The Shepherds returned

Including a performance by the Tenet Vocal Artists

Luke 2: 15-20

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


1. While their flocks the shepherds tended
Heavenly hosts to earth descended
Singing, with all voices blended,
“Fear not, Christ is born today.”
    Eastern Seers rich gifts had wrought Him
    Gold, Frankincense, myrrh they brought Him
    Guided by a Star, they sought Him
    Prince of Life and Victory

2. On that Child with Mary gazing,
Join ye Christians all in raising
Songs to Him, whom Heaven is praising,
God incarnate come to men
    From this day’s first dawn to even
    Praise to Christ our King be given
    By all Earth, and all in Heaven,
    In our sweetest, loftiest strain.

God chose to be with us

Of course today, Christmas Eve, will probably not be how we might usually spend it but there is still a lot to celebrate – that perfect gift born in a byre in Bethleham.

Luke 2: 6-14

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[b] praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”[c]


Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerrit van Honthorst)
The Adoration of the Shepherds (Pupil of Rembrandt)

Following a star

Hello and welcome to Maranatha, come lord Jesus today on the 23rd day of advent where we will be talking about the magi following the star to Bethlehem and questioning king Herod about it on the way.


Matthew 2:1-6
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men[a] from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”’

Reflection
Who are the wise men?
The wise men are called magi which comes from the Persian word magus

They were the priests of the Persian religion called Zoroastrianism

They were famous for studying astrology ( looking at the stars )

At that time the appearance of new starts signified great events or births of important people

The magi want to find the child born to be king of the Jews

Why is this important?

Because it shows that Jesus is not just born to be king of the Jewish people but draws all people to him

Understandably the magi assume the star for a new king being born for the Jews means that he will be born in Jerusalem

No wonder Herod is concerned that a leader might rise up against him for this is Herod the great who became governor of Galilee in 47 BC, ruling on behalf of the Roman emperor.
Herod has no idea that Jesus’ rule and power is like no normal, human ruler

Discussion ( part 3 )
Herod seeks the advice of his Jewish advisors and priests and they recall the prophecy Micah chapter 5 verse 1-3

This is the prophecy that says the anointed one will be born in Bethlehem

• This is important because it is the town of king David and the prophecy hints at the kind of ruler Jesus will be as it
says he will Shepard Israel
Conclusion ( part 1 )
As we prepare for Christmas this reading is a special reminder that Jesus came as a saviour for the whole world, and
is a ruler like no other.
Conclusion ( part 2 )
And it shows us how the magi followed the star which lead them to a prophecy and a child who was born to be a king.
A king so special that wiseman would come so far to see him.
Now we will have a prayer to conclude
Prayer
L – Hope of the world
Z – Maranatha, come lord Jesus
L – Thank you for the star which guided the wise men
Thank you that the wise men knew how important your birth would be
Thank you that the wise men were directed to Bethlehem
Help us to seek you and bring wise friends into our lives to guide us
Z – We ask this in your name, the one one born in Bethlehem
Amen

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

We join Jane Lowe for a walk in the woods

Reflection

For over three weeks now, we have been on a Maranatha journey together, a spiritual journey, if you will, through the month-long Advent season as we make our way toward Christmas.

And today, well, we’re almost there! We’re so close to Christmas, to the glorious celebration of the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, that we can almost touch it. Almost feel it.

But being almost there and being there are not the same thing, are they? We still have three days to go. Three more days of preparation, of making ready – not just of the packages and the food – but of ourselves. Our mind sets. Our beliefs. Our resolve. Our faith. Three days to put our own individual houses in order, so to speak, in time to welcome Jesus Christ into our lives once again. It’s a busy time! There is work left to do. We can’t stop now; we must push on …

At this time of year, I am always reminded of one of my favourite poems by the great American poet Robert Frost, entitled Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. And no, we don’t have snow yet in southern England, but I’d like to take a walk in the woods with you as I read this poem now.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Robert Frost)

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep …

I don’t know about you, but with all the obligations and responsibilities which pile on at Christmas time, there’s a part of me that feels like just disappearing into the woods, sitting on a bench, and forgetting about the rest of the world. And I have done that for a few minutes today.

