29th NOVEMBER 2020
10.00am Online Facebook Parish Eucharist
10.45am Online Zoom Coffee
6.00pm Online St Andrews Day
Readings: Isaiah 1.2-5, Romans 13.11.14, Matthew 24.36-44
For your prayers:
- All those across the world affected by the Coronavirus; the sick and the frightened
- For all medical professionals and researchers
- The residents and staff of care homes, including those in our parish - Cedar Lodge, Aspen Court and Northway House
- The sick and those who have died
- Bishop Peter, Bishop Ruth and their families
- Josie, Chris, Dean and Lisa as they prepare to be confirmed at our Deanery confirmation service on 10th December
- The Church will be open for private prayer on Sundays from 12 noon to 3.30pm and Thursdays from 9.00am to 12.30pm. Please note that on Thursday 3 December, the organ tuner will be in the Church during the morning.
- Please note that all church services, meetings and events are suspended until further notice, and the church building and office will remain closed. Please contact Lesley Jones in relation to enquiries about the Church Hall, but it will only be possible to accommodate exempted activities during lockdown.
THIS WEEK’S NOTICES
Josie Wall will be confirmed with other candidates from our Deanery at St Andrew's on Thursday 10 December at 7pm. There is a booking system in place for this service, but please do get in touch with Katy if you would like to book a place and come and support them: email@example.com or 01823 330854. (No need to book if you have a specific role in the service.)
David Budd has been re-elected for his second year as Churchwarden. David is officially alone in this role. There will be a number of people who will be supporting him in the background. If you would like to offer your support, please speak to David. Many thanks.
Bill and Ali Perry will be hosting zoom coffee each Sunday during the present lockdown from 10.45am. The joining details for this week are set out below. Please do not share the password in a public place, but feel free to invite friends and share it with them if you would like to.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 775 5183 0440 Passcode: 9mjcyY
CAP (Christians Against Poverty)
CAP provided services to people struggling with issues of money management and debt.
CAP has an office in Taunton and would be delighted to help any parishioners (regardless of faith) who are struggling in these most difficult of times.
To book an appointment, please call 0800 328 0006.
Attached is a poster with further details.
Church Services by Telephone – free
A reminder of this service launched earlier in the year by The Archbishop of Canterbury. This is a free national phone line which brings worship and prayer into people’s homes while church buildings are closed because of the coronavirus. Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections, as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.
The line – which is available 24 hours a day
on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to
join online church services.
‘Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.’
There’s a cartoon I saw in the last week or two while scrolling through my Facebook feed, and it goes something like this:
An elderly husband and wife are lying in bed. The wife says to her husband wistfully, ‘When we were first courting, you used to hold my hand.’ He reaches out and takes her hand. ‘And,’ she says,’you used to kiss me.’ He leans over and gives her a kiss. ‘And you used to bite my neck,’ she says. Irritated now, he pulls back the covers and gets out of bed. ‘Where are you going?’ she asks. ‘To get my teeth!’ comes the reply!
Perhaps it can offer a partial illustration of what we read of the relationship between God and his people in Isaiah 64. There are both similarities and differences.
Like the wife in the cartoon, the writer looks back to a time when that relationship was filled with signs of the bond between God and his people. Big, bold, visible signs that showed the people and all the world around that they were his people, and he was their God.
But unlike this wife and her husband, the people are no longer close enough to turn to God and ask him for what they need. They no longer expect any response from him anyway.
Living in exile from their homeland, the people feel distant from God. God’s greatest acts of power are not in their personal memory, but they are in the shared memory of the community. Passed on from one generation to the next, read over and over, but who can hope for God to act like that now?
Once, God had come down to meet Moses on the mountain, descending in fire, the mountain trembling. He had come down in all his might, to speak to Moses and to give the commandments for them to live by in the new land he was leading them to. Once, God had acted in power to form them into his people. (Exodus 19-20).
Once, God’s fire had indeed set twigs ablaze and made his name know to his enemies. You might remember the story of Elijah. When the prohets of Baal had tried and failed to light a fire by calling on the name of their God, Elijah had taunted them, saying ‘Shout louder! Perhaps your god is deep in thought, or busy, or travelling. Maybe he is sleeping and must not be awakened.’ Elijah has confidence that his God is not like that. When Elijah prayed, ‘Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again,’ then the fire of the Lord fell and set the wood alight. (1 Kings 18).
That was then. Now, the people have been forced from their land and have given up asking for God to answer their prayers. It’s not that they have anywhere else to take their prayers. ‘Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.’ But they are not waiting any more. They know that God will ‘come to the help of those who gladly do right,’ but they can’t hope for that. The writer knows that they have not lived up to faithfully being God’s people. There are no signs of the life of God among them any more. All are shrivelled up like the leaves we tread on underfoot at this time, which are swept away by the wind, lifeless and powerless. It looks like God has given up on them, and they have given up on God: ‘No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have turned your face from us and given us over to our sins.’
