ST. MAXENTIUS WORSHIP AT HOME – Sunday 11th December Advent 3


Good morning everyone, I hope you are all well, last weeks Christmas fair raised over £2,000 which was a great success, many thanks to all who contributed in any way and a special thank you to Nicola Waring who co-ordinated the whole thing. Our toy service went well last week and we had an interesting insight into the work of Fort Alice by Gill Smallwood’s talk. Thank you to everyone who donated toys they were very well received and collected on Thursday morning, after the children’s service the night before, it was great to see such generosity during the present financial climate – many thanks again.

Our Carol service will be held on Sunday 18th December at 9.30. Jo has attached details of all our Christmas services both at St. Maxentius and around the team.

Today’s reading from Matthew tells Jesus’ praise of John the Baptist. The reflection is by Rev Peter and prayers of intercession by Alison Greaves, many thanks to them both.

Jan B.


Our Lord says “surely I come quickly” Even so’ Come, Lord Jesus – Revelation 22.20

Almighty God to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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 neighbours 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.

May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners, bring us his pardon

and peace, now and forever. Amen.


Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy, Christ have mercy

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.


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.


ISAIAH 35. 1-10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,* the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it,*  but it shall be for God’s people;* no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. Glory to you O Lord.

MATTHEW 11. 2-11

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
   who will prepare your way before you.”
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ


This is week 2 of our focus on John the Baptist – although we prepare for Christmas we must remember this passage is about the adult ministry of John and Jesus. This passage has two sets of questions and two answers. but I want to focus on the question from John to Jesus.

John has kicked off this movement: Jesus has joined it and taken it on, and is now preaching and ministering, but John is in prison, put there by Herod, the ruler of Galilee (not the Herod of Christmas).

Understandably John is confused. In his timing, the Messiah would come and there would be victory, and he has a personal interest in this timing. Jesus responds with a summary quote from Isaiah 61 but crucially Jesus leaves out the section about setting the captive free. That is the one bit that is most important to John! Instead John is told “blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me”. There are signs of the coming Kingdom, but it is not here in its fulness; in fact the Herods and Pilates of this world will continue to do their worst; As John so will be Jesus, prisoner and executed by the hostile powers. At times it will feel as if the hostile powers are winning – and the righteous are suffering unjustly and unfairly, whether John in prison, or Ukrainian, Yemeni, Afghan people today. How they must long for the one who is to come, to come; are maybe they are tempted to wait for another, or put their faith in another.

This is part of the challenge of Advent, the light we affirm, is fragile compared to the apparent power of the darkness around. Can we trust in this light? Can we say with St John (a different John of course from John the Baptist), “the darkness cannot overcome it”? In places of violence and war and corruption, the light seems to be smashed, and in our Western world the power of secularisation seems to be snuffing it out – as the recent Census indicates. What does this mean for us?

I have always found this question from John so poignant. He has done so much and given so much. He has invested in proclaiming that the Messiah is coming and has pointed people on to Jesus. Now he is in prison, almost certainly to be executed. ‘Are you the one or should we wait for another?’ Has he got it all wrong, Jesus is good but not strong enough maybe? And Jesus answer is ambivalent, not in being unclear, but in being clear that he is the Messiah, but the way of the Messiah, for all the signs and indicators, is not the way of triumph and glory but of offence and suffering. Some will take offence at this and look for another!

Rev Peter.



Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.

We believe in God the Father, who created all things;

For by his will they were created and have their being.

We believe in God the Son who was slain;

For his blood, he purchased us for God, from every tribe and language, from every people and nation.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit;

The spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” Even so come Lord Jesus! Amen.


Here we pray for the church, for the world, those in need and those who have died, you can follow your own prayers or these below on today’s theme.

Lord I remember how Bethlehem was a shambles: full of activity yet unprepared for its cosmic guest.

And that’s how it is with my life, Lord. I’ve a Christmas card list which reads like a Roman census. I’ve guests to plan for and presents to pack. Help me to stop and begin a different kind of preparation. Help me to take stock of my priorities, my relationships, my hopes, so that I am in the right frame of mind to embrace  this season with its promise of peace , its announcement of joy,and its opportunity to make a new beginning.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Faithful God, may we like Mary, worship in such a way that our joy in you grows through the recognition of the countless ways we have benefited from your blessings throughout our lives and the goodness that you show to us despite our shortcomings. Help us to pass on our faith to the next generation of our families that they too might praise with the same joy that Mary did.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Father God, we pray for children who cannot take part in Christmas celebrations because of the expense; those who put themselves seriously into debt attempting to meet expectations; those who may have to use foodbanks for a Christmas meal. Help us to do all that we can through our prayers and through our giving to local charities like Fort Alice and Urban Outreach that are helping the less fortunate.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Loving Lord, we were created to receive your love that brings us life in your Spirit. We are built up in love whenever your light shines through our actions. Following the example of Jesus, the bearer of your Spirit, may we live, not to be served but to be served, bringing your love into everything we do for each other and for those in need. For the good of our communities and the glory of your Kingdom, in Jesus’ name.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Lord bring hope to the hopeless including those in trouble today, and comfort to the sick and those who suffer in mind, body and spirit. Be with all those who are finding it hard to cope with the pressures of Christmas through financial worry, stress or discord.

Today we think of Sandra Valentine and Irene Bennett. Let us keep in our prayers the people and the country of Ukraine as they try to prepare for Christmas. With a lack of power, warmth and water. Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ. According to your promises, grant us, with them, a share in your eternal kingdom and from our book of remembrance, Alan William Maycraft, Doreen Wood, Harry Berry, Chris Dale, Richard Clinton and Dennis Hart.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

God of the new and the old, God of the past and the future, God of the light and the dark, God of all our ways, renew and inspire us. Help us to play our part in bringing change where it is needed. Help us to trust you who makes all things new and yet is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


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 the Lord of Peace himself give us peace at all times and in every way. May the Lord be with us all and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us and those that we love today and forever. Amen.

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