Worship for Sunday 13th December, by Rev. Krystyna Kwarciak

Call to worship:

Come once more, with eager longing, to receive the promises of God.
Out of the desert places of our lives
we gather with joy and gladness.

Happy are those who help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
Our God has promised that lonely places and deserts will be glad
and blossom as the rose.

The Lord has promised that the blind will be able to see,
the deaf will hear,
the lame will leap and dance,
and those who cannot speak will shout for joy.

Our God,
who made heaven and earth and all that is in them,
keeps faith forever.
He sets the prisoners free and brings healing to all who seek him.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down
and watches over strangers.
He upholds the orphan and the widow.

Our God executes justice for the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
Come once more, with eager longing,
and bless the holy name of our God.


Opening prayer:

Holy God,
Open our eyes to the presence of your Spirit
upon us, within us, among us.
For our apathy in the presence of oppression,
Forgive us.

If we have contributed to the broken heartedness of anyone,
Forgive us.
For our participation in systems that enslave,
Forgive us.
When we are deaf to your good news,
Have mercy and open our ears.
When our mouths remain too tightly closed,
Loosen our lips with songs of praise.
Hear our prayer, O God, and forgive our sins.
Hold us in your mercy, now and forever.


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 other gods but him:
Their thrones must fall!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
   because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
   to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
   and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
   and the day of vengeance of our God;
   to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
   to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
   the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
   they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
   the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice,
   I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
   and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
   and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
   that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
   my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
   he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
   and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
   and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
   to spring up before all the nations.


They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. […] For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations’ Isaiah 61

Dear Friends,

There is a tale of a farmer who was working in his field. He looked up just in time to see a man riding a horse that was galloping as fast as lightning. The rider and horse zipped by the field when the farmer asked, “Hey, where are you going?” The rider looked back and shouted, “I don’t know, ask the horse!”. Sometimes we feel like we are on a ride that we cannot stop. Some people call that ride “life”, this is just the way life is, there is nothing to be done, others call that ride “fate” – some things are simply meant to be. If we are to take the words of our Bible readings for today seriously I think we may be able to compare that ride called life to a tree planted by God and nurtured by His Spirit.

We can’t always choose our circumstances, but God makes sure that we are planted in the right place at the right time. And He expects us to bloom, to grow, to bear good fruit where we are planted, wherever we are planted, however difficult our situation may be. Sometimes we think to ourselves: if only I could swap lives with someone else, then I could bloom, but I cannot grow, I cannot bloom, I cannot bear fruit where I am, things are just too hard…Sometimes we feel like we are planted in the middle of a desert, like we are planted amongst weeds: What was God thinking when he placed me here, in this situation?

Prophet Isaiah is preaching to people who have returned to Jerusalem after a lengthy exile that challenged their faith and caused them to lose all hope. They too feel like they have been planted in the desert, amongst ruins, if only they could be like the other nations, wealthy, powerful and proud. But Isaiah reminds them and us today that we are all called to grow and testify to God’s glory right where we are.

There is a tree that I walk past nearly every day, it seems to be planted in concrete and if you could just see what it’s doing to the fence that was in its way, it’s not taking any notice of that fence. It doesn’t say – Sorry, I can’t grow or bloom with a fence nearby – it just swallows up the fence…Isaiah is trying to convince his people that they need to grow and see beyond the ruins, the fences, the desert and look to God’s Spirit, the bringer of good news and source of all gladness. He tells God’s people: ‘as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations’. The seeds for their future happiness, the seeds of liberation and hope have already been planted. Just like the exiles from the book of Isiah we are all firmly rooted in one place, planted here by God, but at the same time we are on a journey with Him, with His Spirit who is untamable, unpredictable and can change anything within us and around us…Amen

Discussion questions:

  1. What are some of the ways that help you overcome discouragement and disappointment? What do you do or pray for when you feel discouraged?
  1. Have you noticed any signs of God’s ‘righteousness and glory springing up’ in your life, local community or the wider society?

StF 404: God’s Spirit is in my heart…

God’s Spirit is in my heart,
He has called me and set me apart.
This is what I have to do,
what I have to do:

He sent me to give the Good News to the poor,
Tell prisoners that they are prisoners no more,
Tell blind people that they can see,
And set the downtrodden free
And go tell everyone the news that the Kingdom of God has come,
And go tell everyone the news that the Kingdom of God has come.
Just as the Father sent me,
So I’m sending you out to be
My witnesses throughout the world,
The whole of the world.

Just as the Father sent me,
So I’m sending you out to be
My witnesses throughout the world,
The whole of the world:


Don’t worry what you have to say,
Don’t worry because on that day
God’s Spirit will speak in your heart,
Will speak in your heart:


Closing prayers:

Holy Light, God of faithful witnesses, please shine in our hearts with all the joys of your coming Son. May we be delivered from trusting the artificial lights of our generation, and from the ephemeral, decorative lights of this season.

Bring us into the open place where, dazed yet not afraid, we may praise you with wonder and adore you with profound joyfulness.

In this Advent season, Light of the World, come,

Come to the oppressed and exploited,

Come to the despised and rejected,

Come to all in whom the divine image is distorted.


We wait in joyful expectation.

Come not as a man of power, but in love and compassion,

Come to the outcast – like the shepherds in the fields,

Come to foreigners – like Magi watching from afar,

Come to rich and poor, young and old, male and female,


We wait in hopeful anticipation.

Come to bless all creation with your love,

Come to bring salvation on the earth,

Come to rule with justice and in peace.

Come Light of the World, illuminate our path.


We wait with all the peoples of the earth, Light of the World, Jesus of Nazareth, our Christ and Saviour. We welcome your coming and we pray:


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

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom

The power, and the glory

For ever and ever.


 StF 180: O come, o come, Immanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave


O come, Thou Day-Spring

Come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight


O come, Thou Key of David, come

And open wide our heavenly home

Make safe the way that leads on high

And close the path to misery


O come, O come, Thou Lord of might

Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height

In ancient times did’st give the Law

In cloud, and majesty and awe



May starlight guide your steps towards this place of wonder
May angels sing their news as you travel to the manger
May promise fill these days as we watch at the edge of birth
and may faith tell you, Emmanuel will be with us soon, in human skin.