Service for Sunday 3rd January 2021

Service for Epiphany. Recorded live at St. Andrew’s, Congresbury on Sunday 3rd January.

Bible Readings for Epiphany:

Click the links that take you straight to the text (CTRL and “Left Click”) if that helps:

Isaiah 60:1-6Isaiah 60:1-6 NIVUK – The glory of Zion – ‘Arise, shine, – Bible Gateway  – a great passage of encouragement and of God’s future glory fulfilled, in part, by the coming of the Magi.

Ephesians 3:1-12 –  Ephesians 3:1-12 NIVUK – God’s marvellous plan for the – Bible Gateway – a New Testament passage also of encouragement.  Paul glimpses that not only non-Jewish people will come to God (Isaiah 60:1-6), but that the message of Jesus was always intended for the whole world, to go out way beyond the Jewish nation – and this message was, and is, life.

Matt 2:1-12Matt 2:1-12 NIVUK – The Magi visit the Messiah – After – Bible Gateway – the great passage of the Bible from which we get the Story of the Magi.

Howard preached on these passages in two short videos from home.  Please see:

Howard Talk (1) by night: (127) Howard’s First Talk – YouTube

Howard Talk (2) by day: (127) Howard’s Second Talk – YouTube

Traditional Carols:

  1. “Hark the Herald, angels sing:”
  1. “God rest, ye merry gentlemen” – Lyrics Version: (127) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Christendom College – YouTube
  2. “Good King Wenceslas:
  1. “See amid the winter’s snow” – cover version by Chet Valley Churches, Norfolk with Lyrics: (127) See, Amid the Winter’s Snow [with lyrics for congregations] – YouTube
  1. “We three Kings” – cover version also by the Chet Valley Churches, Norfolk with Lyrics: (127) We Three Kings of Orient Are [with lyrics for congregations] – YouTube
  • See also the wonderful animated version by Kirk franklin for the film “The Star” for children and young people (details below).
  1. “The first Nowell” – version by Kings College, Cambridge: (127) King’s College Cambridge 2010 #15 The First Nowell – YouTube

Traditional Hymns and Songs:

  1. “As with gladness men of old” – Songs of Praise version with Lyrics: (127) As With Gladness Men Of Old – YouTube
  1. “Brightest and best new sons of the morning” – Songs of Praise version with Lyrics: (127) EPIPHANY-BRIGHTEST AND BEST – YouTube
  1. “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” – Songs of Praise version with Lyrics: (127) CHESTER CATHEDRAL-O WORSHIP THE LORD – YouTube

Contemporary Hymns and Songs:

  1. “Carol of the Epiphany” – by John Bell and the Iona Community (with Lyrics). Challenges where we will find Jesus in our lives: (127) Carol of the Epiphany – YouTube
  1. “Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness” – by Tim Hughes. Lyrics version: (127) Light of the World lyric video – YouTube
  1. “Joy has dawned upon the world” – by Keith and Kirsten Getty. Cover by Boyce Seminary Worship Collective: (127) Joy Has Dawned – Boyce Worship Collective – YouTube

Children and Young People:

  1. “We three Kings” a version by Kirk Franklin as part of the film “The Star” – great animation fun: (127) Lyric Video – “We Three Kings” by Kirk Franklin | THE STAR – YouTube

Modern:

  1. “Song of the Magi” by Anais Mitchell – contrasts the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem two thousand years ago and then also if they visited today:
  1. “The Spirit and the Bride say come” by “One for Israel” – an incredible group of young people, Arab and Israeli, who have chosen to live, worship and learn togetehr by forming a new community “Israel College of the Bible:” (127) Jewish & Arab Teen from Israel in Hebrew, Arabic & English Worship – YouTube
  1. “This Train” version by Ruby Turner and Jools Holland (part of the 2010 “New Year’s Eve” celebrations – video visual quality has been massively improved since then). Great gospel song about the energy and drive of taking the Message of Jesus out: (127) Ruby Turner – This train – YouTube

Videos/DVD:

  1. “The Chosen” – Episode “The Shepherds” is the Christmas Special that started this worldwide phenomenon. “The Chosen” can be obtained for free, either via YouTube (simply type in “The Chosen” or via an App, which can be downloaded to your Smartphone or Tablet.

Its all very exciting.  Details of how to find “The Shepherds” on YouTube: (127) The Chosen: The Shepherd (Pilot Episode) – YouTube

Films and DVDs for Children and Young People:

  1. “The Star” – a wonderful; animated film which is like a fusion between the Nativity Story and character and humour of the film “Shrek.” The greatest story told from the point of view of the Donkey.  Great fun.  Available from Amazon (DVD) and to rent from Amazon Prime.

