Sunday Worship 11 December 2022

Sunday Worship 11 December 2022 p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; font-size:inherit !important; font-family:inherit !important; font-weight:inherit !important; line-height:inherit !important; } a.mcnButton{ display:block; } .mcnImage,.mcnRetinaImage{ vertical-align:bottom; } .mcnTextContent{ word-break:break-word; } .mcnTextContent img{ height:auto !important; } .mcnDividerBlock{ table-layout:fixed !important; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyBackground,#templateFooter{ background-color:#EBDBCD; } #bodyCell{ border-top:0; } #mainBackground{ border:1px solid #CDC2BA; } h1{ color:#7AC1BD !important; font-family:Georgia; font-size:50px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:125%; letter-spacing:normal; text-align:center; } h2{ color:#A48B75 !important; font-family:Georgia; font-size:30px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:125%; letter-spacing:normal; text-align:left; } h3{ color:#A48B75 !important; font-family:Tahoma; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:bold; line-height:125%; letter-spacing:1px; text-align:left; } h4{ color:#036B74 !important; font-family:Georgia; font-size:14px; font-style:italic; font-weight:normal; line-height:125%; letter-spacing:normal; text-align:left; } #templatePreheader{ background-color:#EBDBCD; border-top:0; border-bottom:1px solid #CDC2BA; } .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ color:#524E48; font-family:Georgia; font-size:10px; line-height:125%; text-align:left; } .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent a{ color:#524E48; font-weight:normal; text-decoration:underline; } #templateHeader{ background-color:#FFFFFF; border-top:0; border-bottom:0; } .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ color:#524E48; font-family:Georgia; font-size:18px; line-height:150%; text-align:left; } .headerContainer .mcnTextContent a{ color:#036B74; font-weight:normal; text-decoration:underline; } #templateBody,#mainBackground{ background-color:#FFFFFF; } #templateBody{ border-top:0; border-bottom:0; } .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ color:#524E48; font-family:Georgia; font-size:16px; line-height:150%; text-align:left; } .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent a{ color:#036B74; font-weight:normal; text-decoration:underline; } .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ color:#524E48; font-family:Georgia; font-size:10px; line-height:125%; text-align:center; } .footerContainer .mcnTextContent a{ color:#524E48; font-weight:normal; text-decoration:underline; } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ body,table,td,p,a,li,blockquote{ -webkit-text-size-adjust:none !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ body{ width:100% !important; min-width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #mainBackground,#templateHeader,#templateBody,.templateContainer{ max-width:600px !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnRetinaImage{ max-width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImage{ width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnCartContainer,.mcnCaptionTopContent,.mcnRecContentContainer,.mcnCaptionBottomContent,.mcnTextContentContainer,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer,.mcnImageGroupContentContainer,.mcnCaptionLeftTextContentContainer,.mcnCaptionRightTextContentContainer,.mcnCaptionLeftImageContentContainer,.mcnCaptionRightImageContentContainer,.mcnImageCardLeftTextContentContainer,.mcnImageCardRightTextContentContainer,.mcnImageCardLeftImageContentContainer,.mcnImageCardRightImageContentContainer{ max-width:100% !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer{ min-width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupContent{ padding:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnCaptionLeftContentOuter .mcnTextContent,.mcnCaptionRightContentOuter .mcnTextContent{ padding-top:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardTopImageContent,.mcnCaptionBottomContent:last-child .mcnCaptionBottomImageContent,.mcnCaptionBlockInner .mcnCaptionTopContent:last-child .mcnTextContent{ padding-top:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardBottomImageContent{ padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockInner{ padding-top:0 !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockOuter{ padding-top:9px !important; padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } }

View this email in your browser

Sunday Service from the URC



worship for challenging times



Share This on Facebook Share This on Facebook

Tweet this Tweet this

Forward to a Friend Forward to a Friend

Order of Service

Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today’s service.   You can either simply read this or you can

to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service.

