URC Devotions

URC Daily Devotion Sunday 20th December 2020

Sun, 20/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday 20th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 20th December - Gabriel’s Message

This simple Basque carol tells the story of the Annunciation.

St Luke 1 26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 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 will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 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

Gabriel’s Message
Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

This can be heard here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GF2BzUDeTkY

1. 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 favored lady," Gloria!

2. "For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold
Most highly favored lady," Gloria!

3. 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 favored lady. Gloria!

4. Of her, Emanuel, the Christ was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:1
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!


Reflection

“Whose child is this?”  I imagine Mary faced that question a few times in the weeks and months after her encounter with Gabriel.

“Whose child is this?” There were plenty of options for her answer. Should she say Joseph’s? That’s what most people would assume, then they could just hurry forward the wedding and no-one would be any the wiser.

If not son of Joseph, perhaps son of David? It’s what the angel had said, and it had a nice, royal ring to it. But what does it mean, to have the throne of his father David? This would be a peasant baby, born in a backwater town of a backwater country. The glory days of David were long gone. Sure, Mary was distantly related to David, but she wasn’t exactly next in line for the throne. So why would this child be son of David?

Then there’s Son of God. What was that all about?

“Whose child is this?” Three answers. Son of Joseph, in his present situation. Son of David, in his past heritage. Son of God, in his future ministry.

We also have three answers to the question “Whose child am I?” We can look at our present situation and see what makes us the way we are. Our childhood, education, job, friends and happy or unhappy fortune all shape how we are. Some will be our own doing, others down to chance.

We are also children of our history. Much of what I think and do is determined by what my culture thinks and does. It is worthwhile attempting to step back every once in a while to check my assumptions and unspoken beliefs, and whether I am happy with that legacy.

Most importantly, we are children of God, by that same Holy Spirit adopted into his family and called to pray “Our Father …”

Prayer

Gracious Lord,
You sent your son from heaven to earth,
that we on earth might be children of heaven.
Give us grace to live as daughters and sons
of you, our heavenly father
and to do your will on earth
as in heaven.
Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

Fay Rowland, graduate researcher Wesley House, Cambridge, member Christ the King, Kettering Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Saturday 19th December 2020

Sat, 19/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Saturday 19th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 19th December - Once in Royal David’s City

St Luke 2: 1 - 7

Many contemporary Christians find the lines in today’s carol about Christ leading his children on to heaven rather difficult, yet when this carol was written infant mortality was extremely high and the bereaved would find comfort in the notion that their children were with the Lord in Heaven.  

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Once in Royal David’s City
Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)

This can be heard here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT3cfXd3Shk


Once in royal David's city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little child.

2 He came down to earth from heaven
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall:
with the poor, and mean, and lowly,
lived on earth our Saviour holy.

3 And thro' all his wondrous childhood
he would honor and obey,
love and watch the lowly maiden
in whose gentle arms he lay:
Christian children all must be
mild, obedient, good as he.

4 And our eyes at last shall see him,
thro' his own redeeming love;
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heav'n above:
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

5 Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing by,
we shall see him, but in heaven,
set at God's right hand on high;
when like stars his children crowned
all in white shall wait around.

Reflection

The passage starts with a decree from the ruler.  We are now used to various decrees from our leaders as they deal with an unprecedented situation.  We all know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was a long 90-mile journey from Nazareth and must have been difficult for Mary at her stage of pregnancy.  Bethlehem was David’s city and it reminds us of many scriptures including this promise in Psalm 89 “I have sworn to David my servant, ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations’.”  During this current time when we are learning to live with a new-normal it is good to remember that Jesus is with us through these strange times.  We know that Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn.  We need to be sure that we have room for Jesus in our lives.  Joseph probably walked to Bethlehem while Mary rode the donkey.  We are Walking the Way – Living the life of Jesus today and we can celebrate having Jesus in our lives today and every day.

The words of the carol are familiar and meaningful.  The second verse reminds us where Jesus came from and why he came.  There has been a lot written this year about the possibility of “saving Christmas” but that is the wrong way round.  Jesus came at Christmas to save us, or as the hymn says, “lived on earth our Saviour holy”.  As we celebrate Christmas, we remember the reason that Jesus came, he came to lead us to be with Him and His Father is heaven.  We look forward to Christmas and the New Year and the one certainty that we have is that Jesus will still be with us.  Verse 4 of the hymn reminds us that one day we will join Him and see him is heaven.

Prayer

Almighty God,
We ask that you help us feel the presence of Jesus with us as we approach Christmas.  
Show us that He is here and remind us that He will never leave us.  
Help us to share the good news of Christmas with people 
who do not yet understand what it really means.
In Jesus name we pray
Amen 
 
-->

Today's writer

John Collings, Lay Preacher, Rutherglen URC Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Friday 18th December 2020

Fri, 18/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Friday 18th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 18th December Veni, Veni Emmanuel

St Luke 21: 20-28

‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.  Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it;  for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfilment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. ‘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.’

Veni Veni Emmanuel can be heard here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRi1GDoaQu4

Reflection

Those who like preaching from this passage are probably a little odd!  Apocalyptic passages like this disturb us and are a far cry from the normal Advent and Christmas messages of peace and goodwill.  Yet Jesus knew how to read what Pope John Paul II called “the signs of the times.”  In the passage he warns his hearers to flee the terrible judgement the Romans would bring when they ended any semblance of a Jewish state.  

As we read the signs of our own time we can see, again, the need for the Lord to come.  We listen again to the haunting words of the great Advent hymn, today in Latin yesterday in English, and recognise the longing for our world to change.  2020 has been a tumultuous year; we’ve been struck low by a pandemic which has had a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.  Wars continue whilst the world looks away; despots cling to power like alcoholics to bottles and, here in the UK the press teaches us to treat refugees as dangerous whilst it struggles to portray a government it wants to support as anything approaching competent.  

In the midst of this gloom we long for Christ to come again.  We remind ourselves of the stories of his birth, born into poverty and exile, wrapped in a woman’s blood, needy and naked for our sake and find hope.  That baby grew up and taught us how to live.  The values of the baby of Bethlehem are needed again in our world and, whilst we long for him to return, we have to face up to the fact that, in the meantime, it’s our job to proclaim His values and offer His hope to the world.

Prayer

Lord Jesus,

as we prepare to celebrate your coming amongst us,
remind us that it’s up to us,
until you come again,
to do your work in this world.
Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston minister with four churches in and around Glasgow.
 
Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Thursday 17th December 2020

Thu, 17/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Thursday 17th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 17th December - O Come O Come Emmanuel

In looking forward to Jesus’ coming again we also look back to the ancient prophecies of His coming.  Monastic communities would sing different prophecies of Jesus’ coming each day between now and Christmas eve.  These have been made popular in today’s haunting Advent carol.

Isaiah 7:4; 11:10; 22:22  

And say to him, Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smouldering stumps of firebrands, because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah…

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…

I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.

Malachi 4:2

But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.


O Come O Come Emmanuel
18th Century based on the ancient Advent Antiphons

You can hear Enya’s striking version here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPHh3nMMu-I

O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

2 O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. 

3 O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. 

4 O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o'er the grave. 

5 O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death's abode. 

6 O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. 

7 O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. 

Reflection

Advent is  full of hope and longing mixed with preparation and penitence. In some ways, it mirrors Lent, as we strive to ready ourselves, as disciples, for the coming of God amongst us. This necessarily involves a consciousness of how far we still have to go on our discipleship journeys. The hope and the longing are, therefore, both for what the world can be and for what each of us can be.

The first part of the book of Isaiah was written in the lead up to the fall of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of many of its people. It, too, is an intriguing mixture of judgement, hope and longing for ‘the day when [God will] act’ (Malachi 4.3). It’s no wonder, therefore, that the traditional Vespers’ liturgy for the period from 17th to 23rd December incorporates the seven ‘Os’. These are seven antiphons addressed to seven names for Christ, which have been mined from the prophecies of Isaiah, to express our longing and our hopes.

Nor is it surprising that these have been amalgamated into the great advent hymn ‘O come, O come, Immanuel. This voices our hopes and longings for God to come amongst us and for the day of the Lord to come. We who sing it, know that God has already come amongst us, is with us now day by day, and yet, as we wait to celebrate Christ’s birth once again, we still long for the day of the Lord. For God’s kingdom has yet to come in all its fulness.
The depth of our longing is no less great than that of our ancestors. Our hope is no less great. But we have learned that God works with us and through us. We are called not simply to long or to hope but also to strive for God’s kingdom to come here and now in all its glory.
 
Prayer

God with us,
May we catch the vision of your kingdom once again this Advent.
May we catch too the zeal and the love that led you to come amongst us
That we may be your instruments in striving for fulness of life for each of us and for all of us
Thanks be to God.
Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Jacky Embrey is a minister in the Bolton and Salford Missional Partnership Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sunday's Coming

Wed, 16/12/2020 - 15:45
96 Sunday's Coming View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday's Coming

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, Advent 4, is the final Sunday in Advent. As you might expect, we'll be looking at the expectation and coming of Christ on Christmas Day. The service is titled 'Come thou long expected Jesus'. You can expect to hear a beautifully crafted rendition of this Wesley hymn from Revds. Phil & Lythan Nevard. Also in the service are O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Of the Father's Love Begotten, Into the Darkness of thie world, finishing with the timeless classic, Isaac Watts' Joy to the World.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every blessing,

Dan

Dan Morrell
Tech Support, Daily Devotions from the URC -->

If you have a problem...

  Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

Finally, a reminder if you need to change your email address please use the link, below, "update your preferences".   
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 16th December 2020

Wed, 16/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 16th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 16th December - Adam Lay Y Bounden

This carol, again more often sung by choirs than congregations, dates, we think, to the 15th Century and tells the story of the Fall.

Genesis 3: 1-8

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;  but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.”’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die;  for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.


Adam lay y bounden
Traditional

You can hear this carol here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORTbT-MYLHk


Adam lay ybounden,
   Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter
   Thought he not too long.
And all was for an apple,
   An apple that he took,
As clerkës finden written
   In their book.
Nor had one apple taken been,
   The apple taken been,
Then had never Our Lady
  A-been heaven's queen.
Blessed be the time
   That apple taken was.
Therefore we may singen
   Deo gratias!

