Holy Eucharist, Rite II, the 1st Sunday of Advent
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Of Figs and Wisdom
The Celebrant and LEM stand at physical distance. The Advent wreath is lit. There is no procession.
Celebrant: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
LEM: And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever.
Celebrant: Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Celebrant: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One,
LEM: Have mercy upon us.
[acc_item title=”The Collect”]
Celebrant: The Lord be with you,
LEM: And also with you.
Celebrant: Let us pray.
The Celebrant says the Collect.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of
darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of
this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit
us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come
again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the
dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and
for ever. Amen.
( Click on the “+” as you go to show each part of the service )
[acc_item title=” The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 64:1-9″]
64 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
2 [a] as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5 You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.[b]
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered[c] us into the hand of our iniquity.
8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.
[acc_item title=”The New Testament Lesson: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9″]
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my[b] God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6 just as the testimony of[c] Christ has been strengthened among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying
Celebrant: The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.
LEM: Glory to you, Lord Christ.
[acc_item title=”The Gospel Lesson: Mark 13:24-37″]
24 “But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he[e] is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert;[f] for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Deacon or Priest: The Gospel of the Lord.
LEM: Praise to you, Lord Christ.
[acc_item title=” Sermon: Of Figs and Wisdom”]
Of Figs and Fading Leaves
Advent 1 B, November 29, 2020
Happy New Year, and Happy Thanksgiving! As you know, the church anticipates by about a month the start of the new year, choosing these still-shortening days at the end of November and the beginning of December to celebrate the return of light and promise to the world God made good. Thus, our new year and new sets of readings begin just after Thanksgiving with the 1st Sunday in Advent, that season of waiting and expectation, the time of year when the church gets the blues. Blue on the altar, blue on three of the four Advent candles, and a blue chasuble and stole keeping the pastor warm in the cold, and safe from the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
The readings appointed for this Sunday from Mark and from Isaiah might also give us the blues, as have the readings for the past the three or four Sundays from Matthew 25. Mark ends in increasing terror as we hit chapter 13: the sun darkens – unlike today, which is quite bright out – the moon gives no more light, the Son of Man returns ‘coming in clouds’ on a day and hour that no-one knows, not even that Son, except the Father, so Be Prepared. But this is all fairly terrifying, yet in the midst of it we are given a lesson, a metaphor, about how to think as we Keep Awake and prepare for that last, dreadful day.
What is that lesson and that metaphor? The fig tree in spring. Doing what? Doing what just about very green thing on the earth does: grow. To wit, “When the branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.” Have that patient, attentive, waiting mindset as your own before the last days, and you will do well.
I have had occasion to be around fig trees as an adult, though never did as a child, and even to grow them outside my home, but know very little about them. One thing I do know is that you can look at a stick in the ground where last year a fig tree was and imagine it has died, but then look at it one day and notice: fig leaves! If you’re clever and attentive, you can see these things begin to appear even as the gospel passage says, with the softening of the branch and the emergence of the chartreuse leaflets, soon to darken to the forest green giants that nourish the fig tree and protect and feed its fruit all summer long. Great things come from small packages, and you don’t know whether a stick is living or dead just because it, in March, has no leaves. Still roots, like still waters, can run deep, and so Be Prepared for that as well.
Of all the things that comes with the doom and gloom, the worry and anxiety, with the last days, this metaphor stays with us as one of comfort. So do the words in verse 31: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
We might look at a fig that has yet to send forth leaves and wonder if it ever will again. We might find it equally hard to find or feel the presence of God in our lives, particularly if our winter is one of worry or discontent. But, as with suddenly noticing the fresh young leaves, we might suddenly be reminded of the truth of this verse.
Think what good news that is. The one who said Blessed are you who are poor, be it in body, mind or spirit – these words, he says here, will not pass away. Blessed are you who make peace – these words, he says, here, will not pass away though the sun darken and the moon stop shining. Those of you who mourn will be comforted – and these words will not pass away. That is good news. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself – these two great commandments will not pass away, and ever will all the law and prophets hang on them. Blessed are you whom they persecute for righteousness’s sake and for mine; you will receive blessing and grace because you stood for what is true no matter what it cost you, even if it be the whole world. In my father’s house are many rooms, and I go to prepare a place for you – these words, he says, will not pass away.
