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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Glory of the Lord has risen upon you

30 December 2015

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Joy to the World

Theme: The Kingdom of God is Near

Topic: Glory of the Lord has risen upon you

Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
   and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
   and his glory will appear over you.
3 Nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 
4 Lift up your eyes and look around;
   they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
   and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
   your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
   the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
   the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
   all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,

One of the remarkable features of yuletide is light.  During Christmas, the world literally lights up.  Beyond the immediate decorative satisfaction we derive from the different colours and types of light, this trend reminds us that the light of God is with us.  A lot of untold hardships and terrible events happened this year.  However, as we end the year, celebration of the birth of Christ should encourage our hearts to know that amidst life’s woes- personal, family, community and global- the glory of the Lord has risen upon us in Christ our saviour.  Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  The joy of knowing that we are saved, and that God loves us immensely and is in control of our lives will carry us through 2016 and all through our lives.  Have a joyful and blessed 2016!

1) What gives us hope and joy in the face of unfortunate events?
Isaiah 52:7-10
7 How beautiful upon the mountains
   are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
   who announces salvation,
   who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ 
8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
   together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
   the return of the Lord to Zion. 
9 Break forth together into singing,
   you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
   he has redeemed Jerusalem. 
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
   before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
   the salvation of our God.

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. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But 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. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’22All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 
23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
   and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’

Luke 2:8-20
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
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.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

2) What are the lessons for us in Luke 2:21-32 regarding being joyful especially in hard times?
Luke 2:21-32
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 
29 ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
   according to your word; 
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 
31   which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
   and for glory to your people Israel.’

3) How do we overcome spirit of despondency?
Psalm 98:1-9
1 O sing to the Lord a new song,
   for he has done marvellous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
   have gained him victory.
2 The Lord has made known his victory;
   he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
   to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
   the victory of our God. 
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
   break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
   with the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
   make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord
7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
   the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
   let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
   to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
   and the peoples with equity.

Matthew 2:13-18
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’
16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 
18 ‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
   wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
   she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’

Hebrews 1:1-4
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.


The joy of knowing that we are saved, and that God loves us immensely and is in control of our lives will carry us through 2016 and all through our lives.  Have a joyful and blessed 2016!       

Closing Prayer (Collect for Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Almighty God, you have shed upon us the new light of your incarnate Word. May this light, enkindled in our hearts, shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let us rejoice in God our Saviour

23 December 2015
We are not actually meeting, this is for people who follow this blog, and anyone who lands here. Enjoy and Marry Christmas!

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: O come, O come, Emmanuel

Theme: The Kingdom of God is Near

Topic: Let us rejoice in God our Saviour

Reading: Micah 5:2-5A
2 But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
   who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
   one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
   from ancient days. 
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
   when she who is in labour has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
   to the people of Israel. 
4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
   in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
   to the ends of the earth; 
5 and he shall be the one of peace. 

This week we celebrate Christmas, remembering the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate proof of His love for mankind.  Christmas is a time of celebration and sharing with joy and merriment among family and friends the peace that God has bestowed to us through the gift of salvation in Christ.  This season of Christmas is a period of great rejoicing!  There are so many reasons to be sad and unhappy- sickness, financial distress, loss of loved one(s), war, all manner of terrible news from around the world and so on.  However, the message of Christmas reminds us that God is with us.  The Lord never promised us that trouble would not come; what He promised is that He will see us through it all!  No matter what may be going on in your life today, rejoice and remember that Emmanuel is with us; now and forever more.  Amen.  Wishing you joyous Christmas celebrations!

1) Why should we rejoice at the message of Christmas?
Luke 1:46-55
46 And Mary said,
   ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name. 
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation. 
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly; 
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty. 
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy, 
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

John 1:9-18
9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who 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, 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.” ’) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. 

Hebrews 10:5-10
5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
   but a body you have prepared for me; 
6 in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
   you have taken no pleasure. 
7 Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
   (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’ 
8When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

2) What are the lessons for us in Luke 1:39-45 regarding rejoicing during this season of Christmas and all through the year?
Luke 1:39-45
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

3) How do we overcome some of the events that keep us from rejoicing in the Lord our Saviour?
Psalm 80:1-7
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
   you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2   before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
   and come to save us! 
3 Restore us, O God;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. 
4 O Lord God of hosts,
   how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears,
   and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us the scorn of our neighbours;
   our enemies laugh among themselves. 
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. 

Matthew 2:1-12
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘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.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 “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.” ’
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.


No matter what may be going on in your life today, rejoice and remember that Emmanuel is with us; now and forever more.  Amen.      

Closing Prayer (Collect for Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Heavenly Father, who chose the Virgin Mary, full of grace, to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour, now fill us with your grace, that we in all things may embrace your will and with her rejoice in your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Kingdom of God is Near

16 December 2015

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: To God be the glory, great things he hath done

Theme: The Kingdom of God is Near

Topic: What should we do?

Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

A very common question that we ask when faced with anticipation of major events is “what should we do?”  This is because it is in our nature to figure out what to expect in the future, and to be prepared for it.  We have glimpses of what the second coming of Christ will be like from Scripture.  However, as St Paul put it, now we see in part; similar to the first coming of Christ, we do not have a clear understanding of how His second coming will be.  We do not know the day or the hour; and based on Scripture, we can never know.  One thing we are assured of is that Christ is coming soon; the question then is what should we do?  In our discussion today, we will take a look at what to do with the information we have regarding the second coming of Christ.    

1) How do we know that Christ is coming again?
Zephaniah 3:14-20
14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
   shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
   O daughter Jerusalem! 
15 The Lord has taken away the judgements against you,
   he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
   you shall fear disaster no more. 
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
   do not let your hands grow weak. 
17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
   a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
   he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing 
18   as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
   so that you will not bear reproach for it. 
19 I will deal with all your oppressors
   at that time.
And I will save the lame
   and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
   and renown in all the earth. 
20 At that time I will bring you home,
   at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
   among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
   before your eyes, says the Lord.

Revelation 1:1-8
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and madeus to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. 8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. 

Revelation 22:12-21
‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 15Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood. 16 ‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ 17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

2) What should we do regarding the second coming of Christ?
Luke 3:7-18
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’ 10 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’ 15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John 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. 17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ 18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

3. What is our role in being prepared for the second coming of Christ?
Isaiah 12:2-6
Surely God is my salvation;
   I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
   he has become my salvation. 
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4And you will say on that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,
   call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
   proclaim that his name is exalted. 
5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
   let this be known in all the earth.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
   for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. 

Isaiah 55:6-13
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found,
   call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake their way,
   and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
   and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
   giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
   it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
   and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 
12 For you shall go out in joy,
   and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
   shall burst into song,
   and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
   instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
   for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Romans 13:8-14
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 10Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; 13let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. 


We do not know the day or the hour; and based on Scripture, we can never know.  One thing we are assured of is that Christ is coming soon.    

Closing Prayer (Collect for Third Sunday of Advent)

God of power and mercy, you call us once again to celebrate the coming of your Son. Remove those things which hinder love of you, that when he comes, he may find us waiting in awe and wonder for him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.