Welcome to our Sunday Service - the first Sunday of Advent. Four Sundays before Christmas...
We're going to begin with a traditional hymn written by Charles Wesley in 1738 soon after his conversion. He knew his Bible well, was an ordained minister and had led a religious life, but had never fully understood that he could only be saved by faith in Christ alone and not by religious works. The hymn expresses rapturous joy at receiving salvation.
And can it be
Father God we thank you for your great mercy and love towards us.
We thank you that salvation is found in Christ alone and that it is offered to us freely.
Those of us who have put our trust and faith in you rejoice in our salvation from the chains of sin.
We praise you that there is now no condemnation awaiting those who are in Christ Jesus.
Our next song is appropriate for advent as it expresses the longing and joy of Israel as it looked ahead to the coming of the Messiah before he was born. Here it's sung by a Jewish Christian in Jerusalem. Chorus 2 and 3 are in Hebrew.
Verse 1 O come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear
Chorus Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel
Verse 2 O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan's tyranny From depths of hell Thy people save And give them victory o'er the grave
We're starting a new series today looking at passages in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah is quoted by New Testament writers more than any other Old Testament book because it has many verses that look forward to the coming of the Messiah, the Son of David.
This passage is a vision from the LORD expressed in poetic language and style.
It's a long reading, but don't worry if you don't make it to the end. It will be displayed throughout the sermon..
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
A Rebellious Nation
2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
4 Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.
5 Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. 6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.
7 Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. 8 Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege. 9 Unless the Lord Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Rebels without a cause..
Our final song
This song takes some of its inspiration from the words of Isaiah: though your sins be like scarlet they shall be whiter than the snow.
It's your blood that cleanses me
Geoff Smith compiled this service and Sue put together the Advent Slot.
Live services on Sundays at 11.15am will restart in the building after the current lockdown from December 13th. They'll still be online as well. During the pandemic it's essential for us to know in advance if you're likely to come. Please contact Stephen Taylor on 07902 946004 or through our website -https://goodwoodevangelicalchurch.org.uk/ .
Hands, face, space!
Do contact us if you would like to talk to someone about anything you have read or heard today.
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