Sunday, November 30, 2014

Order for the Eucharist on Advent 2 (7 December 2014)

The Second Sunday of Advent
7 December 2014

The Gathering of the Community

Introductory Responses

Arise, shine, our light is coming;
the glory of the Lord is rising upon us.
Though night still covers the earth
and darkness covers the nations,
over us will the Lord arise,
over us will the glory of God appear.

Seasonal Processional Hymn

‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’  Common Praise #89 vv. 1, 3, 4


During the Collect the Advent Wreath is lit.

Let us pray.

God of timeless grace,
you fill us with joyful expectation.
Make us ready for the message that prepares the way,
so that with uprightness of heart and holy joy,
we may eagerly await the coming of Christ,
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.  Amen. [i]

The Proclamation of the Word

First Reading

A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah (40.1-11).

            Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.  A voice cries out:  “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

            A voice says, “Cry out!”  And I said, “What shall I cry?”  All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.  Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”  See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.  He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Psalm

Psalm 85.1-2, 8-13 with refrain from Songs for the Holy One

Refrain (sung twice):  Holy One, help us to listen and follow your teachings.

1 You have been gracious to your land, O Lord, *
            you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2 You have forgiven all the iniquity of your people *
            and blotted out all their sins.

Refrain:  Holy One, help us to listen and follow your teachings.

8 I will listen to what you, Lord God, are saying, *
            for you are speaking peace to your faithful people
            and to those who turn their hearts to you.
9 Truly, your salvation is very near to those who fear you, *
            that your glory may dwell in our land.

Refrain:  Holy One, help us to listen and follow your teachings.

10 Mercy and truth have met together; *
            righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring up from the earth, *
            and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 Lord, you will indeed grant prosperity, *
            and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness shall go before you, *
            and peace shall be a pathway for your feet.

Refrain:  Holy One, help us to listen and follow your teachings.

The Second Reading

A Reading from the Second Letter of Peter (3.8-15a).

            But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

            Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?  But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

            Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Gradual Hymn

‘Prepare the Way, O Zion’  Common Praise #100

The Gospel

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark (1.1-8).
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

            The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

            As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

            John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Homily

An Affirmation of Faith

We are called to proclaim the truth and let us believe:

It is not true that this world
and its people are doomed to die and to be lost.
This is true:  I have come that they may have life
in all its abundance.

It is not true that we must accept
inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty,
death and destruction.
This is true:  The deaf hear, the dead are raised to life,
the poor are hearing the good news.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word
and that war and destruction have come to stay forever.
This is true:  Death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more.

It is not true that we are simply victims
of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world.
This is true:  The Lord whom we seek
will suddenly come to the temple;
and the Lord is like a refining fire.

It is not true that our dreams of liberation, of human dignity,
are not meant for this earth and for this history.
This is true:  It is already time for us to wake from sleep.
For the night is far gone, the day is at hand. [ii]

The Prayers of the Community

Intercessions, Petitions and Thanksgivings

The Exchange of the Peace

May the peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

The Holy Communion

The Offertory Hymn

‘Lamb of God, to Thee We Raise’  Common Praise #270

Prayer over the Gifts

God of abundance,
we bring before you
the precious fruits of your creation,
and with them our very lives.
Teach us patience and hope
as we care for all those in need
until the coming of your Son,
our Saviour and Lord.  Amen. [iii]

Thanksgiving at the Table

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, gracious God,
creator of heaven and earth;
we give you thanks and praise
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who in the fullness of time came among us in our flesh,
and opened to us the way of salvation.
Now we watch for the day when he will come again
in power and great triumph to judge this world,
so that we, without shame or fear,
may rejoice to behold his appearing.
Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices with angels and archangels
and with all the company of heaven,
who for ever sing this hymn
to proclaim the glory of your name. [iv]

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. [v]

Holy One, the beginning and the end, the giver of life:
Blessed are you for the birth of creation.
Blessed are you in the darkness and in the light.
Blessed are you for your promise to your people.
Blessed are you for the prophets’ hopes and dreams.
Blessed are you for Mary’s openness to your will.
Blessed are you for your Son, Jesus, the Word made flesh.

In the night in which he was betrayed,
our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;
broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take and eat; this is my body given for you.
Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,
and gave it for all to drink, saying:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.
Do this for the remembrance of me.

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

With this bread and cup we remember
your Word dwelling among us, full of grace and truth.
We remember our new birth in his death and resurrection.
We look with hope for his coming.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Holy God, we long for your Spirit.
Come among us.  Bless this meal.
May your Word take flesh in us.
Awaken your people.  Fill us with your light.
Bring the gift of peace on earth.
Come, Holy Spirit.

All praise and glory are yours, Holy One of Israel,
Word of God incarnate, Power of the Most High,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen. [vi]

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen. [vii]

The Breaking of the Bread

God of promise,
you prepare a banquet for us in your kingdom.
Happy are those who are called
to the supper of the Lamb. [viii]

The gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.

The Communion

Communion Hymn

‘Bread of Heaven, on Thee We Feed’  Common Praise #72 (sung to #160)

The Sending Forth of the Community

Prayer after Communion

God for whom we wait,
in this meal you give us a foretaste of that day
when the hungry will be fed with good things.
Send us forth to make known your deeds
and to proclaim the greatness of your name,
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen. [ix]

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

‘There’s a Voice in the Wilderness’  Common Praise #106


The Deacon sends the People forth with an appropriate Dismissal.

[i] Liturgy Task Force, ‘Trial Use Collects for Advent 1 to the Baptism of Christ’ (Year B), 1.

[ii] Alan Boesak as quoted by Janet Morley, ed., Bread for Tomorrow:  Prayers for the Church Year (1992), 31.

