All Saints’ Church Renhold Bedfordshire, England

SUNDAY 4TH DECEMBER 2022

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT - PARISH COMMUNION



The Gathering

HYMN  26 O Come, O come Emmanuel


In the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

and also with you.

THE CEREMONY OF THE ADVENT WREATH

We have this Advent ring to remind us of the coming of Jesus, the Light of the world

We light this candle to remind us of God’s people who in every age watch for his coming


ADVENT 2

People of God: be glad! Your God delights in you,

giving you joy for sadness and turning the dark to light.

Be strong in hope therefore; for your God comes to save.

You are God’s children.

Lord, make us one in the love of Christ today and for ever. Amen.

.

PRAYER OF PREPARATION

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.

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE

The President introduces the confession:

When the Lord comes, he will bring to light the things now

hidden in darkness, and will disclose the purposes of the heart.

1 Corinthians 4: 5


Therefore in the light of Christ let us confess our sins.

Father eternal, giver of light and grace,

we have sinned against you and against our neighbour,

in what we have thought,

in what we have said and done,

through ignorance, through weakness,

through our own deliberate fault.

We have wounded your love

and marred your image in us.

We are sorry and ashamed,

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 lead us out from darkness

to walk as children of light. Amen.


The Kyrie Eleison is said .

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy


The almighty and merciful Lord

grant you pardon and forgiveness of all your sins,

time for amendment of life,

and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

COLLECT

O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us,

and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness

we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever,  Amen.



The Liturgy of the Word



Old Testament Reading     Isaiah 11.1-10

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.



New Testament Reading:    Romans 15.4-13

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name’; and again he says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’; and again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him’; and again Isaiah says ‘The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.


GOSPEL ACCLAMATION


Alleluia, alleluia.

Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.  Mark 1: 3

Alleluia.





GOSPEL READING

When the Gospel is announced the reader says:

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew

Glory to you, O Lord.

Matthew 3.1-12

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” ’ 
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.  Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.  Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

SERMON

The preparations we make for any major event are essential for its success, I have seen this at first hand over the last 18 months as plans for Rebecca & Ryan’s wedding have been made and executed, which resulted in the most wonderful day (even though I may be a touch biased).

If we think about planning in other aspects of life; the fact that a pilot has a detailed checklist to work through in preparation for a flight, speaks of the value and importance of the cargo and the personnel on that plane for that flight.

If we think about a doctor who prepares for many years to learn medicine, this speaks of the value of the human being that doctor will care for.

If we think about the value of retirement savings, this is directly proportional to the preparation that was made over years of investing in that savings pot. The more invested, the more preparation, the higher the value of that portfolio.

If we think about it then a handcrafted piece of art is far more valuable than a machine-made reproduction because the handcrafted piece required more preparation and labour, skill and passion which translates into more value and importance.

The birth of a baby is the result of months of growth where that baby is developed and prepared to live outside of the womb. That life has value and importance, and that is shown through the preparation process God has designed for that baby and for that mother.

Anything that is truly valuable necessitates some form of preparation, and the things of God are no different!

God commands that a preparation be made by His people for His kingdom. That preparation is given to us in the just one word preached both by John and by Jesus - Repent!

The reason God’s people are commanded to repent, is because the kingdom of heaven is at hand. I believe this does not mean the end of the world is nigh, but meaning that, the kingdom of heaven is no longer distant or beyond reach, now the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Throughout the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament as we call it, the kingdom of heaven is presented as something that is extremely valuable, and worthy of preparing for. Any time the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God is spoken of, it is talking about the rule of God. The leadership of God over all things. The will of God being done.

This is further reflected in the Gospels as Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “They kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I believe there is one key sentence in our reading this morning! There is Only one command given, one thing that we should do and that is, to Repent!, and only a reason for that command. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As I have said, The kingdom of heaven is something valuable and something that has been anticipated for a very long time, which has come, and is coming near.

The weight of that statement may be lost on us today unless we consider that these are the first words preached to God’s people in over 400 years! John the Baptist was a Prophet, a man who God appointed, and enabled to speak His word to His people, and he was the first prophet since Malachi who we read about in the final book of the Old Testament.

Malachi prophesied somewhere between the years 440-420 B.C. - that is, over 400 years before Christ!  And during those 400 years, there is no recorded word from God! There is nothing new recorded from heaven! Only silence! And waiting…!

If we turn back a few pages in our bibles to Malachi chapter four. The last words of Malachi are worth hearing:

The word from God through the prophet Malachi for the people was, that a prophet will come, before the Lord comes. (That means, a prophet will come to prepare the way of the Lord).

And that prophet will call the people to prepare for the great and awesome day of the LORD by turning – (meaning repenting) - lest there be utter destruction. Lest there be judgment.

And that is the last word preached to the people of God in the Old Testament. Then, over 400 years later, the voice of John the Baptist is heard preaching: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John is the prophet of whom Jesus himself will say is the Elijah spoken of by Malachi

If we look again at our bible reading this morning, this further clarifies the person and the purpose of John the Baptist:

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah (about 700B.C.) when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ”

This is what John the Baptist is doing. God is making a way through John for all people to come to Jesus, and to see the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ!