Service for Sunday 20th December – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Bible Readings:

Key Bible Reading:

If you would like to look up the reading for yourself – simply click the link:

For Luke 1:26-38: Luke 1:26-38 NIVUK – The birth of Jesus foretold – In the – Bible Gateway

 

Set Readings for today (Fourth Sunday of Advent):

2Samuel 7:1-11, 16 – In many ways this seems a strange passage to be linking to Mary and the subject of Jesus’ birth as it seems to talking principally about building a Temple of stone and cedar in the time of King David.  How can these two events be linked?

The answer comes in the form of what the Temple represents – the meeting place between God and Creation, heaven and earth.  It is in this regard that vs 16 is interesting that such a meeting place needs to be created not by humanity but by God.

Of course, although David himself did not get to build a Temple, his Solomon did, and God did indeed make His home there.  But we should not loose sight that ultimately it is God who does indeed build there house, how and wherever He chooses – it can be in a building, it can, and truly is, in His Son (often considered to be the ‘new’ Temple – the ‘new’ place of meeting), but it can also be in our hearts and minds.  All of which are relevant and true – all of which involve not just human endeavour and partnership – but ultimately a willingness to submit and all “God to build the House” of His dwelling.       

Romans 16:25-end – Paul is closing his letter with an incredible exultation.  What is worth noting are two things.  First, that the foundations of how God was to ‘save’ and reconcile the earth to Himself through the birth, life and death of His Son, was indeed sown into the fabric and story of the world from the very earliest of times but which was hidden until those who could God in Jesus could see the long and good line of evidence and breadcrumbs that God had sown to point them to this fact over many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The second thing is that this message is not just for the few, “the Chosen,” the Jews, but indeed for all people – the Gentiles.  Gentiles at the time of Paul were considered ‘other,’ somehow ‘lesser’ human beings than those created Jewish and in some sense ‘closer’ relationship to God.  By saying this message of salvation is for Gentiles, Paul is saying this message is “for everyone,” not just a religious elite, either then or now.  “God so loved the world,” the whole world and everyone in it as a child of God.  Something to keep in mind in this age of ‘identity politics’ and so many labels of ethnicity, race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, whatever – that first and foremost 95-98% of who we are as human beings is the same, as a child of God, before ever we start looking at what makes us different.             

Luke 1:26-38 – The story of the Annunciation is one of the best known of all biblical stories and leads us head-on into having to wrestle with the idea of supernatural intervention and in a  most personal and intimate way as to lead to conception. 

But however much we struggle, and certainly before we dismiss such a possibility out of hand, let us look very briefly at what such an event could be trying to communicate and say.

First and foremost the passage, in some way or other, is trying to fulfil the words we have heard previously in 2Samuel7 – that it is God, not us, who is choosing to make His ‘new tabernacle,’ His ‘new tent’ amongst us and within us.

Secondly, let us look at what such an initiative on God’s behalf means – it means the spiritual ‘wedding’ itself to the physical in a way from which it can never go back.  Once, Immanuel, God with us has been born, God can never retreat again and hold humanity and creation at arm’s length.  From here on is God is stating He is fully committed, whether we are or not to the purpose for which God sent Jesus in the first place.

And thirdly, we should not under-estimate the wonder that God, in all His majesty, glory and strength, Creator of the Universe, should choose to engage in such a venture ‘in partnership’ with humanity rather than imposing Himself upon it; choosing to ‘ask’ Mary’ rather than dictating, or assuming, or takin Mary for granted.  Blessed be God Himself that He should wait and hope for our, “yes,” just like Mary gave that wonderful and beautiful day when all of heaven held its breath.            

Hymns and Songs for Fourth Sunday for Advent: today we have been looking at how Mary has inspired musicians and songwriters over the years, in all genres and traditions, to compose music and song inspired by the story of Mary and the Nativity:

Traditional:

  1. As per previous weeks, we have begun our Advent service with “O come, O come, Emmanuel” as we have been playing it Sunday by Sunday to introduce our service.
  1. “The Angel Gabriel from heaven came”:
  1. “What child is this” (set to the tune of Greensleeves):

– traditional version with Lyrics: (110) A Beautiful Christmas Carol – What Child is This – YouTube

  1. “Mary came with meekness” (tune Noel Nouvelet):

– Version with Liz, Hugh and Toby: (110) Mary came with meekness – YouTube

  1. “Tell out my Soul” (The Magnificat) – by Timothy Dudley-Smith:
  1. “Wexford Carol/The Magnificat” (Live) – by Keith and Kirsten Getty: (110) Wexford Carol/Magnificat (LIVE) – Keith & Kristyn Getty – YouTube

Meditation:

Thoughtful music to close your eyes and reflect upon one of the greatest events of history.