Reflection

Following on from yesterday’s reflection on salvation history we turn to the story of the Fall near the start of that history and how the 15th Century hymn Adam Lay y bounden deals with it in relationship to the saving work of Jesus Christ.  One can see why but the rather unhelpful “and all was for an apple” rather reduces the story to its bare bones rather than the truth it was trying to convey.  

The Adam and Eve story was designed to explain how humanity, the summit of God’s creation, came to live in moral squalor.  When the story was first told, war, violence, poverty, jealousy and all the petty foibles of our race were clear.  How could this have happened?  The rabbis of old told the story of human free will leading to our condition.  Christian theologians later then used the story to teach that it isn’t just our own free will that leads to sin but that humanity itself is flawed due to the original sin of our progenitors.  

Many contemporary Christians find the explanation for our flaws as being due to Adam and Eve’s sins rather simplistic but the truth behind the story that we are marvellous yet broken, glorious yet flawed, wonderfully and fearfully made yet fallen all too clear.

The anonymous author of the carol, as a good medieval Christian gives thanks for the Fall as that led to  Mary becoming Queen of Heaven having Jesus’ mother.  Not many URC folk would describe Mary in quite that way nor, seek to give thanks for the Fall!  The beauty of the music and the simplicity of the words, however,  reminds us of how stories, like that of the Fall, remain rich sources of theology and draw people into the life of God’s own self.

Come O God and free your people,
who lay bound in the squalor of sin.,
Free us from 
our inhumanity, 
our callousness,
and, our indifference.
Come, O God, unbind us,
that we may see the restoration of your creation,
crowned with your love
after long dark winter of sin.
Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston serves with four churches in and around Glasgow. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 15th December 2020

Tue, 15/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 15th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 15th December - This is the Truth Sent From Above

The origins of this carol are unknown but it tells the history of salvation in verse form.  It’s more often sung by choirs than congregations.

Genesis 2:7, 15-18, 21-25

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being….

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’...

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

‘This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
    for out of Man this one was taken.’

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

This is the Truth Sent from Above
Traditional

You can hear this carol here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M_8vjqWYmM

This is the truth sent from above,
The truth of God, the God of love;
Therefore don’t turn me from your door,
But hearken all, both rich and poor.

2. The first thing, which I do relate,
That God at first did man create
The next thing, which to you I tell,
Woman was made with him to dwell.

3. Then after this, ‘twas God’s own choice
To place them both in Paradise,
There to remain from evil free
Except they ate of such a tree.

4. But they did eat, which was a sin,
And thus their ruin did begin;
Ruined themselves, both you and me,
And all of their posterity.

5. Thus we were heirs to endless woes,
Till God the Lord did interpose
For so a promise soon did run
That He’d redeem us with a Son.

Reflection

At some stage in my theological and vocational formation, I recall someone suggesting that the entirety of salvation history should be represented in the prayer of thanksgiving whenever the Church celebrates the sacraments of Baptism or of Holy Communion.  

Many published prayers do exactly that, which is why at a Baptism or Communion service the person presiding might refer to the beginnings of creation, to Adam and Eve or Noah, to the covenant with Abraham and Sarah, to the prophets ending with John the Baptist.  The story often culminates in the birth of Jesus, his life and ministry, death, resurrection and ascension and then shifts again to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  These themes are echoed in a traditional progression through Advent with the lectionary readings on each successive week including these themes ending with one of the annunciation stories to Mary or Joseph on the Sunday before Christmas Day.  There is a sense in which the whole of Advent is one long Great Prayer of Thanksgiving that comes to a crescendo in the birth narratives of the gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the Prologue of the Gospel of John.  

This reading from Genesis, an example of myth being used to communicate a truth, and this carol spark the story of salvation into being.  There is a sense in which Advent is about judgement and death, heaven and hell, and it is a season in which we remember while creation and humanity as a part of it started perfect it did not remain that way.  We know that the world is broken.  If we are honest we acknowledge our own brokenness and our tendencies to ruin ourselves and that which is good.  

As we remember how God has been active in creation and continues to be so, we both remember and look forward to the coming of the Christ; the incarnation of the One who will make us, and all things, new.  

Prayer 

We offer you thanks....
From the beginning you have made yourself known...
Yet from our first days we have disobeyed your will.
Long ago you called to yourself a people
to shine as light to guide all nations to your presence.
You led them to freedom;
you revealed to them your Law
and taught them through your prophets.
Finally you sent your promised Son, Jesus Christ,
who shared our human nature and understood our weakness...

[from, ‘First Order of Holy Communion’ in Worship from The United Reformed Church, London, The United Reformed Church (2003) p. 9] -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Sarah Moore serves as Transition Champion for the National Synod of Scotland. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Monday 14th December 2020

Mon, 14/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Monday 14th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 14th December - Of the Father’s Heart Begotten

This ancient hymn was adopted by the Spanish Church in the 9th Century to be used on 1st January when Jesus’ circumcision was marked.  The tune comes from the 16th Century and we contrast Matthew’s genealogy with the idea that Jesus was lineage is heavenly.

St Mathew 1: 1-17

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram,  and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,  and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,  and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,  and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos[f] the father of Josiah,  and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Of The Father’s Love Begotten
Aurelius Clemens Prudentius  Tr J M Neale

You can hear the hymn here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-8pRqfl0kg

Of the Father's love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the Source, the Ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore!

2 O that birth forever blessed,
when the Virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bore the Savior of our race;
and the babe, the world's Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

3 This is he whom heav'n-taught singers
sang of old with one accord,
whom the Scriptures of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long expected;
let creation praise its Lord, 
evermore and evermore!

4 O ye heights of heav'n, adore him;
angel hosts, his praises sing:
all dominions, bow before him
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
ev'ry voice in concert ring, 
evermore and evermore!


5 Christ, to thee, with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and unwearied praises be,
honor, glory, and dominion
and eternal victory,
evermore and evermore!

Reflection

Whenever I find myself at the Communion Table, leading God’s people in the sacrament of Holy Communion, I am always in awe. There is a mystery about what we do, grounded in the history of what happened at that first Communion. The look into history, shared by those with us, helps us to look towards the future. Past, present, and yet to come are each combined in the story of bread broken and wine outpoured. 

For some years I resented the possibility that I might become known in any way as a Church historian. History is made up of not only the large narrative of what happened and when, but the detailed minutiae that fill the story.  For Church history, this is a 2000 year story of schism and conflict, of dynasties, doctrines and dissolution. History points to the Church of the past, and would mean nothing for the Church of the future. 

Yet as I’ve found myself reading and writing Church history I’ve become more closely connected to the heritage of our faith, the story of our present, and the challenge and hope for the future. I’ve found history makes us who we are and that really does inform where we may seek to travel. 

When we gather at Communion we remember the past: the action of God in creation; the voice of those who cried out prophetic word; and the story that led to the incarnation, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. We look back. And yet we also meet around a table, in Communion, and in hope for the future. 

Of the Father’s love begotten speaks of past, present and to come – the history of Christ, the present of Christ, and the future of Christ. It is a Eucharistic prayer which can guide us into knowledge of God and into closer communion with each other. When it’s sung, it tells the story, invites us in, and sends us out: ‘evermore and evermore’.  

Prayer

Of love begotten, not made, 
your incarnate Word lived our lives, 
shared our world, 
broke bread, 
turned tables, 
held hands. 
Help us to see your past is our story, 
our present is your table, 
our future years are your evermore, 
and evermore shall we know ourselves to be your people. Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett, Chaplaincy Coordinator, Newcastle University Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship - 13th December

Sun, 13/12/2020 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship - 13th December View this email in your browser

Sunday Service from the URC

-->
worship for challenging times
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Order of Service

Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
 
to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service.
URC Daily Devotions Worship for 13th December 2020

 
Advent 3 – The Two Comings
 
Opening Music
 
And Who May Abide the Day of His Coming (Messiah)
 
But who may abide the Day of His coming?
And who shall stand when He appeareth?
Who shall stand when he appeareth?
But who may abide, but who may abide
the Day of His coming?
And who shall stand when he appeareth?
And who shall stand when He appeareth?
When He appeareth?
 
For He is like a refiner's fire….
 
Introduction
 
Hello and welcome again to this Daily Devotion service.  Our special services for Advent pick up the great themes of the season and today we look back and we look forward.  We remember Jesus, born into poverty and exile, wrapped in a woman’s blood and laid in a feeding trough for cattle.
 
…but we also look forward to the Christ who shall come again in glory.  We listen again to the words of Scripture that speak of God’s promise, of the Word made flesh and we recall the voice crying in the wilderness praying the way of the Lord.  We come to hear God speak to us, so open your ears and your eyes, your minds and your hearts and pray that God will fill your souls with the living presence of Jesus Christ.  
 
Call to Worship
 
We wait for the Lord and in His word we hope.
We wait for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning
 
This is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
O people, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love.
and with God is plenteous redemption.
 
There is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
Glory be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
There is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
Come let us worship
 
Hymn       The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came 
Basque Carol, translated by Sabine Sbaring-Gould
 
1 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," Gloria!
 
2 "For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold
Most highly favoured lady," Gloria!
 
3 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. Gloria!
 
4 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," Gloria!
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Forgiveness
 
Lord,
 
We come together for prayer, praise and worship today,
Away from the growing crescendo of the world at this time of advent
Away from the sparkling lights and festive celebrations
To the peace and fellowship we find when we come together to praise you.
 
Lord, bring us back to the time of your son’s arrival, 
Away from the expectations of our world today,
Forgive us when we forget the message you delivered during the birth of Christ Jesus
Still our minds and bring our hearts back to your word.
 
Grant us understanding when we hear about the annunciation, 
Place us in Mary’s shoes and allow the comprehension of her situation,
There may have been times when we have judged or gossiped about others
Forgive our pettiness and grant us compassion and empathy.
 
There are times when we have doubt and anger against those we love, we want to run away from it all,
From the harsh words of others, from the misunderstanding stares.
Give us the strength and understanding to be there for each other
Even in our darkest of times, allow us the gracious understanding of Joseph.
 
Forgive the sharp words we use, the preconceived notions we attached,
Before we have even taken the time to listen or understand others.
Help us to be more like Elizabeth, joyous and happy with the great news from Mary,
Give us the grace to see the good in others, to share in their happiness and their sorrow.
 
