. We are quick to judge others when they don’t behave “our way”, instead of appreciating them as individuals with their own gifts. We dismiss what we find difficult to understand or accept, rather than open our minds to working through it. We forget to cherish what we have, and to steward the resources so freely given to us.

Lord, forgive us our self=centredness, our poor communication, our squandering of precious things and relationships. Open our hearts and minds, quell the harmful stubbornness which hinders us, and encourage in us the determination to continue on the journey, as we prepare once again to welcome the Christ-child.

And let us rejoice in the knowledge you hear our prayers, Lord, and have promised to forgive us when we come with contrite and humble hearts. We praise and thank you, Lord. Amen

READINGS: JOHN CH. 1 vv 6-8 & 19-28 PAT
PHILLIPIANS 4:4-9

MESSAGE Looking forward in hope MARK
During Advent we look forward to the birth of Jesus. We look forward to learning from him about the Kingdom of Heaven, we look forward to seeing his example of how to live, we look forward to learning from his example, so that the Kingdom of Heaven can become a reality of Earth, we look forward to becoming the kind of disciples and apostles who can help to create Heaven on Earth. We look forward in Hope. Like so many disciples have done before us. Including John the Baptist.

John was that good at living the life of Jesus in that day that a large following had been drawn to his teaching.

Including Andrew who later became one of the very first disciples and apostles. John was that good that the religious authorities of the time were compelled to ask him “Who are you? Are the Messiah? Are you Elijah? Are you the prophet?

But John’s purpose was clear, and his answer was clear. Quoting Isaiah he told them “I am the voice of someone shouting in the desert: Make a straight path for the Lord to travel.”

Thus he made Andrew aware of Jesus. Follow Jesus! He said to Andrew. Follow Jesus! He said to everyone else who was listening. He made them aware of Jesus and invited them all to follow Jesus. And what did Andrew do? He went and made his brother Simon aware. He invited Simon to come to know Jesus. Simon, who Jesus renamed Peter, “The rock on whom my church will be built”. An epic outcome. An outcome that led to billions of people becoming Christians in later years. All because of three people being aware of Jesus. And two invitations being made by people who certainly would not have considered themselves to be exceptional. Nice job John.

Very little is recorded about Andrew in the bible. Other than he was always there, listening to Jesus. Vitally though, he, like John, was eager to introduce people to Jesus. Including his own family. Including his own brother. Including the little boy with the fish and loaves at the huge gathering where Jesus shared the inspirational Beatitudes.

Then having made the introduction, as John had done before him, Andrew stepped back and left the rest to Jesus.

And what of Peter? Following Andrew’s invitation, he indeed became the rock on which the church was built. And he gave fellow Christians some further insight and advice. To prepare us for when we are presented with the opportunity to give out the same invite.

“Be ready at all times, To answer anyone who asks you, To explain the Hope that you have in you. (1 Peter 3:15).

But do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:16a)”

During Advent we look forward to the birth of Jesus. We look forward to becoming the kind of disciples who can help to create Heaven on Earth. We look forward in Hope. And remember though we may falter, Peter had faltered too, God is there in support.

But as well as trusting in God and looking forward in Hope, wasn’t Jesus also encouraging his disciples to go and make more disciples? Wasn’t Peter encouraging other disciples, To answer anyone who asks you, To explain the Hope that we have in us, you and me?

Have you ever been directly asked to explain that hope? If you or I were asked today would we be ready to explain the reason? And in an appropriate way that the asker would understand?
What if this Advent, as we think of John the Baptist and the way he went about his invitations in his context, we too think about the invitations we can offer to other people?

But. What if we don’t get the chance to answer a direct verbal question? What if people are taking our answer from the way they see us live our daily lives? What if we don’t listen hard enough, in our busy or self-absorbed lives to even hear the question that we are being asked in a subtle or oblique way?

What if we don’t just think about the people in our neighbourhood? What about offering invitations to those we do know? Our friends? Or our family, as Andrew did?

How about “Living the Life of Jesus Today” and offering the open invitation for questions through what we do and say? Then, maybe, we will be asked an explicit question.

And if so we can remember to look forward in Hope , and leave the rest to God.