  1. “Christ our Emmanuel” by John Rutter (Choral Highlights 2020) – audio only, just released: (110) Christ our Emmanuel (SATB) – YouTube

Modern:

On the theme of Mary:

  1. “You’re here” by Francesca Battistelli:
  1. “Breath of heaven” (Mary’s Song) – by Amy Grant. Modern take on the traditional words of the Magnificat: (110) Amy Grant – Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song) (Lyric Video) – YouTube
  1. “Perfect Love” (Mary’s Song) – by Darlene Zschech.  Very powerful film/video clip (WARNING: from “The Passion of the Christ” – therefore “Adult content”) but very fitting: (110) Perfect Love (Mary’s Song) with lyrics – YouTube
  1. “Magnificat” (Mary’s Song) – by Christy Nockels. Modern setting of these familiar words. With Lyrics: (110) Magnificat – Mary’s Song (with lyrics) – YouTube
  1. “Mary did you know” – made famous by Pentatonix (Acapella artists):

 Videos/DVD:

  1. “Mary’s Song” – dramatized adaptation and expansion of what it means (2010.) Very good: (110) Mary’s Song – Christmas 2010 – YouTube
  2. “The Chosen” – Episode 1 – the worldwide phenomenon which is the world crowd funded TV adaptation of the Life of Jesus called “The Chosen.” Series 1 has already been released and funding for Series 2 is just about complete and due to be released over the Christmas period.

“The Chosen” can be obtained for free, either via YouTube (simply type in “The Chosen” or via an App, which can be downloaded to your Smartphone or Tablet.

Its all very exciting.  Details of how to find Episode 1 on YouTube: (92) The Chosen: Complete Episode One – YouTube

 

Service for Sunday 13th December – Third Sunday of Advent

Bible Readings:

Key Bible Reading:

If you would like to look up the reading for yourself – simply click the link:

For John 21:15-22: John 21:15-22 NIVUK – Jesus reinstates Peter – When they had – Bible Gateway

Set Readings for today (Third Sunday of Advent):

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-end – One of the most “hope filled” and beautiful passages not just of the Old Testament but of the whole Bible.  The chapter begins with words that have become famous because they are quoted word for word by Jesus Himself as the passage of Scripture He chose from the whole of the Old Testament when He was asked to read at the Synagogue in Nazareth.  Not only does it speak a message of God bringing about new life and hope – like summer following winter, it is particularly important to note it is God’s Messiah who will bring this about.  When Jesus then quotes it what is He then saying about Himself when He says, famously, “today, in your hearing these words have been fulfilled.” (Luke 4:14-30)     

1Thessalonians 5:16-24 – Paul is writing his closing comments to his first letter to the little Church in Thessalonica.  What is striking is not just that he asks the congregation to remain faithful against all the odds, it’s the fact that he goes on to say, “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do this.”  Its wonderful to think, not just in Paul’s day, but also in ours, and in every day, God and Jesus remain faithful to their calling, even when perhaps we fall short.  They are always 24/7 every day, every year, committed to saving and redeeming love.  Perhaps our own faithfulness would have been better encouraged if greater attention had been drawn to such faithfulness rather than some of the fear tactics and the “hell fire and damnation” preaching that has been spoken by ministers and others instead, however well intentioned.              

John 1:6-8, 19-28 – The introduction by John the Gospel author of the great character John the Baptist, the one Christians see as both cousin and forerunner to Jesus.  Interestingly, in Jewish history at the time John was seen as an even bigger deal than Jesus.  Josephus, the first century historian devotes a whole chapter to John and his message whereas he devotes only half a page to Jesus of Nazareth.  Partly, this is because John stood far more starkly as a ‘political’ threat to the establishment, offering an alterative path in open condemnation of the Temple and the Temple authorities, drawing people to believe and hope for an interjection by God Himself to bring His Messiah, in other words a new King to Israel.

Of course, when Jesus comes to fulfil all that John had spoken of, He was to do this in a way Josephus and the rulers of this world did not understand, and have not understood, ever since.  And yet, the ‘Jesus way’ has had the power to call to account and to challenge the power dynamic and status quo of our world more than anything else in the whole of history.  There is a wonderful Chinese saying, “what changes rock most?  Not other rock.  No, water.  It’s just that it takes a very long time.”

Come Lord Jesus and build a new world in our day as we emerge from the painful and very difficult time.

 

Hymns and Songs for Third Sunday for Advent:

Traditional:

  1. Advent wouldn’t be Advent without the ‘classic’ “O come, O come, Emmanuel” and we are playing it to introduce our service all four Sundays in Advent.

