The Sunday Eucharist readings, prayers and reflections are available below.
ADVENT IV SUNDAY 20 DECEMBER
"When came in flesh the incarnate Word,
The heedless world slept on,
And only simple shepherds heard
That God had sent his Son.
When comes the Saviour at the last,
From east and west shall shine
The judgement light, and earth aghast
Shall tremble at the sign.
Then shall the pure of heart be blest,
As mild he comes to them,
As when upon the Virgin's breast
He lay at Bethlehem."
God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38.
Fill the Church with the power of the Holy Spirit announced to the Virgin Mary. Like Mary may we be open to hear and obey the will of God.
May peace come to places of strife and violence.
Bless our families, friends and neighbours as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.
Bring comfort and healing to the sick and strengthen and support all who care for them. We pray especially for Mary Maxwell and Paul Evans.
We pray for the departed. May they rejoice and praise God with our Lady St Mary and all the saints.
Our Lady, ark of the new Covenant
Our covenant with God demands a sacrifice of love and service, and demands that we follow Our Lady, that we follow the path she took, that we respond to the call to follow the Son of God to the Cross and on to Pentecost. For in Mary is no less a perfect model for us of that spirit of obedience and response in love and trust to the will of God which was her vocation and her high privilege, and which is ours too. She was obedient at the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel came to her out of the blue, as it were, to tell her that she was going to “conceive in your womb and bear a son.” She was indeed “troubled” and who would not be? But her response was immediate, unstinting and unhesitating. “Be it unto me according to your word.” And here this morning, virtually on the eve of the Nativity, we see Mary again the model of obedience and belief, the model of the new covenant. She is the ark of that new covenant between God and his people. “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Mary trusted. She was obedient to the call of God. She believed that the promise made to her would come about. Mary was blessed because she believed that the promises would be fulfilled.
As always, every statement about the Virgin Mary is primarily a statement about Our Lord, about Christ himself. Talk about Mary is talk about Jesus. Talk about Mary is talk about us. The Virgin Mary is called Blessed because she was obedient and co-operated by her participation in God’s plan. But, more importantly and significantly, she is blessed because the fruit of her womb, Our Lord and her Lord, our God and her God, our Creator and her Creator, the one sent from God and is most truly holy and blessed above all others. If we look at Our Lady we always see Our Lord. And that is why she is such a good guide and model for us in our Christian discipleship. She followed her Son on his journey to the Cross and even as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity, we look to the Cross because it is through the birth and the death of Our Lord that the new covenant is established.
Now more than ever Mary speaks to us and to our condition as Christians and now more than ever we need to emulate the response she made to the message of the Angel; to obey as she obeyed, to trust as she trusted, to believe as she believed, to be faithful as she was faithful. In her we see what we are destined to be. As the Church, we are the Body of Christ and we can see in Mary the contemporary model of the Church. The Church is always at the disposal of God, seeking to do his will. In Mary we see the most human of human beings, the model of the perfect Christian, selfless, loving, serving. She points the way for us, the way to her Son. Elizabeth recognised the unique joy that was to be Mary’s, the unique joy we are about to celebrate. As for Mary, so for us, the promise is about to be fulfilled.
Christ Church, Hampstead 2020