Sunday Worship from the United Reformed Church
for Sunday 11 December 2022

Today’s service is led by The Revd Andy Braunston 

Call to Worship

One:       In the darkness of these days, in the gloom and despondency of our time, when wars, instability, and chaos are all around us
Many:    We dare to hope
One:       As of old when God’s people were promised better times, healing, and restoration
Many:    We dare to hope
One:       When we dwell in our self-imposed dungeons and given into doubt and despair, we know that our healing is found when
Many:    We dare to hope
One:              So we come to worship, we come to life, we come to God and
Many:    We dare to hope
Hymn    Allelulia!  Hurry, the Lord is near
Patrick Lee (1930-2004) © The Estate of the late Patrick Lee.  Administered by OCP Publications.  Performed by Edwin Kotchian and Leanna Pizzo, accompanied by Anthony Asmar and used with their kind permission.
Alleluia!  Hurry, the Lord is near.
Alleluia, alleluia!  Hurry, the Lord is near.
Sound the trumpet, 
the Lord is near,
hurry, the Lord is near;
see, he comes 
to save us all,
hurry, the Lord is near!
Earth has longed 
for his approach;
hurry, the Lord is near;
straighten the road, 
smooth the path,
hurry, the Lord is near!


Go out to meet him, 
shout his name:
hurry, the Lord is near;
his mighty kingdom 
shall never end,
hurry, the Lord is near!
He is the mighty One, 
he is the Word;
hurry, the Lord is near;
God everlasting, 
Prince of Peace,
hurry, the Lord is near!


Prayers of Approach, Confession and Forgiveness
Eternal God, we come to meet you in worship,
knowing you give us strength in our weakness,
water in the dryness of our lives, fruitfulness in our sterility,
and strength in our fear.
O Most High,
you give us hope as you gave assurance to John the Baptist of old.
In our dungeons of despair, 
you assure us of your love and truth;
in our confusion, you show us the way – 
a holy way where even fools can’t get lost.
O God-with-us, we confess that we have fallen into despair,
given into the gloom that pervades our age,
thought there was no hope, and tried to save ourselves.
Forgive us, O God of our salvation,
give us time to remember to trust in you, to turn back to you,
as we prepare for you to come again 
to renew and restore us. Amen.
Rejoice, O People of God, as the desert shall rejoice and blossom,
as the people will see God’s glory, 
as the dry places shall break forth with water, so you are forgiven, 
so find the strength to forgive yourself!  Amen.
Advent Candle Lighting
In the darkness of these days, O Most High, 
we dare to light candles in the gloom.
Candles to represent hope, 
candles to represent your light in our dark world,
candles to represent the light you call us to be,
that we may be signs of the hope you give,
that we might be lights in the darkness of our world.
As we prepare for your coming again, give us hope, bathe us in your light,
and allow us to point to you, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.
Prayer of Illumination
Give us patience, Eternal God, 
as we wait for your coming.
Give us patience, O Most High, 
as we discern your word read and proclaimed.
Give us patience, O Ancient of Days,
as we embody your uncontainable Word into our lives.
Give us patience, O God,
as we wait for our world to be changed. Amen.
Reading   Isaiah 35:1-10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Hymn    Comfort, Comfort Now My People
from Isaiah 40: 1-5 adapted by Johannes Olearius (1611-1684) translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827 – 1878) sung by Nathan C George and family and used with their kind permission.

Comfort, comfort ye my people,
Speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ’neath 
their sorrow’s load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.
For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all to true repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet Him,
and the hills bow down to 
greet Him.  


Make ye straight what long was crooked,
make the rougher places plain:
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits His holy reign,
for the glory of the Lord
now o’er the earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that His Word is never broken.
Reading.   St Matthew 11:2-11