 

 

  1. “In the Lord, I’ll be ever thankful” – from the Taize community, an ecumenical international community in Southern France. There are many versions of their songs and chants sung all over the world:

 

  1. “Servant King” – otherwise known as “From heaven you came” by Graham Kendrick – a powerful classic for focusing on the nature of God and power:

 

  1. “Hills of the North Rejoice” Songs of Praise version with lyrics: (104) GORTON MONASTERY-HILLS OF NORTH REJOICE – YouTube

 

  1. “Hark my soul, it is the Lord” picking up the theme of our Bible Reading today from John 21. Thank you Dinah:

 

  1. “Awake, awake, fling off the night” – a great traditional hymn for Christmas and Epiphany. Here is an organ recital version from All Saints Church, Oystermouth in Swansea.  Sadly, there is yet to be a choral version recorded to YouTube with the words but thank you Dinah for sending this in: (104) Awake Awake Fling Of The Night: All Saints Church Oystermouth Swansea! – YouTube

 

Modern:

On the theme of Advent Joy:

  1. “Joy, joy, joy” by Rend Collective. Great lyrics talking about find Advent hope and joy even in the face of a canvas of darkness.  With Lyrics and thanks to Rend Collective for letting all Churches use their material copyright free during this time: (104) “Joy” from Rend Collective (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO) – YouTube

 

  1. “Gaudete” is a 16th cent Christmas Carol set to a folk tune that was made famous in the 70’s by Steeleye Span. This cover version by the 15yr old Lydia Gerrard captured our attention because her was a young lady willing to take something of her background in Church out into the community and sing on an open stage in Westfield Shopping Centre in the heart of London.  Good on her: (104) Lydia Gerrard singing Gaudete by Steeleye Span – YouTube

In case you were wondering what the Lyrics meant:

Gaudete, Gaudete!
Christus et natus
Ex maria virgine,
Gaudete!

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Christ is born
Of the virgin Mary,
Rejoice!

Tempus ad est gratiae,
Hoc quod optabamus;
Carmina laetitiae,
Devote redamus.

It is now the time of grace
That we have desired;
Let us sing songs of joy,
Let us give devotion.

Deus homo factus est,
Natura mirante;
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.

God was made man,
And nature marvels;
The world was renewed
By Christ who is King.

Ezechiellis porta
Clausa pertransitur;
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.

The closed gate of Ezekiel
Has been passed through;
From where the light rises
Salvation is found.

Ergo nostra cantio,
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.

Therefore let our assembly now sing,
Sing the Psalms to purify us;
Let it praise the Lord:
Greetings to our King.

Amazing and beautiful lyrics so apt for this time too. Thank you Kirsty for sending these across.

  1. “The Hope of Christmas” by Matthew West which he released in Nov 2020 written specifically this Christmas. Official Video: (104) Matthew West – The Hope of Christmas (Official Music Video) – YouTube

 

  1. “Joyful, joyful” classic climax to one of the great films capturing the Gospel Hope – “Sister Act 2” with Whoopi Goldberg. Gets everyone’s feet tapping.  Areal feel good moment: (104) Sister Act 2 (Finale) Lauryn Hill – Joyful Joyful With Lyrics (Ft. Whoopi Goldberg) – YouTube

 

  1. “I am loved” by Mack Brock. Speaking about God’s acceptance and how God’s love and power turn the world’s values and judgements upside down and shows how they are found wanting in comparison to the awesome love of God. Great lyrics: (104) Mack Brock – I Am Loved (Official Lyric Video) – YouTube

 

  1. “God so loved” – by We the Kingdom. Taking the words of John 3:16 the lyrics speak of God’s liberating love.  Great use of video footage. Sows how we live in such a multi-sensory world and the video also makes such a contribution to worship: (104) We The Kingdom – God So Loved (Lyric Video) – YouTube

 

  1. “A God like you” by Kirk Franklin. This song was made famous by Michelle Obama who spoke about how she includes this song in her workout Playlist when she gave her autobiographical interview.  Speaks of how God’s love is such a different understanding of what power truly means. Great Lyrics version: (104) Kirk Franklin – A God Like You (Lyric Video) – YouTube

 

Videos/DVD:

  1. “The Chosen” – Episode 1 – the worldwide phenomenon which is the world crowd funded TV adaptation of the Life of Jesus called “The Chosen.” Series 1 has already been released and funding for Series 2 is just about complete and due to be released over the Christmas period.

“The Chosen” can be obtained for free, either via YouTube (simply type in “The Chosen” or via an App, which can be downloaded to your Smartphone or Tablet.

