The Sunday Service in Hagley

The Parishes of Clent and Hagley


Worship for 6 December – Advent 2




We will be using this service together on Zoom at 11.00 am.





Opening Prayers and the Second Advent Candle



Like those who went to the River Jordan,
to heard the cry of John the Baptist,
so we gather to hear your word, O God.
Speak to us, as we journey through Advent,
through that Word that never fades,

and that welcomes all,
making strangers friends for ever;

through Jesus Christ our companion and Saviour.



Holy God,

people went to deserted places
to hear John the Baptist,

and to hear his prophetic and important words:

we light this second Advent Candle
as a symbol of our pilgrimage
towards the things that will last for ever:
righteousness, loving-kindness,
peace and an eternal home with you.



 Hymn                    On Jordan’s bank



On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake, and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within;
prepare we in our hearts a home,
where such a mighty guest may come.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge, and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away,
like flowers that wither and decay.

To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth, and let thy light restore
earth’s own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee
whose advent doth thy people free,
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.











A prayer of praise and adoration                                                         



God of all ages,
we praise and adore you for your faithfulness.
Despite our half-heartedness,
you give all of yourself to us.
To challenge our complacency,
you give us the urgent message of John the Baptist.
To prepare us for Christmas,
you bless us with the season of Advent.
And so we praise you and adore you,
in Jesus’ name.



Asking for God’s forgiveness



Advent God, we bring our prayers of penitence before you,

knowing that you call us to live more deeply in your love.

When we hear you calling us to change,
but we resist you:
heal us and help us.

When you call us to prepare
for something new
but we prefer old habits:

heal us and help us.


When you stir us up
to face new challenges
but we close our eyes
to the needs of others:

heal us and help us.


Forgive us, God,
for our complacency and our judgements.
Help us see with the eyes of a pilgrim,
knowing that you who have called us on this way,
will make a pathway before us.



May the Father forgive you,

Jesus Christ renew you,

and the Holy Spirit enable you to grow in love.




A Collect


Almighty God,
purify our hearts and minds,
that when your Son Jesus Christ comes to us
we may be ready to receive him,
who is our Lord and our God.




An Old Testament Reading       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.
4Every 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 for ever.
9Get 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.





Hymn                     In a world where people walk in darkness




In a world where people walk in darkness,

let us turn our faces to the light,

to the light of God revealed in Jesus,

to the daystar scattering our night.


For the light is stronger than the darkness

and the day will overcome the night,

though the shadows linger all around us,

let us turn our faces to the light.



In a world where suffering of the helpless

casts a shadow all along the way,

let us bear the cross of Christ with gladness

and proclaim the dawning of the day.



Let us light a candle in the darkness,

in the face of death a sign of life;

as a sign of hope where all seemed hopeless,

as a sign of peace in place of strife.




A Gospel Reading            Mark 1.1-8


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.’




A Reflection



The beginning of Advent marks the beginning of a new church year.  Church years go in three-yearly cycles, with each one focusing either on Matthew’s, Mark’s or Luke’s Gospel – interspersed with parts of John’s Gospel at various significant moments.


The new church year that began last Sunday, with Advent Sunday, this time focuses on Mark’s Gospel.  Today we heard the very beginning of that Gospel, and it’s immediately clear that it has a different flavour from the others.  It doesn’t begin with Jesus’ family background or the Christmas story, as do Matthew and Luke – in fact there’s no reference at all to what we would think of as the Christmas story in Mark’s Gospel.  Neither does it begin with a long, erudite introduction, as John’s does – setting what is to come within a short history of time and the universe.  No, Mark just gets straight into it.


The first verse of Mark’s Gospel proclaims “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.  Verse two quotes Isaiah prophesying the arrival of a messenger, and by verse 3 we have the arrival on the scene of John the Baptist, preparing the way for something new.  Mark’s not one for beating about the bush.  There’s a real sense of urgency in what he writes.  The immediate focus is the message of John the Baptist, and his preparing the way for Jesus – and there are three features of what happens when John arrives that are important for us, too.


First of all, it has to be a priority that those to whom John the Baptist speaks must seek forgiveness.  If they want to be ready to engage with the Messiah when he comes, they have to be willing and ready to change.  They have to repent of the way they’ve been living their lives.  And that’s true for us, as well.  If we’re to really engage with the Saviour who is coming, we need to be willing to change.  We need to ask ourselves of what it is we need to repent, what it is that we’ve been clinging on to that we need to let go, what it is we’ve been putting off (forever) that we need to embrace.  Above all, we need to want to be forgiven.