At times we are swift to judge and slow to act.
Leaving things that we could do today till tomorrow.
Like Matthew, help us Lord, to change our ways today, rather than talking, preaching and praying, 
we should show our compassion in our interactions with all those we meet in the world from today onwards.
 
Lead us Lord in the way of your son, as we join together now in the words he taught us, saying:
Our Father, Who art in heaven……
 
Amen
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
God, 
We come today with our head and hearts open to your words and wisdom
Allow us to hear your voice and understand the message you are giving
 
Amen 
 
St Luke 1: 26-38
 
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’  But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  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. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’  Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’  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 will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 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.

 Meditation of Mary
 
Why me?
That’s what I kept on asking myself.
Why me?
I mean, it was obvious what people were going to say, wasn’t it?
The sly looks,
the knowing grins,
the wagging tongues.
And Joseph?
Well, he really hit the roof.
Furious he was, and who can blame him?
If we’d been married it would have been different,
but engaged – it was bound to cause a scandal.
And it hurt, more than anyone will know;
I never realised people could be so cruel.
I didn’t even want a baby, that’s what made it worse;
it was the last thing on my mind.
I was still young,
not ready for that kind of responsibility,
wanting to enjoy life a little.
I could have done without those sleepless nights,
the endless washing,
the countless extra demands.
And believe me, it didn’t get any easier.
Well, it never does, does it?
I’ll never forget how he disappeared like that
on the way back from Jerusalem –
a right old panic he had us in.
But was he sorry?
Well, if he was he had a funny way of showing it.
‘You should have known where to find me,’ he said –
‘My Father’s house, where else?’
Cheeky monkey!
And then, just when life was plodding along nicely,
back on an even keel,
he went swanning off into the wilderness to be baptised.
Oh, I know he had to make his own way, don’t get me wrong,
but I couldn’t help feeling
he was getting mixed up in something dangerous.
 
And so it proved.
we could all see it coming,
all except him apparently.
He said the wrong things
to the wrong people
in the wrong places,
and there could only be one result.
It nearly broke my heart to watch it –
my beautiful boy, broken and bleeding,
struggling with that cross,
hanging in agony.
But then he looked down,
not at the rest of them
but at me.
And in his eyes was such love,
such care,
such tenderness!
I saw suddenly the eyes of God looking at me
through the eyes of my child,
and I asked myself then,
as I’d asked so many times before,
yet differently this time,
so very differently:
Why me?
Why me?

Hymn       Meekness and Majesty 
                Graham Kendrick
 
Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity
in perfect harmony the Man who is God;
Lord of eternity dwells in humanity
kneels in humility and washes our feet.
 
O what a mystery, meekness and majesty.
Bow down and worship for this is your God.
This is your God
 
2: Father's pure radiance perfect in innocence
yet learns obedience to death on a cross.
Suffering to give us life conquering through sacrifice
and as they crucify  prays “Father forgive.”
 
3: Wisdom unsearchable, God the invisible;
love indestructible in frailty appears.
Lord of infinity, stooping so tenderly,
lifts our humanity to the heights of His throne.
 
St Matthew 1: 18-19
 
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
 
The Meditation of Joseph.
 
I didn’t know what to think,
    Not when she first told me –
    My sweet, innocent Mary, pregnant!
I suppose I should’ve been angry,
    And I was later,
    Extremely!
But that wasn’t my first reaction;
    It was shock, more like,
    Disbelief,
    An inability to take it in.
You see, I couldn’t just see her playing around,
    deceiving me behind my back – 
    not Mary.
Other girls perhaps,
    But she wasn’t like them;
    I’d have trusted her with my life if necessary.
So when she started chattering on about this angel,
    About being with child by the Holy Spirit,
    Do you know what,
    I listened!
No, honestly, I did!
Maybe that sounds daft,
    But I couldn’t just believe she was making it all up,
    Inventing an excuse to get her off the hook.
And, let’s face it, if it were an excuse it was a pretty lame one;
    I mean, when’s the last time you saw an angel?
Precisely.
But if I took it calmly at first,
    It wasn’t long before the doubts set in,
the questions that couldn’t be answered,
the niggling voices that wouldn’t go away.
And in no time suspicion had grown into something worse – 
    Resentment,
    Bitterness,
    Condemnation.
I’d have called off the engagement,
    there’s no doubt about that;
    much as I liked the girl,
there was simply no way a man in my position
could countenance going through with it,
not if I wanted to keep any semblance of respectability.
She was tarnished, according to law anyway,
    her purity soiled;
    and if I took no notice
    the village gossips would soon put their heads together
    and decide I had done the tarnishing – 
    too impatient to wait until the goods had been paid for.
So that was it.
My mind was made up.
It was just a question of finding the right words at the right time,
    Breaking it as gently as I could.
Only then I had a dream,
    almost a vision you might say it was, looking back,
    so powerfully did it speak to me.
Suddenly it was me seeing angels, not Mary,
    it was me hearing the voice of God instead of her;
    and it was the same message,
    the same story – 
    the child she carried,
    born of God,
his gift to humankind,
the one who would redeem his people.
Did I believe it?
Well, I suppose I must have done, in a way.
I married her after all,
    despite the snide remarks,
    the wagging tongues.
Maybe, of course, I wanted to marry her anyway,
    or just didn’t want to hurt her.
Maybe I simply liked the thought of being a dad,
    and wanted to believe that story of hers,
    incredible though it seemed.
To be truthful
    there were probably all kinds of reasons behind my decision;
    yet perhaps it’s through such things as those,
    our everyday thoughts and feelings,
    just as much through dreams and visions,
    that God chooses to speak to us.
Perhaps through these most of all.
 
Hymn       Earth Was Waiting, Spent and Restless
Walter C. Smith 1824 - 1908
 
Earth was waiting, spent and restless,
with a mingled hope and fear,
faithful men and women praying,
'Surely, Lord, the day is near:
the Desire of all the nations —
it is time he should appear!'
 
2 Then the Spirit of the Highest
to a virgin meek came down,
and he burdened her with blessing,
and he pained her with renown;
for she bore the Lord's anointed
for his cross and for his crown.
 
3 Earth has groaned and laboured for him
since the ages first began,
for in him was hid the secret
which through all the ages ran —
Son of Mary, Son of David,
Son of God, and Son of Man.
 
St Luke 1: 39-43
 
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,  where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit  and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
 
Meditation of Elizabeth 
 
My baby jumped for joy, I swear it!
Oh I know you often feel them kicking,
and you may well say it was only shuffling about in the womb,
but this was different, I'm positive.
It was the first time I’d ever felt it move for a start,
a wild lurch as Mary approached,
almost as if it knew even then
she was carrying the child who would shape its life.
Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous,
and I wouldn't have given it another thought myself –
I'm not usually given to romanticising.
But you see, when I saw Mary coming,
I knew something special had happened,
something quite out of the ordinary.
I realised she was pregnant for one thing,
but then we women do spot those things, don't we?
Not that it was showing yet, mind you,
but it was there in her eyes,
in her expression,
in the spring in her step,
just as it had been in mine a few months earlier.
I knew,
and I ran to embrace her,
sharing her joy.
Yet there was more to it than that,
I could feel it in my bones even before she began to speak.
I could sense that her child would be different,
not just from mine but from every child,
born to set us free,
the fulfilment of our hopes,
the answer to our prayers.
You think that's over the top?
Well, I may have over-reacted, I accept that,
let my imagination rim away with me.
I'd been a bit on edge, it's true,
ever since that queer business with Zechariah –
that day before I conceived when he came back from the temple, eyes staring,
shaking his head in disbelief,
unable to say a word until after John was born.
It got me down, I don't mind admitting it,
and yes, perhaps I was a little overwrought,
perhaps just plain excited.
But I still say it,
despite what anyone may think —
my child leaped in my womb,
positively jumped for joy!
 
Hymn       Hark the Glad Sound the Saviour Comes
Philip Doddridge, 1735
 
Hark, the glad sound! The Saviour comes, 
the Saviour promised long! 
Let ev'ry heart prepare a throne, 
and ev'ry voice a song.
 
2 He comes the captives to release, 
in Satan’s prison held; 
the gates of brass before Him burst, 
the iron fetters yield.
 
3 He comes the broken heart to bind, 
the bleeding soul to cure, 
and with the treasures of His grace, 
t'enrich the humbled poor.
 
4 Our glad Hosannas, Prince of Peace, 
Thy welcome shall proclaim;
and heav'n’s eternal arches ring, 
with Thy beloved Name.

St John 19: 25-27
 
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
 
19 Meditation of Matthew
 
He would come again,
that as he had departed so he would return.
And we believed him,
totally,
without reserve or hesitation.
It was what kept us going, that promise,
    the one thing that gave us strength to battle on through thick and thin.
Yet sometimes,
    just occasionally,
    I catch myself wondering whether we should look forward;
    whether it will all be so cosy,
    so comfortable,
    as we sometimes seem to imagine.
You see, I can’t help remembering those words of his,
about the sheep and the goats,
about the final judgement - 
so simple,
so straightforward,
yet so chilling in their implications:
“I was hungry, and you fed me,
thirsty, and you gave me a drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked, sick, imprisoned, and you were there to help.”
That’s what he said -
    through serving these,
    even the very least of them,
    you serve me.
It sounds good, doesn’t it?
The sort of message we like to hear.
Yet sometimes those words disturb me,
    for I can’t help asking, “Which am I?”
Oh, I know which I’d like to be, stands to reason!
And I know which I should be, all too well.
But if I’m honest,
really truthful with myself,
    I fear I’m more often a goat than a sheep.
I saw the plight of the hungry,
    but it was me I worried about feeding.
I heard the cry of the thirsty,
    but it was my own need I satisfied.
I spotted the loneliness of the stranger,
    but wasn’t sure I could trust them.
I was told about the naked,
    but it was I who got the new clothes.
I glimpsed the despair of the sick,
    but was afraid to risk infection.
I knew some were denied their freedom,
    but was reluctant to get involved.
Not now I told them;
    next time I’ll do something,
    next time I’ll help - 
    God will understand.
But will he, that’s the question?
I’ve been good at talking,
    good at preaching,
    good at praying,
    and in faithfulness at worship I have few peers.
Yet when I recall those words of Jesus
    and measure them against his life,
    sometimes I find myself almost hoping he doesn’t come back,
    for if he does and judgment comes,
    even though I’ve called him Lord,
    it maybe me at whom he points the finger,
    and me he says he never even knew.
 
