URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship – 13th December

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….
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
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……
Prayer of Illumination
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
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,
But that wasn’t my first reaction;
    It was shock, more like,
    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?
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 – 
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,
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.
Let us join together in our prayer for others, let us pray:
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
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,
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!
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
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.

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