Vol 4 No. 50 Preparing for Christ’s Birth

Many of you have had some experience with Gathering for Worship: Prayers for the Community by the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Like ourselves, this denomination exists in the midst of a largely secular culture which when it does frame the Christian tradition or narrative of any kind has a majority of churches following a liturgical way of doing things. This particular book allows Free Church Baptists to be themselves while acknowledging the Christian language that many around them use.

I want to introduce 2 things from that book this week; the first is a general description of what it is to follow worship through the “church year” and the second is the words used in the first Sunday of advent. I want to point out that advent and the preparation for Christ’s birth is the beginning of the Christian story. Which means, by the way, that last week was New Year’s… so Happy New Year.


In Christ,

Jeremy Bell


Worship through the Year

God’s word should shape our worship and, whether or not a lectionary of readings is followed, there are certain times in the year when it is important to lead a congregation in worship relevant to the season. In this way we can journey through the story of salvation and God’s redeeming way with humanity: from the advent hope, through God’s coming to us in Jesus, with his birth and ministry, cross and resurrection, to the coming of the Holy Spirit and new life in Christ. Here we can be exposed to the full counsels of God, as God’s story shapes our story.

What follows attempts to show both the variety of subject matter and the way in which themes may be explored. If the cycle of the year is not followed, then themes may still be used on appropriate occasions.

Each section includes brief suggestions on how the main theme might be developed through various kinds of prayers. The scripture references are offered as calls to worship of varying length, but they may be expanded to provide suitable readings, and in some cases are expanded here. Further readings may be found in a lectionary such as The Revised Common Lectionary which offers a three-year table of readings and has gained wide acceptance across Christian denominations.

The prayers themselves are not comprehensive but, as well as providing material for use in worship, they offer examples and starting points for exploration by those leading worship. The sections follow the classic pattern of the Christian year, but have been given thematic titles.

Advent 1: The God who Comes

God comes to us in redemption and judgement. Themes of hope, yearning, preparation and confession.

Psalms 24.7–8; 96.11–13; Isaiah 40.3–5; 52 1–10; Luke 12.35–37a, 40; Romans 13.11–12, 14a.

Praise and Greeting

Advent God, we worship you: the God who comes.

You are not remote from the world you have made,

but each day you come to us,

blessing us with your presence.


You came in creation itself,

as your Spirit moved over the waters of chaos.

You came in Jesus Christ,

made flesh in our world of weakness and need.

You came in power to raise him from death,

a mighty promise for all creation.

Each day you come, by your Spirit,

gently and powerfully working

in the lives of men and women.

At the end of time you will come,

in power and righteousness,

in mercy and redeeming love.


Grant us the grace to welcome your coming.

Inflame our love to yearn for your presence.

Enlarge our vision to recognize your coming day by day.

We greet you, Advent God.



Lord God,

we adore you

because you have come to us in the past:

you have spoken to us in the law of Israel

you have challenged us in the words of the prophets,

you have shown us in Jesus what you are really like.


Lord God,

we adore you

because you still come to us now:

you come to us through other people

in their love and concern for us,

you come to us through those who need our help,

you come to us now, even as we worship you.


Lord God,

we adore you

because you will come to us at the end:

you will be with us at the hour of death,

you will reign supreme when all institutions fall,

you will still be our God when our history has run its course.


We welcome you, the God who comes.

Come to us now in the power of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayer of Longing

Lord Jesus Christ

your world awaits you.

In the longing of the persecuted for justice;

in the longing of the poor for prosperity;

in the longing of the privileged

for riches greater than wealth;

in the longing of our hearts for a better life;

and in the song of your Church,

expectation is ever present.


O come, Lord, desire behind our greatest needs.

O come, Lord, Liberator of humanity.

O come, Lord, O come, Immanuel.


Collect (Prayer)

O Lord our God,

make us watchful and keep us faithful

as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;

that, when he shall appear,

he may not find us sleeping in sin

but active in his service

and joyful in his praise;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.