Affirmation of Faith
 
It is not true that creation and the human family
are doomed to destruction and loss—
 
This is true:
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;
 
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
 
This is true:
I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
 
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
 
This is true:
Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
 
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
 
This is true:
To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.
 
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
 
This is true:
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions
and your old men shall have dreams.
 
It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind,
of justice, of human dignity, of peace
are not meant for this earth and for this history—
 
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now,
that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.
 
Intercessions
 
Let us join together in our prayer for others, let us pray:
 
Lord
 
We offer our prayers for the world and the people we share your gracious creation with,
 
For those who are suffering in silence and for those crying out in the darkness.
May we no longer ignore their cries of pain, 
But yearn to offer our shoulders to share their burdens
 
We pray for those who have experienced the harsh words of others, 
The doubting stares and snippy remarks of people that don’t really know them.
Help us to understand their hardships and show our care for their pain
 
We hold in our hearts those who are feeling confused, or misunderstood, 
Who feel like they have nowhere to turn and no one to listen to them
Allow us to offer our ears with kindness and compassion.
 
We pray for the lost, those who can find no love or compassion for their situation, 
Let us offer your words of care and understanding, sharing your scriptures of praise and wonder, 
allowing them to find their own path to you.
 
For those who want to share their joy but don’t have anyone to talk too,
Let us be the ones to see their smiles, to feel the sunshine of their happiness
And to be with them in their time of wonder and delight
 
Lord, in this time of quietness, we also pray for those closer to us who at this time
Are suffering and struggling, who crave an understanding ear and open heart to listen
 
(time of silent contemplation)
 
Allow us Lord, to be there for those who are in need within our lives and communities at this time 
Making changes in our world today and not waiting for tomorrow.
 
In your name we pray, now and always
 
Amen
 
Offertory and Prayer
 
From the earliest days of the Jewish people it has been taught that we are blessed by God so that we may be a blessing to others.  God doesn’t bless us just for our own good but always so that we take our blessings, our gifts, our talents, our money and use them for His greater good so that we may be a source of blessing.  As the hymn puts it, From God’s great store new born worlds rise to adore, but these new born world, ideas, and people arise to bless through the blessing we pass on to them.  Will you pray with me?
 
God of blessing,
we thank you for your many gifts to us,
help us always to return to you some of what you give us,
that we may be a source of blessing to others,
Amen.
 
Hymn       Hills of the North Rejoice
Charles Oakley (altered)
 
Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Christ comes in righteousness and love
He salvation from above.
 
2: Isles of the southern seas,
sing to the listening earth,
carry on every breeze,
hope of a world’s new birth:
in Christ shall all be made anew
His word is sure, His promise true.
 
3: Lands of the East, arise,
He is your brightest morn;
greet Him with joyous eyes,
praise shall His path adorn.
The God whom you have longed to know,
in Christ draws near and calls you now.
 
4: Shores of the utmost West,
land of the setting sun,
welcome the heavenly guest,
in whom the dawn has come;
He brings a never ending light,
who triumphed o’er our darkest night.
 
5: Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
In Jesus all shall find their rest,
in Him the Universe be blest!
 
Blessing
 
Be people of joy.
Let joy live in your heart and share the joy of Christ with all you meet.
Share joy by seeing the good in each other.
Share joy by remembering good times and hoping for good times to come.
Share joy by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share joy.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share joy, peace, and hope with those you meet. Amen.
 
Closing Music
 
Believe- by Mumford and Sons
 
You may call it in this evening
But you've only lost the night
Present all your pretty feelings
May they comfort you tonight
And I'm climbing over something
And I'm running through these walls
I don't even know if I believe
I don't even know if I believe
I don't even know if I believe
Everything you're trying to say to me
I had the strangest feeling
Your world's not all it seems
So tired of misconceiving
What else this could've been
I don't even know if I believe
I don't even know if I believe
I don't even know if I believe
Everything you're trying to say to me
So open up my eyes
Tell me I'm alive
This is never gonna go our way
If I'm gonna have to guess what's on your mind
Say something, say something
Something like you love me
Less you want to move away
From the noise of this place
Well I don't even know if I believe
I don't even know if I believe
I don't even know if I wanna believe
Everything you're trying to say to me
So open up my eyes
Tell me I'm alive
This is never gonna go our way
If I'm gonna have to guess what's on your mind
So open up my eyes
Tell me I'm alive
This is never gonna go our way
If I'm gonna have to guess what's on your mind
 
References
Opening Music- And Who May Abide the Day of His Coming (Messiah)  Hilary Summers and the Brandenburg Consort.
Meditations by Nick Fawcett from his Reflective Services for Advent and Christmas (C) 2001 Nick Fawcett.  Published by Kevin Mayhew Ltd.
Call to worship- The Worship Resource Book
Affirmation of Faith- Daniel Berrigan, S.J. in Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, Orbis Books, 2004.
Closing Music- Believe by Mumford and Sons. Lyrics source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Benjamin Walter David Lovett / Edward James Milton Dwane / Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford / Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall
Believe lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
 
The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came- Basque Carol, translated by Sabine Baring-Gould. Performed by Kings College, Cambridge Choir.
Meekness and Majesty- Graham Kendrick. Taken from BBC’s Songs of Praise.
Earth was waiting spent at restless- Walter C Smith 1804 – 1908. Sung by Roberta Ritson, Northern Synod.
Hills of the North Rejoice- Charles Oakley (altd.). Taken from BBC’s Songs of Praise.
 
Thanks to
Marion Thomas, David Shimmin, Christine Shimmin Carol Tubbs, Alison Jiggins for reading the Call to Worship and Affirmation of Faith.
Alison Jiggins (again), Anne Hewling, Tina Wheeler, John Wilcox, Grace Mariott and Ray Fraser for other various spoken parts of the service.
--> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762

  Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Sunday 13th December 2020

Sun, 13/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday 13th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 13th December - Santa Lucia

St Lucy is the patron saint of the blind.  She lived in the 4th Century and used to visit Christians hiding in the dark of the catacombs.  She came from a rich family but refused to be married off.  Legend says she plucked out her own eyes to make herself unmarriageable!  In Scandanavian countries girls place candles in their hair and process, singing the hymn, below, to St Lucy.  It’s a festival of light looking forward to the birth of Jesus, the light of the world.

St Matthew 5: 14-16

Jesus said: ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.


Hark Through the Darksome Night

You can hear the tune here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5GrLY9mq9g

Hark! through the darksome night
Sounds come a-winging:
Lo! 'tis the Queen of Light
Joyfully singing.
Clad in her garment white,
Wearing her crown of light:
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!

Deep in the northern sky 
bright stars are beaming;
Christmas is drawing nigh, 
candles are gleaming.
Welcome thou vision rare, 
lights glowing in thy hair,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!

Darkness will soon take flight, 
from all the earth
These words she speaks to us, 
wonderful tidings
Daytime will come again, rise in a rosy sky
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia




Reflection

Particularly in Sweden, but across Nordic lands, processions of young girls (and boys) appear on 13 December, dressed in white robes with red sashes, wearing candles on their heads or bearing them in their hands. They sing one of the traditional St Lucia songs:

‘The night treads heavily around gardens and house, in places in reached by the sun; the shadows brood; into our dark homes she comes, bearing lighted candles, St Lucia, St Lucia’ (Natten går tunga fjät). Saffron buns (lussekatter) are shared, and consumed with coffee (or mulled wine, on a cold Nordic day). 

The tradition’s origins lie not in Scandinavia, but in a legend from further south. The story is of a young girl, Lucy of Syracuse, who,  in the Diocletianic persecution, is condemned to death and martyred for her Christian faith. It is said that the lit flame at the stake would not burn against her, and she was stabbed to death. 

In time, her story travelled north, carried by missionary monks/ priests, or traders, or even Vikings. And there it finds a home, a story of light in the darkness of a Nordic winter. Nowadays, this is perhaps less apparent in the well-lit, even light-polluted, streets of Stockholm. The power of light in darkness was much clearer to me on a mid-winter day/ night on Svalbard in the far north when the sun did not rise above the horizon. In the midst of such overwhelming darkness, the light comes.

The Lucy of St Lucia’s Day today wears the white robe of her baptism by martyrdom; the red sash proclaims her shedding of her blood for her faith; the candles (now often battery-powered) symbolise the Light of the world in Christ. NFS Grundtvig, the Danish priest and hymn writer, writes for the Advent season of ‘Christmas night when our Saviour was born, then light split the darkness and brought the morn’. The procession has attendant girls with candles, and ‘star’ boys, reminding us of the stars seen by the shepherds: ‘God’s angels bright, from heav’n’s high halls descending in wonderful sunshine-robes attired to earthly shadows bending’ (NFSG). 

Lucys were formerly elected or selected or a competitive prize. Now, in egalitarian Scandinavia, it is very often by random draw - so Lucy is no longer a figure apart,  but rather one of us. ‘You are [all] the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14).

Jesus bids us shine,
Then, for all around
Many kinds of darkness
In this world are found -
Sin, and want, and sorrow;
So we must shine ... (Warner, 1868)

A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr Jack Dyce is Emeritus Professor of Nordic Theology at the Scottish Congregational and United Reformed Church College in Glasgow and a member of Port Glasgow URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Saturday 12th December 2020

Sat, 12/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Saturday 12th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 12th December - The Lamb

William Blake plays with the image of Christ the Lamb in his children’s poem yet the image of Jesus as the Lamb of God, so often used in our Communion liturgies, is rather more sacrificial.

St John 1: 29-37

The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”  I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”  And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’  The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples,  and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

The Lamb
William Blake

You can hear this sung here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXc7p-Qt6K0

Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 
Gave thee life & bid thee feed. 
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice! 
         Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 

         Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
         Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb: 
He is meek & he is mild, 
He became a little child: 
I a child & thou a lamb, 
We are called by his name.
         Little Lamb God bless thee. 
         Little Lamb God bless thee.