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
We live in turbulent times.  This year we’ve seen war in Europe, threats to use nuclear weapons, international law broken and war crimes discovered.  We’ve seen economic and political turmoil and, as I write, the country is on its fourth chancellor and there’s intense speculation that soon we’ll be on our third Prime Minister of the year.  We’ve seen energy prices go through the roof, a price guarantee set up for two years now reduced to just six months.  Scandals in policing, particularly in London, make us wonder about the bodies that are supposed to keep us safe.  
Of course the turmoil and worries we have are nothing compared to those who have had to flee their homes and countries due to war, terror, and poverty.  Imagine having to leave Ukraine with only what you can carry to find safety.  Imagine being in fear in Afghanistan because one is gay or a woman or Christian knowing that at any minute the Taliban could come knocking.  Imagine being a mother trying to find food to sustain your children in war ridden countries in Africa.  These are difficult times and these times help us to understand the contexts of our readings today.
Our passage from Isaiah was written to give hope to a people in exile in Babylon.  Carted off hundreds of miles from their home the exiles had to settle in a strange land.  Their own land lay in ruins, the Temple destroyed, the political and religious elite either dead or now in captivity.  With hindsight we know that freedom was coming but for those shipped off to Babylon it must have been an utter catastrophe.  The exile lasted 70 years only the very old would go back and they’d have left as children.  Those who left would have never seen their homes again.  The first deportees would have been mentally and physically traumatised  – like those who seek to cross the Channel each day.  Living with mental and physical wounds they knew that hope was gone.  These are the people Isaiah spoke to where, audaciously, he told them that the weak would be given strength, the fearful given courage, the feeble saved and the coming of the Lord would bring redemption. Salvation for Isaiah’s listeners would have meant a return to Israel – and the way of return instead of being a place of fear would become a highway of joy.  Travelling back to Israel would have been a massive risk – the wilderness was dangerous, no soldiers to protect you, unsure of the way, wild animals to prey on you – no wonder that some Jews stayed and formed a Jewish community in Iraq and Iran which is still there today.  Yet the promise in his passage was that the wilderness would be safe, the journey holy, fear would be turned into joy.  It’s quite a promise of restoration; it gave hope to the people then and can speak to us now as we are fearful in our own day.
We see fear, too, in our passage from St Matthew’s Gospel.  John is in prison; Herod had heard one too many sermons about his lifestyle, his incestuous marriage and his domestic policies.  John was no fool and he would have realised that in the ancient world prison was a staging place on a journey to exoneration, exile or execution.  Given John’s preaching topics exoneration and exile were unlikely outcomes.  Through his followers he sends word to Jesus and his message is one of doubt and fear; it’s understandable.  In our darkest moments we can ask what the point of our life is, what good we’ve achieved, whether anyone has ever listened to us.  So John sends word showing he’s doubted: “are you the One who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  In the dark of prison the doubts set in and John wonders if Jesus really was the One.  Jesus’ reply echoes our Isaiah reading – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news for a change.  And Jesus praises John to the crowd “a prophet, yes, and more than a prophet.” Jesus tells John not to doubt but look and see what he was doing, to reassure John that he was right to prepare the way for Jesus.  
Isaiah assures broken exiles that the Temple will be rebuilt, the ruined nation of Israel restored, and shows that all will be made new again.  Jesus tells John, in the depths of despair and awaiting a grisly death, that his ministry was not in vain and that no one in the Kingdom of God is greater than him.  These are good themes for an Advent where we live with political and economic uncertainty.  These are good themes as we look at the destruction in Ukraine and millions of uprooted people in our world.  These are good themes as we worry about climate change and all that will bring – they are good as they offer hope.  Not a pie in the sky “it will be alright” but a hope that, even in the midst of despondency and despair, God can be at work.  Hope that even in an executioner’s dungeon, words of hope can come.  Hope that even in the midst of destruction and gloom, God’s hope will break through.

  • As markets rise and fall we know that God remains constant.
  • As wars and rumours of wars are enfeeble us we know that God is our refuge and strength.
  • As politicians come and go, often with alarming speed, we know that God remains.
  • As bills rise yet wages and pensions remain constant, as we battle with despair, we know that God gives hope.

Hope, not in a change of political approach, but hope in something more lasting, a coming Kingdom where there will be equity and fairness.  Hope not in a new Prime Minister and Chancellor, but in a baby who will show a different form of leadership, a radical form of renewal where the lowly are lifted up and the rich sent away empty handed.  Hope not in a brokered peace which won’t last but an everlasting peace, heralded by a wounded suffering servant.  
This Advent we have hope, hope in the One who came to save us and turn our world upside down.
Will you pray with me?
Give us hope O God,
hope in your strength not ours,
hope in your ability to change our world,
hope that you will make the rough places smooth,
lift up the poor and lowly, and bring down the rich and self-righteous.
Hope that the power of light is greater than the powers of darkness,
hope that our love and service is never in vain,
hope, above all, that when you come, we will be ready
to rejoice and welcome you. Amen.
Hymn    Arise Shine
Graham Kendrick © 1985 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Integrity Music Ltd) sung by Sharjah Church of South India Choir and used with their kind permission.