What are some of the most beautiful words he says before and after he rose: “Peace be with you” and “Do nor fear.” These words will not pass away. What other words of comfort does he give? “Pick up your mat and walk,” he said to the one who could not walk at all before he said so. “Your faith has healed you, be free” and “Your faith has healed you and the one you love;” “Your faith has set you free, go forth and sin no more” – the words, no matter what happens will not pass away.
The good news may be among the reasons for which Paul in this first letter to the church in Corinth gives thanks. The grace of God has been given these people in Christ and have been in all ways enriched, including in speech and knowledge, and blessings and peace. These signs and signals of God’s blessings will not pass away, and the signs and symbols by which we know them will not fade. Thus, though we wait to see what Christ will be in another day or time, we know that he will strengthen us to the end, and that we shall be blameless on the last day, though it be dark indeed. If he has called us to him, and he has – if we know the power of his love, which we do – if we choose to do what is good, which we do – he will be with us and we with him in one fellowship, one body, one Lord, one Christ. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Good news, indeed.
Keep awake, therefore – but hear also the power of the reflections in 3rd Isaiah, chapter 64: which asks an interesting, powerful, and somewhat strange set of things: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, making the mountains quake and firing the brushwood as with a mighty wind” it opens, but then ends with “Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember our iniquity forever.” What mind asks God to come down like this but then asks God not to be angry, and remember “That we are yours”? It strikes me that those who ask such a question know what God is like but sometimes have trouble finding God at all.
I didn’t realize this when first reading the passage this week. See, these people knew and God could be angry when people did what was wrong, and express that anger in ways none could deny. They also had the experience that “Because you hid yourself, we transgressed.” That is, because You hid Your face from us and delivered us into the hands of our own iniquity, we did wrong. When You disappear or are hard to find, and when we do now know where Your words can be heard, when we do not know where to look upon Your face and cannot see in all the works of Your hands all Your love and grace expressed – when we lose You in the midst of all life can be, O Lord, we are apt to go astray as are sheep without a shepherd. In great contrast to the power of the fig leaves emerging to show us what to expect and how, Isaiah 64 reminds us that, bereft of God, “We all face like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
It is easy to be blown hither and yon by any wind whatever, once you are as leaves fallen from the trees. Who cares for the fallen leaves, indeed? That was the people’s experience: that they fade and fail, dry up and grow smaller, desiccate and become as dust, transgress, do not as the Lord would wish and realize that “our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Thus, though they long for God to return, they also hope that God will forget that they were blown about as dry leaves before the wind. They ask that the Lord remember that they are clay, and the Lord the potter, each of them the work of His hand. This word, too, will not pass away, and for that we give thanks.
It is easy to forget how to see the works of God in all that is, especially when some of what is is painful to us, disappointing or frightening to us, or somewhat hard to explain. How much longer, Lord, will we wear our masks and fear a terrible disease that has already taken far too many people far too soon from us? Are we protecting ourselves as best we might? Are we doing all we can? Do we make the best choices for ourselves and our families? Sometimes it is hard to know. We might long to look for a sign as clear as that of the fig tree in the ground, but we might find ourselves fading like leaves, able to be blown hither and yon by what is worst in us, which tends to be whenever we give into bitterness or despair.
Lo, again, we hearken back even in this mood to the words of the gospel: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” When we feel ourselves fading like leaves, we can remember the words, “Peace be with you”, “Your sins are forgiven”, “Pick up your mat and walk”, “Know God’s love” and spread that love in the world, “Peace I give you, my own peace I leave with you”, “Take, eat, this is my body; take, drink, this is my blood given for the sins of the world to free us all, and set us on the paths you would have us be on.” Indeed, as he says, “Keep awake!” Be mindful of all that God has done and will do for those who seek and those who find.
