Thank you that you are constantly drawing each of us towards you. Not forcing or coercing, but inviting and encouraging us into deeper relationship with you.
Thank you for that which you use to prepare the way. The people and things which break down the barriers we put up. The barriers that, intentionally or otherwise, keep you out. For the wonder of your creation which humbles us, for the challenging words of a close friend which rouse us, for the kindness of a stranger which reminds us of
the divinity in everything.
May I draw near to you today.
Prepare this space for me, and prepare my heart to receive what you have in store for me this Advent.
Just as John the Baptist proclaimed “repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” may I answer that same call, knowing that transformation comes through acknowledging that the status quo, in myself and in the world, is not as it should be.
I repent today, because the Kingdom of Heaven has come near, and with God’s grace
I can bring it nearer still.
I know myself forgiven, loved and set free, by the Advent God who comes amongst us,
this year and every year.
Opening prayers written by All We Can
StF 183 Praise to the Lord who clears the way
Reading: Matthew 3:1-12
StF 182 On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
Response to the reading
Have you been walking in a popular, mountainous area recently?
Perhaps somewhere like the Lake District or Snowdonia? The paths are often made of huge slabs of stone, set into the ground to protect the landscape from erosion – just looking at them makes me think about the people involved in getting these stones there – laying them in tricky and difficult conditions must be back-breaking work.
John the Baptist is ‘preparing the way’ in the wilderness – but this isn’t a simple laying out of a red carpet, it’s hot, sweaty, difficult work.
Making space for God to come into our lives is more like an excavation: we have to overhaul the greed, selfishness and injustice in order to make room for the Prince of Peace this Advent season. That’s the work our charity partner and friends at All We Can are involved in – seeking to overcome poverty and see every person’s potential
fulfilled around the world.
You might like to watch this video summarizing All We Can’swork in Zimbabwe:-
All We Can goes about its work in a particularly ‘John the Baptist’ sort of way. He insists that it is not about him, but about Jesus. That is your role too – not to be ‘heroes’ in the story of tackling poverty, but to allow the people All We Can is working with, the people our giving will support this Christmas season, to be the heroes in their own story – to flourish and fulfil their potential on their own terms. It’s time to put local communities in the driving seat of their own story.
Matt 3:8: ‘Produce fruit worthy of repentance’. What does this mean to you? Perhaps it can be a challenge for us today – we cannot simply say ‘all is not right with the world’ or ‘the current way of tackling poverty is broken’. Rather, we must bear fruit that reflects that we believe it’s possible to do things a different way. As the Catholic thinker and writer Richard Rohr says: ‘the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better’.
So your invitation is to ‘practice better’ this Advent season – as you worship, as you see friends and family, as you give presents, and as you support charities like All We Can. Thank you.
Reflection written by All We Can.
You might like to pray this prayer:
Dear Lord, help me to prepare for your coming
By making space and staying still.
Help me to prepare by honest examination of myself.
Help me to lift my face to the wind of your Spirit
And be prepared for your coming.
StF 498 All I once held dear
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. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and for ever.
StF 706 Longing for light (Christ, be our light!)
As I go out, into the midst of winter and the middle of advent,
As I wait, as I prepare, as I open my heart to you,
Lord God, Immanuel, show me something of what it means to be God-with-us.
Come here, into my life, by your grace.
I go in grace, in hope, in anticipation,
I step out in love,
Blessing by Tim Baker
The Songs have been chosen by Deacon Sian Street
The Prayers and response to the reading used with permission from 'The Vine at Home' is compiled and produced by twelvebaskets
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.