Holy Communion for Advent Sunday – Live Streamed – 3 December 2023

Preacher and Presiding Minister:
Revd Dr John Bradbury, Secretary General of URC

Minister: Revd George Mwaura

Greetings and Welcome

Today is God’s Day of hope – hope for us, hope for all humanity.
The darkness that surrounds us will not overtake us, for God is light;
and in God there is no darkness at all.
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

The Spirit and the church cry out:
Come, Lord Jesus.

All who await Christ’s appearance pray:
Come, Lord Jesus.

The whole creation pleads:
Come, Lord Jesus!
Renew the whole creation.

Prayer of Approach

We rejoice in you, O God our hope,
for in Jesus Christ you enter our world to bring to life your new creation.
May our lives be remade by the glory of your appearing,
and may we lift the name of your Son in our worship, our work, and our leisure,
for we pray in his name.


Lighting the First Advent Candle

As we light our first Advent candle, we thank you for the hope you give.
As we prepare for Christmas time, Light of the world, shine on us and our dark world.
Bring hope to our hearts and grant us the grace to share that hope and love with your suffering world.


Hymn: Come, thou long-expected Jesus

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free,
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a king,
born to reign in us for ever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Charles Wesley (1707–1788)

Prayer of Confession

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins,
to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments
and to live in love and peace with all.
Because we have seen pain without being moved, because we forget your love with solemn pride,
because we pass by comfortably before poverty and sadness.
For speaking of love without loving our sister or brother, for speaking of faith without living your word,
for living as people who do not recognise our own sinfulness,

Christ have mercy.
Christ have mercy.


Prayer of Forgiveness

Hear the good news, people of God!
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
He bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might be dead to sin and alive to God.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

Glory to God.


Prayer of the Week

Eternal God, throughout countless generations
you have diligently prepared a path for the arrival of your Son.
And even now, by the power of your Spirit,
you continue to shed light upon our lives, guiding us along our journey.
We humbly ask that you renew our faith and restore our hope,
so that we may warmly embrace the reign of Christ within our hearts and minds
and express our deepest affection towards him.
To him we give eternal glory and honour.


Ministry of the Word

Isaiah 64: 1–9

Read by Bob Collard

1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
4 Since ancient times no-one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
7 No-one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.

8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins for ever.
Oh, look upon us we pray,
for we are all your people.


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
great David’s greater Son!
hail, in the time appointed,
his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
to set the captive free,
to take away transgression,
and rule in equity.

He comes with succour speedy
to those who suffer wrong;
to help the poor and needy,
and bid the weak be strong;
to give them songs for sighing,
their darkness turn to light,
who souls, condemned and dying,
were precious in his sight.

He shall come down like showers,
upon the fruitful earth
and love, joy, hope’ like flowers,
spring in his path to birth:
before him on the mountains
shall peace, the herald, go;
and righteousness in fountains
from hill and valley flow.

Arabia’s desert-ranger
to him shall bow the knee;
the Ethiopian stranger
his glory come to see;
with offerings of devotion
ships from the isles shall meet,
to pour the wealth of ocean
in tribute at his feet.

Kings shall down before him,
and gold and incense bring;
all nations shall adore him,
his praise all people sing:
to him shall prayer unceasing
and daily vows ascend;
his kingdom still increasing,
a kingdom without end.

O’er every foe victorious,
he on his throne shall rest;
from age to age more glorious,
all-blessing and all-blest:
the tide of time shall never
his covenant remove;
his name shall stand for ever,
his changeless name of love.

James Montgomery (1771–1854)

Mark 13: 24–37

Read by Katherine Wheldon

24 ‘But in those days, following that distress,

‘“the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”

26 ‘At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28 ‘Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 ‘Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!”’


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd Dr John Bradbury, Secretary General of URC


Affirmation of Faith

We believe in God the Creator who created all things.
For by his will, they were created and have their being.

We believe in God the Son, who was slain.
For with his blood,
he purchased us for God,
from every tribe and language,
from every people and nation.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit:
The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Prayers and Intercessions

Led by Rosemary Kearsey

Sharing the Peace

In the tender mercy of our God,
the dayspring from on high shall break upon us,
to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you!