But, like the narrator of Robert Frost’s poem, I know I can’t do that for too long. Not now. I need to press on. There is work left to do. And, not only do I feel I must do this work, for God has called me to do it… I really want to do it too. I want to reach out to friends and loved ones near and far, with phone calls, with cards, emails, small gifts and messages of love and peace that are perhaps even more important this year because of the isolation that so many are feeling after months of Covid-19 restrictions have constrained our face to face encounters. There will be time for rest and relaxation, but first there are Food Bank donations to make, elderly and vulnerable people to check on, children and families to be reminded of the important message of the nativity story, health and safety precautions to follow, and yes, even small, socially distanced church services to take part in where possible

… But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Like Mary and Joseph, who left their homes, their comfort zones, and ventured out on the long journey to Bethlehem on a dark night all those years ago, we are called by God to make our own journeys toward welcoming Christ into our lives at Christmas. Despite the inconvenience, despite the time it takes, despite (this year) a global pandemic and the obstacles it throws into our path. We are called by God to obey; to carry on; to make the journey – for ourselves and for others.

Like John the Baptist, too, who some years later struck out into the wilderness, obeying God’s command to ready the people for Christ’s arrival. As Mark reminds us in today’s Gospel reading, As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare the way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Well, I know that I’ve got miles to go before I sleep, although these woods have been lovely to walk and sit in today. I’m off to do my small bit to prepare the way for the Lord.

May you have a blessed Christmas, wherever you are.

Meeting Joseph

Matthew 1:18-23

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

    and they shall name him Emmanuel’,

which means, ‘God is with us.’

Reflection:

Today we turn our thoughts to Joseph. A man about whom little is known apart from two things, and those things are very important. Those things both answer the question ‘who are you?’

OK, that seems a big question, but if I asked you to tell me what you know about Joseph, even if you were a New Testament scholar, it probably wouldn’t take you very long to tell me. We tend to think of him as a bit-part actor. He marries Mary – at the right time, on instruction from an angel – and he was a kind man. We do not have his recorded words, we don’t hear about the adventures he had in life, apart from those attached to Jesus’ infancy narratives, and then he silently disappears from the narrative.

But when we pause to reflect on that question: who are you? When we home in on what we do know about Joseph, it doesn’t actually matter that we don’t have lots of detail. As what I want to draw out today, is the fact that, although what we know is very little in content, what it means is deeply significant – and that’s all that matters!

The first thing is that Joseph has this amazing hereditary. We hear that in the verses just before the passage we heard today. For many 21st century listeners, a long list of ancestors doesn’t really sound that interesting, unless we like family trees, and if we do listen to them in church, we might just find our ears prick in recognition at a few names, but quickly move on to what we think is the more interesting action that follows.

But to Matthew’s Jewish listeners, that genealogy was incredible. It reflects both greatness and grace. It shows Joseph’s kingly inheritance, his origins amongst the great patriarchs, and it also shows God’s amazing grace, of continuing the line through foreign women like Ruth and cunning women like Tamar. Joseph’s unique heritage gets him and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus can fulfil the prophecy of the messianic ruler being born there.

Who are you? Joseph’s first answer is I am of the line Abraham, Ruth, and David. I shall bring Mary to bear her child, our son in Bethlehem, as foretold by God’s grace.

The second answer responds to the question in a different way. We already knew that Joseph is more than kind. His plan to let Mary discreetly disappear, rather than shamed by divorce at only betrothal, meant he was saving her life. Don’t forget that years later Jesus saves a woman from being stoned to death for adultery. The intervention of the angel we tend to conflate with the visitations to Mary and Zechariah but each one tells a different tale. The result is Joseph, like Mary, consents to serve God, in sticking with Mary, and raising Jesus as their son. Whatever whispers or querying looks this may garner, the answer to the question ‘who are you?’ is a man of faith, trust, integrity, compassion, love, strength of character. Joseph’s response and Joseph’s actions reveal the true depth of the man, that negate the need for multiple stories. We know all we need to know, about who this man is: in line with God’s plan, and one of great faith, love, and integrity. 

Prayer:

Hope of the World!

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, Light of the World!

We praise and thank you for the faith of Joseph,

We praise and thank you for his trust and fidelity,

We praise and thank you for his steadfastness and love.

May we too step into the roles you lay before us to live

May we too love and trust you and welcome Jesus into our lives

May our faith be ever strengthened as we cry, Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

We ask this in your name, the one born in Bethlehem.

Amen.

Who are the messengers?

Mark 1:2-8

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,[a]

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,[b]
    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[c] 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[d] water; but he will baptize you with[e] the Holy Spirit.”


Reflection

A few years ago I was doing my Christmas shopping in Reading. There were various street entertainers on Broad Street with the usual crowds of people around each one, desperately looking to escape just before the hat goes round for money. And further down towards M&S the crowd all seemed to keep to one side of the street, giving something a very wide berth.