HYMN 543 R&S Lead us heavenly Father lead us…
Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
O’er the world’s tempestuous sea;
Guard us, guide us, keep us feed us,
For we have no help but thee;
Yet possessing every blessing
If our God our Father be.
Saviour, breathe forgiveness o’er us;
All our weakness thou dost know,
Thou didst tread this earth before us,
Thou didst feel its keenest woe
Lone and dreary, faint and weary,
Through the desert thou didst go.
Spirit of our God, descending,
Fill our hearts with heavenly joy,
Love with every passion blending,
Pleasure that can never cloy,
Thus provided, pardoned, guided,
Nothing can our peace destroy

James Edmeston (1792-1867)
Rejoice and Sing (1992), Copyright United Reformed Church, Oxford University Press
Broadway United Reformed Church, Worcestershire. Copyright Licence CCLI 162033: 5C03

ADVENT RING LITURGY RICHARD
ADVENT CANDLES
“You are the light of the world, so don’t hide it but let it shine so people can follow and praise our Father in heaven…”
When we have somewhere to go
with something to be found
we need leaders to show us the way….
A leader is a light on the road
that can be followed in the darkness
so we can find what we seek…
A leader is not a roaring flame
that fills hearts full of fear:
It’s a gentle flicker showing the way…
A leader is not a raging fire
that scorches the earth
but a spark of encouragement on the way…
A leader is a light for the world,
a Prophet or Angel, Shepherd or Wise One,
sent by God to show us the way…
YOU are a light on the road:
TAKE MY WORDS AND LET THEM BE
A LIGHT ON THE ADVENT ROAD….
TAKE MY DEEDS AND LET THEM SHOW
CHRIST ALIVE IN HUMAN HEARTS…

light candle after each response Richard
1. WE are the PROPHETS of HOPE with a word of good news for the future……
MAY I BE A LIGHT OF HOPE, ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO WALK THE WAY
2. WE are the ANGELS of PEACE with a word of encouragement and healing…..
MAY I BE A LIGHT OF PEACE, ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO WALK THE WAY
3. WE are the SHEPHERDS of JOY with words of praise and rejoicing to God….
MAY I BE A LIGHT OF JOY, ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO WALK THE WAY
4. WE are the WISE who travel far to find God’s gift of LOVE to share with the world…
MAY I BE A LIGHT OF LOVE, ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO WALK THE WAY

Advent ring liturgy provided by Richard Becher (2020)

MESSAGE Rejoicing in the Lord JOANNE
Do we find it hard to rejoice in this current climate?
When we were drawn into this challenging situation we complained about being unable to buy certain commodities – flour for making bread, that our lifestyle was uncomfortable, that we couldn’t hug our friends or family, that we were denied the choice of worshipping in church. We immersed ourselves in home clearing out operations, filling sacks ready to donate to charity shops and tackling some of those jobs which had previously been put to the bottom of one’s to do list!

All the things which had sustained us in the past were suddenly closed down and we began to
feel disconnected from other people.

Our recent URC daily devotions have focussed on parts of the book of Hebrews which some have described as a book of mystery; it has certainly been challenging; however In Chapter 10 we read something which is very relevant to our current experience: “Do not give up meeting together, but encourage each other” – physically meeting up has been denied but relationships are massively important. Whilst we have been unable to meet together, there has been the unshakable link through the marvels of modern technology – the basic element of which has been and continues to be through telephone conversation.

This is what encourages us on our faith journey. Disconnecting socially can mean disconnecting emotionally and spiritually – in order to grow our faith it is important to sustain and if at all possible grow our relationships with each other. The chapter continues the emphasis on not giving up when the going is tough, ending with the words “We are not people who turn back and are lost; instead we have faith and are saved”.

As summer slipped into autumn, there was an abundance of colour to enjoy, opportunities to capture pictures and to share them with those who do not have the luxury of a garden, or those who are housebound in a more permanent way. Each month there has been the joy of compiling the Armchair Pilgrimage, the privilege of sharing these together and the opportunity to pray together (sometime over the telephone – it’s a sure thing that God would be listening in!}

HAD we rejoiced in the warmth of the sunshine, the bursting of spring into summer, the reawakening and ripening of God’s creation OR had we missed the moment! How then are we to rejoice in the Lord?

In Philippians we read “Rejoice in the Lord always” – I wonder if we find this inappropriate or uncaring in our current circumstances AND YET these months have provided us with valuable time to rejoice in what God has provided, to evaluate and identify the important components of our lives and to resolve to focus on the task set before us – doing our very best to follow Christ’s example as we go about our lives during and after Covid 19.

Paul wrote these words to the Philippians whilst in prison facing unknown future just because of his allegiance to Christ. These words were not written in times of plenty or in comfortable circumstances, partying or making merry, but in a time which looked bleak for Paul – he was distressed by false teaching and yet this letter sends out a message of joy and urging the Philippians to persevere in the faith and live in union with Christ.

Maybe we could ask ourselves if we are living with joy in our hearts or if we are being dragged down? If we are, then are we really obeying His commands? It has been suggested that a long-faced, gloomy Christian should look again and reflect on the command to rejoice in the Lord always! The word ‘always’ is open for debate – something for another occasion???

It does seem that we may always fall short of obeying such a command, but God understands.
Perhaps a closing thought might be that rejoicing in the Lord is consequential in knowing, serving and being with Him.