Reflection

Blake’s “The Lamb” poem was published in his book “Songs of Innocence”. That collection was later combined with his “Songs of Experience” to form a joint publication – illustrated by Blake – “Songs of Innocence and Experience”.

The poems are pairs. “The Lamb” is not really meant to be read without also reading “The Tyger”. A child asks the cuddly lamb who lives in a nice green field, “little lamb, dost thou know who made thee?”  The poet asks the scary, wild, dangerous tiger who lives in the shadows of the forest, “what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

Essentially the same question. What kind of God could have created the cute and cuddly, nice, gentle, “innocent” things of life but also the wild, scary, untamed, dangerous things of our actual “experience”. Songs of Innocence and Experience.

John introduces Jesus as “the lamb of God”. Perhaps in their “innocence” the people imagined a God who had fashioned a salvation for them that would bring warm, fuzzy feelings of wooly tenderness; a gentle, meek, non-threatening salve for the ills of the world
– a lamb.

Maybe, being fanciful for a moment, John’s portrayal of John the Baptist is from the “Songs of Innocence”. Matthew’s portrayal is from the “Songs of Experience” – he speaks of axes wielded and tree roots chopped, unquenchable fire, winnowing forks and chaff – much more like the scary tyger.

Blake intended the truth to be in the whole rather than the part. The book of revelation pictures Jesus as the “Lion of Judah”, this would work better if it said “tiger of Judah” – but it’s close enough! Jesus is both lamb and tyger, both tame and wild, both winsome and terrifying, and absolutely real and present to us in gentle fields and dark forests. Thanks be to God.

Prayer

Lamb of God whose gentle spirit would not break the bruised reed;
Lamb of God who lovingly took the Gethsemane cup;
Lamb of God who forgave his torturers from a cruel cross;
have mercy on us.

Tyger of God who roamed the shadows of the desert;
Tyger of God who dazzled on the mount of transfiguration;
Tyger of God who roared at injustice and smashed temple tables;
have mercy on us.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Phil Nevard, Minister of Kingsteignton URC and Synod Odd Job man. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Friday 11th December 2020

Fri, 11/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Friday 11th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 11th December - Born in the Night

This is one of the few carols that is addressed to Jesus; the deceptive lullaby tune lulls us into a sense of nostalgia but the words remind us of the price Jesus paid for his ministry.

Isaiah 59: 20 - 60:5

And he will come to Zion as Redeemer,
    to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord.

And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and for ever....

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
    and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
    the wealth of the nations shall come to you.


Born in the Night
Geoffrey Ainger © 1964 Stainer & Bell

You can hear the song here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG6xfTtu9dc

Born in the night, Mary's Child,
a long way from your home;
coming in need, Mary's Child,
born in a borrowed room.

Clear shining light, Mary's Child,
your face lights up our way;
light of the world, Mary's Child,
dawn on our darkened day.

Truth of our life, Mary's Child,
you tell us God is good;
prove it is true, Mary's Child,
go to your cross of wood.

Hope of the world, Mary's Child,
you're coming soon to reign;
Savior of all, Mary's Child,
walk in our streets again.

Reflection

So they’ve discovered “campfires” on the sun. Not real campfires of course, but mini solar flares. Solar flares have been known about for 160 years, but these “campfires” were only seen recently when the UK-built Solar Orbiter satellite flew near the sun. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, the various instruments on board the satellite could not be commissioned in the usual high-tech control room but from peoples’ bedrooms –in the case of the UK principal investigator, his son’s nursery! Scientists have always had to improvise in their voyages of discovery in search of light and truth.

Understanding how these campfires work will give a much better understanding of how the sun works

The sun, for us, is vital. It is the light generated by the sun which allows life to exist as we know it on earth. It is the visible light which allows some of us to see our way around. It is light which drives photosynthesis generating plant life which liberates the oxygen we need. It is the warmth of the sunlight which makes conditions on earth conducive to life, even in the darkest night.

Little by little we begin to understand more and more of God’s creation.

It is no accident that we equate enlightenment with understanding. We talk of seeing the light when a puzzle is solved. We consider an enlightened attitude to be one free of prejudices where social justice is central.

Little by little we seek to understand the mind of Christ: to let his light shine in the dark.

We seek enlightenment through our reading and study of Scripture, in our prayer life and in our interactions with others. Yet we realise that there is so much more to understand. We might echo the words of Pastor John Robinson “The Lord hath yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word.” (Congregational Praise 230)

Prayer

Born in the night, coming in need,
help us discern the needs of your children
as we stumble through a benighted world.
Clear shining light of the world,
help us to bring enlightenment where there is ignorance,
dispelling darkness and exposing corruption.

Truth of our life, prove it is true, 
help us to speak truth to power that justice for all
is the true path to a dawn of peace.
Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon.  He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Thursday 10th December 2020

Thu, 10/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Thursday 10th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 10th December - People Look East

Eleanor Farjeon is best remembered for Morning has Broken.  She wrote this Advent carol based on a passage in Baruck (5:5-7) where the people were told to look to the East to see the people gathered in by the Lord.  A committed Christian, Farjeon used the carol to remind us to look to Christ who comes to redeem us.  


Isaiah 60: 1-5

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
    and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
    the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

People Look East
Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) © David Higham Assoc. Ltd.

You can hear the carol here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwel-dlLSAY

People, look east. The time is near 
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

Reflection

Hear the dramatic bass solo from Handel’s Messiah which uses this Isaiah text; and listen to the antiphon ‘O radiant dawn’ (based on Isaiah 9), set to music by James McMillan. Both capture a growing rapture at the dawning of the divine presence.

Eleanor Farjeon’s lovely carol illustrates Isaiah’s directions, urging us to ‘look east’, towards our faith’s beginnings, and of course the sun’s dawning. Thereafter, the natural world is encouraged to heed the epiphany that brings light, love and fruitfulness into being. Each stanza finishes with the invitation to the singer(s) to know that love, in all its myriad forms, is about to embrace us. The final stanza envisages God’s own messengers, the angels, delivering the joyous message of Christ’s advent.

For Isaiah, God’s advent brings with it the assurance of salvation for Israel. Here, there is no mention of war or the spoils of war. Rather, ‘the nations’, attracted by the splendour of God’s glory appearing, stream into Israel, and, along with her diaspora, enrich her beyond all measure. This prophetic vision is a peaceful, joyous one where adoration rather than might rules.

God appearing in radiant glory occurs a number of times in Isaiah, often in times of Israel’s distress. These visions are rooted in the belief that God will bring salvation to his people. Christians have set this reading from Isaiah 60 firmly in history, associating the divine epiphany with the coming of Christ. 
As we read Isaiah’s oracle during the season of Christmas, we are reminded that God’s promised salvation is for us too. In the coming of Christ, ‘Love, the Lord, is on the way’. The welcome we offer him, whatever our circumstances, allows hope and confidence to flood into our lives. May it ever be so.

Prayer

Gracious God,
come to our troubled world,
and into our anxious lives,
reminding us that the light of life
Jesus Christ is your gift to us.
In his coming, your unconditional love
for us is made known for all time.
May this dawn upon us time and again:
that being loved, and being loving
is the way you would have us be,
till the whole world unites in your praise.
Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d John A Young, retired minister National Synod of Scotland, member Giffnock URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sunday's Coming

Wed, 09/12/2020 - 15:45
96 Sunday's Coming View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday's Coming

Dear Friends,

Sunday's service, Advent 3, is once again coordinated by Andy Braunston and Lesley Thomson. It will be looking at "The Two Comings". Hymns this week include timeless classic carol The Angel Gabriel, Kendrick's Meekness and Majesty, a beautiful rendition by the URC's own Roberta Ritson of Earth Was Waiting, Spent and Restless, Hark the glad sound and finishing with Charles Oakley's Hills of the north rejoice. Our concluding song, continuing with our trend of exploring some secular music, is Believe, by Mumford and Sons.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.


with every blessing,


Dan


Dan Morrell
Piece-r together-er, Daily Devotions from the URC -->

If you have a problem...

  Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

Finally, a reminder if you need to change your email address please use the link, below, "update your preferences".   
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 9th December 2020

Wed, 09/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 9th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 9th December - Earth was Waiting Spent and Restless

This year our nations, with the rest of the world, had a stark lesson in waiting - having to wait indoors, waiting for the pandemic to pass, waiting for infection rates to fall.  Advent is about waiting, something we find difficult.  

Romans 8: 18-25

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;  for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now;  and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.  For in[a] hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Earth Was Waiting
Walter C Smith b1824

You can hear the hymn sung here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41MxW28eA3E

EARTH was waiting, spent and restless,
  With a mingled hope and fear;
And the faithful few were sighing,
  “Surely, Lord, the day is near;
The desire of all the nations,         
  It is time He should appear.”

 
Then the spirit of the Highest
  On a virgin meek came down,        
And He burdened her with blessing,
  And He pained her with renown;
For she bare the Lord’s Anointed
  For His cross and for His crown.
 
Earth for Him had groaned and travailed,       
  Since the ages first began;
For in Him was hid the secret
  That through all the ages ran—
Son of Mary, Son of David,
  Son of God, and Son of Man.       

Reflection
 
We all of us live in tension between the harsh realities of our lives and the final unveiling of God’s purposes.  It is an intensely peculiar experience.  And Paul captures it to a tee.
 
He starts by setting our lives in the context of creation as a whole.  The whole of creation, which includes all sub-human life, is groaning in frustration.  It is not able to fulfil the purpose of its existence.  It was created to glorify God, but is unable to do so fully so long as we human beings fail to play our part.  Human beings were created to be stewards of creation but we have used and abused it for our own purposes. 
 
Creation can, however, be set free. That painful state of affairs will yet have a good outcome.  As in childbirth, the labour may be long, but the turmoil and anguish that surrounds it will ultimately be productive.
 
As Christians we also groan.  We too have still  to be liberated.  But in all the frustrations and suffering of the present, we have been given the Spirit as a foretaste and pledge of the glory that is to come.  We know that we have already been saved through Christ, but we know too that we still have to wait to enjoy that salvation to the full.  And so we wait eagerly, not just in resigned suffering, or in anguished groaning, but in steadfast hope.  And in that hope, we wait in patience.
 
