St. Mary's Church

Advent Sunday

Advent Sunday

28 Nov 2020 • General news


Isaiah 64.1-9

1O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence –
2as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil –
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
6We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
8Yet, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD,
and do not remember iniquity for ever.
Now consider, we are all your people.

1 Corinthians 1.3-9

My brothers and sisters: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind – 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you – 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 13.24-37

Jesus said to his disciples: 24‘In those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ 

Lighting of Advent Wreath

The First Sunday of Advent:  Hope

Leader:  Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday in which we recall the hope we have in Christ.  The prophets of Israel all spoke of the coming of Christ,

of how a saviour would be born, a king in the line of David.  They spoke of how he would rule the world wisely and bless all nations.

On Christmas day the Christ of our hope was born.  On Good Friday the Christ of our hope died. On Easter day the Christ of our hope rose from the dead.

He then ascended into heaven.  On the last day, the Christ of our hope will come again to establish his kingdom over all things on earth.

As followers of Christ, we await his return.  

We light this candle to remember that as he came to us in the manger at Bethlehem and gave light to the world, so he is coming again to deliver his people.

We light this candle to remind us to be alert and to watch for his return.

The first candle is lit.

All:  Loving God, we thank you for the hope you give us.  Help us prepare our hearts for the Lord’s coming.  Bless our worship.Help us live holy and righteous lives.

We ask it in the name of the one born in Bethlehem.  Amen.

We sing: 

Let there be hope shared among us,

let there be hope in our eyes.

May now your hope sweep this nation;

cause us, O Lord, to arise.

Give us a fresh understanding,

brotherly love that is real.

Let there be hope shared among us,

let there be hope.

A thought for Advent Sunday 2020 by Malcolm Tyler

Like many people, clergy and lay alike, I find great sustenance and hope in the season of Advent. The imagery of light into darkness for me is helpful, the music associated with the season is redolent of the hope of the season and there is of course the ‘holiday’ of Christmas to look forward to.

I suppose that the equivalent period of Lent, leading to Easter is hard work both in terms of the preparations we undertake for Easter itself and the Easter Services however wonderful they may be leave us exhausted. So Advent, notwithstanding the preparatory work we undertake, seems just a little easier.

However, the readings before us today are far from straightforward. The passage from Isaiah speaks of a time when the people of God look forward to his coming effectively to do away with their enemies. m Mark is a warning to be alert for the end of time, which will come when nobody except God knows. The Son of Man will be seen coming in the clouds and the heavens will be shaken. Again the imagery is one of a savage end, but the lesson is to be ready.

Fortunately, the epistle from Pauls first letter to the Corinthians adds the positive note of hope explicitly. He reminds the Corinthians that God is faithful. We are called into fellowship with Christ and the promise is of eternal life, not eternal death. What Paul is saying here, is that God remains faithful to his promises and we can take it that he will be faithful at the end because he does not change his ways.

Many of us are desperate for an end to this pandemic and its effects, yet we know there is still some way to go. The hope of a vaccine has brought us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but there is still some way to go and we have to continue to be careful. Quite what it will all mean for Christmas services, I am still unsure but we will be working on that in the days ahead. What we know is that Christmas will be different to any most of us have known before. But remember, God is faithful. Despite the awfulness of the effects of Covid19, we have seen people coming together (even if not physically) in support of each other. Nations’ scientists have worked together to develop vaccines and we have learnt a great deal about the importance of our mental health. To me this is God being faithful despite how we may feel about the virus and its effects. I pray this Advent that we may continue to heed the lessons we are learning, that we may keep wake to the faithfulness of God, shown in these difficult times and that come Christmas we will be able to celebrate his coming among us in the person of Jesus with real joy.

A collection of prayers for the First Sunday of Advent and the week ahead

The First Sunday of Advent prayer

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day, We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. Amen

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen.

We commit to God this day and the week ahead, the people we will meet, and the ways we will spend our time, that God may be glorified and Christ revealed, in all we are and all that we do.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


O Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You mark out my journeys and my resting place and are acquainted with all my ways (Psalm 139:1-2).

Lord of creation,

whose glory is around and within us:

open our eyes to your wonders,

that we may serve you with reverence

and know your peace at our lives' end,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Lord, you are ever watchful

and bless us with your gifts;

as you provide for all our needs,

so help us to build only what pleases you,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord keeps the city, the guard keeps watch in vain (Psalm 127:1-2).

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you

for all the benefits that you have won for us,

for all the pains and insults

that you have borne for us.

Most merciful redeemer,

friend and brother,

may me know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly,

day by day.


Malcolm Tyler is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Morning Prayer

Time: Nov 30, 2020 09:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 868 5223 1640

Passcode: MP3011

Malcolm Tyler is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Morning Prayer

Time: Dec 3, 2020 09:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 871 8805 8530

Passcode: MP312

St Mary’s Advent Service, 2020

Advent Sunday, 29th November 2020, 5pm

Ad Venit – He is coming near!

A couple of years ago, Lorraine was delighted to be able to attend a wonderful evening service at Rowington church (near Hatton) on Advent Sunday, which contained readings from the Bible and religious reflections, interspersed with hymns.

In this strange, unsettling time, when we are unable to hold this service in church, we invite you to join us over the air as we spend a little bit of time in prayer and reflection to begin our Advent journey.

If you are not able to join us for the Zoom meeting, then perhaps you would like to use these words for your own reflection, either at the same time as us, or at another time that suits you. Perhaps, if you have CDs or a Youtube connection, you would like to use the same music that we are using; otherwise, feel free to use any Advent or reflective music which you feel is appropriate.

We light one Advent candle near the start of the service, and then will have another three candles which we are symbolically lighting and blowing out during the meditation piece. If you have some candles, you may wish to use them.

