The theme for the morning of first Sunday of Advent, led by Major Nigel Schultz, was ‘Come, Lord Jesus. The Invitation Card’ and the morning meeting began with prayer and the contribution of the Songsters (Let there be light).
Scripture was chosen from Revelation 22:12-21 and was followed by two worship songs ‘Great is the Darkness’ and ‘I really want to worship you’. Further prayers were offered before ‘The Advent Calendar’ was introduced, especially for the children. Three volunteer children were asked to open the first three boxes and this process will be continued until Christmas and all the boxes are opened. Naturally the children were eager to participate as the prospect of money or sweets loomed.
The Singing Company contributed ‘Turn down the light’, featuring a series of duets as well as full group singing, and the carol ‘In the bleak mid-winter’ allowed members of the congregation to bring donated toys to the front for distribution amongst disadvantaged families at Christmas.
The Young People’s Band brought ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ before Major Nigel delivered his message, saying (summarised):
What does Advent mean to you? Here on the platform you see a timber frame representing the Christmas Card. Each of you will send cards and what you say in them will reflect your feelings for the person or persons you send them to.
This morning I am thinking specifically of the Invitation Card. This is something special whatever your reason for sending or receiving them. Jesus invites us. ‘Come unto me and I will give you rest’ he says. Let us all accept that lovely invitation.
In our scripture John recounts an invitation to enter everlasting life in Heaven. This is a real invitation to all churches. ‘Come, come, come’. People who sin will be cut off from the invitation and, as a consequence, suffer greatly.
It is our Lord’s clear promise that he will come again and his invitation has been given down the ages. John, in his writings, was longing for the return of Jesus and we feel the same at this time of Advent. Jesus’ return has been heralded many times in scripture. He will return on schedule and it is up to us to continually invite him into our lives.
John had been given this vision of ‘end times’ and he knew that God has a purpose in this, the end of all sinning. He will be glorified and exalted. He will come in victory as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will have many crowns and will complete God’ plans for the world. It will be wonderful.
But not all men and women will be rejoicing. Not everybody will be ready for him. Even in this church that will be the case. If you are left behind you will die in your sin and spend your eternity in hell. That would be a terrible tragedy and I don’t want it to happen. I invite you to come to him and ask him for your salvation and his forgiveness. Then you will be ready for Jesus’coming.
Amen! Let it be!
‘Light of the world’, a song for advent, gave time for response and the carol ‘Joy to the world’ closed the meeting.
In the evening the chosen theme was ‘The message of preparation’ and the Band began the worship with ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’. Scripture was from Mark 1:1-8 and the song ‘On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry…..’ led to ‘Christmas Preparations’ (explain). Advent prayer followed.
‘Well, I’ve been to the river……’ was a song for the congregation before the Songsters brought ‘Ring out those bells’ and the Band contributed ‘Infant Holy’. A further song, ‘All over the world the Spirit is moving’, prepared the congregation for Major Nigel’s message in which he said (summarised):
Life is full of preparations such as weddings, parties, holidays,etc. It is so important, even though it can often involve a mammoth task.
The period of Advent is a time of preparation, not only of our homes but also ourselves. Marks speaks of the prophet Isaiah forecasting the preparation of the way of the Lord. In fact preparation is the key to Advent. John, who was foretelling the coming of Jesus, was a true man of God but he was treated dreadfully by his peers.
So, what preparations are we to make? Simply to prepare our church, our homes and ourselves for the coming of Jesus. We have to prepare our homes and our hearts for Christmas. Our life for Christ means that we must start with a cleaning process. Clean your lives and focus on Jesus. Perhaps there are sins to be forgiven and repentance to take place. Is there any need for this in your life.
Let me challenge you about your prayer life. Start with prayers of worship. Tell God how great he is.
We must also prepare our church. Firstly I want to thank all those who have worked so hard here in preparation for next weekend. There needs to be clean conversation so that others will be blessed when they come here.
Prepare your hearts, homes and church for Christmas so that others will be blessed.
The prayer chorus ‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me’ concluded the message and the day ended with the worship song ‘From heaven you came….’
Here is a reminder regarding next Sunday evening. Bring your friends so that Christmas can really get started for them.