Diocesan Advent Service

Song  Joy Was In My Heart (Robert Réboud)
All sing: Joy was in my heart, Alleluia,
When I heard them say let us go to God’s house.

Reading  Isaiah 2:1-5
In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord
shall tower above the mountains
and be lifted higher than the hills.

Choir  And now our feet are standing, Alleluia,
Within your gates, O Jerusalem.

All sing: Joy was in my heart, Alleluia,
When I heard them say let us go to God’s house.

All nations shall stream to it, 
peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:
“Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths;
since the Law will go out from Zion,
and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

Choir  Jerusalem, most beautiful city so strongly compact, Alleluia,
On you converge all the tribes of the Lord.

All sing: Joy was in my heart, Alleluia,
When I heard them say let us go to God’s house.

He will wield authority over the nations 
and adjudicate between many peoples;
these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,
their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.

Choir May peace reign in your walls, happiness and love in all your homes, Alleluia,
For you are the house of the Lord, our God.

All sing: Joy was in my heart, Alleluia,
When I heard them say let us go to God’s house.

O house of Jacob, come,
Let us walk in the light of the Lord.

The Advent Wreath is carried in procession with the four candles and placed on a table in the sanctuary

Song  Christ Be Our Light (Bernadette Farrell)
All sing:  Christ be our light, shine in our hearts,
shine through the darkness.
Christ be our light, shine in your church gathered today.

Advent offers time for introspection, for resetting and rebooting our spiritual lives in preparation for what is about to happen. Advent is about slowing down, taking a step back and seeking a quiet time away from the frenzy and unrealistically high expectations. Advent calls us back to our core, our centre and re-connects us to who we really are – people of hope, peace, joy and love.

Icons of Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary are brought forward during the reading of the reflection on hope 

Reflection  Hope
Advent is dotted with figures of hope – Isaiah, John the Baptist, Mary. Saints are the best signs of hope in the world. For all of us the experience of goodness gives rise to hope. Those in tune with God notice his presence shaping and reshaping them and their world. Their hope knows where their staying power lies, namely in God. It overflows into taking responsibility for the world around them. People of hope know that they are shaped by their past but not imprisoned there, so they take on the responsibility of making society a better place. In that way the past is changed into the present. We wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord with a spirit of peace and tranquillity as we do what we can to build up the kingdom here and now.

Song  Wait for the Lord (Taizé)
 All sing:  Wait for the Lord whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart.

The Palestinian oil lamp of peace is carried forward at this time and moved through the assembly

 Reflection  Prince of Peace (Joyce Rupp)
Peace. The seed of it in every heart, every nation.
The possibility of a life and a world of nonviolence.
But peace cannot be forced on anyone,
Not even by you who reign with ultimate authority.
Peace evolves as individual minds and hearts change,
Willing to lay aside what causes dissension.
Open to discuss differences and divisive difficulties,
Ready to listen generously to another point of view.
Prince of peace, may you reign in our hearts.

Song  Healing Light (Karl Jenkins)

Swathes of pink cloth are carried forward and used to dress the space

The Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday – reminds us of the joy of this season of expectation. Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is about affirming that Jesus has come and that he will come again in power and that we are living ‘between the times’. We have a responsibility as a people commissioned to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’.

Song  Come to us, O Emmanuel (Marty Haugen)
All sing:  Come to us, O Emmanuel (2)

 Reflection  Joy (Sacred Space)
Psychiatrists say they are their busiest in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The feast stirs up anxieties linked to memories of childhood and connections with family. It pushes us to difficult decisions about sending invitations, cards or gifts. No wonder people talk about ‘getting over Christmas’. But our real friends do not judge us by those decisions. They like us to be calm and contented in ourselves, with a clean emotional palate so that we can enter into and taste other people’s joys.

All sing: Come to us, O Emmanuel (2)

Reflection  Love (St. Catherine of Siena)
If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbour’s love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty: it will always be full. So the love of your neighbour, whether spiritual or temporal, is meant to be drunk in me, without any self-interest.

Candles are carried forward and placed around the icon of Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary

Reading  Isaiah 7:14
The virgin will conceive
and give birth to a son
And they will call him Emmanuel,
A name which means “God is with us”.

Song   Breath of Heaven (Amy Grant)

Reading  Isaiah 40:3
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
Make his path straight.

Song   Prepare the Way (Taizé)
All sing: Prepare the way of the Lord, prepare the way of the Lord,
And all your people will see the salvation of our God.

During this season of gentle preparation we take stock of the past year. We look into our hearts with the eyes of compassion. We listen to the wisdom within guiding us on our journey. We make resolutions about how we want live this Christmas and beyond. We embrace a creed to live by.

Reflection                A Creed To Live By
Don’t undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.
Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you. 
Don’t take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them life is meaningless.
Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life. 
Don’t give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying. 
Don’t be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us to each other. 
Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
Don’t shut love out of your life by saying it’s impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give love. The fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.
Don’t dismiss your dreams. To be without dreams is to be without hope; to be without hope is to be without purpose.
Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you’re going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savoured each step of the way.

Song  Behold A Virgin (Ronan McDonagh)