God is faithful, says Paul to the church to Corinth. He will strengthen you to the end. He will make you blameless. He has called you into the fellowship of his Son, near and far. He will never forsake you. He will remember that we are his people, even to the end of the age.
If days darken, if times get hard, if we cannot remember all that is good, if we find it is hard to find God’s reality in our lives, remember the great words we know Jesus said: “Peace be with you” – now and always. Amen.
The Deacon or Priest prepares the altar and sanctuary for the Eucharist.
There is no passing of plates and no reception the collection or other gifts.
After the offering, the Celebrant continues, saying
The Nicene Creed
The Celebrant says
[acc_item title=”The Nicene Creed”]
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Prayers of the People
The LEM prays. In the silence after each bidding, the People offer their prayers without speaking.
[acc_item title=”Prayers of the People“]
I ask your prayers for all God’s people; for our bishops, our clergy, and this gathering, and for all ministers and people. Pray for the Church.
I ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all. Pray for justice and peace.
I ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison.
Pray for those in any need or trouble.
I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of God.
Pray that they may seek, and pray that they might find.
I ask your prayers for the departed [especially N.N.]. Pray for those who have died.
I ask your prayers for those on the prayer list of this parish, and those whose needs are known to you alone.
The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.
The People stand.
Celebrant: The peace of the Lord be always with you,
LEM: And also with you
The Ministers and People greet one another in silence while keeping physical distance
The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving
Celebrant: The Lord be with you,
LEM: And also with you.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
LEM: We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
LEM: It is right to give God thanks and praise.
Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds
[acc_item title=”The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving”]
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, for you are the source of light and life, you made us in your image, and you call us to new life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the host of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to the glory of your Name:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
The people stand or kneel. The Celebrant continues
[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]
Holy and gracious Father: In love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin, evil, and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you. He offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.
On the night he was handed over, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.”
After supper he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in memory of me.”
Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith: [/acc_item]
LEM: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
The Celebrant continues.
[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]
We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O God, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.
Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.
All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ by whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.
Now, as Christ taught us, we are bold to say,
The LEM prays
[acc_item title=”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 trespasses, as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The Breaking of the Bread
The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread, and then keeps a period of silence.
The Celebrant continues
[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]
Celebrant: [Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
LEM: Therefore, let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]
Celebrant: The Gifts of God for the People of God.
The people come forward to retrieve the hosts, maintaining physical distance. They consume the hosts upon returning to their seats.
After Communion, the Celebrant says
Let us pray.
The Celebrant prays
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart, through Christ our Lord. Amen.[/acc_item]
Blessing and Dismissal
The Celebrant says
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
The LEM says
Let us go forth, in peace, to love and serve the Lord.
The Celebrant, the LEM, and the People depart, maintaining physical distance.
We hope that today’s service has been a blessing to you.
We are here to serve you, and hope to see you again.
Please feel free to call us, email us, or visit us online.
About Episcopal Worship and this Service
The audio and video of this service will be posted to the church website on Monday. Please join us, either in person or online, as you are able. We are grateful for your pledge support, and hope that you will continue it.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD
12621 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
email@example.com * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002
The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge
firstname.lastname@example.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001
Linda Lee, Parish Administrator
email@example.com *301-622-5860 ext. 1004
Beresford Coker, Musical Director
Joyce Walker, Administrative Assistant
Charles Smith, Senior Warden
Lee Mericle, Junior Warden
For information about St. Mark’s, please visit our website:
Resources (available for free online)
These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.
Book of Common Prayer, www.bcponline.org
Enriching Our Worship 1, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-1/enrichingourworship1.pdf
Enriching Our Worship 2, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-2/enrichingourworship2.pdf
Hymnal 1982: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/EH1982
Hymnal 1940: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/HPEC1940
Lift Every Voice and Sing II: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/LEVS1993
Wonder, Love, and Praise: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/WLP1997
This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.
Links to church websites – National, Diocesan and our church’s website.
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Episcopal News Service: www.episcopalnewsservice.org
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington: www.edow.org
St. Mark’s, Fairland: www.stmarks-silverspring.org