It is a bleak and seemingly hopeless picture. ‘Yet,’ we read. ‘Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.’
If you’ve ever worked with clay, you’ll know how hands on it is. You can’t do it from a distance. You have to get stuck in and get your hands dirty. God has made this people with his own hands. There’s no life for them apart from him. They’re his. And so the writer can pray ‘Oh, look upon us, for we are all your people.’
Come on, God. We need you. Come and be our God, come and do the things we know you can do. Come and turn our hearts back towards you. Come and show the world who you are.
What is God’s answer to his people then? To us today?
In our Gospel passage, there are big, bold, visible signs. People will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
But first he will come like one of us. A baby. A new life. A new chapter in an old story.
He too will live as an exile, a refugee in Egypt. Returning to Israel, he will grow up within the story of God and his people. Aged 12, celebrating the Passover feast, he will be found among the teachers in the temple, amazing people with his understanding. He will grow up to teach and heal and show people who God is. The life of God will be in the midst of them.
An awesome thing that we did not expect. Not trembling mountains, not fire blazing, but God with us, eating, drinking, talking, sharing his life with us.
And then, for all of us have become like one who is unclean, one will become unclean for all of us. He will shrivel up on the cross, but even as life ebbs out of him, he will cry out, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’
Even there, in the most desperate place, Jesus calls on the name of God, and strives to lay hold of him.
It is not easy to keep praying through a pandemic. ‘Why, Lord?’ ‘How long?’ ‘Come on!’ It can be tempting to give up.
And it is not easy to keep praying through times in our lives when we feel alone, betrayed, or rejected.
Knowing the love of God shown through the death and resurrection of Jesus is a wonderful thing. But it doesn’t mean life will be easy or comfortable all of the time. Struggle, uncertainty, waiting, not knowing how things will work out continue to be a big part of our lives.
But if Jesus can call out to God even in the place where he is abandoned, then we have even more reason to do so. For he faces abandonment so that we don’t need to. Through his death and resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit, God’s relationship with his people is renewed, restored, made secure. We live in the freedom of knowing that our relationship with God does not depend on our faithfulness, on our ability to get life right, but on Jesus, our great high priest.
Keep alert. Call on God’s name, even here, even now, and watch for what he is doing, for the heavens have been opened for us and will never be sealed to us again.
HYMNS OF THE WEEK
Advent Sunday marks the beginning of a New Year in the life of the
church. This week I have selected the song ‘Blest and Holy’ based on the ‘O
antiphons’ discovered in an eleventh century manuscript. The antiphons were
sung or said at the beginning and end of the Magnificat at Evening Prayer. The
antiphons are more widely known to us in the hymn
‘O come, O Come, Emmanuel’ which continues to be a great favourite in the season of Advent.
Blest and Holy
Holy, holy, holy,
O wisdom from on high,
all your works are blest and holy, sea and earth and sun and sky.
Adonai, O Lord of ages who appeared in burning flame,
come ignite the spark of justice till it burns in us again.
Holy, holy, holy, O Radiant Star of night,
still your people walk in darkness, come awake us to your light.
O Keystone of the nations, holding place of every part,
come cherish your creation till it lives within our heart.
Holy, holy, holy, O Tree uplifted high,
in your presence power falls silent, in your shade illusions die.
O humble Key of David, hearts are known to you alone.
Break the chains of every prison, come and lead your people home.
Holy, holy, holy, God of power, God of might,
all the earth and all the heavens sing your glory day and night.
Blessed and holy your creation, blessed is Jesus who you send.
Sing hosanna! Sing hosanna! Sing hosanna without end!
Blessed and Holy - YouTube available to listen to from the album ‘Love Goes On’
O Come, O Come,
The above song has been inspired from the well-known Advent Hymn ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’. The hymn has its origins over 1,200 years ago in monastic life in the 8th or 9th century. Please find below the YouTube information for singing or reflecting at home.
Advent Carol Service
We are unable to hold our Advent Carol Service this year due to the current pandemic. Please find below the YouTube reference for the Advent Carol Service held at Trinity College Cambridge in 2019 for you to listen to at home.
your Son Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly;
pour out your blessing upon our nation;
where there is illness,
bring your healing touch;
where there is fear,
strengthen us with the knowledge of your presence;
where there is uncertainty,
build us up in faith;
where there is dishonesty,
lead us into truth;
where there is discord,
may we know the harmony of your love;
this we ask in Jesus’ name.
As the Archbishops call us to a month of prayer in lockdown,please see the link to resources for prayer:
Second Sunday of Advent
10.00am Parish Eucharist
Visiting speakers from Safe Families
Isaiah 40.1-11, Peter 3.8-15a, Mark 1.1-8
- St Andrews Church
- Greenway Avenue
- TA2 6HU