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Holy Eucharist, Rite II, the 2nd Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Comfort ye, Prepare Ye

 

 

The Celebrant and LEM stand at physical distance. The Advent wreath is lit. There is no procession.

Opening Rites

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.

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Celebrant:     The Lord be with you,

LEM:              And also with you.

Celebrant:     Let us pray.

The Celebrant says the Collect.

Wild God of the wastes,
whose gospel begins with a cry and a summons;
Take us to a pathless place where we can start again
to taste creation’s gifts anew and await the Spirit’s touch;
through Jesus Christ, the one who is to come.    Amen.

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The Lessons

( Click on the “+” as you go to show each part of the service )

[acc_item title=” The Old Testament Lesson:                                             Isaiah 40:1-11″]

40 Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.[b]
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[c]
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

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LEM:                  The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.

 

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Lord, you were favorable to your land;
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
    you pardoned all their sin.Selah

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
    for he will speak peace to his people,
    to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.[a]
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
    that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
    righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
    and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 The Lord will give what is good,

  and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him,
    and will make a path for his steps.

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[acc_item title=”The New Testament Lesson:                                             II Peter 3:8-15a”]

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you,[b] not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.[c]

11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening[d] the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

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LEM:               The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.

 

The Gospel

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 1:1-8″]

The beginning of the good news[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[b]
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,[c]
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,[d]
    who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

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Priest:                           The Gospel of the Lord.

LEM:                              Praise to you, Lord Christ.

 

[acc_item title=” Sermon: Comfort Ye, Prepare Ye”]

Comfort Ye, Prepare Ye

Advent 2 B, December 6, 2020

I don’t get to ask and answer this but a few times every three years, but today is one of them. So: “To be or not to be?” That, friends, is not only Hamlet’s famous question, but the question of what day it is – and what day is it is the second Sunday of Advent in the church’s Year B – thus, that is, 2 B. It’s entirely possible we’ll repeat this joke on the 2nd Sunday of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter – and the answer will still be 2 B. That is, for Hamlet and everyone, the name of this Sunday helps us remember that is better to be than not to be, and thus better, or as he asks, “nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by so doing, end them.” It is better to endure than to succumb – but better still to triumph against one’s troubles even though they come not single spies but in battalions, as the waves and depths of the sea – than to simply endure them.

Yes, the noble soul – which means the great, or great-hearted, soul, not the soul whose ancestor happened to a duke or a queen – the great-hearted soul and the grandly inspired mind will triumph when they can and endure what they must, embrace what they cannot avoid or deny, making their peace with what must be, yet never be satisfied with it, never settle for it, except tactically, provisionally, for the moment. They will embrace their fate but not think of it as fate, or destiny. They will see what happened, and what happens, but as the culmination of their choices to face outrage and trouble head-on, knowing that they might lose, but if they made any other choice, certainly would lose. They will walk with Daniel into the lion’s den, or with Zedekiah into the blinding thralldom of Babylon, or with Jesus to the Place of the Skull, and know that, things being what they are, they could not really have been otherwise. They will walk, as did the martyrs who faced the gladiators and lions of Rome, with heads held high, minds wide open, and hearts full of a mix of joy and grief, to and end they could not escape, but whose renown would live for centuries in legend and in song, an inspiration to generations yet unborn, with stories of their own to tell, and songs of their own to sing.

Such a soul was John the Baptizer – Lord forbid we call him ‘Baptist’ – who preached a repentance by, it might as well have been, Blut und Eisen, of whom today’s gospel primally speaks. Speaking, yelling words of repentance he came, with the hair of camels for his coat, and the flesh and wings of locusts for his meat. He preached that, if you bowed your head down low and had the waters held all about you until you could not breathe, you could repent of your sins in a way that mattered, and rise from the water healed and redeemed. But you had to feel it. You had to mean it. You had to have a soul as great as his was, understand what you did wrong, own it, feel it, and cast it away. You had to let the river take it, know that you very well could’ve drowned in these waters, but did not. You had to let the water bear it away, know that you could’ve drowned in your sin, your wrong, your weakness, your failing, but did not, chose not to, moved beyond it – because someone like John the Baptizer told you you had to, and then told you how. “To be free or not to be?” he might’ve asked you, and if you take to the flowing waters, feel the freedom wash all over you, you will answer, as he did, “To be free.”

