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Did closing the churches mark a retreat of the Church from public life?

Sacred space is important. We know that those liminal, ‘thin’ places where God’s presence can be keenly felt are important: St. Cuthbert’s Shrine in Durham (where I always went to say my daily office when I was studying there), the Shrine Church in Walsingham, before the Blessed Sacrament (anywhere, frankly). Feel free to add your own.

In the mid-lockdown inevitable backlash, there are a flurry of critics from Angela Tilby to +Peter Selby and Marcus Walker expressing their frustration that the sacred space of churches should not have been closed for public safety, and that clergy shuld have had special status as keyworkers and that to withdraw to the Studies of Vicarages and the internet was an abrogation of our responsibility to the nation and to the faith.

Hold on a moment.

Did I and my colleagues take a 10-week holiday then? Did we shut up shop and finally get round to tackling that book by Teilhard de Chardin that we have had on our shelves since ordination? Or perhaps, have we spent more time, energy and effort in trying to maintain community, outreach and contact through a variety of digital means; only to be berated in text form.

Simon Cuff cites  Meg Warner who writes, for example that the “most pressing instance of public absentia in the face of disaster is the decision of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other senior bishops to close Church of England churches during the Covid-19 pandemic.” She regrets that what the Church of England “has to offer, the official position concedes, is markedly less than that offered by hospitals and supermarkets, off-licences, take-away restaurants, post offices, banks, public transport, and DIY stores. It does not consider itself and its ministry to be ‘essential.’”

From American, Korean and German experience, Churches are one of the focal points of infectious spread: singing sends aerosolised viruses into the air and simply bringing people into a building either collectively, or individually if we were to open them for prayer would have required them to be cleaned and disinfected at a scale which most volunteer-staffed churches up and down the nation could not manage. To even enter a Church requires the handling of a big old iron handle and a contact risk from a virus that is now thought to last for up to five days on a non-porous surface. Most churches are attended and looked after by people over 70 – the highest risk category and speaking for our community here in Plymouth it is a risk which I am simply not prepared to take, for the sake of my parishioners or for the general public.

I myself, with pre-existing conditions, am in a higher-risk category and so I am limited as to what I can do. Some people still call me ‘young clergy’ and I am in my 50s! The Church of England is kept afloat by NSMs and Retired Clergy largely older than me. In their decision to close the buildings, I believe that the Archbishops sought to protect people like me and those whom I serve by asking me to serve them in new, different ways.

And that is, I feel, the nub of it, because many involved in the life of the Church, are inherently small-c conservative. This is not a political conservativism, but a world-view of preservation, of heritage and of protection of ‘life-as-we-know-it‘. The ancient role of the Established Church was one of power and influence, often subtle but forceful, and controlling. The buildings were for most of English history the one focal point of a community, and vicar a totem of that but as was pointed out in Is it just me or is everything shit?

“The vicar isn’t the focal point of a local community anymore, it’s more likely to be that chirpy girl on the till at Tesco’s”

To ask that innately conservative world-view to do something different, rather than claim special status – key worker status – is hugely challenging to it, and they didn’t like it. On an Estate on the outskirts of Plymouth, claims to special power doesn’t really wash.

So my key question is did the Church withdraw?, My own experience in this community is most definitely not. We did it differently, within the framework of our Spiritual norms, with a special emphasis on the Eucharist, and we used a variety of tools available to us, from the Internet to the telephone, where those without the internet can dial in and listen to worship.

The real work of the Church does not occur in the corridors of power, and I suggest it never should, but in the Estates of this land, in the small communities of faith and pockets of worship, in the interpersonal and the relational. THAT is what the Church has been busy doing, and I think doing it authentically. It’s probably not slick, to the quality of a Hillsong or an HTB event, and the wrong button may be pressed, the camera dropped and the signal lost on occasion (I’ve done all of these in the last 10 weeks) but then again, a Mass in one of my Churches isn’t perfect either, because we are human beings and the vicar messes it up quite often or the organist plays the offetory hymn instead of the gradual – we are human and all human worship this side of heaven will always fall short of Revelation 5-7 but it has been no less sincere and has spoken of the Church being alongside the community it serves.

We have all shared lockdown. I can’t have distributed Home Communion to my people, I can’t have visited them by virtue of my key-worker status because I had to share in the deprivation of contact for the sake of the health of others. It was not my job to be some kind of Coronavirus-Mary in this Community, but to find new ways of helping people tap into God.

And it has drawn in others. Others who wouldn’t or couldn’t engage with the church outside of lockdown: the disabled, the housebound, those struggling with childcare on a Sunday morning, those in Shiftwork and the unchurched.

But that isn’t the glory of the Church of England to the mind of many. To those of us at the edge of mission: where God meets people is precisely that. This is the Glory of the Church, in its ministry and witness. This is why the Archbishop of Canterbury has been doing Chaplaincy at S. Thomas’ Hospital across the road. This is where the work of the Church is at its best.

Those who hanker for the public building are in danger of treating the sacred space as the Golden Calf. The Tabernacle of the Lord was sacred only because of the presence of God whose presence could be felt keenly there. I also suspect that they don’t also hold the responsibility for an ancient (often Grade-I listed) building crumbling away and whilst beautful is expensive to maintain and often more of a headache and a financial burden than a gift. If you had to read the Quinquennial Report, your fondness for a 13th-Century building can quickly pale.

I will delight, however, when it is safe to reopen for public worship and private prayer. I will be overjoyed and fulfilled when I can celebrate the Mass in these special liminal spaces where prayer has been soaked into the (crumbling) limestone walls over generations, when my confession can be heard again and I can offer that sacrament again to others. But not yet, not until it is safe.

The buildings may have been closed, but the Church has been very much open.


Mobile Phone Meditation

This excellent text is by James Cathcart from Sanctuary First

We are now going to use our mobile phones to help us pray.

  • ·        Go to your home screen.
    • What’s your screen background? Is it a picture of a loved one? A spouse or a child? A beautiful landscape? An attractive abstract picture? Maybe it’s just the colour blue. Take a moment to thank God for what is in the picture – or to thank God for what it reminds you of.
  • ·        Now, open your calendar app
    • – think about the appointments you have coming up, think of the people you will meet, your friends, family and colleagues. There are perhaps deadlines in there, projects to complete, events to prepare for. Take a moment to hand these things over to God for safekeeping.
  • ·        Now go to your contacts.
    • Scroll down to C and find the first name. If you don’t have anyone under C then scroll down to whoever next comes up. It might be someone you know very well, or someone you hardly know. Take a moment to pray for that person or organisation.
  • ·        Do you have a news app? Open it. If you don’t have an app for news you could look for news on your browser and go to wherever you normally read it
    • Look at the headlines, find one that strikes you.Take a moment to read the first paragraph of the story and then lift it in prayer to God.
  • ·        Now, go to your photo or gallery app.
    • Swipe through the images until one catches your eye.T hink about the person/place/object in the picture and take a moment to pray about it or them, or what it reminds you of.
  • ·        Check the time –
    • take a moment to think about how you use your time. How you prioritise it.
  • ·        Check your battery life
    • – is it low? Or is it full? Take moment to pray for those with low energy, people you know who are struggling with issues of physical or mental health.
  • ·        Does your phone have a torch function?
    • Put the torch on and shine the light. Pray for God’s light in dark places.
  • ·        Go on a social media stream if you have one
    • think of the first person you notice, pray for them and what they are facing today, wherever they are.

Heavenly, we offer you our prayers, humble and heartfelt, encourage us to use technology to bring people closer together and not to push them further apart. May this tool in our hand be part of our witness, our mission. May our voices and words be your Good News to all those whom we serve.

Encourage us to be more mindful in how we use it and lead us often to places of rest. Amen.


English Texts for Mass in the Time of Pandemic

Released 2nd April 2020

This Mass can be celebrated, according to the rubrics given for Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, on any day except Solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, days within the Octave of Easter, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), Ash Wednesday and the days of Holy Week.

Entrance Antiphon  Is 53:4

Truly the Lord has borne our infirmities, and he has carried our sorrows.

Collect

Almighty and eternal God, our refuge in every danger,
to whom we turn in our distress;
in faith we pray
look with compassion on the afflicted,
grant eternal rest to the dead, comfort to mourners,
healing to the sick, peace to the dying,
strength to healthcare workers, wisdom to our leaders
and the courage to reach out to all in love,
so that together we may give glory to your holy name.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Prayer over the Gifts

Accept, O Lord, the gifts we offer in this time of peril.
May they become for us, by your power, a source of healing and peace.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Communion Antiphon

Come to me, all who labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you, says the Lord. (Mt 11:28)

Prayer After Communion

O God, from whose hand we have received the medicine of eternal life,
grant that through this sacrament
we may glory in the fullness of heavenly healing.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer over the People

O God, protector of all who hope in you,
bless your people, keep them safe, defend them,
prepare them, that, free from sin and safe from the enemy,
they may persevere always in your love. Through Christ our Lord. Anen

PDF Version below

Mass-in-a-time-of-Pandemic-ENGLISH


What showing the Mass online is and what it isn’t…

In time of Pandemic, when Churches have been closed as a result of the spread of COVID-19, many of us have turned to online technologies as a method of continuing to support the Body of Christ separately, together. For gatherings online (whether live, prerecorded or played back later) this technology lends itself perfectly to the ministry of the Word: prayer, singing, meditation, study of scripture and teaching. But this is not the only expression of worship, as the sacramental life has an equally important life in the lives of Christians, whether they prefer it or not.

So, if a Church broadcasts a Eucharistic Service, what is happening here? Some, especially those schooled in metaphysics, reject the broadcasting of this worship, and emphatically support the statement of the Roman Catholic Church that “there are no sacraments on the Internet”1

The appropriate response to that is, I argue, “Yes, but…” for the broadcast of a Mass is only a broadcast of an act of worship which contains all of the necessary elements of Christian worship: gathering, penitence, word, and worship. In the building in which it is taking place, it also contains sacrament. But this does not make it invalid.

There are many people who attend Mass in a building without participating in Communion. Do we say that they have not attended Mass? Of course not! Although Communion is the desired pinnacle, what the church mandates is that people be present in worship, not necessarily communing.

This kind of broadcast is a means of grace through presence of worship, but does not create for the remote viewer a direct sacramental encounter. It is theologically impossible for a consecration to be made across digital media: bread and wine at your end cannot be consecrated by a priest at the other end of a video link2. But although the remote viewer is not participating in the communion they are still participating validly in worship, and the Mass is the perfect vehicle for that worship.

How therefore might we be able to engage in online sacramental worship? In my MA Dissertation at the University of Durham, I explored the move from the Internet as a means of communication towards a more immersive means of being, with the development of immersive digital environments where all participants may be digitally present, although corporeally separated. At the heart of this is a reappraisal of our understanding of sacraments as phenomenological manifestations of the divine rather than metaphysical ones. A metaphysical theology demands the presence of the physical, but as some sacraments already eschew the physical in their sacramental signs (reconciliation springs most obviously to mind), so we must be drawn more to an interpretation of sacrament as hierophanical actions.3

In Digital Space, the currency of physicality no longer applies, and sacramental signs may be flickering pixels representing Eucharistic elements or something more creative, as long as they draw the participant into a sacramental encounter in that environment. Outside of that digital space, that is not sacramental, because physicality applies.

This is why we should be clear than an online Mass is not a participative sacramental act, but an act of worship wherein a sacrament exists (at the hands of a priest) to be a focus of that worship, but which cannot be conveyed across the ether. However, the practice of Spiritual Communion enables the grace of that sacrament to be obtained through fervent desire.

The Book of Common Prayer rubric says:

and a commonly used prayer for Spiritual Communion expresses the power of the sacrament beyond physicality:

So, observing a broadcast Mass, especially when subject to isolation is a perfectly valid Spiritual Communion, a valid participation in the body of Christ as worshipping community in diversity and an opportunity to connect more deeply, and more frequently than perhaps we might have been physically able to before.


References

  1. Roman Catholic Church Pontifical Council for Social Communications (2002) The Church and the Internet http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/pccs/documents/rc_pc_pccs_doc_20020228_church-internet_en.html  
  2. Faith and Order Committee of the Methodist Church (2018) Holy Communion Mediated Through Social Media Methodist Conference Report Para 5.6 pp363-365;
  3. Chauvet, Louis-Marie (2001) The Sacraments: The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. 

Live Streaming Worship and Prayers – a simple, practical guide

In these strange times, when public worship has been suspended, many clergy have been asking about how to live stream their worship over the internet and therefore remain connected with their communities.

Firstly I want to emphasize that the primary way of connecting with your Community is the pastoral phone call – when we can’t visit, it’s the next best thing. But this is about worship…

Preaching to the Ether

I’m going to be honest, but as one used to working with a live congregation, looking directly into the empty lens of a camera is disconcerting. There are no visual cues and it is easy to lose your place. TV Newscasters do it all the time and I am sure after a while speaking to an audience through a Camera will become easier, although I deeply missed the feedback from an audience nodding or responding and especially laughing at my jokes. I found the best way of dealing with it was to pretend there was a congregation, especially during the eucharist and so I imagined their presence, and – you know – it worked!

Simple Livestreaming

All you need is a phone and a tripod which can hold your phone. I bought a tripod from Asda for £12 and a mini tripod from Poundland which had a mobile phone spring clip holder. I took the holder and screwed it into the big tripod to hold my phone steady. If that is too hard, then prop your phone on some books.

Connecting to the Internet

Three obvious sites spring to mind which are widely accessible:

  • Twitter (through its portal Periscope) – this can be viewed via an app on people’s phones or directly on a webpage: periscope.tv
  • Facebook (Live)
  • YouTube (Live)

For each of these platforms, you will need to have a free account, but then again if you use any of them, you already have that set up. In any of these cases, the phone knows your account already and you are effectively ready to go. Both YouTube and Facebook run directly from their respective Apps whilst Periscope is a separate download to get these functions, which links directly to your Twitter account.

Just doing it is useless unless you tell your people about it. You can post a placeholder link on your parish webpage and people can find their way to your broadcast from there.

Preparation

Do some test recordings using the video function on your phone camera so you can check out the shot and the test the audio levels. Most of the time, the audio records fine directly from the phone microphone, but I personally chose to use a cheap microphone clipped onto my lapel (a clip-on or lavalier mic) which can be got off eBay – my phone needed a USB-C connection as it doesn’t have a phone jack but if you have a phone with a jack the clip mic needs to be one for phones with three rings on the jack. Look for eBay items which say “for mobile phone” or “for iPhone” (even if you use Android).

These are examples of a clip on mic for your phone. I also use these to record the audio of my sermons directly onto my phone so they can be posted at www.roborough.org.uk/sermons

Bandwidth

If you have WiFi at home or in Church then in preference, connect your phone to that: it’s always faster and faster means cleaner audio and video at the other end. However, if you haven’t got broadband then 4G is fine, 3G+ is acceptable. Some of our Churches are on Dartmoor, and there isn’t enough bandwidth, so I purposely chose to focus our worship coming from a Church with the best signal. I don’t have broadband at any of my churches, so 4G has proved to be more than adequate.

I recommend recording using the main (rear) camera. Although if it is pointing at you you cannot see yourself (which is why you lined it up in preparation), the quality of the camera is always a million times better. This is why I tend not to feature myself saying the Offices and focus on an ikon or cross or a burning candle. A Mass is different as the liturgical action is more important, but this is where preparation pays off. Notice in this image below, how I have moved the elements of the Mass closer in – the candles and focus of the action, leading the readings from behind the altar and testing that my arms did not go outside the frame when in the Orans position.

Having experimented with all three main platforms I have remained with Periscope because this is easy to setup and it posts my livestream to my main communication platform Twitter. Our parish webpage points to my Periscope landing page which automatically shows the live broadcast and past services (so people can time-shift if the time of broadcast is inconvenient). For us, visitors are directed to

https://periscope.tv/frsimon

Facebook and YouTube may be better for you, but our Parish Facebook Page has a permanent link to the Periscope landing page and this proves effective.

Broadcasting Rights

I am often… er… negligent in the use of copyrighted material in live worship, especially in an alt.worship/missional context but this is covered by the PRS’s exclusion of copyrighted material used in divine worship.

HOWEVER, this is different – we are broadcasting and this is not exempt. At best your video could be yanked for breach of copyright and at worst you could get fined. Also, you are depriving someone of their rights for broadcasting their song outside of your church (which as a Christian you should be morally paying).

There are three solutions:

  • pay up, which can be expensive and frankly I haven’t got the time.
  • write your own material
  • use non-copyrighted/classic material in the Public Domain

Our organist is recording classic songs for me, and some members of the choir are gathering with her (at a distance) to record audio versions of hymns from Ancient and Modern – well loved classics from before copyright was a problem. I’m going to subtitle the lyrics and use them as videos to support people singing along at home.

Next Level

This suffices, but it can be better and so this is where with a little bit more equipment and some free software you can make it much better.

You might already have a Video Camera with a Firewire Connection, and perhaps a (slightly older) laptop which supports firewire, or a TV card/box which can accept a composite input (the red, yellow and white cables) which some video cameras can output.

My Sony A6000 Camera puts out an HDMI signal: this is a still camera but which can record movies at high quality. I also have a Nikon DSLR which can also do the same. So, how do we get a video camera into the PC?

If you have young people into gaming around, you may already have or are aware of a Video or Gaming Capture device: it records the output of a PC or a Game Console (Playstation, XBox etc) and can record and broadcast these.

There are some very low-cost options available, but I have a slightly better quality device: the Elgato HD60

This connects via a USB 3 (the blue one) to my laptop. There is a version for a desktop which plugs directly into a PC (some assembly required) but as my laptop has this fast USB, this was the version for me. The system can use its own streaming software which is geared towards (as you might have guessed) gaming but once the unit is connected it becomes an input for other programs better suited to our needs.

vMix

vMix is a software based video mixer. When they show the control room of the telly studio, the bank of hardware, monitors and buttons are hardware video mixers. We can do that with software.

VMix can take imputs from all kinds of things, including videos, still images, webpages (such as YouTube), Powerpoint Slides and – get this – live video feeds. The Free Edition enables me to create an output at 720p resolution which given our bandwidth limitations is fine (we are not a Church expecting to stream 4k quality on our budget). It is limited to only 4 items at a time able to be queued, but again with a little planning in advance this can prove adequate (especially when a Powerpoint slide deck is utilised to hold all the pictures I will need). At one of our churches we use Easyworship and this could be piped directly into the system to show lyrics on screen, or as I will do during these times of Coronavirus when there is no congregation, I will show videos with lyric subtitles).

vMix has a number of semi-preconfigured outputs for recording the output (for uploading later) or for a screren (when worship becomes a public event again) or for streaming. These options include Periscope, Facebook and YouTube. If you do not have accounts, the signups are available through the application and as I had already set one up, all I had to do was log into Twitter and press “Stream” and my content could be live.

A logo and a video feed to Periscope. Really simple.

Tests proved that over 4G the whole thing runs about 30 secs behind reality but this is fine because everything is 30 secs behind. However, if/when you start inviting comments and Twitter engagements as you can, this delay might be off putting as people are reacting to stuff you said and did 30 secs ago. I’m probably no going to enable Twitter engagement.

When worship is public again, someone can run the desk for you, but in these current times I have discovered that with this simple setup (a camera feed, a still logo image, a powerpoint and videos of music) I can run the whole thing myself. There is even a phone app which you can use to run the thing remotely so you don’t need to see the laptop screen.

I have even experimented with two feeds coming in through the Elgato box by using a simple and cheap HDMI switch. Its the sort of thing you might buy to enable you to switch between a console, a set-top box and a DVD player: here it enables me to choose between the camera and a laptop running videos or webpages.

This is the solution and by having even just a switch between a logo graphic and a camera means I can start the livestream in adnvance and there are no clunky camera setup movements or sounds: I start the live feed when and how I want. The Elgato HD60 was a good investment.

However, we are not a rich parish and I am by no means a rich priest. If you are able and willing to make a small donation – perhaps a fiver or a tenner to help support our ministry here and in this new and exciting although challenging area, then please can I encourage you to do so here.


Christmas Is Really For The Children – Poem by Steve Turner

Christmas is really
for the children.
Especially for children
who like animals, stables,
stars and babies wrapped
in swaddling clothes.
Then there are wise men,
kings in fine robes,
humble shepherds and a
hint of rich perfume.

Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by
a cream filled egg.
It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, God
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of a nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chickens
and the first snowdrop
of spring.

Or they’d do better to
wait for a re-run of
Christmas without asking
too many questions about
what Jesus did when he grew up
or whether there’s any connection.

Steve Turner


Powerpoint VBA to Insert Textbox and Create Outlined Text

Sub SPRtextbox()
      Dim mySlide As PowerPoint.Slide
      Dim strMsg As String
      Dim myTextbox As PowerPoint.Shape

      strMsg = InputBox("Enter Text", "SPR Macros")
      Set mySlide = ActivePresentation.Slides(ActiveWindow.View.Slide.SlideNumber)
      Set myTextbox = mySlide.Shapes.AddTextbox(msoTextOrientationHorizontal, _     Left:=0, Top:=10, Width:=200, Height:=50) 
      myTextbox.Fill.BackColor.RGB = RGB(127, 127, 127) 'grey 
      myTextbox.Fill.Transparency = 0.3 'translucent 
      myTextbox.Height = 150 
      myTextbox.Width = 300 
      myTextbox.TextFrame2.AutoSize = msoAutoSizeTextToFitShape 'https://www.pcreview.co.uk/threads/how-to-vba-code-shrink-text-on-overflow.3537036/#post-12183384 
With myTextbox.TextFrame.TextRange
     .Text = strMsg     
     With .Font         
         .Size = 32
         .Name = "Impact"
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With myTextbox.TextFrame2.TextRange.Font
     .Line.Visible = True
     .Line.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(0, 0, 0)
     .Line.Weight = 1 
End With

End Sub


The Lighting of the Advent Candles

ADVENT 1 (The Patriarchs)

Reader lights purple candle and says

Blessed are you, Sovereign Lord, God of our ancestors,
to you be praise and glory for ever!
You called the patriarchs to live by the light of faith
and to journey in the hope of your promised fulfilment.
May we be obedient to your call
and be ready and watchful to receive your Christ
a lamp to our feet and a light to our path;
for you are our light and our salvation.
Blessed be God for ever.

Leader of service follows with

God of Abraham and Sarah,
and all the patriarchs of old,
you are our Father too.
Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ,
Son of God and Son of David.
Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth
to make our hearts ready for your Holy Spirit
to make his home among us.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Light who is coming into the world.

We say together:

Lord Jesus, Light of the world,
born in David’s city of Bethlehem,
born like him to be a king:
Be born in our hearts this Christmas-tide,
be king of our lives today.

ADVENT 2 (The Prophets)

Reader lights purple candle and says

Blessed are you, Sovereign Lord, just and true,
to you be praise and glory for ever!
Of old you spoke by the mouth of your prophets
but in our days you speak through your Son
whom you have appointed the heir of all things.
Grant us your people to walk in his light
that we may be found ready and watching
when he comes again in glory and judgement;
for you are our light and our salvation.
Blessed be God for ever!

Leader of service follows with

God our Father,
you spoke to the prophets of old
of a Saviour who would bring peace.
You helped them to spread the joyful message
of his coming kingdom.
Help us, as we prepare to celebrate his birth,
to share with those around us
the good news of your power and love.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Light who is coming into the world.

We say together:

Lord Jesus, Light of the world,
the prophets said you would bring peace
and save your people in trouble:
Give peace in our hearts at Christmas-tide
and show all the world God’s love.

ADVENT 3 (John the Baptist)

Reader lights ROSE candle and says

Blessed are you, Sovereign Lord, just and true,
to you be praise and glory for ever!
Your prophet John the Baptist was witness to the truth
as a burning and shining light.
May we your servants rejoice in his light,
and so be led to witness to him
who is the Lord of our coming Kingdom
Jesus our Saviour and King of the ages.
Blessed be God for ever!

Leader of service follows with

God our Father,
you gave to Zechariah and Elisabeth in their old age
a son called John.
He grew up strong in spirit,
prepared the people for the coming of the Lord,
and baptized them in the Jordan to wash away their sins:
Help us, who have been baptized into Christ,
to be ready to welcome him into our hearts,
and to grow strong in faith by the power of the Spirit.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Light who is coming into the world.

We say together:

Lord Jesus, Light of the world,
John told the people to prepare,
for you were very near:
As Christmas grows closer day by day,
help us to be ready to welcome you now.

ADVENT 4 (Our Lady)

Reader lights purple candle and says

Blessed are you, Sovereign Lord, merciful and gentle;
to you be praise and glory for ever!
Your light has shone in our darkened world
through the child-bearing of blessed Mary;
grant that we who have seen your glory
may daily be renewed in your image
and prepared like her for the coming of your Son,
who is the Lord and Saviour of all.
Blessed be God for ever!

Leader of service follows with

God our Father,
the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary
that she was to be the mother of your Son.
Though Mary was afraid,
she responded to your call with joy.
Help us, whom you call to serve you,
to share like her in your great work
of bringing to our world your love and healing.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Light who is coming into the world.

We say together:

Lord Jesus, Light of the world,
blessed is Gabriel who brought good news;
blessed is Mary your mother and ours:
Bless your Church preparing for Christmas;
and bless us your children who long for your coming.

CHRISTMAS DAY (Our Lord and Saviour)

Reader lights WHITE candle and says

Blessed are you Sovereign Lord, King of Peace:
to you be praise and glory for ever!
The new light of your incarnate word,
gives gladness in our sorrow,
and a presence in our isolation.
Fill our lives with your light,
until they overflow with gladness and praise.
Blessed be God for ever!

Leader of service follows with

God our Father,
today the Saviour is born
and those who live in darkness are seeing a great light.
Help us, who greet the birth of Christ with joy,
to live in the light of your Son,
and to share the good news of your love.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Light who has come into the world.

We say together:

Lord Jesus, Light of Light,
you have come among us.
Help us who live by your light,
to shine as lights in your world.
Glory to God in the highest!

Material taken from the Church of England resource book: The Promise of His Glory (1991), Church House Publishing.

As used in the Parishes of Bickleigh & Shaugh Prior, Plymouth