May your Advent journey be blessed as you travel, alone or in the company of others, to meet the arriving Christ.

Stephen and Lorraine


OPENING HYMN: On Jordan’s Bank


On Jordan’s bank, the Baptist’s cry

Announces that the Lord is nigh;

Awake and hearken, for he brings

Glad tidings of the King of kings!


Then cleansed be every heart from sin;

Make straight the Way of God within.

O let us all our hearts prepare

For Christ to come and enter there!


For you are man’s salvation, Lord,

Our refuge and our great reward –

Once more upon your people shine

And fill the world with Love Divine.


To God the Son all glory be,

Whose Advent set all nations free;

Who, with the Father, we adore,

And Holy Spirit, evermore.

(Vocals by Jared Haselbarth)


As we light our advent candle   Light of the world, shine on us.
As we prepare for Christmas time   Light of the world, shine on us.

In this world of pain and darkness,   Light of the world, shine through us.
To all the people who don't know you,   Light of the world, shine through us.

Jesus you are coming again,   Light of the world, light the way.
In our service here today   Light of the world, light the way

(C) Sam Hargreaves/

HYMN – Be Still and Know that I am God

Be still, and know that I am God (x3)

I am the Lord that healeth thee (x3)

In thee, O Lord, I put my trust (x3)

Be still, and know that I am God (x3)

A READING from the Prophet Isaiah:

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

2 [b] The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,

MEDITATION – A Story of Light and Darkness

(If you are doing this service on your own, you may wish to have 3 additional candles to be able to light and then extinguish as suggested in the text)

We will be playing music gently in the background – the piece we have chosen is “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”, by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Reader: In the beginning,

God allowed for chaos,

For troubled dreams

And uncertain sounds,

And fear in the darkness.

Then, when the chaos was most threatening

And hope was bleakest

God said “Let there be light”


(the first candle is lit)

Leader: So, remember the chaos,

The uncertainty,

The confusion in which you once floundered,

And give thanks for the light.


Reader: In the course of time,

God allowed for a journey

From ourselves to other people

From restriction to freedom,

From a forgotten place to a promised land.

And when the journey was hardest,

And the way ahead unclear

And the temptation to turn back was most alluring

God said “Let there be light”


(a second candle is lit)

Leader So, remember your journey

And how far you have travelled

And give thanks for the light.


Reader Later yet,

God allowed for the special:

For friendship to grow

For truth to be discovered

For faith to become real

On the mountain top

And in the quiet places

God blessed us saying “let there be light”


(a third candle is lit)

Leader: So, remember not why

But how and when and where you’ve been blessed

And give thanks for the light


Reader: And then

When the light was brightest

And life was good

Despite out better judgement

But in solidarity with all humankind

We chased shadows

And chose darkness

(the candles are extinguished)

Leader: So remember how and when and where

And perhaps why you have wandered

From the light


Reader: Because God loves us

There will be light again.

Not first in chaos

Not first on the journey

Not first for the special place

But on the ground

And in a hidden place,

God will come

Offering a baby’s hand,

To greet us

(the candles are all lit once more)

Leader: Lord Jesus Christ

Who chose, at Bethlehem, to meet us,

Make us ready to lose and leave

All that makes us proud and sufficient

Let out knees bend to you,

Our hearts cradle you,

Our lips sing you song of love

© 1997, Wild Goose Resource Group

The music will continue at the end for a short time, to allow space for reflection, then blow out the three additional candles.

A READING from the Prophet Isaiah:

11 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.2 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.3 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;4 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.5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6 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.7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.9 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.

HYMN: Bless the LORD my Soul (Taize)

Bless the LORD, my soul,

And bless God’s Holy Name

Bless the LORD, my soul,

Who leads me into life.

A READING from the Gospel of Luke:

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.”[b] 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”[c] 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

HYMN: The Angel Gabriel

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame:

“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary;

Most highly favoured lady!”


“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be;

All generations laud and honour thee.

Thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold:

Most highly favoured lady!”


Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head:

“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said.

“My soul shall laud and magnify his Holy Name.”

Most highly favoured lady!


Of her, Emmanuel the Christ was born,

In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn.

And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say,

“Most highly favoured lady!”


Closing Prayer:

Open our eyes, Lord

Especially of they are half-shut

Because we are tired of looking,

Or half open

Because we fear to see to much,

Or bleared with tears

Because yesterday and today and tomorrow

Are filled with the same pain,

Or contracted

Because we only look at what we want to see,

Open our eyes, Lord

To gently scan the life we lead

The home we have

The world we inhabit,

And so to find,

Among the gremlins and the greyness

Signs of hope we can fasten on and encourage.

Give us, whose eyes are dimmed by familiarity

A bigger vision of what you can do

Even with hopeless cases and lost causes

And people of limited ability.

Show us the world as in your sight,

Riddled with debt, deceit and disbelief

Yet also

Shot through with possibility

For recover, renewal, redemption.

And lest we fail to distinguish vision from fantasy

Today, tomorrow, this week,

Open our eyes to one person

Or one place

Where we – even being for a moment prophetic

Might identify and wean a potential in the waiting.

And with all this,

Open our eyes, in yearning, for Jesus.

On the mountains,

In the cities,

Through the corridors of power

And the streets of despair,

To help, to heal,

To confront, to convert,

O come, O Come, Immanuel.


© 1997, Wild Goose Resource Group

CLOSING MUSIC: Cavatina (Stanley Myers, 1970)

The music plays for just over 4 minutes. We invite you to stay for silent reflection, and leave the service at any point that you feel ready; we will not end the connection until the music has finished.

We hope you have enjoyed this reflective space.