Not something. Somebody. The crowds were deliberately avoiding a man and his young son as they stood offering bibles to passers by. Despite the apparent death-stares they were getting from people, they carried on cheerfully. I went up to the man and got talking. He wasn’t oblivious to how people responded to him. He knew he was seen as eccentric. He knew people didn’t want to know. But, for him, it would take just one or two conversations with people, helping them open up to faith, to make it worthwhile. I looked at his son and instead of embarrassment you could see that his son was very proud of his dad.

Who are God’s messengers?

Boston Museum of Fine Art

You see, John the Baptist was a bit of an unlikely messenger. Would you take him seriously? He appears in the wilderness. He was clothed in camel’s hair, had a leather girdle around his waist and ate locusts and honey. On the face of it he wouldn’t seem a credible messenger. And yet he had come from a family with status. His father, Zechariah, was a highly respected priest. And here was John living in the wilderness, usually associated with outcasts, and drawing people from the surrounding area to hear of his prophecy.

When you go forward for selection for training to the priesthood you are asked to compile a dossier of all those who have influenced you in your faith. This can be a lengthy document covering many times in your life. It is a very personal story of the individual messengers who have encouraged you on your way. I’m going to share just one of mine.

About ten years ago I was having difficulty in my faith. Actually that’s not wholly true. I actively rebelled against it. After all my career was going well, I was settled into a nice life and, with all that, who needs God?  And then I started working closely with a new colleague, Ajaz. Ajaz was a practicing Muslim heavily involved in his mosque and community. We rarely spoke about his faith. We didn’t need to. He lived his faith like nobody I had ever seen before. Every decision in the workplace, in his homelife, everything was built on God and service.

He was unassuming and yet the influence he had over me and my faith is significant. I realised how much I missed my relationship with God, that having a good job and nice flat just isn’t enough and we are called to be true disciples. And of course Christians and Muslims haven’t always had the best of relationships so the idea that my Christian faith would grow because of a Muslim influence may seem odd. Yet we know it’s not odd. We know that God sends us messengers all the time. And those messengers may not be the most obvious, they may be the ones we might least expect.

My friend had no idea of the influence he had over me. He does now, I’ve told on him several occasions! But often we aren’t aware of our impact on others.

Perhaps there have been times when you have been the messenger without necessarily realising it. Maybe something you said or did, or even the way you did it, has given deeper meaning to somebody. As Christians we have become messengers. People will judge our faith by our actions and, hopefully, they’ll see something of the Spirit in the way we live our lives. John was called by God to prepare others in anticipation of Jesus. We, likewise, are called equally to be those messengers.


The Call to Prayer from “The Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins. The Armed Man is also known as a Mass for Peace. When John was baptising people and telling them about the one who was to come, what do you think they were hoping for? We know Jesus was born into a turbulent world, a world divided – Romans, Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles – what hope was Jesus to bring?

We ask ourselves that same question. As we listen to the messenger, what are we hoping for?

_

We have a few verses from Psalm 151. This psalm doesn’t appear in our prayer books because it’s not part of the official canon of the church. However the text is attributed to David and two parts of it have been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It tells the story of David meeting Goliath.

I was small among my brothers,
    and the youngest in my father’s house;
I tended my father’s sheep.

My hands made a harp;
    my fingers fashioned a lyre.

And who will tell my Lord?
    The Lord Himself; it is He who hears.

It was He who sent His messenger
    and took me from my father’s sheep,
    and anointed me with His anointing oil.

Amen

In the beginning…

Fr. Gerard leads our daily reflection from the church

John 1: 1-15

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.[b]

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own,[c] and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[d] full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”’) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,[e] who is close to the Father’s heart,[f] who has made him known.


The paths we take

Luke 3:2b-6, 15-16

The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

    make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,

    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,

and the crooked shall be made straight,

    and the rough ways made smooth;

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”’

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.


Reflection:

Today we are thinking about John the Baptist and his call to God’s people to ‘prepare the way’.

I don’t know if you’re a walker or a cyclist or like to wander but here in our local area there are many ancient pathways, often trodden in and carved into the countryside over many hundreds of years ago, and it’s amazing to think how people frequented these familiar routes for centuries before us. In our own parish of Thorpe, we have Monk’s Walk, which comes out on church approach, just by St Mary’s and was the route from Chertsey Abbey, quite possibly for over a thousand years! And it’s not so far to the south that we have the Pilgrim’s Way on the Downs and obviously also the footpaths that run alongside the River Thames which has been a major highway in this country for centuries.