Its all very exciting.  Details of how to find Episode 1 on YouTube: (92) The Chosen: Complete Episode One – YouTube

Service for Sunday 6th December – Second Sunday for Advent

Hymns, Songs, Readings and other links for Second Sunday for Advent

– Sunday 6th December

Bible Readings:

Key Bible Reading:

If you would like to look up the reading for yourself – simply click the link:

For John 10:1-18: John 10:1-18 NIV – The Good Shepherd and His Sheep – Bible Gateway

Set Readings for today (Second Sunday of Advent):

Isaiah 40:1-11 – One of the classic passages of Scripture so rich in imagery foretelling the coming of the Messiah and what He will be like.  He will level the mountains and raise up the valleys.  He will be like a Shepherd feeding His flock and gather the lambs in His arms.  He is the One, promised of old, who reveals God’s glory to the world and is indeed God Himself.

1Peter 3:8-15a – Peter speaks about the Second Coming and the “Coming Day of the Lord.”  He reminds the Christian community just how precious all God’s people are to God, how they will be protected while they pray and hope for the “Coming Day” when God will bring about His new heaven and a new earth “where righteousness is at home.”  What a beautiful phrase – where knowing Jesus and being in a loving relationship will not be something for “those who want to do that sort of thing,” but which will be front and centre of all that is.         

Mark 1:1-8 – Mark picks up on Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 40, read earlier, and places them in the person and life of John the Baptist.  For us as Christians, we often see John the Baptist simply as a forerunner to Jesus.  But in the work of Josephus, a first century historian and general, he records but half a side about Jesus, but a whole chapter of his work to John.  So John was a much more influential character than perhaps we maybe at first think about.  He was one, if not the leading, alterative voice to the Priesthood in Jerusalem and also to the Pharisaic way of being faithful according to works and of keeping the Torah, the Law in every greater detail to demonstrate how devoted your were and are.  John cuts through all this, faith and holiness for him are not about animal sacrifice and money as in the Temple.  It is not about keeping rules and laws, necessarily, as in the case of the Pharisees, well certainly not as the primary thing.  Faith, for John, is first and foremost about repentance and being willing to receive an ongoing and living relationship with God based on a willingness to confess our shortcomings and to be open to receive His forgiveness, His message of transforming love, and His Kingdom Spirit.  

Hymns and Songs for Second Sunday for Advent:

Traditional:

  1. Advent wouldn’t be Advent without the ‘classic’ “O come, O come, Emmanuel”
  2. To introduce our service a beautiful live instrumental recording by Liz Chappell and Katie Davies:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gG_ec1erv4&feature=youtu.be
  • As per last week – a version set in the context of our Jewish roots with the Christian singer/songwriter Joshua Aaron in a concert recorded at the “Tower of David” (an important historical site probably of Herod’s Palace in the time of Jesus) in Jerusalem.  Not just then culturally relevant, but of a Jewish Christian calling Jesus ‘home’ to his own people.  An amazing backdrop not just for this song but for the whole concert and a powerful witness.  Well worth looking up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFoFOZmSIfY
  • A more traditional version that we would sing in our English Churches – taken from Songs of Praise, with Lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ7gSOXQ6rs

On the theme of Peace as the Second week of Advent:

On the theme of Truth and Shepherding (based on John’s Gospel):

Children and Young People:

Modern:

On the theme of Advent:

  • “Peace” by Bethel Music.  Beautiful gentle song about God being there even when everyone and everything else seems to be slipping away.  Great for anyone finding times tough at the moment: https://youtu.be/uW6xcmqfiY4

On the theme of Truth and Shepherding (from John’s Gospel)

  1. “Love Theory” by Kirk Franklin, speaks both God’s faithfulness to us and our desire to follow Him.
  2. Original Official Video Version: (92) Kirk Franklin – Love Theory (Official Music Video) – YouTube
  3. Lyrics version: (92) Love Theory-Kirk Franklin(lyrics) – YouTube
  4. Cover Version by Mattias Banse: (92) Love Theory – Kirk Franklin COVER – YouTube
  1. “Truth be told” by Matthew West.  Great song about God speaking into so much of modern life.  Great lyrics:
  2. Original Official Video: (92) Matthew West – Truth Be Told (Official Music Video) – YouTube
  3. Lyrics Version: https://youtu.be/LaHNHPgXqig
  4. Cover version by Mayte Levenbach: https://youtu.be/nW7p5sKJsO4
  1. Lauren Daigle’s latest release last week “Everything” – the Starstruck sessions: (92) Lauren Daigle – Everything (Starstruck Sessions) – YouTube
  1. One of the best modern Christmas songs: “Noel” written by Chris Tomlin and sung by Lauren Daigle.  Great to get in touch with the enormity of what Christmas truly means: (92) Chris Tomlin – Noel (Live) ft. Lauren Daigle – YouTube

Videos/DVD:

  1. “Peace – Shalom” – by the Bible Project.  Great word interpretation to help understand our Advent theme and also the Pew News “Thought for the Day” today: https://youtu.be/oLYORLZOaZE
  1. “The Chosen” – Episode 1 – the worldwide phenomenon which is the world crowd funded TV adaptation of the Life of Jesus called “The Chosen.”  Series 1 has already been released and funding for Series 2 is just about complete and due to be released over the Christmas period.