Prayer:
 
Ever living and ever loving God,
we thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit,
And for the fulness of your glory revealed in Jesus Christ.
Give us grace 
to be bold in standing for what is right,
to endure whatever suffering comes our way,
and to wait with steadfast patience,
sure in the hope of yet more glorious days to come.
Through Jesus Christ your Son, our Saviour.   Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Fleur Houston, retired minister, member of Macclesfield and Bollington URC Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 8th December 2020

Tue, 08/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 8th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 8th December

Thou Whose Almighty Word

In the northern hemisphere Advent is a dark time of the year and can often be dark emotionally as we remember those no longer with us.  Our hymn, written by John Marriott, plays with the idea of light - ironic since he died at a young age from a degenerative condition meaning he experienced the encircling gloom of illness.   The author, John Marriott, based his poem on Genesis 1:3  And God said ‘Let there be light‘ and there was light’. He never saw his words published or set to music as a hymn, but they were quoted, 6 weeks after he died, by Thomas Mortimer when addressing a meeting of the London Missionary Society in Great Queen Street Chapel, London in 1825.  In the last 120 years there has been no Protestant hymn book which has failed to include it (From the companions to Congregational Praise and Rejoice and Sing)

Thou Whose Almighty Word

John Marriott (1780-1825)

you can hear the hymn here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNfR3r1WuEY

Lord, your almighty Word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And where the gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray, 
Let there be light!

2 Saviour, you came to give
Those who in darkness live
Healing and sight,
Health to the sick in mind,
Sight to the inly blind,
Now to all humankind
Let there be light!

3 Spirit of truth and love,
Life giving, holy dove,
Speed forth your flight!
Move on the water's face
Bearing the lamp of grace,
And in earth's darkest place
Let there be light!

4 Holy and blessed three,
Glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, love, might;
Boundless as ocean's tide,
Rolling in fullest pride,
Through the world far and wide,
Let there be light!

St Luke 12: 35-38

‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;  be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

Reflection

Those living 75 years ago when the end of war was declared (VE Day) have experience of what living in darkness was like - having your clothes laid out in case the air raid siren sounded and you had to get dressed in the dark and make your way to the nearest shelter.  May 8th 1945 changed all that. No wonder people headed into the streets to celebrate. 

Jesus warns ‘the little flock’ to be ready for action when the master returns. It’s no-good lying-in bed, even if you’ve laid your clothes out for the morning. (Do you do that in these dark mornings?)  You fumble for the light switch; ‘Let there be light’, but not too much or you’re blinded.  You mustn’t be stumbling round trying to put your pants on in the middle of the night ‘when he comes and knocks’.

The servants are ready and they are blessed because they didn’t nod off during the night. Here we have a reversal of the master/servant relationship. (Downton Abbey theme music has just started playing on the radio). Who knew God moves in mysterious ways?

Jesus said later: ‘I go and prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2) which is what the servants were doing for their master, ready for his arrival. Another role reversal.

Will you be ‘dressed and ready for action’ when the call comes, or will you be stumbling in the dark?
 
God of Reversals
who turned 'I prepare a place for you'
from the preparation of the servants,
to the master,
 
when the light goes on
and it blazes bright in the night,
may we be prepared,
dressed and ready for action.
 
Holy and blessed Three,
glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, love, Might,
boundless as ocean's tide
rolling in fullest pride,
through the world, far and wide.,
let there be light. -->

Today's writer

Rev’d Andrew Royal, Minister: Maidstone & Staplehurst URC’s. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Monday 7th December 2020

Mon, 07/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Monday 7th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 7th December This is the Record of John

Today’s reading is set as a canticle for morning prayer meaning Zechariah’s prophecy over John the Baptist became known in the Church.  John the Baptist went ahead of Jesus to prepare the way, Orlando Gibbon’s anthem shows John’s conflict with the authorities.

St Luke 8: 68-79

‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
    in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
    to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
    before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
    the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

This is the Record of John
Orlando Gibbons

You can hear This is the Record of John sung here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9pE5vrgBHQ

This is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not, and said plainly, I am not the Christ.

And they asked him, What art thou then? Art thou Elias? And he said, I am not. Art thou that Prophet? And he answered, No.

Then said they unto him, What art thou? that we may give an answer unto them that sent us. What say’st thou of thyself? And he said, I am the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.  John 1 vv. 19–23

Reflection

‘Making straight the way of the Lord’ sounds good, good, but is actually difficult. I was first alerted to this in a sermon by Susan Durber, and the thoughts in this reflection are entirely hers.

The metaphor of straight as good and crooked as bad is well grounded in our subconscious and our language. We talk of being straightforward and straight talking, and about crooks and bending the truth. It’s little wonder that John the Baptist wanted to prepare a straight path for God. But did God really intended the fells of Cumbria, the Brecon Beacons, and the highlands of Scotland to become flat and uniform? Can it be that God actually wanted to destroy what God had created? Perhaps the straightest way isn’t always the best. The hero in the story is always straight and square-shouldered, whereas the villain is a misshapen ogre. The dragon curls and writhes, while George stands straight and tall.

It isn’t true that people with twisted bodies are less good than those with more perfect bodies. Humans don’t come in straight lines. We can’t be pressed into shapes we don’t have. Souls don’t easily conform to set measurements. Teardrops can only be curved, and so can smiles.

Life, if not always success, lies not in straight lines, but along a circuitous route. It is easy for us think that we have to perfect, to do everything right, well and on time. It feels like we’ll never smooth out the bumps in life. It’s true that we won’t. We won’t make the road of our life perfectly straight, but the good news is that we don’t have to.  Because even though people weren’t yet ready, even though the wilderness was as messy as ever, even though there was as much struggle, selfishness, fighting and hunger as there had ever been, God doesn’t wait for everything to be ready before God can come - God comes anyway.

Prayer

God of the wilderness way,
whose Word scours our evasions:
take us on the narrow, winding, path
to the centre of our world
with a cry of invitation
and the call of your sudden grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Revd Michael Hopkins, Minister of a group of Methodist and United Reformed Churches based around Farnham, Surrey, and Clerk of the URC General Assembly.
 
Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship - 6th December 2020

Sun, 06/12/2020 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship - 6th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Sunday Service from the URC

-->
worship for challenging times
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Order of Service

Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
 
to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service.
URC Daily Devotion Worship for Sunday 6th December 2020


Advent 2 - Return and Judgement

Opening Music:    Dies Irae - Karl Jenkins
 
The Dies Irea (Day of Wrath) is an ancient Christian poem in Latin.  It means
 
Day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the earth in ashes
As David and the Sibyl bear witness.
What dread there will be
When the Judge shall come
To judge all things strictly.
 Day of wrath, that day
 
A trumpet, spreading a wondrous sound
Through the graves of all lands,
Will drive humanity before the throne.
 
Death and Nature shall be astonished
When all creation rises again
To answer to the Judge.
 
A book, written in, will be brought forth
In which is contained everything that is,
Out of which the world shall be judged.
 
When therefore the Judge takes His seat
Whatever is hidden will reveal itself.
Nothing will remain unavenged.
 
What then shall say, wretch that I am,
What advocate entreat to speak for me,
When even the righteous may hardly be secure ?
 
A trumpet, spreading a wondrous sound
Through the graves of all lands,
Will drive humanity  before the throne.
 
Introduction
 
Revd. Andy Braunston: Hello, welcome to the second of our special Advent services.  This week we think of Jesus’ return and the theme of judgement.  Modern Christians tend not to think about God as a judge - yet it is a powerful image used in the Bible time and time again.  We complain that life isn’t fair, we see so much oppression in the world and we, with the earth yearn for justice. We know of refugees having to flee their homes due to persecution, war and poverty who cry out for justice.  We hear of those who go hungry whilst the rich gorge themselves; we like to think that hard work and honesty is rewarded but so often, in our world, the opposite is the case.
 
Lesley Thomson: It’s easy, of course, to see what’s wrong with the world, easy to ask God to intervene and bring the evil to judgement but harder to remember that it’s God’s work to judge not ours.  We may assume we know the motives behind another’s actions but, of course, we don’t.  There is always more going on than we realise and we’re not very good at seeing the beam in our own eyes - as Jesus once reminded us.  Jesus’ parables were not just a stern warning of distant times but a reminder against judging others and, in doing so, of judging ourselves in return.  
 
Call to Worship
 
We wait for the Lord and in His word we hope.
We wait for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning
 
This is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
O people, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love.
and with God is plenteous redemption.
 
There is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
Glory be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
There is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
Come let us worship
 
Hymn       O Lord, the clouds are gathering
Graham Kendrick
 
O Lord the clouds are gathering,
the fire of judgment burns.
How we have fallen!
O Lord, you stand appalled to see
Your laws of love so scorned
and lives so broken.
 
Have mercy, Lord, 
Forgive us, Lord, 
Restore us, Lord 
Revive your Church again
Let justice flow 
Like rivers 
And righteousness like a never failing stream 
2: O Lord, over the nations now
where is the dove of peace?
Her wings are broken.
O Lord, while precious children starve
the tools of war increase;
their bread is stolen.
 
3: O Lord, dark powers are poised to flood
our streets with hate and fear;
we must awaken!
O Lord, let love reclaim the lives
that sin would sweep away
and let your kingdom come.
 
4: Yet, O Lord, your glorious Cross shall tower
triumphant in this land,
evil confounding;
Through the fire your suffering Church display
the glories of her Christ,
praises resounding!
 
Prayers of Approach, Confessions and Forgiveness
 
Lord, 
 
We come to you today for guidance,
Our lives are constantly moving, 
surrounding us in many sights and sounds,
Help us to calm our minds as we join in worship today.
 
    Lord, show us your mercy
 
We come to you today for sustenance,
We don’t always make the best choices in our lives,
We sometimes take into our bodies the things we know are not good for us.
Guide us Lord and allow us to replenish our bodies and minds in your words.
 
    Lord, show us your mercy 
 
We come to you today for understanding,
We can take the wrong path at times, 
One that takes us away from you and towards the darkness,
Help us to remain on your pathway and when we stray lead us back to you
 
    Lord, show us your mercy 
 
We come to you today for forgiveness,
At times we say and do the wrong things,
Not always thinking before we speak, acting out of selfishness or greed
Forgive us Lord, when we forget to think of others
 
    Lord, show us your mercy 
 
We come to you today in hope,
A hope for the world around us, 
for the people and creatures we share this wonderful world with,
Allow us to see your justice and mercy in the world today and always.

