This Sunday is Advent Sunday. It is the first of the four Sundays of Advent as we begin the journey to Christmas; the Incarnation of Jesus.
The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin ‘Adventus’, which translates as ‘Arrival’ or ‘Coming’. Therefore, these 4 weeks are a period of preparation and expectation. And that really comes at two levels – our readiness as churches, but also, and perhaps most importantly, our readiness spiritually in ourselves. This year we are challenged to approach Christmas in a different way to how we have come to know the period from the past. That is difficult, but it is also a real blessing. It is such a valuable opportunity to engage in the season of Advent in a new way, leading to the celebration of Christmas in a different way, and through that with openness of heart and mind we may discover a-fresh joys of that journey and the birth of Christ; the coming of our Lord.
There is an Aramaic word (Aramaic is the middle eastern language that it is believed Jesus would have spoken) that is often used at this time of year in our prayers.
‘Maranatha’, or, ‘Our Lord, come’.
As we progress through the season of Advent you may already have a tradition at home of using an Advent Calendar. It might be a candle, it might be a nativity scene, it might be something filled with chocolates or toys. It doesn’t matter – it is providing the focus and time each day to take a moment and remember we are preparing for Christmas.
Whatever it is you do – when you light that candle or open that door, why don’t you spend a few extra seconds to say ‘Maranatha’ and then just enjoy some quiet looking at the light, the picture, or the gift before you.
If we were in Wales we might be celebrating the 17thC poet and priest John Donne today. Here are parts 2 & 3 of his work ‘Holy Sonnets’ which speak of the Annunciation and Nativity:
2. Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.
3. Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
Coming out of Lockdown
Whilst official advice on church worship has not yet been published by the Church of England since the Government guidance issued on Monday, I am confident that we will be able to resume gathered worship in our churches from 2nd December. The announcement of Tiers tomorrow may have some bearing on how that happens, in particular specific social distancing requirements. I will update you further in due course.
Although we are coming again out of Lockdown, it is really important we do not let up on our vigilance surrounding keeping the virus at bay. It is around and there are cases locally – please be careful and always consider whether what you might be able to do is not unduly risky to yourself or others.
From 2nd December we return to the ‘rule of 6’ around meeting up socially with each other. Precise details of what we are able and not able to do will become apparent when we know what tier we are in.
Sunday 29th November – Advent Sunday
This will be a live Zoom online service at 10am, which will then be processed as a video available on YouTube and our website from about 1pm. It will be a service of Morning Worship and Advent hymns.
Meeting ID: 763 0024 8393
Wednesday 2nd December
11am Midweek Holy Communion at Cricket Malherbie (Rev Terri)
Sunday 6th December
Subject to confirmation of permission we will return to our post lockdown 1 rota. In church worship will be:
8am Forde Abbey – BCP Holy Communion
10am Winsham – Holy Communion
4pm Tatworth – Afternoon Worship
Recordings of a Sermon and the readings will be uploaded to access online.
Thursday 10th December
11am Midweek Holy Communion at Chaffcombe (Rev Philip)
Thursday Evening Zoom
Forthcoming Thursday Evening Zoom worship at 7:30pm:
Meeting ID: 761 0841 9112
26th November – Compline
3rd December – Advent Evening Prayer; The Patriarchs
10th December – Advent Evening Prayer; The Prophets
17th December – Advent Evening Prayer; John the Baptist
There will be a separate round robin with Christmas details on as soon as we have a bit more detail on worship guidelines.
Thank you so much to those that have already been helping with plans for outdoor nativities and prayer ideas, and those that have volunteered to record readings and help with other initiatives.
On Christmas Day Michelle and I and a small band of volunteers are intending to deliver a little token of Christmas joy to people in our communities for whom this Christmas may be particularly challenging; for example people on their own or for whom pastorally this is a difficult time. Please do drop me a line with people you think may benefit from a doorstep visit on Christmas Day, or indeed let a Churchwarden know. If you would like to help, please do also get in touch.
Rethink Mental Illness Charity Ride
Thank you to those who have supported Michelle, James, Florence and I in our charity ride to raise some money for Rethink Mental Illness in memory of my sister. We are on track (pun intended), thanks mainly to a sterling effort by Michelle as I managed to twist a knee last week! I am hoping to add some miles to the effort this week.
If you would like to support us, then please do include us in your prayers, and you may also donate to Rethink here:
All churches continue to be open during the week for an hour for private individual prayer. From 2nd December midweek Holy Communion will resume as detailed above.
Wednesdays – Tatworth, Cricket Malherbie & Thorncombe at 11am
Thursdays – Chaffcombe & Winsham at 11am
FOR YOUR PRAYERS:
Prayers for the Nation
The Archbishops are encouraging people to stop at 6pm each day and pray for the nation. You can find specific prayers each day on the Church of England website (www.churchofengland.org) or pray in your own way! Churches are invited to ring a single bell at 6pm each day during lockdown where practicable and safe to do so.
· All those weary in these times
· Those with financial worries feeling extra pressure at Christmas
· Those struggling with mental health
We also pray for those we know who are sick, and those we don’t know, including those we are asked to pray by name for:
Bishop Peter Hancock; Hannah Knott; Rob Allen; Lynne and Bruce Applegarth; Phyllis Baker; Margaret Bandy; Sue Bennett; Sue Cheese; Terry Conway; Nick Frankau; Paul Glazier; David Goodwill; Mike Heywood; Joy Howard; Ann Jarvis; Frank Long; Peter McHugh; Diana Rowlands; Ann Ricketts; Jim Tucker; Rosemary Walley; Rosemary Walton; Vivien Wheaton; Alan Wills, Anna Woodward; Pamala Young; Milly granddaughter of Jane & Alan Rudkin; Gillian Muggeridge; Chris Gould; Brian Griffiths; Peter Hathway; Dorothy Down; Brian Turner; Diana Kershaw
We remember in our prayers those who we love and see no longer, and the families and friends of those bereaved:
Nick Besley; Robert Gibbs; Rob Purser
A Prayer from John Donne:
Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity: in the habitations of thy majesty and glory, world without end. Amen.
SCRIPTURE FOR THE COMING FORTNIGHT
Wed 25 Nov – Rev 15:1-4; Luke 21:12-19
Thur 26 Nov – Rev 18:1-2, 21-23, 19:1-3,9; Luke 21:20-28
Fri 27 Nov – Rev 20:1-4, 11-21:2; Luke 21:29-33
Sat 28 Nov – Rev 22:1-7; Luke 21:34-36
Sun 29 Nov – Isa 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-end (Advent 1)
Mon 30 Nov – Isa 52:7-10; Matt 4:18-22 (St Andrew)
Tue 1 Dec – Isa 11:1-10; Luke 10:21-24
Wed 2 Dec – Isa 25:6-10a; Matt 15:29-37
A PRAYER FOR THE WEEK:
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,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Collect for Advent Sunday
With every blessing