“The Chosen” can be obtained for free, either via YouTube (simply type in “The Chosen” or via an App, which can be downloaded to your Smartphone or Tablet.

Its all very exciting.  Details of how to find Episode 1 on YouTube: (92) The Chosen: Complete Episode One – YouTube

Service for Sunday 29th November – Advent Sunday

Hymns, Songs, Readings and other links for the Advent Sunday

– Sunday 29th November

A New Church for a New Society: “Themes in John’s Gospel.”

  • Truth – Part A – “In the pursuit of Truth.”

John 18:33-38 & 19:1-16

– “The Spirit of Truth in God’s new world.”.

Bible Readings:

Key Bible Reading:

If you would like to look up the reading for yourself – simply click the link:

For John 18:33-38: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+18%3A33-38&version=NIVUK

For John 19:1-16: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+19%3A1-16&version=NIVUK

Set Readings for today (Advent Sunday):

Isaiah 64:1-9 – This passage from towards the end of the Book Isaiah begins by wanting God to come in power and judgement, especially towards those ‘others’ who have fallen away.  But then, in a rather unusual twist, Isaiah both acknowledges Israel’s own shortcomings and failings but then seems to attribute Israel’s unfaithfulness to God “turning His face away.” Very unusual. But there are times perhaps when we can feel the same – that even though we know God does ultimately care, we in our hurt and pain want to believe He doesn’t.

1Corinthians 1:3-9 – This a much more conventional passage.  Paul opens his letter to the young Church in Corinth full of praise and admiration for their faithfulness which he sees in turn as coming from the Lord’s own faithful calling: because the Lord is faithful we, in turn, can be faithful and so bring blessing to each other and the world.  It is perhaps worth pausing and wondering how the same is true today – this symbiotic relationship between God and humanity in order to bring blessing to the world in and through a humanity, which at its best includes us.        

Mark 13:24-end – This is a classic passage we often attribute to Jesus’ Second Coming.  “Be alert, Keep awake!”  For we do not know the day or the hour the Master will return.  The idea of the slave and the Master and their household maybe one we find quite hard to relate to favourably in our modern world – surely, God does not want us to be ‘slaves,’ surely He wants us to be ‘free.’  Well, that may be.  But in first century Israel slavery was not perhaps as we in the twenty first century look in upon it.  It was a much more symbiotic relationship (mentioned earlier) where the slave would receive security, value, food and care in return for their time, effort and loyalty to their Master.  Of course, there were bad Masters, just as there are today.  But in the main each group knew they needed the other, much in the same way that a good Landowner knew that they needed the help and support of their tenant farmers and communities to run their extensive estates back in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds.  It was the backbone of pre-industrial English life.  In this sense, we should perhaps be see being a ‘servant’ of our Lord Jesus as a positive thing, “under His care and wing,” so to speak.  At the same time, such care comes with responsibilities “to be about the Master’s business.”  We have tended to much more desiring of the care and the protection without perhaps always giving due regard to the need to be about His business and work.  “Wake up then!  Be awake!  Open our eyes to what God is wanting us to be and to do in His name, in this time, in this place.”       

Hymns and Songs for Advent Sunday:

Traditional:

  1. Advent wouldn’t be Advent without announcing it with the ‘classic’ “O come, O come, Emmanuel” – I wrote about the long history and continued relevance of this Advent hymn in the Pew News this week, if anyone is interested.  Here:
  2. A beautiful live instrumental recording by Liz Chappell and Katie Davies:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gG_ec1erv4&feature=youtu.be
  3. A version set in the context of our Jewish roots with the Christian singer/songwriter Joshua Aaron in a concert recorded at the “Tower of David” (an important historical site probably of Herod’s Palace in the time of Jesus) in Jerusalem.  Not just then culturally relevant, but of a Jewish Christian calling Jesus ‘home’ to his own people.  An amazing backdrop not just for this song but for the whole concert and a powerful witness.  Well worth looking up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFoFOZmSIfY
  4. A more traditional version that we would sing in our English Churches – taken from Songs of Praise, with Lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ7gSOXQ6rs

On the theme of Truth (based on John’s Gospel):

Children and Young People:

Modern:

On the theme of Advent:

  • “Fix You” originally by the band Coldplay back in 2011, and recently performed again by a female artist Fearless Soul.  The song speaks the words of Jesus and why He came at Christmas both for the world and each individual person’s story within it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsBNDryJYSs
  • “The thrill of Hope – Advent hymn” by Christy Nockels.  A very thoughtful and reflective song about the love and the hope Jesus seeks to bring into the world in every generation.  With lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNuY6I4OtoE

