At Advent we can reflect and wait on God’s promises
In truth, December is not a good time to find quiet. Everywhere we go is hustle & bustle
Call to Worship
As the adventure of Advent begins,
let us prepare to meet with God.
Let us bring our hopes and expectations.
Let us prepare ourselves for what God wants of us.
Let God find us ready and waiting.
Come and worship.
Our Advent ring stands waiting ,for candle light to lead us on.
We’ll open up traditions, with challenge and with change.
challenge us today.
Our box of decorations stands ready to be explored.
We reassess the treasures in this bulging cardboard box.
Let’s sort the treasure from the trash the needed from the not.
challenge us today.
Our living is refocused with preparations underway.
Our ordinary and everyday will be challenged along the way.
Letting go of stuff to do God’s will, is here to stay.
challenge us today.
In the mundane and ordinary, stars will start to fall,
challenging and changing us with holy goodness breaking through.
challenge us today.
Advent God, as we light this, our first Advent candle
may we let go of what swamps us
and serves no purpose for us,
so that we can meet the challenges that lie ahead of us.
May our ordinary lives be enriched by your extraordinary love for us.
StF 166 Christmas is coming
Prayer of Adoration
you prepared your people for your coming,
you gave your Word to us through prophets and priests,
through stories told and retold,
through the history of time,
through the written word,
through the spoken word,
but always your word.
As Christmas lights begin to dazzle us,
we know that your glory is way beyond their transfixing power.
Advent God, we adore you,
and we bring ourselves before you just as we are. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
God of all the world, our world is lost without you.
We make war with each other.
Some have too much while others have little.
Our differences confuse us, and we lack understanding.
Come amongst us, God, and help us.
God of the Church, we have lost the excitement of pilgrimage.
We avoid adventure and sharing in challenging service.
We shrink from mission and evangelism.
Come amongst us, God, and help us.
God of our life, you have called us and we have not heard well.
You have real things for us to do, and we have not always done them.
You call us to a life of Christian love and discipleship
and we have fallen from your ways.
Come amongst us, God, and help us.
For the sake of Jesus Christ.
StF 706 – Longing for light
Prayer of Thanksgiving
We thank you, God, for your richness.
We thank you for the way your light lets us see the world and its people.
We thank you for diversity and difference in people and places.
We thank you for signs and symbols and glimpses of your kingdom.
We thank you for bolts out of the blue that reveal you to us
and for the tiny flame that offers us assurance.
We thank you for your care through the hands of others,
hands of family, hands of friends and hands of strangers.
We thank you that in others we see you
and that through seeing you we see them in different ways.
We thank you that in the hustle and bustle of this season that you come to us,
in word & deed, in touch & gift, in noise & in the quiet.
We are all your people, all your children, all your flock,
and for us all you care – to you we give our thanks and praise.
Isaiah 64:1-9 New International Version
]Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
4 Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
7 No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.
8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
StF 161 – Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
Luke 1:5-25 New International Version The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division
of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of
God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth
was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen
by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And
when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When
Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not
be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call
him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great
in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the
Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And
he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and
to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens,
because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.
22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he
kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant
and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has
shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Advent 1 – What are we waiting for?
So, the Season of Advent begins today but for many the truth of Advent is easily
overwhelmed by Christmas – in buying presents, stocking up on food, parties etc;
and that process seemed to start earlier and earlier each year.
It’s all too easy for us to forget what the Season of Advent should really be about –
I’m as guilty as the next person. That we should be preparing to celebrate the
coming of Jesus – firstly as a baby (which we all enjoy), and then the more
challenging return of Jesus in glory.
Thankfully, our Advent lectionary readings can help us to take time out of the
madness that December becomes & help us to reflect on what we celebrate.
Today we’re thinking about the place of Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of John
the Baptist who will feature in coming Sundays. Luke begins his account of the life
of Jesus by describing some of the circumstances around his birth that will
underline for his listeners the significance of who Jesus is.
Firstly, a little background. Zechariah was a priest and in Jewish tradition
priesthood was passed down family lines. Priests were leaders of worship, and
they offered sacrifices on behalf of the Jewish people. There were 24 priestly
families and each family offered a sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem twice a
year. When it was their family’s turn many family members would go to Jerusalem
to do their priestly duty.