Darkness like a shroud 
covers the earth.
Evil like a cloud 
covers the people.
But the Lord will rise upon you
and His glory will appear on you.
Nations will come to your light.
Arise shine your light has come!
The glory of the Lord 
has risen on you!
Arise shine your light has come!
Jesus the Light of the world
has come!
Here among us now Christ the light
kindles brighter flames in our trembling hearts.
Living word our lamp come guide our feet
as we walk as one in light and peace
‘till justice and truth shine like the sun.

Affirmation of Faith
In a society which sees the earth as expendable, 
we turn to the God who makes heaven and earth.  
In a world that faces the horror of war; 
we turn to the God, who calls us to peace making and justice seeking. 
In a world where the financial empires seek to enslave and impoverish us, 
we turn to the God who enables us to spoke the wheels of injustice. 
In a world bound to the tyranny of its ruler, 
we turn to the God who sets us free. 
In a world longing to be free, 
we turn to the God who liberates us from the powers of evil, injustice and darkness. 
Amidst the powers of darkness and gloom, 
we turn to God, light of light, who cheers and changes us.  Amen
Our world worries about money and goods.  We always want to have more than enough, to have some set aside for a rainy day and we put our security in what we have rather than in the gracious goodness of God.  We cling to money forgetting that it’s toxic and needs to be diluted through giving.  As we journey through Advent we’re reminded, again and again, of the power of giving – the gift of presence as we well as the gifts of time, talent and treasure.  So rejoice as you give!  Rejoice as you give in the collection using envelopes or simply popping your cash in.  Rejoice as you give directly to the bank.  Rejoice as you give of your time and your talents; remember God loves a cheerful giver as giving is good for us.  
Let us pray
All good gifts come from you, Eternal One,
help us to let go and give away 
some of our time,
some of our talents, and 
some of our treasure – 
that in our giving,
we may become rich,
and your world may become whole. Amen.
Hymn    Come Now O Prince of Peace
Geonyong Lee revised Marion Pope © Geonyong Lee. Used by permission.  Sung by Kirstin Young, Director of Worship & the Arts, St Mark’s Lutheran Church, Aurora, Illinois, USA, and used with her kind permission.

Come now, O Prince of peace,
make us one body;
come, O Lord Jesus,
reconcile your people.
Come now, O God of love,
make us one body;
come, O Lord Jesus,
reconcile your people.
Come now and set us free,
O God, our Saviour;
come, O Lord Jesus,
reconcile all nations.
Come, Hope of unity,
make us one body;
come, O Lord Jesus,
reconcile all nations.

Eternal One, 
we praise You for Your faithfulness to your people of old,
calling them home after bitter years of exile,
making straight dangerous highways,
causing the desert to bloom,
restoring their life and hope.
Eternal One,
give us hope in our own age,
hope that the powers of evil 
which rule our world won’t have the last word,
hope that the poor won’t always be with us,
hope that the deserts caused by our rape and pillage of Mother Earth,
will once again flourish with life.
O Enfleshed God,
You offered hope to John the Baptist
when in the darkness of his dungeon of despair he doubted.
Give hope to Your people now,
hope that times will improve,
hope that we can make a difference with our love and our ministries,
hope that You’ve not finished with us.
O Spirited God,
you inspired Your people of old,
giving hope in bad times,
enabling them to trust in You,
bless with Your love those we now hold before you…
bless Your Church as it seeks to show Your love and grace,
that we may be agents of hope and peace.
O God, hear our prayers as we now pray as Jesus taught….
Our Father…
Hymn    Hark the Glad Sound
Scottish Paraphrases 1781 sung by the choir and people of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.

Hark the glad sound! 
The Saviour comes,
the Saviour promised long;
let ev’ry heart prepare a throne
and ev’ry voice a song.
He comes the captives 
to release,
in Satan’s prison held.
The gates of brass 
before him burst;
the iron fetters yield.

He comes the broken 
heart to bind,
the bleeding soul to cure,
and with the treasures of his grace
to enrich the humble poor.
Our glad hosannas, 
Prince of Peace,
Your welcome shall proclaim,
and heav’n’s eternal arches ring
with your beloved name.

May the long promised Saviour
who releases captives, 
binds broken hearts
and enriches the poor
bless you that you proclaim welcome 
to coming kingdom
where all things will be put right.
And the blessing of Almighty God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be with you all,
now and always,
This material is only for use in local churches not for posting to websites or any other use.  Local churches must have copyright licences to allow the printing and projection of words for hymns.




Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762


Copyright © 2022 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences


unsubscribe from this list.