This service can be used at home if you are unable to get to church. As you pray and reflect, we trust you will feel part of the wider church community.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence,
O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and forever. Amen.
Almighty God our heavenly Father
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. 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, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us,
and with great might succour us; that whereas,
through our sins and wickedness we are
grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen
Isaiah 40: 1-11: God’s People Are Comforted
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
A voice says, ‘Cry out’! And I said, ‘What shall I cry’?
All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’
See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
Mark 1: 1-8: The Proclamation of John the Baptist
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”.
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
Three questions you might ask about the readings
What strikes you from the readings?
What puzzles you from the readings?
What excites you from the readings?
Well, here we are at the start of a new liturgical year (which began last week with the first Sunday of Advent) and a new gospel for us to explore, we’ve moved into Mark’s gospel and despite starting somewhere in the middle last week, we’re right at the beginning today and the tone is being set…
It is quick and snappy and this lays out for us the literary landscape that we’re going to have throughout the entirety of Mark’s Gospel, the shortest of the four and the most fast-paced, with its short sentences, action verbs, and a narrative that focuses more on what Jesus says than what he does. After a quick orientation with a scripture from Isaiah, John “appears” in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. There is no birth narrative, no poetic pericope describing Jesus’ heavenly origins, just a quick dive into the work of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus.
Whether we like it or not, there is urgency here. It is unavoidable. Mark wants us to know that something is happening, it is happening right now, the time for preparation is over, now it is time for action and for receiving whatever is next. Something is beginning. It’s a good way to get us to focus on the season of advent, the beginning of a new adventure. This passage and its urgency serves as a timely reminder of the foundations of our faith, a recommitment to what defines us, and an opportunity for us to wake up and make pathways straight for Jesus to come into our communities anew.
The actions, words and very presence of John points to one thing and one thing only, the coming of Jesus. The baby whose arrival we anticipate in this season each year. The one for whom we all exist. We’re into our second week of advent, I wonder if you’ve made time to think about what is coming next yet? There is urgency in the gospel, yes, but there is also an urgency and pressure in our daily lives too. I wonder which urgency you’re giving into most easily?
As previously mentioned, Mark’s gospel is one of action. We can busy ourselves quite easily these days in all manner of ways, but are we choosing the right thing to busy ourselves with? Action is one thing, the right action at the right time is quite another. Discernment, prayer and reflection are required. Take this passage, this opening to a new gospel year, and use it to help you focus. There is an invitation here, it is up to us to choose how we respond.
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;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
he will come again in glory
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.
Please include your own prayers as well
In our prayers we pray for our church, our communities and our world
Lord God, we pray for our churches, our Turton Team, our Mission Community, our Diocese and the world-wide Church in every land.
Bless the leaders, guard the people, guide us in our future;
May we share the gospel in word and deed
and bring glory to your name;
Lord bless our churches we pray
Lord God we pray for our community
We pray for our schools, the children and staff.
We pray for all who work to make our communities a better place for others
We pray for Councillors and carers;
Lord bless our community we pray
Lord God we pray for our nation
May our leaders lead with integrity and justice
Give them wisdom and direct their decisions.
We pray that ours may be a nation
where the poor and vulnerable are cared for and helped
and where all may flourish;
Lord bless our nation we pray
Lord God, we pray for our world,
for the war-torn places, we pray for peace.
We pray that all may work together to alleviate need
and to protect this world for future generations;
Lord bless our world we pray
Lord God, we pray for those who are sick, in body, mind or spirit
We pray for those we know, and those who have no one to pray for them.
We pray for those who are dying and those who grieve;
We ask that you would give healing and peace to the soul
Lord bless the sick we pray
Merciful Father, 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.
Keep a moment of quiet as you allow God to speak to you,
as you let your spirit rest in God’s Spirit.
May the Lord
bless us and watch over us,
make his face shine upon us
and be gracious to us.
May the Lord look kindly on us
and give us peace,
and may the blessing of God Almighty,
our Creator, our Redeemer,
the one who gives us Life
be among us and with us all always. Amen.