Make a way for the Lord, John cries out. What does that even mean? Does he mean make a path like those who laid down Palms did for him in Jerusalem, a few years later – yet they were the ones who later called for his blood. How much is this an individual or communal pathway? I suspect part of it is making a pathway to our hearts, to allow God to enter into our lives, our thoughts, our hearts, our very being.

And yet this is also a communal way of being – we can help and support each other in doing this. And in community we carve out ways of being, particularly worship, that make the most sense through being done together.

There is also an even broader sense, in that we are to make ways clear for Christ to be proclaimed in society, even to the world. Our lives, our actions, how we try to influence and encourage society, again both individually and corporately, needs to be in order to make the path clear for all to see Jesus.

I wonder if today we might think about the ways in which we shape ourselves, which then goes on into how we treat and interact with others. What are the highways of the heart that our forebears have carved out for us? There are so many prayerful practices and spiritual disciplines that shape our hearts and minds to be open to God. There’s Ignatian discernment, and lectio divina, there’s the rosary and angelus and the Hail Mary. And above all, gifted from Christ himself, there is the receipt of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Whether or not we can participate fully, as we’ve truly learnt with all our lockdowns, spiritual reception, prayerfully attending the mass, even if we do not physically partake, is a holy blessing to us all. At mass, we hear God’s word, we receive teaching to guide and encourage and even challenge us, and then participating in the Eucharist is participating in the great prayer of the church, meditating on Christ’s death and resurrection, on the life he gave for us and the eternal life he gives us.

So as we prepare for Christmas, this Adventide, we can do so by re-treading those highways and byways in our hearts that make the way clear for Christ to come in. So we can fervently pray, Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus.


Prayer:

Hope of the World!

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, Light of the World!

We thank you that in John, we hear the call to prepare the way for you

We thank you for the prophecy of Isaiah, proclaiming your coming

We thank you that you come, that you are the salvation for whom we are awaiting

Open our hearts, open our minds, and make the way clear for us to receive you again

We ask this in your name, the one born in Bethlehem.

Amen.

Hannah’s Prayer

Fr Damian Harrison-Miles leads Maranatha from the church

Samuel 2:1-11 (Hannah’s Prayer)

Hannah prayed and said,

‘My heart exults in the Lord;
    my strength is exalted in my God.[a]
My mouth derides my enemies,
    because I rejoice in my[b] victory.

‘There is no Holy One like the Lord,
    no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
    let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
    but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
    but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
    but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
    he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
    he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
    he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
    and inherit a seat of honour.[c]
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
    and on them he has set the world.

‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
    but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
    for not by might does one prevail.
10 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
    the Most High[d] will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
    he will give strength to his king,
    and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Leaping for Joy

Luke 1:39-57

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,

    and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.

    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

    and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him

    from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

    and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

    and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

    in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

    to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.


Reflection:

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did it change lots of times? Can you discern patterns and similarities with what you did end up doing? Maybe you ended up doing something completely different or you were spot on. Sometimes, behind the idea lay a talent or trait that you did use, but in a very different way!

Parents often have lots of hopes and dreams for their children. And during pregnancy, all sorts of dreams and wonderings are part of the experience of waiting. For Mary, she had a sure and certain hope of who and how her son would be. He would bring down the powerful and send the rich away, but lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things. What a wonderful promise for her to hold onto during her pregnancy.

Pregnancy back in those times was a risky business. Even today in the developing world, giving birth has a high risk of mortality, and in our own country, we have shamefully disproportionately bad outcomes for the poorer in society and those who are members of ethnic minorities. In almost a throwaway line, the gospel tells us that Elizabeth and Mary spent three months together during their pregnancies. Both so unexpectedly pregnant, for very different reasons! We can just imagine the comfort and joy that must have brought, as they compared experiences and supported each other through the physical, mental and spiritual challenge of pregnancy and impending parenthood.

This Advent, as we pray Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus, I hope that we can be inspired by Mary and Elizabeth in their wonder, awe, hope and joy at their impending pregnancies. I hope we too can also place our trust and worries, our hopes and uncertainties in the hands of God, who promises such a great saviour, who will bring justice and mercy to the world, as Mary sang.

Prayer:

Hope of the World!

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, Light of the World!

May we like Elizabeth and John rejoice in recognising your coming.

May we like John play our part in preparing your way.

May we like Mary say yes to what you ask of us.

May we like Mary magnify your holy name.

We ask this in your name, the one born in Bethlehem.

Amen.