On the theme of Truth (from John’s Gospel)

  1. “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns, with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOw0pM1VmXA&feature=youtu.be
  1. “Song of Truth” by Mark Skelton, with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyXUiCWGOgU&feature=youtu.be

For fun and as part of this season of looking at the impact of the song and dance “Jerusalema” during Lockdown around the world

  1. “Jerusalema” – English language version by Nora Grand.  Wonderful African video backdrop.  Worth watching just for this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XkZeMrYSvo

Videos/DVD:

  1. “Isaiah 1-39 overview” – by the Bible Project.  Great introduction to where the name “Emmanuel” –  “God with us” comes from, as recorded in Isaiah ch 7.  Helps to set the biblical backdrop against which “Emmanuel” had to come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0A6Uchb1F8

Service for Sunday 22nd November, Sunday before Advent

Recorded live from St. Andrew’s, Congresbury.

Hymns, Songs, Readings and other links for the Sunday service  before Advent (Christ the King) – Sunday 22nd November

A New Church for a New Society: “Themes in John’s Gospel.”

  • Freedom – Part B – “what it means to be truly free.”

(John 14:15-21 – “Living in the freedom of the Spirit”).

Bible Readings:

Key Bible Reading:

John 14:15-21:  If you would like to look up the reading for yourself – simply click the link:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+14%3A15-21&version=NIVUK

Set Readings for today (Sunday before Advent – Christ the King):

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 – For those who think that the Old Testament is nothing but ‘doom and gloom’ here is one of those beautiful passages that make your heart sing both in itself and also in the fact that hundreds of years later, on a hillside outside Bethsaida, a young preacher asked the crowd to sit down, took bread, gave thanks to God and gave it to all who had need (John 6:1-13).  All would be cosy if it wasn’t also that right in the heart of this reading is also a word of challenge and God’s judgement.  God will decide between those who live for themselves and those who live for others and for the Lord – the fat and the lean sheep.

Ephesians 1:15-end – Like with the Old Testament, we can sometimes assume St Paul only really does heavy duty theologically and brain stretching thinking.  Here Paul reveals his heart, full of passion, thankfulness and love for his both his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and as much, if not more, in what Christ has done, and is going to do for the world.        

Matthew 25:30-end – Jesus gives us on of His most remembered and powerful images.  When He returns He will return as global King, whatever other politicians, cultural and religious leaders may think or say.  “Good” we may say.  But then Jesus brings the ‘global’ into the ‘micro.’  God is of such awesome intelligence and love that He is fully available and aware of every Act of Kindness, love and compassion ever done, whether by Christians or non-Christians alike.  And God’s love hits the road when He says, to the sheep, the King will say, “well done my good and faithful servant.”  And to the goat, He will say, “get away from me, I do not know you.”  Unless our faith prompts us to greater love, then it is we who need to fall on our knees before God and plead for more time so that we can change.  Of course, our faith is more than simply Acts of Kindness to wards others or Creation, but it is not less than.      

Hymns and Songs for the Sunday before Advent (Christ the King):

Traditional:

  1. To celebrate Christ the King “Crown Him with many Crowns” –    A true classic:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60euxXvw5aA
  • To celebrate St Congar’s and St Andrew’s Day, by popular request the Jazz version of, “O When the Saints” (Jazz Version) – Songs of Praise from St Alban’s Church, Bristol with Lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8BjWBr7VTM

Children’s songs:

Modern:

Freedom is a really important theme within much modern Church music and song writing, perhaps reflecting our times:

  • “Siyahamba” Zulu Spiritual – dramatic beginning but captures the African beat and colour to their music very well – translation is “We are marching in the Light of God:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi-zd2k8wgQ
  1. For anyone struggling out there, from Gemma “Lay it all down” feat Will Reagan – Session version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNacm6zR8eU
  1. “Come follow me” – by Brother Isaiah (Crazy Franciscans of the Renewal) – Great video of the spiritual life, especially for those who are musicians or creatives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi0a8O6446Q
  1. “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here” – Jesus Culture – Kim Walker-Smith – becoming a modern classic.  Acoustic version on the steps of a subway with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMJne6wUoag
  1. To celebrate the festival of “Christ the King” – “King of Kings” by Hillsong, one of their finest.  Live version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQl4izxPeNU
  2. Lyrics Version so you can sing along: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of5IcFWiEpg

Videos/DVD:

  1. “The Holy Spirit” – by the Bible Project.  Very good way into understanding biblically the nature of the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible and Scripture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNNZO9i1Gjc
  1. Very good 14 part series on the Holy Spirit by the Charismatic Catholic Priest Fr Dave Pivonka. Great if you want to explore certain aspects of the Holy Spirit deeper. Titles include:
  2. “God’s love poured out” – Segment 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzNhIvGuEIQ&list=PLE6t-PqUvPEemaneqIWybKUn4j8olfe9h&index=2
  3. Then segments 2-14 – watched some of them.  Really good.