    Lord, show us your mercy
 
Help us Lord to become more in the likeness of your son, 
And hear us as we now join together in the prayer Jesus taught us, saying,
 
Our father, who art in heaven….
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
Lord God, 
Help us to hear your guidance today,
Allow us to see your mercy today,
Provide our minds with illumination today,
Present our hearts with understanding today,
that we may carry all this into our daily lives.
 
Amen
 
St Matthew 13: 47-50
 
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;  when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.  So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous  and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 
Meditation of James, Fisherman 
 
So, you think you can escape, do you?
You actually imagine that, while others will be caught,
you can somehow slip through the net?
Well, take it from me, you can’t!
I’ve been a fisherman all my life
and I know from experience that when you’re out for a catch
you finally get it.
Not the first time, perhaps,
nor even the second,
but eventually, through sheer perseverance,
you’ll get what you’re looking for.
If that’s true of our efforts, how much more so of God,
the one who sees what we presume to be hidden,
who reaches out to the furthest corners of the world,
whose power is without limit
and whose purpose extends before and beyond all.
Do you seriously believe you can avoid his judgement?
Don’t be fooled.
It may not come now
or even in your earthly span,
for, in his eyes, our lifetime is but a drop in the ocean,
but the day of reckoning will come
and, when it does, there’ll be no wriggling off the hook,
no burying ourselves in the sand.
We will all face his searching gaze,
each be revealed for what we are,
and what verdict will he pronounce then,
what fate will the future hold?
The warning is given,
the choice is yours:
continue to swim against the tide,
or accept his guidance,
follow his way,
and, when the net is drawn in,
enter into the joy of his kingdom.
 
Hymn       Great is the Darkness
Noel Richards & Gerald Coates
 
 
Great is the darkness
that covers the earth,
oppression, injustice and pain.
Nations are slipping
in hopeless despair,
Though many have come
in Your name.
Watching while sanity dies,
Touched by the madness and lies.
 
Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus,
Pour out Your Spirit we pray.
Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus,
Pour out Your Spirit on us today.
 
2: May now Your Church
rise with power and love,
this glorious gospel proclaim.
In every nation salvation will come
to those who believe in Your name.
Help us bring light to this world
that we might speed Your return.
 
3: Great celebrations on that final day
When out of the heavens You come.
Darkness will vanish, all sorrow will end,
and rulers will bow at Your throne.
Our great commission complete,
then face to face we shall meet.
 
St Matthew 12: 24-31
 
Jesus put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field;  but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.  So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well.  And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?”  He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?”  But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.  Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’ He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field.
 
Meditation of Thomas
 
Wheat and weeds, 
good and evil - 
it all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? - 
so straightforward; 
the distinction between them as clear as it’s possible to be.
And we’d like to think it is, wouldn’t we: 
ethical issues, moral decisions, 
black and white, 
right and wrong, 
true or false?
It’s so much easier that way, 
for we know precisely where we stand: 
no need to argue or debate things, 
no need even to think - 
the correct course is prescribed for us 
and woe betide anyone who dares suggest otherwise.
But is that what Jesus was saying?
I’m not so sure, 
for, look more carefully, 
and you’ll see that you can’t always separate the one from the other, 
not in this life, anyway.
There is good and evil, of course, 
sometimes starkly apparent, 
but the reality is that there’s a bit of each in all of us, 
everyone capable of rising so high or falling so low.
It’s not for us to point the accusing finger, 
to sort out the wheat from the weeds, 
much though we’d occasionally like to.
Judge not, lest you be judged - 
isn’t that what Jesus told us?
And we ignore that message at our peril,
for we may well find ourselves in the dock 
should we pursue our case too far.
No, the advice is simple enough: 
look not to others but yourself, 
your own words, 
your own deeds, 
and ensure that the seed which was sown 
is the one that is growing; 
that the final crop lives up to expectations.
Judgement will come in God’s good time; 
our lives weighed in the balance and the harvest assessed - 
will your life prove to have been fruitful?
 
Hymn       O God of Earth and Altar
G K Chesterton
 
O God of earth and altar,
bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

2: From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.
 
3: Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.
 
St Mark 13: 32-37
 
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.  It 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.  Therefore, 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, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.  And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
 
Meditation of Matthew, one of the twelve disciples
 
The time is coming, they tell me:
the day of the Lord’s return,
when we shall stand before him
and he will separate the sheep from the goats,
the wicked from the righteous.
So forget about the present,
think instead of the future,
for that’s what matters –
our final destiny,
the life to come –
nothing else.
Well, I’m sorry, but have I missed something?
For that’s not the way I heard it,
not what I thought Jesus was saying at all.
Keep alert, he warned, certainly,
for the day will dawn as God has promised,
but when that will be we’ve no idea;
today, tomorrow, or far beyond, who can say?
It’s not the ‘when’ of his coming, that should concern us,
but the fact that he will,
and the difference that makes not to the future
but to the here and now,
to the way we live every moment of every day.
We’ve a job to be doing,
a broken world out there needing to hear his word
and know his love;
and that’s what will concern him when he comes,
not whether we’ve been looking forward eagerly to his kingdom but whether we’re
doing something to make it happen,
to help build heaven on earth.
So what will he find in you?
A life dedicated to his service,
continuing his ministry where he left off,
or an obsession about the future so strong
that you’ve forgotten about the present?
A life lived for others,
committed to bringing light where there is darkness,
joy where there is sorrow,
or a preoccupation with yourself,
with securing your own salvation?
Don’t think I doubt his promise.
The time is coming, just as they say,
a day when we will be called to account,
made to answer for the way we’ve lived our lives.
But if I were you I wouldn’t dwell on that too long:
I’d get down to the business of discipleship,
to walking the way of the cross,
or otherwise you may, when the moment comes
and judgement is pronounced,
that the verdict is very different from the one you had in mind.
 
Hymn       Wayfaring Stranger
Bever’s Christian Songster
 
I am a poor wayfaring stranger, 
while journeying thru this world of woe,
yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger,
in that bright land to which I go.
 
I’m going there to see my Father,
I’m going there no more to roam;
I’m only going over Jordan,
I’m only going over home.

I want to wear a crown of glory,
when I get home to that good land;
I want to shout salvation’s story
in concert with the blood-washed band.
 
St Matthew  25: 31-46
 
 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?”  Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
 
Meditation of Two Christians on Judgement Day
 
I wasn’t much of a Christian, the way I saw it.
(I wasn’t a bad Christian, the way I saw it.)
Test me on doctrine and I’d be lost completely,
(Test me on doctrine and I’d have a ball,)
the complexities of theology a mystery to me.
(the niceties of theology a delight to me.)
My prayer life?
(My devotional life?)
That wasn’t much better
(That was spot on.)
the words somehow never seeming to flow,
(the words coming so easily,)
discipline hard to achieve.
(discipline coming naturally.)
it was the same with the Bible I’m sorry to say;
(it was the same with the Bible I’m glad to say;)
I found most of it a closed book.
(I knew it inside out.)
I tried hard enough, heaven knows,
(I hardly had to try.)                              
but, let’s face it, it’s not the easiest book to read,
(but, let’s be honest, it’s such a wonderful book to read,)
so many passages serving to puzzle rather than inspire.
(every passage seeming to leap out and speak to me.)
And as for obedience, the less said about that the better,
(And as for obedience, well, I’m not one to boast,)
for I kept slipping back into my old ways,
(only it was as though my old self had died completely,)
temptation catching me unawares,
(temptation brushed aside,)
my relationship with God a shadow of what it should have been.
(my relationship with God everything it could be.)
So you can see what I mean, can’t you? –
(So you get my point, don’t you? – )
not much of a Christian, all told,
(not a bad Christian, all told,)
and as I stood there before Jesus, I feared the worst,
(and as I stood there before Jesus, I had no fears whatsoever,)
uncertain of his verdict, to say the least.
(confident of his verdict, to put it mildly.)
You can imagine my relief, can’t you?
(You can imagine my shock, can’t you?)
‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father.’
‘(Depart from me …..  you that are accursed.)
I couldn’t believe my ears!
(I thought I was hearing things!)
What had I done to deserve such blessing?
(What had I done to deserve such punishment?)
When had I ever put myself out for Jesus?
(When had I ever let Jesus down?)
Yet I had, time and time again, without ever realising it.
(Yet I had, day after day, without ever realising it.)
When I reached out to the needy,
(when I turned my back on the needy,)
when I responded to the poor,
(when I ignored the poor,)
when I visited the sick,
(when I recoiled from the sick,)
I was serving Jesus,
(I was failing Jesus,)
easing his pain,
(adding to his pain,)
expressing his love.
(denying his love.)
I’m not much of a Christian, I still think that,
(I wasn’t a bad Christian, I really believed that,)
yet, happily, I got one thing right –
(yet I got one thing hopelessly wrong – )
I responded to others,
(I put myself before others,)
I showed I cared,
(I didn’t care,)
and now love brings its own reward.
(and now I must pay the price.)
God moves in mysterious ways.
(God have mercy on me, a sinner.)
 
Hymn       Colours of Day
Sue Mcclellan, John Paculabo, Keith Rycroft
 
Colours Of Day Dawn Into The Mind,
The Sun Has Come Up, The Night Is Behind.
Go Down In The City, Into The Street,
And Let’s Give The Message To The People We Meet.
 
So Light Up The Fire And Let The Flame Burn,
Open The Door, Let Jesus Return.
Take Seeds Of His Spirit, Let The Fruit Grow,
Tell The People Of Jesus, Let His Love Show.
 
2: Go Through The Park, On Into The Town;
The Sun Still Shines On, It Never Goes Down.
The Light Of The World Is Risen Again;
The People Of Darkness Are Needing A Friend.
 
3: Open Your Eyes, Look Into The Sky,
The Darkness Has Come, The Son Came To Die.
The Evening Draws On, The Sun Disappears,
But Jesus Is Living, His Spirit Is Near.
Affirmation of Faith
 
It is not true that creation and the human family
are doomed to destruction and loss—
 
This is true:
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;
 
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
 
This is true:
I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
 
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
 
This is true:
Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
 
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
 
This is true:
To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.
 
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
 
This is true:
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions
and your old men shall have dreams.
 
It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind,
of justice, of human dignity, of peace
are not meant for this earth and for this history—
 
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now,
that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.
 
Intercessions
 
Let us join together in our prayers for others, Let us pray:
 
Lord God,
 
We struggle sometimes to turn our care and concerns for others into activity 
we pray for our world, for the damages we as humans are causing to our environment,
For the creatures that we share your planet with, for our fragile ecosystem,
For our fellow humans throughout the earth, we pray for all who are struggling at this time
 
For the needy, the hungry and the sick, 
We pray for those who provide care.
For the lonely, those with depression or mental health issues,
We pray for those who reach out a helping hand.
 
For those struggling to find the correct path, the addicts and those in prison,
We pray for charity workers, for Chaplin's and those who reach out to others.
 
For those in roles of power across the globe,
We pray you remind them to be fair, to have understanding and to work together for the good of all.
 
And in this time of silence we bring to you Lord, the names of the people close to us,
Those that we hold within our hearts and our minds, allow them your love and care.
 
(silent contemplation)
 
For your churches Lord, 
we ask that you remind them that Judgement is for you to administer not for them, 
as we point a finger of condemnation, 
we are reminded that three other fingers are pointing back at ourselves. 
It is not for us to judge Lord, but for you. 
 
Allow us today to show your love and understanding to others,
spreading your word throughout the world.
We ask all this in your name Lord, now and always
Amen
 
Offertory Introduction and Prayer
 
One of the practices of our faith is giving - of our time, of our talents and also of our treasure.  Our churches have been different this year - with online worship or worship posted on paper or CD but our discipline of giving remains steadfast.
 
Loving God,
bless our gifts
of time, talent and treasure, 
and make them your own
useful for you
Amen.
 
Hymn       Christ is Surely Coming
Christopher Idle
 
Christ is surely coming bringing his reward,
Alpha and Omega, First and Last and Lord:
Root and stem of David, brilliant Morning Star:
meet your Judge and Saviour, nations near and far;
meet your Judge and Saviour, nations near and far!
 
2 See the holy city! There they enter in,
All by Christ made holy, washed from every sin:
thirsty ones, desiring all he loves to give,
come for living water, freely drink, and live;
come for living water, freely drink, and live!
 
3 Grace be with God's people! Praise his holy name!
Father, Son, and Spirit, evermore the same.
Hear the certain promise from the eternal home:
'Surely I come quickly!' Come, Lord Jesus, come;
'Surely I come quickly!' Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Blessing
Be people of understanding.
Let forgiveness live in your heart and share the love of Christ with all you meet.
Share forgiveness by noticing someone else’s humanity.
Share compassion by listening to someone’s story.
Share patience by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share hope.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share the love of Christ with those you meet. 
 
Amen.
 
Closing Music - Is This the World We Created? by Queen
 
Just look at all those hungry mouths we have to feed
Take a look at all the suffering we breed
So many lonely faces scattered all around
Searching for what they need
Is this the world we created?
What did we do it for
Is this the world we invaded
Against the law
So it seems in the end
Is this what we're all living for today
The world that we created
You know that everyday a helpless child is born
Who needs some loving care inside a happy home
Somewhere a wealthy man is sitting on his throne
Waiting for life to go by
Wooh, is this the world we created?
We made it all our own
Is this the world we devastated, right to the bone
If there's a God in the sky looking down
What can he think of what we've done
To the world that he created
 
References
Meditations by Nick Fawcett from his Reflective Services for Advent and Christmas (C) 2001 Nick Fawcett.  Published by Kevin Mayhew Ltd.
Opening Music- Dies Irae by Karl Jenkins, © Boosey And Hawkes Music Publishing Ltd.
Call to worship- The Worship Source Book
Affirmation of Faith- Daniel Berrigan, S.J. in Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, Orbis Books, 2004.
Blessing- Adapted from liturgylink.net – Benedictions for Advent
Closing Music- Is this the world we created? By Queen. Songwriters: Brian May / Freddie Mercury. Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management.
 
O Lord, the clouds are gathering- © Graham Kendrick Thank You Music- Performed by
Great is the Darkness- Noel Richards & Gerald Coates. © 1992 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music. Performed by We Are Worship band
O God of Earth and Altar- G. K. Chesterton. Taken from BBC’s Songs of Praise.
Wayfaring Stranger- from Bever’s Christian Songster 1857. Performed by Second Ireland Sacred Harp Convention 2014.
Colours of Day- Sue Mcclellan, John Paculabo, Keith Rycroft © Thank You Music. Unknown performer.
Christ is Surely Coming- Christopher Idle from Revelation 22 © Christopher Idle/Jubilate Hymns Ltd. Performed by Jubilate Hymns Band.
 
Thanks to
 
Revd. Andy Braunston and Lesley Thomson.
 
Marion Thomas, David Shimmin, Christine Shimmin Carol Tubbs, Alison Jiggins for reading the Call to Worship and Affirmation of Faith.
 
Jean Stokes, John Wilcox, Carol Tubbs, John Young, Ray Fraser, Marion Thomas, Melanie Hall, Christine Shimmin and David Shimmin for other spoken parts of the service
  --> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762

  Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 6th December 2020

Sun, 06/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 6th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 6th December

Across Europe St Nicholas’ Day is celebrated today.  Interestingly his cult was observed in England in the medieval era but fell into disuse.  St Nicolas’ name Santa Claus has become linked with Fr Christmas in the popular mind, yet he was a bishop charged with the oversight of God’s people.  

I Timothy 3: 1-7


The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

You can hear Graham Kendrick singing this hymn here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5-DQmhKPY4

God moves in a mysterious way
  His wonders to perform:
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
  And rides upon the storm.

2 Deep in unfathomable mines
  Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
  And works His sovereign will.

3 Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
  The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
  In blessings on your head.

4 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
  But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
  He hides a smiling face.

5 His purposes will ripen fast,
  Unfolding every hour:
The bud may have a bitter taste,
  But sweet will be the flower.

6 Blind unbelief is sure to err,
  And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
 And He will make it plain.

Reflection

We expect a lot from our leaders. Whether ministers, moderators, elders, or whatever office they may hold, expectations are way above anything that may be written down in a job description. And I doubt that Paul’s list of requirements for a church leader would get past any Human Resources department!

With candidates few and far between and a shortage of volunteers, it may be tempting to just grab whatever we can get without looking too closely, but too often we may find ourselves in the ecclesiastical version of ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure!’ And that on both sides!

At a recent safeguarding refresher course offered to a varying mix of organisations, I was shocked at the number of people who had experienced what was termed ‘pastoral abuse’. Although one of the worse forms of abuse is sexual abuse, the people who spoke to me talked of bullying, a general lack of a servant-heart replaced by a more hard-edged business management style that brooked no opposition.

Clearly there can be problems. In some cases, where abuse is not dealt with, congregations simply drift away. In others, there are painful splits and the bitterness can persist for decades. At the end of the day, maybe we need to remember that it is Christ’s church, not ours or the minister’s or moderator’s. We are all merely workers in the vineyard with a responsibility for one another and to our Lord. He has decided in his strange and mysterious wisdom to work through fallible folk like us and we need to take our problems to him for sorting out.

For those of you who have perfect loving congregations and absolutely no problems, you are blessed indeed! Long may it continue!

Prayer

Lord, who chose to entrust your Gospel to the weak and foolish of the earth, give us humility to serve you and your people with humble hearts, ever-remembering that it is your church, not ours. Lead us forward in everything we do in your name in such a way that it honours you and extends your kingdom, not ours. Amen -->

Today's writer

Dorothy Courtis, Lay Preacher, Thurso URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 5th December 2020

Sat, 05/12/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 5th December 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 5th December

Wait for the Lord

The Taizé Community in France was founded by Reformed pastor Roger Schutz who had helped Jews escape over the border into Switzerland during the war. It is an ecumenical community working with the young in particular with distinctive worship based on simple chants. Today’s song takes up the Advent theme of waiting.

Reading

1 Thessalonians 5:4-11


But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Song

Wait for the Lord, His day is near.
Wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart.


© Les Ateliers and Presses de Taizé
You can hear the chant here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7GexIvX8HU

Reflection

Some 30 years ago, while I was a university student, I made two visits to Taizé which had a profound influence on my walk with Christ.

In Brother Roger’s own words, it is “a community where kindness of heart and simplicity would be at the centre of everything.” We readily understand the notion of “kindness of heart”, but how about “simplicity”? 

Simplicity manifests itself in Taizé not only in the food, accommodation and facilities, but mostly linguistically. 

Taizé’s guests usually stay for a week, so there is a constant change in the mix of languages. There is no default or ‘langue de préférence’. This means that in services, Bible-studies, and group discussions, songs are short, few in words, and readings just one or two verses.

If you are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, you will recognise similar elements in the Taizé style of worship and Bible study.  And, as in any monastic tradition, in Taizé, silence is an important part of the common life with 10-15 minutes of silence in every service.

Today’s chant from Taizé has its roots in Psalm 27:14. The Psalm expresses  longing for God in the many different aspects of life.

If you have ever had a pet dog, you will know how quickly they eat their dinner, but if you give them a bone, they will spend many happy hours gnawing it.  For me, this is a metaphor which reflects the time-commitment, simplicity and joy to be found in waiting for the Lord.

When we read the great stories in the Hebrew Scriptures, we learn that God’s purpose is worked out in years, decades and generations.

In our modern times, we seldom need to wait and have grown impatient. We tend to fill every moment with activity, even in our church services. Have we stopped waiting for the Lord?


Prayer

Loving God,
forgive us for not waiting for You:
when we speak to You, and we do not wait to listen to You;
when we ask You in prayer, and we do not wait to hear Your answer;
when we fill our lives with noise, and we do not wait for You in the silence;
This Advent, help us to wait for You, to keep watch and to take heart. 
Amen. -->

Today's writer

Walt Johnson, Ordinand at Northern College and Member at Wilbraham St Ninian’s URC in Chorlton, Manchester. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Pages