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

Hymn: Lo, he comes with clouds descending

Lo, he comes with clouds descending,
once for favoured sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced and nailed him to the Tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshippers:
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen, let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

Charles Wesley (1707–1788) and John Cennick (1718–1755)

Holy Communion

The Great Thanksgiving

God our sustainer, receive the gifts we bring before you,
and feed us continually with that bread which satisfies all hunger,
your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.


The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

Living God, Creator of light, Hope of nations, friend of sinners and Builder of the city that is to come,
your love is made visible in Jesus Christ,
you bring home the lost, restore the sinner and give dignity to the despised.
In the face of Jesus Christ your light shines out, flooding lives with goodness and truth,
gathering into one a divided and broken humanity.
With people from every race and nation, with the Church of all the ages,
with apostles, evangelists, and martyrs we join the angels of heaven in their unending song:

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.

Lord, you are holy indeed, the source of all holiness;
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit, and according to your holy will,
these gifts of bread and wine may be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ;
who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way, after supper he took the cup and gave you thanks; he gave it to them, saying:

Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus:

Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life,
Lord Jesus, come in glory

And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross,
his perfect sacrifice made once for the sins of the whole world;
rejoicing in his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension, and looking for his coming in glory,
we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.
With hope and expectation, we draw near to the Table
which you have set with the fruits of righteousness and promise of life.
Bless now this bread which we break that it may be for us Christ’s body,
and this cup which we lift, that it may be his blood.
Send now the power of your Holy Spirit upon these gifts and upon us as we receive them.
Make your presence known among your people, we pray, and in all the world,
as we look to the coming of Christ whose reign shall know no end.


And as the Saviour taught us, we 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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.


[Meal is shared]

Post Communion Prayer

Gracious God, make us watchful and keep us faithful as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;
that, when he shall appear, he may not find us sleeping in sin
but active in his service and joyful in his praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Revd Dr John Bradbury, URC Secretary General

Our guest preacher this Sunday is Revd Dr John Bradbury, who is Secretary General of the United Reformed Church. Here is a biographical note about him:

Revd Dr John Bradbury was born in 1977 in Cumbria. After studying in Edinburgh, he undertook graduate work in Cambridge while training for ministry at Westminster College. He was ordained in Liverpool in 2004 to work as part of the ecumenical team in the centre of the city. In 2007 John was appointed to teach Systematic Theology and Church History at Westminster College, where he ultimately served as Vice-Principal. In 2017 John was inducted to serve at the local Cambridgeshire churches. He has been heavily involved in ecumenism and has served on various groups for the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). As well as serving as co-chair of the URC–Roman Catholic dialogue, John convenes the United Reformed Church’s Law and Polity Advisory Group. He is the author of Perpetually Reforming: a theology of church reform and renewal and co-editor of Thinking again about Marriage.

John loves music, and when he gets time, is something of a pianist. Revd Dr John Bradbury was inducted as the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church on 11 July 2020.

Advent Bible Study

We are be using some of the Methodist study materials called ‘Out of the Ordinary’. You can have a look at https://www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/advent-and-christmas-resources.

The Bible readings for this week’s session, ‘Changing Your Mind’, are Isaiah 40: 1–11 and Mark 1: 1–8.

Global Day of Action for COP28 – 9 December 2023

As world leaders gather in Dubai for the UN climate talks, Christian Aid is calling for thousands of people around the world to take action for climate justice on 9 December 2023. Join one of the many events taking place across the UK or use the Prayers and Placards activity pack to explore climate justice with your church, or contact your MP. Marches, gatherings and actions are taking place in towns and cities across the UK. Find out how you can be part of this with information from Christian Aid: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/climate-change/march-climate-justice-cop28 or https://bit.ly/march-climate-justice-cop28.

Cornerstone Eco Church Core Group

Coming soon! Cornerstone Christmas Charity Appeal!

We shall be launching our 2023 Christmas Appeal next weekend, so please look out for more information then!

The charities we shall be supporting this year are: Advantage Africa, ‘Toilet Twinning’ (providing good sanitation), MK Moneylifeline (local debt advice) and MK Act (local support for those suffering domestic abuse).

Peter Cope


Closing Hymn: O come, O come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here,
until the Son of God appear:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

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:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, thou Lord of Might,
who to thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
in ancient times didst give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

Latin Advent Antiphon
tr. J.M. Neale (1818–1866)


May God himself, the God of peace, make you perfect and holy;
and keep you all safe and blameless, in spirit, soul and body,
for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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


Sending out

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ, we will.