The Sunday Eucharist readings, prayers and reflections are available below.
ADVENT I SUNDAY 29 NOVEMBER
Today's sermon is available as an audio recording here. Press play to start.
"Drop down ye heavens from above
And let the skies pour down righteousness."
Almighty God, 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 forever.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9,Mark 13;24-37
Grant that the Church may be vigilant to know and diligent to perform the will of Christ her Lord.
Guide all in authority to act with wisdom and justice.
Have mercy on all who are in darkness through suffering. We pray especially for the sick: Mary Maxwell and Paul Evans.
We pray for those who have died. May we be prepared for our own deaths and judgement.
The Season of Hope
Advent is the beginning of a new Christian year. It is a season of hope and hope fulfilled. It is a dual hope. It is hope in this life and in this world as we now live it. And we are still in great need of hope as this pandemic and its associated medical, social and economic consequences maintains its grip and plague us. Perhaps we have become more starkly aware of our mortality and the finitude of our years. Advent is also a season of hope for the future beyond this temporal sphere, beyond this world of time and space, beyond the confines of our mortality, beyond our span of years. Early hope and heavenly hope: existing hope and eschatological hope.
In a world of conflict, a world ravaged by disease, there is a great incentive to hope. But material hope, hope in this world is, of its nature, finite, confined within human capacity. The Christian religion envisages and end to time. There will be an end to human history. This is a theme much in evidence in the Early Church and among the first Christian communities. We can see that in the Biblical narrative.
There is, then, something of a paradox in the Advent Season. In the period when we are preparing to celebrate the Birth of Christ our Gospel narrative focuses on Our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem which led to his Passion, Crucifixion and death a few days later. It was a week which began with loud hosannas and ended with the crown crying out “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.” Even in the foothills of Christmas, we stand at the foot of the Cross. we have to hold these twin demands in some kind of balance. We must give due weight and seriousness to the Advent which heralds the birth of Jesus, which commemorates the historical past, the birth of Jesus at a specific time and in a specific place. And, also, the future of time beyond time.
The Birth of Christ is a perpetually startling and significant event and the Church invites our contemplation of the great Advent themes of death, judgement, heaven and hell which mark out its cosmic and personal significance. Our facing these great themes serves to bring to mind the fact that our following of Christ, our discipleship, our life of service and self-sacrifice, this habit that we have of costly love, is not an amiable eccentricity, nor something that we should confine to the hours between eleven and twelve on a Sunday morning but it is something that speaks of who we are and what we are, and what we are meant to be, and articulates the most profound expression of our personality and being.
The Christian promise and hope begins in Advent. We contemplate the Last Things as we prepare to greet the Incarnate God will make all things new. God in Christ Jesus will re-fashion us. He renewed his covenant in Christ, the Word made flesh. He redeemed humankind in his Son’s crucifixion and death. He guaranteed an eternal dimension to our existence through his Resurrection, Ascension and glorification. Christ’s ministry teaches us how to be fully human; how to relate in kindness and generosity to our neighbour; how to care for the unfortunate, the poor and dispossessed. And we must be perfectly clear that the safety and the comfort of our souls are contingent on our participation in the divine gift of love, in acts of charity one to another, engaged in caritas: they are synonyms for the love of God in Christ Jesus, the incarnational imperative, delivered to us in that moment of divine interaction of heaven and earth: God made man.
Christ Church, Hampstead 2020