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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.
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
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.
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.
Let us join together in our prayers for others, Let us pray:
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.
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.
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
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