Once at the Temple lots would be cast to decide who would burn incense in the
sanctuary at the heart of the Temple. This was a privilege that could be performed
only once, and many priests never got chosen.
Now Zechariah was an old man. We are told that he carried to Jerusalem the
disappointment that they had no child to pass on the family’s priestly inheritance.
Zechariah is chosen by lots to burn incense which would have been a moment of
mixed emotions for him - the joy of his being chosen & the sorrow because he had
He enters the sanctuary alone and puts the grains of incense into the fire. And as
the incense rises, we presume that Zechariah would have rested in the presence
of God. And in that moment an angel appears to him. Unsurprisingly Zechariah is
gripped with fear.
The angel calms him and tells him that God has heard their prayer and that
Elizabeth will bear a son. They are to call him John (gift from the Lord), and he will
make the people ready to receive the Messiah.
Zechariah’s response to this astonishing new is, to us, a statement of the
blindingly obvious. ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years’.
His human response elicits no sympathy from the angel. His lack of trust provokes
the angel to silence him so when he emerges from the sanctuary to bless the
people, he couldn’t speak. The crowd at least realise that something serious had
happened; Zechariah remains silent until John is born.
This is an extraordinary story with points for reflection as we enter this Advent.
1. God fulfils his promises in his good time
Zechariah learns that God fulfils his promises in his own good time - and not ours.
It was not unusual for God to promise a child to an elderly couple (Abraham &
Sarah). These births, point us to God’s rule where the flow of the story is
controlled by God - not us.
The coming of Jesus had been long promised in the Old Testament. God’s people
had been waiting but God’s promises are fulfilled in his good time.
2. God can bring life from the most unpromising material
The second lesson is that God can use even the most unpromising situations to
draw life - even when to us it seems impossible. T
Let’s be honest, we are all unpromising material - as human beings, as a church
even. We can be self-obsessed & anxious; desperate to make the Kingdom of
God in our own image, determined to be in control of events. Like Zechariah we
look for guarantees and signs that God is with us in our actions.
Reassuringly, we can also see that God chooses such unpromising people as his
own – like Zechariah & Elizabeth, and like us perhaps? This is a hopeful sign.
3. At Advent we can reflect and wait on God’s promises
In truth, December is not a good time to find quiet. Everywhere we go is hustle &
bustle. Our conversations even reflect this – are we ready for Christmas?
But just stop for a moment and think about what that question means? ‘Are you
ready for Christmas?’
Does it mean have we bought the presents, organised the food, invited the guests
etc. etc.? Or does it mean that we have taken time to prepare ourselves, to be
ready to welcome the Son of God when he comes?
Maybe Zechariah’s punishment (if that is what it was) was actually a blessing?
Maybe, being silenced for 9 months meant that he must contemplate what he had
discovered; what his son would be called to. His silence means that he cannot
respond to the angel’s message in any active way; he must watch and wait on the
unfolding promise of God – which came to pass, as promised.
Watching & waiting is not something that we find easy. In some respects, we might
consider it to be a waste of time when we could be active & achieving. So, maybe
during Advent we need to be reminded that it is God who calls us into being, and
that we need to watch and wait; to learn to listen and not to talk over it.
God’s promises are fulfilled in God’s good time, even with the most unpromising of
material, because God is merciful and caring and wise. And in this Season of
Advent, if we need to find some for silence & reflection, so that we can
comprehend this wonder, and say that we are ready.
Thanks be to God.
StF 176 – Like a candle flame
The Lords Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
StF 167 – Colours of Day
Lord, we begin our Advent,
waiting for you with love and patience.
Help us to remember that you will return for us
and for those yet to know you.
Help us to be patient and alert,
but help us also to be doing and serving
and building your kingdom.
Your kingdom come on earth,
as it is in heaven.
These are the Worship at Home versions of the In Person Services, led by our Minister :-
Each Service has the videos of the songs and a transcript of the Sermon or reflection.
The Song references (StF) are from the Singing the Faith song book.
The videos of the songs are linked to YouTube or vimeo which may have advertising which Kingswood Methodist Church does not endorse.