Reading the Hymn The Promised Christ JOANNE
Wild and lone the prophet’s voice
Echoes through the desert still,
Calling us to make a choice,
Bidding us to do God’s will:
“turn from sin and be baptised;
Cleanse your heart and mind and soul.
Quitting all the sin you prized,
Yield your life to God’s control”.
“bear the fruit repentance sows:
Lives of justice, truth, and love.
Trust no other claim than those;
Set your heart on things above.
Soon the Lord will come in power, burning clean the threshing floor:
Then will flames the chaff devour;
Wheat alone shall fill God’s store.”
With such preaching stark and bold
John proclaimed salvation near,
And his timeless warnings hold
Words of hope to all who hear.
So we dare to journey on,
Led by faith through ways untrod,
Till we come at last like John
To behold the Lamb of God.

Carl P. Daw, Jr (b 1944)
©1989 , Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188, USA All rights reserved.
Broadway United Reformed Church, Worcestershire. Copyright Licence CCLI 162033: 5C03

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION … PAT
Firstly we pray for people who live in countries affected by war and oppression where there
is a daily living reminder of fighting, disease, lack of food and lack of health care. We also
pray for the people who have been driven out from their homes and become refugees trying
to find a home and place of safety in a new land. We pray for their safety and peace. May
they look forward with hope.

Let us remember the effects of COVID on all peoples across the world. We pray for people
who have the disease at this time and their families and for those who have died and those
who mourn them. We pray for the people of so many nations whose lives have been affected
in differing ways. We pray for healing in body and mind.

We pray for the people of our country.

We pray for the politicians, scientists and medical experts who are striving to find the right
way forward during the pandemic to protect people from the disease but also to keep the
country running. Please guide them O Lord.

We pray for all the health workers, care workers, emergency workers and teachers. Give
them both physical and mental strength to continue each day. We pray for all essential
workers who are enabling us to cope with living in this changed and changing situation.

We pray for people who are lonely at this time. Many of them may be hidden from our view
particularly because of the restrictions due to COVID. They may feel that no-one seems to
care. We bring them to you in the confidence that you love them and know their every need.
In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness,
be their light;

Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if
we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful,
to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love.
God of hope
God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the centre, the focus of our lives
always, and particularly this Advent time.

John Birch, FaithandWorship.com, accessed 2nd December 2020
Broadway United Reformed Church, Worcestershire. Copyright Licence CCLI 162033: 5C03
HYMN 141 R&S Make way, make way, for Christ the King ….
Make way, make way, for Christ the King
In splendour arrives.
Fling wide the gates and welcome him
Into your lives.
Make way! Make way
for the King of kings, King of kings!
Make way! Make way
and let his kingdom in.
He comes the broken hearts to heal,
The prisoners to free;
The deaf shall hear, the lame shall dance,
The blind shall see.
Make way! Make way
for the King of kings, King of kings!
Make way! Make way
and let his kingdom in.
And those who mourn with heavy hearts,
Who weep and sigh,
With laughter, joy and royal crown
He’ll beautify.
Make way! Make way
for the King of kings, King of kings!
Make way! Make way
and let his kingdom in.
We call you now to worship him
As Lord of all,
To have no other gods but him;
Their thrones must fall.
Make way! Make way
for the King of kings, King of kings!
Make way! Make way
and let his kingdom in.
Graham Kendrick (1950-)
©Thankyou Music
Rejoice and Sing (1992), Copyright United Reformed Church, Oxford University Press
Broadway United Reformed Church, Worcestershire. Copyright Licence CCLI 162033: 5C03
READING BEFORE THE BLESSING: A Celtic Prayer MARION
Holy God, holy and mighty,
Who brought the holy John to birth in a barren womb,
You can bring a new thing to birth in a barren landThank you for making John a front runner who prepared a way for you
Where there is falsehood,
Help us prepare a way for you;
where there is violence,
Help us prepare a way for you;
Where there is misuse of others,
Help us prepare a way for you;
Where there is meanness
Help us prepare a way for you
Amen

Ray Simpson of the Community of Aidan and Hilda, “Celtic Prayers for Life Today”, Copyright ©Kevin Mayhew
Broadway United Reformed Church, Worcestershire. Copyright Licence CCLI 162033: 5C03

BLESSING MARK
This service is offered by ©Broadway United Reformed Church. Broadway United Reformed Church is grateful to the originators
and publishers of the material it has accessed in preparing this offering. We have worked hard to correctly recognise all of the
wonderful material and its originators. If we have made any errors or omissions please accept our apologies, and we would ask
those concerned to contact us so that full acknowledgement can be given in the future. Church Copyright Licence CCLI 162033:
5C03, Church Secretary, Mr. Michael Payne. Broadway URC, 77, High Street, Broadway, Worcestershire. England. UK.