Worship for Sunday 10th December, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to worship

Come and find peace in the Lord.
Put behind you the troubles you bring with you.
Empty your mind of anger and regret.
Focus on God’s love for you,
and for all your sisters and brothers,
and be ready for worship.

Hymn: StF 264   Make way, make way for Christ the King

Make way, make way
For Christ the King
In splendour arrives
Fling wide the gates and welcome Him
Into your lives

Make way! (Make way!)
Make way! (Make way!)
For the King of kings
(For the King of kings)
Make way! (Make way!)
Make way! (Make way!)
And let His kingdom in

He comes the broken hearts to heal
The prisoners to free
The deaf shall hear, the lame shall dance
The blind shall see

And those who mourn with heavy hearts
Who weep and sigh
With laughter, joy and royal crown
He’ll beautify

We call you now to worship Him
As Lord of all
To have no gods before Him
Their thrones must fall!

Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 1986 Thankyou Music

Opening Prayers

A voice cries in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord’.
We will heed that voice.
We will turn away from all that separates us from God.
We will trust God when the going is dangerous,
and rejoice when it is beautiful
We will journey through Advent in prayer and praise.

God of Advent,

we confess that we have been
reluctant to speak out your message of hope,
and to live out your promise of salvation.
Give us the generosity of heart
and the wisdom of spirit
to be your messengers in your world today,
that others may know that you love them
and call them closer to you.

God of all ages and all travellers,
we praise and adore your faithfulness.
Despite our half-heartedness,
you give your whole self to us.
To challenge our complacency,
you give us the urgent message of John the Baptist.
To prepare us for Christmas,
you bless us with the season of Advent.
To show your love for us, you call us home.
We praise and adore you.
In Jesus’ name.

Reading: Isaiah 40:1 – 5

40 Comfort, O comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that she has served her term,
    that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all people shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Hymn: StF 183 Praise to the God who clears the way

Praise to the God who clears the way

preparing room and space;

for power and pride will lose their sway

as peace comes in their place.

Praise to the God who comes to judge

the truth of word and deed,

who calls our minds and wills to change,

rebuking wealth and greed.

Praise to the God who waits with us

for hope and joy to reign,

who shares our suffering and our loss,

embodied in our pain.

Praise to the God who comes to bring

comfort to all who mourn.

The whole creation ‘Glory’ sings

as Christ the light is born.

 Jan Berry (b.1953)

Words © Jan Berry Music © Norman Warren/ Jubilate Hymns.


Gospel Reading: Mark 1:1 – 8

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
    “Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight”’,

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’


Names are important. The other day, I was reading about Charles Dickens’ notes in preparation for his hit novel ‘David Copperfield’. There was a list of about ten possibilities before he came up with the final version of his hero’s name. He knew that the success of the novel would depend partly on getting that name right.

Mark begins this Gospel with a string of names for Jesus, and you wonder what conversations had taken place within the early Christian community before these were recognised as the right names for this person whose life made such an impact. ‘Jesus’ was the name given by the angel, so Matthew tells us. It’s a name with a long history in Jewish tradition, the Greek version of Joshua, which means ‘The Lord is salvation’. The name was common in Jesus’ own time (and remains so today in some parts of the world) as a statement of confidence in God’s power to save the people, but as a name for Jesus it carries a whole new set of meanings – the Lord lives in this human being and he is the one who is our salvation.

The second name is ‘Christ’, not in fact a name at all but a title. Christ and Messiah mean the same thing – God’s anointed one. The Jews had been waiting for centuries for God to send a royal representative, an envoy who would proclaim God’s good news and bring about God’s kingdom. Mark’s Gospel affirms the Christian belief that in Jesus, Messiah has come at last, and the kingdom is beginning with his presence.

The third name is ‘Son of God’. Mark does not tell us the stories of Jesus’ birth which are found in other Gospels, but he does want us to understand that Jesus is intimately related to God, as a parent is related to a child. In Jesus, we can see the likeness of God. In Jesus, the character of God is made human, and revealed to be love. In Jesus, the power of God is fully present and at work to change the world for good.

Mark, and the other Gospel writers, give Jesus many names as they share the good news of his life, death and salvation. For Mark, these are the key names, and his readers need to bear these names in mind as they read the rest of the Gospel. As Jesus travels round Galilee, teaching and healing – as he travels to Jerusalem to face hostility – even as he dies on the Cross, he remains Jesus Christ, Son of God. That is the good news proclaimed by John the Baptist as he prepared the way for the great one who was coming after him. And it is the good news that shapes our lives today. Whatever challenges we face, whatever difficulties life brings, God is with us in Jesus Christ, Son of God, the mighty one who brings the kingdom and gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through him, we can be sure that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is ours in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayers for church and world, for one another and ourselves

With confidence in Isaiah’s words,
‘Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God’,
we pray for the world.

‘In the wilderness prepare the way.’
We pray for those who lead us,
those who entrusted with momentous decisions:
give them patience.
Come, O come Emmanuel.

‘Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low.’
We pray for those who are oppressed:
those who live under tyrannical regimes,
those who are fearful at work,
those who do not get fair wages or fair prices
for what they produce.
Come Lord, to redeem your people.
Come, O come Emmanuel.

The uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.’
We pray for all who suffer:
the sick,
those who find mobility difficult, especially in bad weather,
those who find the dark and cold oppressive,
those who face hunger in a world
that has so many riches to offer.
Give them patience.
Come, O come Emmanuel.

‘The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.’
We pray for those whose lives are drawing to a close,
for those who care for the dying,
those who mourn.
Guide them Lord,
and gather them in your loving arms.
Come, O come Emmanuel.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

Now and forever



Hymn: StF 181  Of the Father’s love begotten

  1. Of the Father’s Love begotten

Ere the worlds began to be,

He is Alpha and Omega,

He the source, the ending He,

Of the things that are, that have been,

And that future years shall see,

Evermore and evermore

  1. By his word was all created;
    He commanded ; it was done :
    Earth and sky and boundless ocean
    universe of three in one ;
    All that sees the moon’s soft radiance,
    all that breathes beneath the sun,
    Evermore and evermore!
  2. This is He Whom seers in old time
    Chanted of with one accord ;
    Whom the voices of the Prophets
    Promised in their faithful word;
    Now He shines, the long-expected:
    Let creation praise its Lord :
    Evermore and evermore!
  3. O ye heights of heaven adore Him!
    Angel-hosts His praises sing!
    All dominions bow before Him,
    And extol our God and King ;
    Let no tongue on earth be silent,
    Every voice in concert ring,
    Evermore and evermore!

Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348 – 413), translated by JH Neale (1811 – 1866) and HW Baker (1821 – 1877)

Go from this place full of hope,
knowing that the way may not be smooth but God is already there.
Go as people of expectation,
looking for that new thing God is doing.
Go as people bearing good news
for the disadvantaged, the oppressed – and the successful.
Live as gospel people in this Advent season
as the world once again looks for peace, joy and community.
Share the hope, expectation, and good news with all those you meet.