Worship for Sunday 27th November 2022, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

People of God, open your eyes!

Look around!

The presence of our Lord Jesus Christ is here—

among us and within us.

God’s salvation is close at hand—

nearer than you know.

So open your hearts and minds to the Spirit,

and let’s worship God together!


Opening Hymn: StF 180  O come, O come, Emmanuel

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, O come, O Lord of might,
Who to your tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O Rod of Jesse, free
Your own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell your people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by your advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Latin, 18th century, translated by John Mason Neale (1811 – 1866)


Opening Prayers

Lord of all that is, Creator, Friend and Inspiration:
you are the light that shines through all light,
the life of all that lives.
We stand before you as your children
with no words fierce enough to speak your glory,
no words strong enough to tell your love,
no words great enough to give our thanks.
Accept, then, the wordless pictures of our hearts,
the loving music of our souls;
for you are beyond the reach of our descriptions
and the glory of your holy hill is beyond our imagining.

Merciful God, you love all that you have made
and will not turn your face away from your children;
we come before you now
knowing that we have put our own will before yours,
and our own selfishness before the good of others:
we are sorry and ashamed.

Merciful God, you made us to be one family
yet everywhere we turn our backs on one another.
You made us for peace and we have learned war:
we are sorry and ashamed.

In our hearts, we harbour anger and mistrust
when Christ calls us to love and generosity.
When you need us to speak for peace, we stand in silence;
when you need us to stand alongside Christ, we step aside:
we are sorry and ashamed.

Merciful God, forgive us.
Merciful God, forgive us.

Praise God who makes the heavens and the earth.
Praise to God who is our light and life.

God of peace, we thank you for the Prince of Peace,
for whose coming we wait.
For all that brings your love into our lives, we thank you.
Praise God who makes the heavens and the earth.
Praise to God who is our light and life.
Praise to God who loves all people. Amen.

Romans 13:11 – 14

11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; 13 let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Hymn: Longing for light, we wait in darkness   (StF 706)

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has power to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Christ, be our light!

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.

Christ, be our light!

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

Christ, be our light!

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.

Christ, be our light!

Bernadette Farrell (b.1957), © 1993 Bernadette Farrell

Matthew 24:36 – 44

36 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.


My family has problems with telling the time. Even with a phone to tell us, we can still get confused. It’s all to do with time zones. Our son lives in Abu Dhabi, four hours ahead, at least at this time of year. Our daughter is in Chicago, six hours behind. It’s a little complicated to work out timings for family catch-ups over Zoom – sometimes I’m not 100% sure which day it is for them, let alone where they are in the day.

Our Scripture readings offer two different perspectives on the question: what time is it? Which time-zone are we in? Paul tells his readers: it’s wake-up time. He’s expecting that soon they will experience God’s promised salvation, and he wants them to be ready. Don’t let the dawn find you sleeping, he says – get dressed in the armour of light, prepared to play your full part in the glory of the coming day.

Jesus tells his disciples something different. You don’t know what the time is, he says; you don’t know whether the Son of Man will come tomorrow or in a thousand years. He gives us the image of the Flood, water sweeping across the land, a world-changing force as uncontrollable as it is unexpected. God’s time is unpredictable and cannot be pinned down.

Does this leave you confused, spinning between time-zones? It wouldn’t be surprising! And yet at the core of both texts there is the same teaching: God-ward change is happening, and will continue to happen. Paul wants his readers to understand that God’s kingdom is already beginning to flourish among them. The good news of Jesus is spreading far and wide across their world and they are part of that mission. People’s lives are changing for good – the night is far gone, the dawn is already near. There are still many problems to struggle with, but nevertheless – the day is near.  Here and now, life is changing.

Jesus is looking to a future promise, when one day God’s kingdom will be present in all its fullness, when evil will be uprooted and destroyed and everyone will see that at the heart of all creation there is the love of God. This complete transformation is in God’s hands and wholly beyond our control. Jesus teaches us to live in trust and hope, recognising that things will not always be as they are now and that God holds all things together.

So for now, the world is changing but not yet fully changed. Iran’s football team join in protesting at the regime in their country, but the protests have not yet achieved their goal. Churches join with many others in supporting foodbanks, but the shocking need for the foodbanks is still very much with us. There are signs of hope but not yet the full reality of God’s reign – and at the beginning of Advent, Jesus tells us: look out for the signs which are with us now, and keep on hoping and trusting that the time will come when the earth will be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.


God of the mountain tops and of the valleys,
hear our prayer today.

We pray for peace in our world,
and peace for your people
in all our diversity, in every situation across the globe.

We pray that the day will soon come
when there will be no more war,
when weapons of destruction
are made into tools for construction,
and that instead of barren and charred land,
we will see fruitfulness and lush ground.

May all nations of the world come to see you
as their God and king.
Where darkness reigns,
we ask that dawn will break the clouded sky
and imbue it with glorious light.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Hymn: There’s a light upon the mountains (StF 188)

There’s a light upon the mountains,  and the day is at the spring,
When our eyes shall see the beauty and the glory of the King;
Weary was our heart with waiting, and the night-watch seemed so long,
But His triumph-day is breaking, and we hail it with a song.

There’s a hush of expectation, and a quiet in the air;
And the breath of God is moving in the fervent breath of prayer;
For the suffering, dying Jesus is the Christ upon the throne,
And the travail of our spirit is the travail of His own.

He is breaking down the barriers, He is casting up the way;
He is calling for His angels to build up the gates of day;
But His angels here are human, not the shining hosts above,
For the drum-beats of His army are the heart-beats of our love.

Hark! we hear a distant music, and it comes with fuller swell;
‘Tis the triumph song of Jesus, of our King Emmanuel;
Zion, go ye forth to meet Him, and my soul, be swift to bring
All thy sweetest and thy dearest for the triumph of our King.

Henry Burton (1840 – 1930)

Lord, we pray that in all our preparations
for the coming week and for Christmas,
we may find time to spend time with you.
Help us to be prayerful, watchful,
and full of hope for your coming.

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