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Weekly Readings

Sunday, 28th November, the First Sunday of Advent 

Collect

Almighty God,  give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;  that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal;  through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen

 

A reading from Jeremiah:   (33. 14-16)

‘The days are surely coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

‘In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

‘In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”’

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

Psalm  (25. 1-10)

  1. To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;  O my God, in you I trust:

  2. do not let me be put to shame;  do not let my enemies triumph over me.

  3. Let none who look to you be put to shame;  let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated.

  4. Make me to know your ways, O Lord:  and teach me your paths.

  5. Lead me in your truth and teach me:  for you are the God of my salvation;  for you have I hoped all the day long.

  6. Remember, Lord, your compassion and love:  for they are from everlasting.

  7. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions:  but think of me in your goodness, O Lord, according to your steadfast love.

  8. Gracious and upright is the Lord:  therefore shall he teach sinners in the way.

  9. He will guide the humble in doing right:  and teach his way to the lowly.

  10. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth:  to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:

world without end.

Amen

 A reading from St Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians:  (3. 9-13)

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?  Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you.  And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.  And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

 

Listen to the Gospel of Christ according to Saint Luke (21. 25-36)

Glory to you, O Lord

‘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.’

Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees;  as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

‘Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.

‘Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Reflection - DK

Our Llanbedr church service today on Advent Sunday is titled “From Darkness to Light.”   Writing this during a power cut makes me appreciate more fully the symbolism we use as this church season gets under way.  Storm Arwen is abating and as the wind gradually subsides, we’re left with the season’s first settled snow on local hilltops.  In passing, we might wonder how many more people under the control of traffickers are now in critical danger or have already died, anonymous and unnumbered in the Channel’s brutal winter conditions.  And we are in winter for sure.  In only 34 days’ time the secular calendar’s new year begins, its first month usually thought to have been named after Janus, the mythical Roman god of beginnings and transitions, who faces both backwards and forwards.

But the Church’s year begins right now at the start of Advent.  On the one hand a new year represents birth, a transition from darkness and void into colour, form ….. and life.  But it also stands for endings, facing both backwards to what’s already passed and forwards to the future and beyond it to End Time.  We’ve seen and heard plenty of news touching on what sound like End Time events.  Only a few days ago NASA launched a test mission to try and influence the orbit of a distant asteroid’s moonlet, Dimorphos.  Could the strategy work in future if a significant object heads our way threatening havoc?  From what we’re told, that’s relatively unlikely within the next 100 years; climate change is more likely to see us off beforehand.  And now, having struggled to get this far in response to global Covid, we once again face uncertainty over the recently emerged Omicron variant.  Yes indeed: a move away from darkness would be most welcome.

I was in Brecon just over a week ago when the town’s Christmas lights were switched on.  They’re attractive and people there obviously really enjoyed seeing them lit.  Curmudgeons will no doubt have objected to a premature celebration primarily aimed at boosting consumption and wasting unnecessary energy (though I presume LEDs are thriftier than older lighting technology).   Christmas lights there and elsewhere shine out for better or worse and their symbolic value rests entirely in what we make of them as individuals.  Can we understand them as signs of genuine peace and encouragement or merely as commercial lures?  Most likely in this case, the honest answer is both.  But what does light mean to us?   Is that distant coastal starburst a distress signal or just someone’s joyful birthday firework? 

In today’s reading from Luke, Jesus emphatically describes apocalyptic final events.  Notions of End Time don’t make for comfort; they threaten destruction of humankind’s achievements.  But Jesus goes on to demand that his followers stand fast in the face of it all and must realise that these things signal not an end, but a new and essential beginning.  However awesome and scary the happenings, his followers are to consider them as inevitable, and indeed welcome, evidence of the new kingdom, just as the promise of life in the new season is hinted by the sprouting of fig leaves.  It’s not an easy comparison to take on board, but Jesus wants his followers to see it.  To live the right life is the way by which we can stand before whatever is to come and so survive it spiritually.  And the path to the right life is in his teaching.

Candles and lights used today signal our hope.  Others in the long-ago story have now begun a journey of hope under guiding starlight to witness a new beginning.   We stay alert, also searching for this long-expected birth, a birth with world-changing implications.  It will be hard, will happen under humiliating conditions - and in a conflict zone. It took place more than 2,000 years ago.  Through our observance, it will also happen soon and again in times to come.  “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past.”

 

Post-Communion Prayer

God our deliverer, awaken our hearts to prepare the way for the advent of your Son;  that, with minds purified by the grace of his coming, we may serve you faithfully all our days;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen