Written Service, Second Sunday before Advent

You are warmly welcomed to join us as we worship this Second Sunday in Advent. This we our service is led by Revd. Jake Dejonge.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you… and also with you.


The First Reading: Zephaniah 1: 7, 12-end
The Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11
The Gospel Reading: Matthew 25: 14-30

The Sermon:

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man, going on a journey….’
Yes, like a man, like a human being, a person like you and me and all the people all around us, going on the journey that is life.

And then follows the story of the talents given to the servants who stay behind when the man, the master of the servants, departs on his journey to foreign parts. The Master was, in the early Church soon identified as God and Christ, and the servants became the people on earth

A well-known story, for us and, indeed for the early church of two centuries ago. St. Mark’s gospel, the oldest version of the gospels, has a similar story; in Mark (13, 33-37), it is clearly put in the context of being alert, of being watchful, for the end of time is near: ‘Take heed, watch, for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore— for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.’

In the Matthew version which we have read, it is also about the end of time, although not as clearly spelt out. In the previous chapter there is talk of being watchful and about the Son of Man coming at an hour you did not expect.

At the end of time there will also be judgment day and the end of today’s gospel tends that way by stating that you must work and if you do not do that then you will miss the boat and the house will be closed and you will be in the dark, ‘in the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’. ’… weeping and gnashing of teeth.’, a popular expression with the condemnation of ’baddies’ at the final reckoning. Chapter 25 does continue with writing about the final judgment with the well-known story of the sheep and the goats. (That is for next Sunday.)

At this part of the liturgical year you hear much about ‘the last things’; we are also rounding off a year and about to start a new one, with Advent and Christmas and all that follows.

So, to be watchful and to be well prepared for the coming of the Lord, at the end of time, but not only then, but every day, really, for the Lord does continue to come to us and meets us in all kinds of ways; in the things that happen in us and around us, in the people on our way.

Today’s story focuses on how to relate to finances in the kingdom of God; how do you handle your money. In the story of the talents a lot of money is involved. One talent, so I read, is worth about 15 times the annual earnings of a labourer; one talent is what a labourer can earn in 15 years; that is quite something. The one servant receives 5 talents, enough to live from for 75 years, much more than, in those days, a human life expectancy; the other servant receives 2 talents , enough for, say, a generation; and the third receives 1 talent.

Two of the servants in the story, the one with five talents and the one with two, invest their money in a clever way and profit well. When the master returns he praises these two for their wise handling of their money. Obviously, you must always be careful in how to invest your money, and be fair and honest; no tax avoidance, beware of so-called ’bubbles’ and whatever malpractice that may entice us.
Be clever and honest, responsible for your own behaviour and your own conscience; the first two servants did well and the master praises them and gives them more responsibility and invites them to share in his joy and goodness. They had made good use of opportunities given and had been responsible.

The third servant finds himself on the other side; he was not open to a challenge, he was not enterprising, no, he was scared. He did what was common among Jews to safeguard their treasures from theft, he wraps his money in a strong cloth and buries it under the grapevine.
No nerve to dare take a new step, no freedom of mind and openness to new things.
And yet, that is what so often it is about with Jesus and the kingdom and the way of life that Jesus brings; to break through old patterns of living and of behaviour and to look with new eyes, with God’s eyes, as it were, to people and all that occupies people, including their money, their talents.

What does this story have to say to us? That we must not be too compulsive about our money, perhaps? Yes, I’m sure. That we are to be sensible and take responsibility, not gripped by greed, when investing our wealth, be it great, be it small? Yes, I do think so. Does it mean that God’s generosity and open-handedness is also meant for us? Yes, certainly. That there will come a time of reckoning, in our time on earth, or thereafter? Yes, I suspect so.

For us the word ‘talent’ does not, in first instance, make you think of money, lots of money, but more of being gifted, of knowledge and abilities, in body, mind or spirit, given to us via our parents and descent, via culture and environment, all things for which we did not have to do a thing to receive them as children. Here we also face the challenge from God to invest, to work at and to increase what has been given to us; and here too we shall be asked one day to give account, I suspect.

But the most important for which we are to give account will be how we have dealt with the love and goodness from God towards us. How we, for ourselves, for the neighbour on our way, near and further away, have shown and passed on something of the unconditional acceptance which God shows to me, to you, to us and in what measure we have lived from that with gratitude, to the honour of the Eternal God. That is what ultimately matters most, and all the other things are part and parcel of that.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man, going on a journey….’
Yes, like a man, like a human being, a person like you and me and all the people around us, going on the journey that is life.

What kind of human being do I want to be in the life I live with God and with Jesus Christ? Is it going to be ‘I am scared’, or is it going to be, ‘Yes, Lord, I will go for it, in the power and love of God.’


Prayers and Intercessions

Lord God of creation our scripture readings today tell us of turbulent and destructive times as we journey through life. Yet together with the warnings, the Apostle Paul provides us with a message of assurance and hope. With thankful hearts we approach you once more with our intercessions, trusting in the promises of your Son that we may lay our petitions before you. We pray for both the wider communities of the world and for our own personal cares and needs.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

As armed conflicts continue to arise, we pray to you for their victims and for peace. Through the tears and suffering grant that the efforts to eliminate war from our earth may never cease and that the hope to achieve this goal may never die.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We thank you for the stability of the constitutional monarchies in which we live, and we ask for your blessing on our Heads of State, Willem Alexander and Elizabeth, and their governments. Guide them, we pray, in their leadership and decisions through the coming times.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for release from the burdens of the Covid pandemic. Giving thanks for the prospect of effective vaccines we pray for their rapid progress towards final safe preparation, widespread distribution, and application.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We also pray for the youth of our world whose lives and education have become disrupted by the pandemic restrictions. Grant to parents, authorities and educators an understanding of their social and psychological needs so that their future development may be maintained and their future roles in adult life may be assured.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord, we pray to you for the work of our Bishop, Robert, and our Suffragan Bishop David, together with the Director of Reader Ministry, Paul Wignall. With them, we lift up for your blessing those training as Readers in our diocese, as well as the Director of Lay Discipleship, Clare Amos. We give thanks for the support provided by the Friends of the Diocese, and their Secretary, Jeanne French. We also thank you for the ongoing guidance of our departing Archdeacon, Paul Vrolijk, in our search for a new chaplain and we ask for your blessing as he changes his ministry in Brussels.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Where there is sickness or ill health amongst our members, their families, and friends, we pray to you, Lord, for healing and comfort. Teach us to be mindful of their needs and especially where isolation and movement restriction lead to loneliness and depression, help us to offer companionship and reassurance.
Today we especially bring before you for the needs of……..and we give thanks for health restored.
Father, we commend to your everlasting care, the souls who have departed this life in the faith of your beloved Son.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

In our longings, help us to pray, even without words. Grant, in the stillness, that we may know in our hearts that you are the Lord who can bring healing.
When we are parched and dry in our faith, Lord, in the stillness, reach out with your Spirit and refresh us. Turn us towards the warm light of hope and as we await a new season of Advent, fill us anew with the good news of the coming of Jesus our Saviour.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the name of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Anthem and Hymn

The Anthem is: Holy is the true light – William Harris

The hymn is: NEH 377 – Immortal invisible God only wise


Christ our King make you faithful and strong to do his will, that you may reign with him in glory; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.