Our series of thought provoking sermons presentations and reflections recently featured mainly in services at St Paternus, North Petherwin.
Presentation - Morning Praise service - 13th December 2020
This presentation was given by Ray Harvey, Church Warden at St Paternus, North Petherwin, during a Morning Praise service held on 13th December 2020.
Question - Is Advent more of a countdown to Christmas than a season in its own right?
We tick off the days on our calendars and the daily Advent candle that we light every day, but should we consider Advent as an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the richness of this period of reflection and preparation?
I suspect that for many of us, Advent will, this year, hold a greater significance as we wait together: for COVID-19 restrictions to lift, to travel to the places we call home, to hug those we love, to return to our church buildings, to sing hymns and carols which speak of the love, joy, comfort and hope that are revealed to us at Christmas. For many of us, that wait will continue into next year, and yet as Advent unfolds we hear again the promise that God comes to us in our waiting and waits with us.
Do you recognise these words?
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">“</span>Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and charity
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!"
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">A familiar verse from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.</span>
Christmas is good news. After a tough year, Christmas brings comfort and joy to you and to a world that is weary and hurting. The message of the baby born in Bethlehem is that God is in the mix. God does not stand far off, watching from a distance. God comes to us, walks with us and stays with us.
Advent 2020 is an extraordinary time like no other. So many people are facing a tough Christmas after a tough year. In the midst of all these difficulties the Christian message of this season is the ‘Advent Hope’. In Jesus Christ coming into the world poor and vulnerable we have an assurance that he is with us and understands us. So even with the lockdown - the candles of faith are lit which assures us we can have a hope that doesn’t disappoint us
Yours in faith and love
Revd Steve Wild
A Reflection by Archbishop Justin Welby
A light amidst the difficulties of this year has been the way people have cared for each other with generosity and courage. Cynicism about community has often been overwhelmed by love for neighbour. It has been stressful and anxious, but we have not shut ourselves off from each other. There have been countless wonderful acts of kindness and care, often sacrificial ones. We’ve seen these acts of goodness in health and in care, we’ve seen them in the community and in our neighbourhoods. Most often they have come not from power or position but from love and vulnerability. That’s exactly the sort of love that we celebrate at Christmas. Love that gets its hands dirty. Love that is open and generous. Love that, without great ceremony, makes a difference. May we find that love, God’s love in Jesus Christ, this Christmas. May we share that love, God’s love in us, this Christmas. And as we receive, and as we give, may we know the comfort and the joy that is God’s gift to us.
Is there a gift, not one bought from a shop or prettily wrapped, that we could give another person today and how might such a gift bring comfort and joy to someone this Christmas?
Do we know someone who has qualities generally attributed to an angel, such as goodness, purity, and selflessness, in other words, a kind and lovable person?
Maybe, a angel that represents this congregation …………….
Sermon - Advent Sunday Zoom service - 29th November 2020
This sermon was presented by the Rev`d Peter Knight, Rural Dean, during the Zoom Advent Sunday service on 29th November 2020.
Readings for the day: (29th November 2020): Genesis 3:1-3; Jeremiah 33:14-16; Zechariah 9:9-10; Mark 1:1-8 and John 1:1-5
Today is the first Sunday of Advent ("Advent Sunday"), which marks the beginning of a new year in the church's calendar. Last week we ended the old year with the great celebration known as "Christ the King", which looks forward to the time when Jesus will return with power and in great glory.
The Gospel readings for the last three Sundays have consisted of three consecutive parables (one for each week) from Matthew 25, all about the end times and when Jesus will return - and they include the message that we need to be ready for when that happens.
Today we are at the beginning of a new year, but the message has not changed much, because we start the year by looking forward....... to the coming of the King.
Advent is about "coming". It's my favourite season in the Church's calendar, but sadly we have all but lost the season because it is squeezed out by the world's desire to rush straight on to Christmas and miss out the preparation time.
Advent is a season of anticipation, of preparation, of watching and waiting and praying, and a time of growing excitement. And all this is mixed with the Lenten discipline of self-examination and penitence. In short, it is a time of preparing our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ.
The world is busy preparing houses, high streets and online for the festive celebrations. And if they think about the meaning of it at all, they will probably be thinking about Jesus' coming, as a baby, in Bethlehem. But much of the focus on Advent is actually about Jesus' second coming at the end of time - an event for which we need to be constantly prepared in heart and in mind.
The Bible readings today capture something of the sense of anticipation, expectation and waiting for the fulfilment of God's promises. We had two readings from the Prophets (Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Zechariah 9:9-10). Jeremiah was around during the period leading up to and after the time when God's people were taken into exile in Babylon. Zechariah was a bit later - he was around at the end of the exile, when the people returned to their land, and he is particularly concerned with the rebuilding of the temple.
The exile was a terrible time in the Old Testament history, when the people were taken away from their land and their city, and the city and the temple were destroyed. All they thought they knew about God and about being God's people was shattered. And into this situation the prophets brought a message of hope and restoration, of a time when, as promised by God, a descendent of the famous king David would rule with justice and righteousness.
We see the coming of Jesus as the fulfilment of those promises and prophecies. But as we listen to the prophets it is obvious that the fulfilment is not just about a particular person coming at a particular time and place (although that is part of it). The prophets also looked to a future time, when there will be peace between the nations and God's restored kingdom will extend to the ends of the earth. In other words, these prophecies are fulfilled both in the coming of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem, and when He will come again as King of kings and Prince of Peace - but at that time He will also be coming in Judgment.
Mark 1 introduces us to Jesus with these words: "The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah the Son of God". It's a powerful statement and acts like a heading or a title for the whole book. We call it the Gospel of Mark, but it is not about Mark, of course. It is, rather, Good News about Jesus Christ, and in the rest of the book Mark unpacks this statement that Jesus is both the Christ, the anointed one, the one promised by God and long-expected, whilst also being the Son of God.
Mark starts by looking back to the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Malachi who were amongst those who had foretold the coming of the Messiah. Looking back in order to look forward to what is to come - the coming of the One long-promised by God, the Messiah, Jesus Himself.
So we are introduced to John the Baptist, the messenger and forerunner, the one who was to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus. The way that John lives reminds people of Elijah, one of the greatest of the Old testament prophets, who was expected to return before the Messiah came. So there is a lot of looking back in order to look forward to Jesus' coming and all that would follow from that.
But the story of Jesus doesn't begin with the gospel accounts we have in the New Testament. It doesn't even begin with the prophets who foretold His coming. It begins at the very beginning - Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning God created...…". John 1:1 (which also begins with the words "In the beginning") describes how all things were made through Jesus.
In Advent we don't only focus on the coming of our Lord Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem, but we also look forward to His coming again. This second coming is central - right up to the end of the Bible and right up to the end of time. Revelation 22:20, the penultimate verse of the whole bible has the words "Amen, come Lord Jesus".
So, Advent is a time of expectation, and rising anticipation. A time to watch and wait and prepare for His coming. During this time, pray that we may be prepared, individually for the coming of our Lord; pray that as a nation we may turn again to the Lord for healing and that we, together, may be prepared for his return; pray that the Peoples of the earth may be ready for His reign of Peace; and pray that we, the Church, the Body of Christ, may ready when He comes in power and great glory.
The Advent prayer which is said daily at Morning Prayer