Service for Remembrance Sunday

Hymns, Songs, Readings and other links for Remembrance Day –

Sunday 8th Nov 2020

Bible Readings:

Key Bible Reading:

Isaiah 40:28-31: “They will soar on wings like eagles” – If you would like to look up the reading for yourself – simply click the link:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+40%3A28-31&version=NIVUK

Set Readings for today (Remembrance Sunday – 3rd before Advent):

Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 – The author speaks about the value and availability of Wisdom but one must look to her and seek her.  In the Old Testament is personified in other books such as the Book of Proverbs. In Christian understanding Jesus becomes the face of Wisdom, taking her qualities into himself.  Therefore as we read this passage one could say the same of Jesus as of Wisdom, He is making Himself available, to seek Him is to find not only perfect understanding but love itself.   

1Thessalonians 4:13-end – There is a lot that could be said about this passage.  At one level it can seem somewhat strange to us, what with images of being “caught up in the air.”  It starts off with the great hope – that because God raised Jesus from the dead, then God will raise all the dead including our loved ones.  But this is where the confusion perhaps kicks in.  Paul is not talking about life after death here, in a place we call “heaven.”  As Tom Wright, the New Testament historian and author has stipulated, Paul, and indeed much of the New Testament, talks mainly about “what happens after, what happens to us when we die.”  In other words, to the Bible the emphasis is on a time “after heaven,” what we would perhaps otherwise call “the Second Coming” as detailed in the Book of Revelation Ch 22.  In this understanding, as here in Paul, we die, we go to be with God and Jesus in heaven.  But then will come a day when heaven will come to earth and all things will be made new in Christ, beginning with raising those who are physically dead in Christ to be reborn in Christ on earth, wedding their spiritual bodies in heaven with new ‘resurrected’ physical bodies to live for ever.  And this also includes those, says Paul, who are alive when this time comes – hence the reference to being caught up, and ‘transformed’/resurrected themselves in the air.  This may all sound hugely confusing, but it is what the Bible consistently claims.  What will it look like? How will it work out?  The Bible doesn’t give us a blueprint but its key and important point is that “Love wins,” not just in heaven, “but on earth.”  And everything that points to that is part of what Jesus calls “the Kingdom.”     

Matthew 25:1-13 – Matthew continues the talk about the “Kingdom of heaven.”  Not so much, about what happens when you die, but more about all those moments we all experience each and everyday when we can see the opportunity to love, to forgive, to be kind and we either see them and take them, or we can miss them and complain bitterly that we were away getting oil to get ready to see those moments in the future.  Jesus those who are about love now.  To love, is to love Him.

Hymns and Songs for Remembrance Sunday:

Traditional:

  1. “O God our help in ages past” –Songs of Praise version for Remembrance with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjdmLstpNGE
  • “O Valiant hearts” – a hymn specific to Remembrance – sung and played here by Gordon Pullin, who used to be organist at Banwell and lead Congresbury Singers, now organist at All Saints, Weston.  Lovely to see his face again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD5VlacTteE
  • “Guide me O Thou great (Redeemer) Jehovah” (also known as Cwm Rhondda) – lovely version sung by a Welsh Male Voice Choir at the Hospital in Rhondda for “Dementia Week” in 2019.  In my view, how it is meant to be sung, with passion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7iX5WhJadk
  • “All people that on earth do dwell” – Songs of Praise version from the 100th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall with combined choirs, which is sort of apt given the message of the hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC5FfEavPM4
  1. “National Anthem” – from St Paul’s Cathedral – Diamond Jubilee Service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3dR7u7TPNo

Children and Young People:

  1. “What does a poppy mean?” – wonderful video explaining how a young person approaches Remembrance to share with children and adults everywhere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7ESRBMk36E&feature=youtu.be

Modern:

  1. “You are my Vision”” by Rend Collective – speaking of a future vision with God at the centre.  Based on the tradition Irish hymn “Be Thou my vision” that has stood the test of time and is as popular today as it has always been (Live Version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQNczm45GyY
  1. “The Call” (No need to say Goodbye) – by the Poppy Girls – at the Royal Festival of Remembrance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6vxn1IJ0Uo&feature=youtu.be

Videos:

  1. “80th Anniversary of Battle of Britain” – Flypast of Spitfires and Hurricane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMhiJTob4w8
  1. “Pilot reunited with his Spitfire” – story of a great reunion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhxFoH4JQ7w
  1. “Story of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior” – helpful to understand its significance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN06NctDdTA