Here below we have an outline of our service for you to follow at home if you can’t be with us. Choose a quiet reflective space and to make it more meaningful have a cross, bible and candle to make your sacred space.
Good morning everyone and I hope you are well. First of all many thanks for the donation of toys for last week’s service, we had a wonderful display of gifts for all ages of children and I am sure they will be very gratefully received by the children who Fort Alice are working with. We had a very informative talk by Sylvia from Fort Alice and it is amazing the work that they do to rehabilitate young people and women both in their refuge and in their outreach. Another big thank you for the Christmas puddings for Urban Outreach, we managed to reach an excess of our pledge and thanks to Ruth for sorting it out and taking them over to the charity.
Our Carol service is on the 19th December at 6.30 and this year we will do our crib service with the children in the Wednesday service at 6pm on the 22nd December and not on Christmas Eve.
Intercessions are by Sue Usher and the reflection is by Peter, many thanks to them both.
People of God: return! You are called to be God’s own. From the mountains announce the good news. God comes in justice and peace, to all who follow his ways. You are God’s children.
Lord, make us one in the peace of Christ today and forever. Amen
LIGHT THE THIRD CANDLE ON THE ADVENT WREATH
“The axe is laid at the foot of the trees, every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down”. But confident in God’s mercy we confess our sins.
Heavenly Father, you call us to prepare for the coming of your Son: forgive us our unreadiness to receive him. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Lord Jesus you were proclaimed by John the Baptist: help us also to prepare your way. Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Holy Spirit, you speak through the prophets: make us attentive to hear your word. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
PRAYER OF PENITENCE
Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly king, almighty God and Father. We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ only son of the Father Lord God Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One , you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most high, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING
PHILIPPIANS 4. 4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. Glory to you O Lord.
LUKE 3, 7-18
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’ As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
Last week Luke told us how John the Baptist “arrived” preaching and offering a baptism of repentance in the River Jordan. He came at a particular time in history, and as we will discover he paid the price for challenging the rulers.
This week as the chapter continues, we hear what John asked of those people, and he does not hold back in his language.
The crowd coming out from the city he likens to a swarm of snakes escaping their holes, fleeing from a fire as it were. “Don’t claim some religious ancestry” he says, but “bear fruit worthy of repentance”. Your past won’t save you!
The crowd are to share their second coat with the needy (and presumably their third and fourth coat too if they have them). Tax-collectors are to collect only what is due, not to add a whole lot more for themselves. Soldiers, presumably locals who have signed up for the local militia, auxiliaries, are told to refrain from violence and extortion. We immediately see how local people are oppressed and struggle in such a culture.
We live in a world where the money-people often take more than is fair, and where others use more subtle but just as pressured forms of extortion to make profits at the expense of others; cronyism is an unpleasant element of modern society, but we also benefit from cheaper prices for goods made by cheap labour.
John has a sense of urgency; he challenges our rather complacent, resigned, even laissez-faire culture. Our tendency is to claim Abraham as our metaphorical ancestor, to assume that we are basically all right, or at least not too bad, or at least better than (most) others; to work on the assumption that things have always been a bit like this; whatever recipe we come up with to decide we don’t really need to change. COP26 revealed some interesting backlash – some supporters decided that the cost of sorting the world out is too great, it would affect OUR life-style, maybe we don’t need to make all the changes; we like the benefits of our lifestyle! That makes us the unrepentant tax-collector or soldier – taking more than is our due!
This is a challenging hard passage, and is it made easier or more challenging by the final verse which describes this all as “good news”? The axe at the root of the tree, the winnowing fork to sort the grain from the chaff, the judgement of a holy God on a world and on those who ignore his teaching; is that good news? What is good news is that repentance is offered and can be received, those who have been away from God can find God, we who have not honoured God as we should are yet received, even those who were considered the worst. John came preaching truth, both judgement and forgiveness; the Greek word for judgement is krisis; in a crisis what choice do we make? How will we bear fruit worthy of repentance?
Rev Canon Peter
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
In joyful expectation of his coming to our aid we pray to Jesus.
Come to your Church as Lord and Judge.
We pray for your church here at St Maxentius and all in the Turton Moor Team. Bless us in all we do and say in your name. Let not our hands grow weak as we bear witness to you in our local community and beyond. Help us to live in the light of your coming and give us a longing for your kingdom.
Lord in you mercy, hear our prayer.
Come to you world as King of the Nations.
We pray for our bishops David and Mark, Peter, our team rector, the team clergy and all who minister to us. Give them wisdom and courage to continue your work here on earth. May they be ever mindful that you will rejoice over them with gladness and renew them in your love. We ask guidance on all who govern us and ask that whatever decisions they make will be for the good of all.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Come to the suffering as Saviour and Comforter.
We pray for all those whose circumstances make them feel far away from you. May we, your servants, be a comforting presence to them. Help us to share all that we have with those who have so little. We pray for all those who are ill or in distress. Break into our lives, where we struggle with sickness and distress and set us free to serve you forever.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Come to us as Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
We remember those recently departed and those whose anniversaries fall at this time Harry Berry, Chris Dale ,Richard Clinton and Dennis Hart
Give us with all the faithful departed a share in your victory over evil and death.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Come from heaven, Lord Jesus with power and great glory.
May we be filled with expectation and joy as we wait for your coming. Lift us up to meet you, that with St Maxentius and all your saints and angels we may live and reign with you in your new creation. Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay.
Merciful Lord, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD’S 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 forever. Amen.
May God the Father, judge all-merciful, make us worthy of a place in his Kingdom. Amen
May God the Son, coming among us in power, reveal in our midst the promise of his glory. Amen.
May God the Holy Spirit make us steadfast in faith, joyful in hope and constant in love. Amen.
And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us all and remain with us this Advent and until he comes. Amen.