Reflection for Third Sunday in Advent 20th December 2020
Hymn – Once In Royal David’s City
Once in royal David’s city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven,
who is God and Lord of all;
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall:
with the poor and mean and lowly
lived on earth our Saviour holy.
And he is our childhood’s pattern
day by day like us he grew;
he was little, weak and helpless,
tears and smiles like us he knew;
and he feeleth for our sadness,
and he shareth in our gladness.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing by,
we shall see him, but in heaven,
set at God’s right hand on high:
for he leads his people on
to the place where he is gone.
Reading – Ephesians Ch 1 vv 15 to 23
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.
And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
The Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen
So often, we spend the time of Advent looking back – back to the time before Jesus was born – we want to hurry towards Christmas as we hear the stories of Mary and Elizabeth and their babies, and to sing the Christmas songs and carols before the season of Christmas starts (but then stop singing them before the season ends!)
Advent, however, is not just about the past and remembering what happened. While we need to remember the past and learn from it, we also need to look forward to the future, and remember that God is always doing new things.
So, we need to keep Advent properly – a period of preparation. Preparation for Christmas, in the sense of remembering the amazing gift of God’s only Son, rather than the need to cook, shop and write cards. But also preparation for the time when Jesus will come again – in a way that no-one will be able to ignore.
Charles Wesley’s hymn pictures that future day of judgement described in Revelation. A day that some might fear: ‘deeply wailing’. A day that others wish would come: ‘O come quickly’.
This hymn reminds us that Advent is not just a taster for Christmas, but part of a long discipleship journey through life, so that we might confidently feel we belong to the group wishing the day would come quickly, knowing that God loves each of us as a special child.
This Advent, we may look back 2000 years, but let us also remember to look forward and allow God to do something new in our lives and in our churches.
Hymn – Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King,
peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise;
join the triumph of the skies,
with the angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem:
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.
Christ by highest heaven adored,
Christ the everlasting Lord,
late in time, behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel:
Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings:
mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise the things of earth,
born to give us second birth:
Father God, you are always making things new for us, looking forward rather than back. Help us not to get stuck looking back to the past, but forward to the new future you want for us. Amen