Readings And Sermons or Talks

The Collect for today, Advent Sunday

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility; that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Post Communion Prayer for today

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

The Psalm for today is Psalm 25, verses 1 - 10

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and shall be forever. Amen

Today’s first reading is taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, Chapter 33, verses 14 - 16

 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel according to St Luke, Chapter 21, verses 25 - 36

Hear the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ, according to Luke Glory to you, o Lord

Jesus said to them “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to You, o Christ.

The sermon this week comes from Denise Smith

Our lives are in a perpetual series of changes! We may move house, get a new job or retire, marry, have children and grandchildren, someone we love gets sick or dies, a relationship ends or covid locks us in isolation. The list is endless, many things change. In truth we live in a constant state of flux and change all the time. In Advent we are asked to consider what there is of lasting security, what can be counted on in a world where everything is shaken loose? It is very easy to become afraid and insecure in the way the world is changing and it is changing, nothing surer. The changes are often unpredictable, as they have been through the pandemic- a great example. Another example that came to my mind was the changes we are experiencing as a church due to Rossendale being made into a Team Ministry. At this point God gave me Psalm 46, not the psalm for today but one that fitted.

God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the seas.”

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus speaks clearly about the end of time. Luke uses rich, apocalyptic language to describe Jesus trying to teach his followers about the signs to watch for. There will be signs in nature, unrest among people and nations, then, suddenly the Saviour will appear.

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

It is an unsettling message and to some it is frightening. Jesus was not trying to trouble his followers, he is inviting them to live a different way. He is encouraging them and us to watch out for the signs, v 34.he said, “Be on guard.” “Be alert at all times.”

That is the message for us today. The end of all time may or may not come before we draw our last breath, but we are called to live as if it might. We are expected to live as if today is the last opportunity we have to do what God is calling us to do, so do not put things off.

Anticipation is the undercurrent to the season of Advent. We are reminded every year of three comings of Christ. Firstly Christ came to the world as a baby, secondly Christ will come again at the end of time and thirdly Christ comes to our hearts today and every day. We as a church family are pretty good at celebrating when he came as a baby. I think we are getting better at welcoming the third, his gentle visitations, as our Prayer Group discussed last Tuesday, but some of us struggle with the understanding of the second. We just need to hang on to his promise, we don’t know when he will come and we don’t need to know, just have faith that he will.

Our society is beginning to rush about in a frantic attempt to get ready before Christmas Eve. Possibly some of you are incredibly busy already. Christians are called to slow down in this season of Advent, to open our hearts and minds and look for the ways Christ is coming into our lives, making his presence known in the here and now. Do try to join our Prayer course on Zoom to help with this. If you read an extra verse at the end of chapter 21, you will learn that Jesus preached each day in the temple, but at night he retreated to the Mount of Olives and spent the night under the stars with his Father in a quiet time

In verses 34 to 36, Luke advises not to take to drink when we are fearful and it is no use insuring ourselves with money against the end of time, for it will pointless. We are to use our material resources for the benefit of the community; we are to share in other words. Also we are not to cling to what we think of as the secure past, something I can tend to do. When we do, it means we are not open to new things that God is trying to do amongst us. I am thinking changes in the Deanery here. We are to make ready for Jesus’ final coming by being good, generous and kind, forgiving and loving. Turn to God in prayer, for he is our hope and strength. Remember the world is not permanent but God is!!

I was driving to family in Stacksteads when I saw a poster outside Zion Baptist church.

Autumn leaves, Jesus stays

I thought that was so apt for the season of Advent. When troubles come as they do, God will not leave us alone.

The Advent word is not just a word of reassurance, but also a word of challenge and an invitation to change. There are things about all of us that need shaking to the foundations and there are certainly things in our society that could be shaken lose to make the world a more just and Godly place.

Through the pandemic our securities have been shaken lose, but out of it has come new life, new ways of doing things, new hope and new faith in God who comes to meet us as the foundations are shaking. Don’t be too busy this Advent; create some quiet time so you do not miss Jesus’ gentle visitations.

Today’s readings are very serious and sombre, but running through them is a shaft of hope, hence our first candle in the wreath. God knows our world and all of us very well, all the sad things and the bad things that are happening. Eventually when the time is right, he will gather up all the goodness and bring things to completion. The promise is there and God being faithful will keep his promise. Let us make sure we grow plenty of love, thoughtfulness, integrity in our lives, so we are ready for when the last day comes, no matter how young or old we are.

I was in the middle of writing this sermon when Janice phoned to see if the nursery could borrow our tea urn. In the middle of our conversation we had a gentle visitation or God incidence as some call them. Only God knows how he manipulated the chat because we went from tea urn to Janice telling me about a John Wesley quote that when she was a Headmistress she had on the wall in every classroom and the Hall. She used this quote often, as it is simple enough for young children to understand. So here goes, it is quite long!

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

Thank you Janice, I think that is wonderful, it just touched me and I think we should make a banner with it on for here.