[iii] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 64 alt.

[iv] The Book or Alternative Services (1985), 219 alt.

[v] Common Praise #722.

[vi] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 110.

[vii] Common Praise #744.

[viii] The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 212.

[ix] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 65 alt.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Trial Use Texts: Liturgical Psalter & Daily Prayer for Advent, Christmas & Epiphany

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to write to say that two more Trial Use Texts should be published soon on the national web-site of the Anglican Church of Canada.  In order to have them out, however, before Advent begins, here are two links:

1)  The Trial Use Liturgical Psalter emended for Inclusive Language and

2)  Trial Use Morning and Evening Prayer for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

Please send any corrections to

Please send any comments to



The Best of Times or the Worst of Times?

RCL Advent 1B
30 November 2014

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Focus texts:  Isaiah 64.1-9 and Mark 13.24-37
        In 1859 Charles Dickens published one of his most well-known novels, A Tale of Two Cities, which describes, among other things, the oppression of French peasants by the aristocracy before the French Revolution and the exodus of French aristocrats into Britain during the Revolution itself when the same peasants avenged themselves.  The novel begins with words that many people may have memorized at some point during their education.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

I remember the novel primarily for its tale of conversion.  The less than admirable Sydney Carton, an English barrister, becomes a heroic figure.  At the end of the novel he takes the place of a young man who is to be executed by the guillotine and dies in his place.

         Conversion is a word that we frequently use to describe the movement from being a sinner to being a righteous person.  It’s the word that comes to mind when we sing ‘Amazing Grace’ with its famous phrase, ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.’  There is another way of looking at this word that I think is helpful as we enter into a new liturgical year, but let me set the stage.

         Twenty-six hundred years ago the Babylonians conquered the kingdom of Judah and transported most of the leadership back to Babylon to live in exile.  A remnant remained in the two former kingdoms of Israel and Judah, but they tended to be peasants working the land overseen by appointed Babylonian officials and a few collaborators.  During the seventy years of the Exile, the Judeans in Babylon longed to return but dared not hope.  To the east of Babylon a new power was rising in that geographic area we now call Iran:  the Persians.  The Persians moved west, defeated the Babylonians and established a new empire.

         One of the first acts of the new emperor was to permit the Judeans to return to the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  They were permitted to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and to enjoy a degree of autonomy.  The portion of Isaiah we heard this morning was written during this time of rebuilding and renewal.  The visible ruins of their previous kingdom were still visible and many Judeans despaired as they remembered the Jerusalem of old.  But others, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, threw themselves into the task, believing that God had given Judah a second chance.  What others saw only as ruins, Ezra, Nehemiah and their colleagues saw as an opportunity to renew the people of Israel and to return to the covenant God made with their ancestors.

         Jump forward some five hundred years.  The ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been absorbed as provinces in the Roman empire.  Religious unrest was fuelling fires of violence in what was now called ‘Palestine’ as well as in the city of Rome itself.  In Rome riots between the followers of the way of Moses and the followers of the way of Jesus had led Claudius to ban both groups from the city.  His successor, Nero, would blame a disastrous fire on the followers of Jesus and begin a violent suppression.

         In Palestine Judean nationalists were beginning a campaign of guerilla warfare against the Roman forces.  Soon this campaign would ignite an actual rebellion that would end with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.  Roman troops created ‘no go’ areas throughout the province and restricted religious groups primarily to the north and to the east.  It was a time filled with uncertainty.

         Among the followers of Jesus there were stories circulating about his last week in Jerusalem as well as his acts of healing, his parables and his controversies with the religious authorities.  An unknown follower, living in Syria, whom we now call Mark, assembled these stories into a document we know as ‘the Gospel according to Mark’.  Many scholars believe that this document was written sometime between 64 and 72 ce, some thirty-five to forty years after the events of that last week in Jerusalem.

         His readers were frightened.  They had heard the stories of Nero’s persecution of the Christian community in Rome.  They had experienced the hostility of their neighbours, many of whom were followers of the way of Moses, some were even family.  These early sisters and brothers of ours were looking for the return of Jesus and the coming of God’s kingdom in their lifetimes, but all they saw was oppression, violence and destruction.  To them the author of the Gospel wrote, using images drawn from the popular imagination and encouraging them to ‘keep awake’ even though the coming of the kingdom seems so far off.  ‘Look at the current situation differently,’ he says, ‘and you will find reasons to carry on with the ministry God has given you.’

         Conversion, you see, is ‘seeing with new eyes’.  It means looking at the ruins of Jerusalem through the eyes of Ezra and Nehemiah.  It means looking at the unrest in the Roman Empire through the eyes of Mark.  It means looking at the tensions and challenges of our own times through the eyes of prophets such as the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Jean Vanier. 

        Whether this is the best of time or the worst of times is a question that will be answered by our descendants.  Whether we are being wise or foolish is a question that our great-grandchildren will debate.  Whether our times are times of darkness or light, filled with hope or burdened with despair, our task, even in these ‘last days’, is clear:  we continue to witness to the kingdom of God, present in our midst, present throughout the whole world. 

         That kingdom is present when those who have much freely give to those who have little.  That kingdom is present when those who have been hurt or abused forgive those who hurt and abused them.  That kingdom is present when the followers of the way of Jesus dare to proclaim the good news even when the world around us seems filled only with the voices of hate and destruction.

         As our preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ draws near, let us also ‘see the world with new eyes’.  Let us share with our neighbours and our families the good news that there is another vision for humanity, a vision of compassion and love rather than of greed and self-interest.  This vision still has power to transform the heart --- if one keeps awake and watches carefully.  Amen.