As we head towards for Christmas, Advent prepares us in repentance and hope for Christ’s return. The regular psalm cycle reflects this, building to the ‘Songs of Ascent’ in the run-up to Christmas Day. The gospel readings are focused on the Sermon on the Mount, the Old Testament readings relate entirely to the book of Proverbs while the New Testament readings anticipate the second coming as we read through the book of Revelation.
CALL TO WORSHIP
God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord;
it is fitting for the pure to praise him.
Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre;
make music for him on the ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
For the word of the Lord holds true,
and we can trust everything he does.
He loves whatever is just and good;
the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.
The Lord merely spoke,
and the heavens were created.
He breathed the word,
and all the stars were born.
He assigned the sea its boundaries
and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.
Let the whole world fear the Lord,
and let everyone stand in awe of him.
For when he spoke, the world began!
It appeared at his command.
The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations
and thwarts all their schemes.
But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever;
his intentions can never be shaken.
What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord,
whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.
The Lord looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do.
The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—
for all its strength, it cannot save you.
But the Lord watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.
He rescues them from death
and keeps them alive in times of famine.
We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
(A short time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous. Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)
OLD TESTAMENT READING
Warning About Adultery
My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
listen to my words of understanding.
Be careful to use good sense,
and watch what you say.
The words of another man’s wife may seem sweet as honey;
they may be as smooth as olive oil.
But in the end she will bring you sorrow,
causing you pain like a two-edged sword.
She is on the way to death;
her steps are headed straight to the grave.
She gives little thought to life.
She doesn’t even know that her ways are wrong.
Now, my sons, listen to me,
and don’t ignore what I say.
Stay away from such a woman.
Don’t even go near the door of her house,
or you will give your riches to others,
and the best years of your life will be given to someone cruel.
Strangers will enjoy your wealth,
and what you worked so hard for will go to someone else.
You will groan at the end of your life
when your health is gone.
Then you will say, “I hated being told what to do!
I would not listen to correction!
I would not listen to my teachers
or pay attention to my instructors.
I came close to being completely ruined
in front of a whole group of people.”
Be faithful to your own wife,
just as you drink water from your own well.
Don’t pour your water in the streets;
don’t give your love to just any woman.
These things are yours alone
and shouldn’t be shared with strangers.
Be happy with the wife you married when you were young.
She gives you joy, as your fountain gives you water.
She is as lovely and graceful as a deer.
Let her love always make you happy;
let her love always hold you captive.
My son, don’t be held captive by a woman who takes part in adultery.
Don’t fondle a woman who is not your wife.
The Lord sees everything you do,
and he watches where you go.
An evil man will be caught in his wicked ways;
the ropes of his sins will tie him up.
He will die because he does not control himself,
and he will be held captive by his foolishness.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Pause for Reflection…
(Take a moment to bring to God any issues that have arisen during the morning. You may like to end with the following prayer…)
Lord Jesus we thank you for the many blessings of this day,
Give us eyes to see the path ahead,
And faith to reach towards the prize. Amen
(If these prayers are taking place before food, you may like to say the Grace here also.)
Lord God, we thank you for your gift to us of this food;
Produce of earth, sky, many living beings, and much hard work.
May we eat with prayerfulness, gratitude and moderation;
With renewed minds and spirit-controlled appetites.
May we eat with compassion for those who hunger today,
And in such a way that reduces the suffering of all creatures;
Healing and preserving our precious planet.
Use this food to strengthen our bodies, revive our spirits,
Nurture our family and nourish our resolve;
That we may continue to serve all that lives with all our life. Amen
Psalms in Bold – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved
All other Psalms – Scripture quotations are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
All other Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.