Secondly, the people John the Baptist speaks to, need to leave their comfort zones.  They have to physically leave their homes and travel out into the desert to find him in order to hear what he’s got to say in the first place!  They need to leave behind their security in order to make a new beginning.  That’s actually what God does at Christmas, if you think about it – as the hymn puts it “Thou didst leave thy home and thy kingly crown, when thou camest to earth for me”.  It’s what you and I are called to do, as Christians, as well.  We have to step out in faith.


Thirdly and finally, we have to look forward.  In the Gospels John the Baptist always resists people’s attempts to get him to talk about himself or to focus on himself.  He always points to the one who is to come – he always points to Jesus. He’s just the warm-up act – they haven’t seen anything yet.


In these opening verses from Mark’s Gospel he says that someone more powerful than he is coming, for whom he’s not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. John says that whereas he has baptized with water, the one who is coming will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  What the people have to do is get ready to meet him. 


These opening verses from Mark impress on us the urgency of seeking forgiveness during this time of Advent, and of leaving behind things that make us feel secure if we’re going to be able to change.  Most importantly of all, they point us single-mindedly to the coming of the person of Jesus, who will enable us to make that new beginning, if we’re willing to let him.







Hymn                     All over the world the Spirit is moving


 - a version can be found on YouTube



All over the world, the Spirit is moving,
all over the world, as the prophets said it would be.
All over the world, there’s a mighty revelation
of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.


All over this land . . .


All over the Church . . .


All over us all . . .


Deep down in my heart . . .





Advent Intercessions from Iona


We bless you, our God,

mighty sovereign power

for your gentle care for us;

you do not forget your children.


We bless you, our God,

for your great gifts to us:

creation – fragile and fascinating;

scripture – revealing your truth.


And you bless us . . .

with your forgiving love,

with the vision of your kingdom,

shedding light in our darkness.


Bless us and disturb us God

with that vision of your kingdom,

and as we voice our hopes to you now,

                    may you strengthen us,

                    reassure us

                    and move us . . .


We pray for those caught up in wars around the world;

soldiers, refugees and those who hold fast

to the reasons for the fighting.


Lord, come to your people.

in your mercy set us free.


We pray for homeless folk

- excluded from what the rest of us are doing,

cold, struggling to keep a hold of who they are.


Lord, come to your people.

in your mercy set us free.


We pray for those who are ill,

coping with pain, fearing the worst;

and for those who work in the NHS.


Lord, come to your people.

in your mercy set us free.


We pray for people struggling in relationships,

especially at this ‘family time’,

when the cracks are kept just below the surface.


Lord, come to your people.

in your mercy set us free.


And for the deepest hopes of our hearts, we pray now . . .


Lord, come to your people.

in your mercy set us free.


Into the mess of this world a fragile child will come –

yelling in the night for his mother,

needing milk and clean linen.


We pin our hopes on you, little baby,

our God.




The Lord's Prayer


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.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours

now and for ever.  Amen.



Hymn                     Make way, make way


Make way, make way, for Christ the King
in splendour arrives; 
fling wide the gates and welcome him
into your lives.

Make way, make way, for the King of kings;
make way, make way, and let his kingdom in!


He comes the broken hearts to heal,
the prisoners to free;
the deaf shall hear, the lame shall dance,
the blind shall see.

And those who mourn with heavy hearts,
who weep and sigh;
with laughter, joy and royal crown
he'll beautify.

We call you now to worship him
as Lord of all,
to have no other gods but him,
their thrones must fall!


A Closing Prayer and Blessing


God of timelessness,

you speak of eternity and the things that do not fade.

In all the busyness of this week

may we find time for the things that will last for ever,
especially loving-kindness.

Call us deeper into moments where we can find the light of love in unexpected places;

because that’s where you are to be found.


Eternal God,

just as a single flame can light a whole room,
may our prayer bring
light into the dark places of the world,
hope in the despairing places,
comfort in the suffering places,
and beauty in the wild places.
In Jesus’ name.



May God guide you by his presence,

and protect you with his love,

that you may walk in his way:

and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. 




Some material included in this service is copyright:

© The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, 2000


Some material is Copyright

© Roots for Churches Limited


Hymns and songs are reproduced under CCLI numbers:

742099 (St John’s)

493867 (St Leonard’s)

154120 (St Saviour’s)