No valley, or mountain, or hill, or crooked path, or rough place will stand in the way of God fulfilling his promises in Jesus the Christ. The glory of the LORD shall be revealed through Him!

The way to Jesus is in our Advent message of being prepared - It is a path which may not be easy to travel. But Jesus IS coming, and indeed John says — he is already here!

The value and importance of something is often determined by the extent of the preparation that was made for it. And the call of John and Jesus for repentance still stands, for we must be prepared to encounter the kingdom of the living God!

Just as Jesus came to earth the first time, to complete a work by which we may be reconciled to God, Jesus is coming back again — one final time. And at that time, he will separate the “wheat and the chaff”.

The value and importance of something is often determined by the extent of the preparation that was made for it. Not only is the kingdom of God of great value and importance, but we should notice the lengths of preparation God undertook to prepare a way for you and I for salvation! We are valuable and important to God!

God loves us, and God desires in this moment that all people repent, and trust our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.


THE CREED

Stand 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.


PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION


In joyful expectation of his coming to our aid, let us pray to the Lord.


This response may be used.

Lord, in your mercy   hear our prayer.


And at the end:

Merciful Father, accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.



The Liturgy of the Sacrament

THE PEACE

The President introduces the peace.

In the tender mercy of our God the dayspring from on high has broken upon us, to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace.  Luke 1: 78

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

and also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.


HYMN  27 On Jordan’s bank the Baptist cry

PREPARATION OF THE TABLE

Look upon us in mercy not in judgement;

draw us from hatred to love;

make the frailty of our praise

a dwelling for your glory.  Amen.


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness

we have this bread to set before you,

which earth has given and human hands have made.

It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God for ever.


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness

we have this wine to set before you,

fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

It will become for us the cup of salvation.

Blessed be God for ever.

EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (E)

The Lord be with you

and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is indeed right and good to give you thanks and praise,

almighty God and everlasting Father,

through Jesus Christ your Son.

For when he humbled himself to come among us in

human flesh,

he fulfilled the plan you formed before the foundation

of the world

to open for us the way of salvation.

Confident that your promise will be fulfilled,

we now watch for the day

when Christ our Lord will come again in glory.

And so we join our voices with angels and archangels

and with all the company of heaven

to proclaim your glory,

for ever praising you and saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.


We praise and bless you, loving Father,

through Jesus Christ, our Lord;

and as we obey his command,

send your Holy Spirit,

that broken bread and wine outpoured

may be for us the body and blood of your dear Son.

On the night before he died he had supper with his friends

and, taking bread, he praised you.

He broke the bread, gave it to them and said:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.

When supper was ended he took the cup of wine.

Again he praised you, gave it to them and said:

Drink this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

So, Father, we remember all that Jesus did,

in him we plead with confidence his sacrifice made once for all upon the cross.

Bringing before you the bread of life and cup of salvation,

we proclaim his death and resurrection

until he comes in glory.

The President says

Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died:

Christ is risen:

Christ will come again.

Lord of all life,

help us to work together for that day

when your kingdom comes

and justice and mercy will be seen in all the earth.

Look with favour on your people,

gather us in your loving arms

and bring us with [N and] all the saints

to feast at your table in heaven.

Through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all honour and glory are yours, O loving Father,

for ever and ever. Amen.



THE LORD’S PRAYER

The Lord’s Prayer is said.


Let us pray with confidence, as our Saviour has taught us:

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,

for ever and ever. Amen.

BREAKING OF THE BREAD

The president breaks the consecrated bread:

We break the bread of life,

and that life is the light of the world.

God here among us,

Light in the midst of us,

bring us to light and life.


Lamb of God, Or Jesus, Lamb of God

you take away have mercy on us.

the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,  Jesus, bearer of our sins,

you take away have mercy on us.

the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,  Jesus, redeemer of the world

you take away grant us your peace.

the sin of the world,

grant us peace.


GIVING OF COMMUNION

God’s holy gifts

for God’s holy people.

Jesus Christ is holy,

Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.


We do not presume

to come to this your table, merciful Lord,

trusting in our own righteousness,

but in your manifold and great mercies.

We are not worthy

so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.

But you are the same Lord

whose nature is always to have mercy.

Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,

so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ

and to drink his blood,

that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body

and our souls washed through his most precious blood,

and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.

Amen.


The congregation receive communion respecting social distancing protocol.

Music may be played


PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

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


followed by:

Generous God you have blessed us and fed us at your heavenly table. Set us on fire with your spirit that when Christ comes again

we may shine like lights before his face; who with you and the Spirit lives for ever.   Amen.


HYMN  147 Crown him with many crowns


The Dismissal

BLESSING

Our Lord says, I am coming soon.

Amen, Come Lord Jesus.

May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting.

Amen.

Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you,

scatter the darkness from before your path,

and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory;

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.


Copyright Acknowledgements: - Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops Council, 2000 CW ORDER ONE – ORDINARY TIME AND HOLY DAYS. CCLI number - 804157