Welcome to the Fourth Sunday of Advent – 20 December 2020. The readings for this week are: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55; Romans 16:25-27; and Luke 1:26-38.
Rev. Geoff McKee’s sermon is based on the Luke 1:26-38 passage – The Birth of Jesus Foretold.
2 Samuel 7:1-11 (New International Version)
God’s Promise to David
7 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”
4 But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you:
16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
‘A virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he shall be called Emmanuel’, a name which means ‘God is with us’. Matthew 1:23
Lord God, we bring our songs of worship to you this day. Mary sang because she had new life in her, the promise of your salvation. Fill us with hope this day as we lift our lives to you and seek to do your will. Look with favour on our world and all who are in need, that your love may be magnified as we follow humbly in your way.
Faithful God, we know that you are always there to guide us, yet we often make plans without listening to you and discover that our human agendas can drown out our ability to hear your will for us. We repent of these faults and turn to you in love. Forgive our offences and pardon our sins, that our lives may magnify your holy name forever.
Mighty God, your faithfulness is magnified in the coming of your Son, in the long-awaited birth of the promised Messiah. May we, like Mary, proclaim your greatness as we rejoice in our Saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Holy God, your love is magnified in the gift of your Son, whom you so freely share with us. Bless these gifts that we have offered today to lift up the lowly and fill the hungry in your coming reign of justice and peace.
Eternal God, we pray for the world, that our warring ways may be overturned, even now, through the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ; for nothing is impossible with you.
We pray for the mission of your church, that we may proclaim the good news of the age as we rejoice in the gift of our Saviour.
We pray for all who suffer, that we may feed the hungry and lift up the lowly through the power of your holy and life-giving Spirit.
We pray for your creation, that we may safeguard its well-being from generation to generation to your honour and glory.
We remember before you those who have died and pray for those who will die today, that they may rest with you eternally in your kingdom where there is no end.
Through Christ, with Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, we magnify you, almighty God, as we offer the prayer our Lord taught us to pray together…..
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
The Angel Gabriel is a Basque Christmas carol which was originally based on Angelus Ad Virginum, a 14th Century Latin carol. It was then paraphrased into English and it refers to the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus Christ. It is a much loved carol sung during Advent.