Free from what? Sin, pain, death, torment. Free to what? Ah, there’s the rub. Free to love, to live, to hope, to dream, to plan, to work to the plan, to make it all come true. Free to meet the one the thong of whose sandal he was unworthy to untie – and why was that? Why was he unworthy to untie it? This was, after all, a man who had been dedicated to God, and to be a messenger of God, since before he was born. Even his name – John – was God-breathed, in the sense that God made his father promise to name John John as the price of restoring his voice. But he had committed to egregious sins, so far as we know. No murders can be laid as his feet, or thefts, or assaults. He never robbed a bank. He never robbed a train. He never so much as tipped over a cow. He…went to the wilderness on a mission from God – and, unlike many who have so gone, he was not delusional about it. He dined on locusts (ewww) and wild honey (yum!), wore the hair and skin of camels as his only protection from the desert’s heats and colds and winds, and preached. “Repent of your sins,” he said, much as Jonah did, eventually, at Nineveh, and none could gainsay that he was right to do so. So what made him unworthy to untie even Jesus’s sandals?

Well, if it wasn’t sin, it must’ve been power. He, John, didn’t have it – not in the ways that Jesus did. Remember, they were cousins of the same age, or almost, even if they grew up in different parts of the country and did not meet – except for that one time when they were both in utero and Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, John’s mother and John leapt in the womb – until they were in their 30s. Whatever Jesus had been doing, John would’ve no doubt heard about it, and understood early on just how much Jesus had that no-one else did or ever would, and what it was all for. He could, literally, change the world. John knew this. John preached this. John wanted people prepared for this. That’s what they were getting baptized for – to be ready to do whatever it was Jesus wanted and needed them to do when the time came. Yet he, John, could not heal as Jesus did. He could not turn water into wine, or stones into bread, or thin air into bread and fish, or his own body into a locus and act of redemption and salvation. He could only – and may we all live to see such an “only” – speak truth to power and powerless alike, letting the chips fall where they may, and letting his head fall when that what was power chose to do to it in response to the truths he told. He came as witness to the light, but was not himself the light, as the Gospel of John would later clarify. But that is no small feat.

Yet he did not consider that ability anything, in comparison to what Christ could do.

“Comfort ye.” These words from Isaiah 40 resonate with me, as does G.F. Handel’s music from The Messiah that sets them so beautifully. John, for all his gifts, probably never conveyed in his whole life a sense of comfort to anyone. He had the vision, and that was enough. Indeed, it’s what this passage from Isaiah lacks, known as the opening of 2nd Isaiah, given how long after the first 39 chapters it was written. He wants to speak comfort to the remnant of Israel that was Judah, but does not know quite what to say. Cold comfort were it indeed to find that “All flesh is grass” and all of us merely players thereupon. The authors knew that somehow, the Lord would lead them out of despair and back into hope, but they did not know quite how. They knew that, when it happened, it would happen as these things always do, with the darkest hour being just before dawn, and that the people who dwelt in great darkness and would see a great light would have almost despaired of that darkness ever ending.

The world in which Jesus and John grew up was one with very little light in it, except in the physical sense. Their dry-scrub homeland was bathed in sunlight for most of its days – and still is – or chilled beneath equally cloudless skies of night, dark except for the shining of the moon, the planets, and the stars. It was also steeped in blood and soaked in oppression, wracked by corruption and chained to slavery at each level of its economy. It was, like certain parts of New Jersey, not a place where anyone would dwell who could choose to dwell elsewhere. Yet that is where the Lord, in his infinite mercy, chose to come among humanity and embody its salvation, and in whose wilderness God chose John to bear witness to it, that people might be ready. The comfort of it, and any comfort in it, would come later – but it would, as Jesus assured every time he said “Peace be with you” and “Do not be afraid,” come indeed. So let us get ready for it! He did, and he does. Amen.

 

 

 

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Musical Offering

There is no passing of plates or reception of gifts.

The Deacon or Priest prepares the altar and sanctuary for the Eucharist.

The People make ready their gifts of bread and wine. The LEM continues

 

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.

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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.

Silence

I ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all. Pray for justice and peace.

Silence

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

I ask your prayers for the departed [especially N.N.]. Pray for those who have died.

Silence

I ask your prayers for those on the prayer list of this parish, and those whose needs are known to you alone.

Silence

The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.

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The Peace

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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

[/accordion]

 

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.

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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.

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St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD

12621 Old Columbia Pike

Silver Spring, MD  20904

office@stmarks-silverspring.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge

rector@stmarks-silverspring.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001

Linda Lee, Parish Administrator

administrator@stmarks-silverspring.org  *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:

www.stmarksfairland.org

www.stmarks-silverspring.org

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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.

 

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.

The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office, https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/

 

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

 

[1] The readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary. See: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/.