Advent Flash Mob

An Essex Liturgy by Andrew and Keeley Wickham (2015)

Introductory Reflection

I will prepare my heart and my mind to seek God

Firstly, in praise

This is the day that the LORD has made, I will be rejoice and be glad in it!

Then through this request

Hear my voice when I call, LORD
Be merciful to me and answer me
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalm 27:7-8)

~

Reflection

From the overspill of London to the beaches on the eastern coast

The richness and diversity in the county of Essex in which I have been placed

Leads me to reflect on your awesome work in creation

And the salvation that you offer

 

Bible Reading

 

The LORD is the great God

The great King above all gods

In his hand are the depths of the earth

And the mountain peaks belong to him

The sea is his, for he made it

And his hands formed the dry land

Come let us bow down in worship

Let us kneel before the LORD our maker

For he is our God

And we are the people of his pasture

The flock under his care (Psalm 95:3-7)

 

Reflection

 

The Thames becomes the sea

Beaches turn to mud flats and saltmarshes

Woodland to rolling hills

The crabs and cockles exposed as the tide ebbs

 

The seals beside Foulness

Avocet, godwit, grebe and redshank

find refuge at Two-Tree Island

Gulls cry above City Beach

 

The breadth and beauty of your creation

So close at hand

 

Bible Reading

 

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
Throughout all generations
Before the mountains were born
Or you brought forth the whole world
From everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90: 1-2)
Through [Christ] God created everything
In the heavenly realms and on earth
He made the things we can see
And the things we can’t see
Such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world
Everything was created through him and for him (Colossians 1:15-16)

 

Reflection

 

Earthly rulers and their dynasties have risen and fallen

From the Stone Age to the Post-Modern Era

The human story has unfolded

Shaping the boundaries of this county

 

Conquered by the Romans

Occupied by the Saxons

Defended by the Plantagenets

The artefacts and architecture still stand

As testament to our unending quest for power and legacy

 

Over these thousands of years of human endeavour

You, God, stand

 

Bible Reading

 

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high…
…He will be the sure foundation for your times
A rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure (Isaiah 33:5-6)

 

Reflection

 

I believe that you are here:

Ever present in our busy towns and quiet villages

Alive in the commuter bustle, school runs

Shopping trips, football matches and traffic jams

 

I believe that you are here:

Amongst day trippers who explore the seafront

and walk our world-famous pier

Amongst the shrieks of joy and excitement at Adventure Island

 

Amongst the sailors, surfers, swimmers and fishermen

 

Alongside families from far away seeking to make their home here

 

And those whose family history spans generations of life in this county

 

Watch over our communities

And help us to cherish the diversity and difference within them

 

Bring peace and prosperity to our homes

Our schools, our offices and our streets

 

Watch over those who have plenty and those who have nothing

And bless them both

 

~

 

Prayer for issues relevant you

 

~

Meditation from Nick Fawcett, Baptist minister born in Southend from his book ‘No Ordinary Man’

Have you heard the news?

They’re saying the Messiah’s been born

right here in Bethlehem.

Honestly, that’s what I was told,

the Christ,

God’s promised deliverer,

come at last to set us free.

Do I believe it?

Well, I’m not sure.

It’s hard to credit, I admit,

but this friend I spoke to seemed pretty certain.

Heard it from a shepherd apparently,

some chap who claimed to have seen the child themselves,

and by all accounts he was delirious with excitement,

absolutely full of it.

He may have been mistaken, of course,

or simply spinning some old yarn-

you can never be sure, can you?

And, believe me, I don’t go around believing everything I hear.

But this friend of mine,

the one who heard it from the shepherd,

he was full of it too.

You would have thought he’d been there,

in the stable,

beside the manager,

the way he spoke.

He was utterly convinced, there’s no question about that,

and as I listened to him chattering on,

I felt the urge welling up inside me,

just as he had done,

to tell someone else,

to share the good news with those around me.

If he was right then this wasn’t something to keep to myself,

not for the privileged few,

but a message for everybody,

one they all needed to hear.

But before I say anything more,

risk making a complete fool of myself,

there’s something I have to do-

something my friend should have done

and which the shepherds presumably did-

and that is go and see for myself.

Call me a cynic if you like but I believe it’s important-

no, more than that, vital-

for if you’re going to accept something,

let alone expect others to do the same,

you have to be sure of your ground,

as certain as you can be that it’s not just all some grand delusion.

So I’m going now,

off to find out the truth for myself,

off to see this child,

if he really exists, with my own eyes.

And if I find everything just as I’ve been told,

the baby lying there in a manger,

wrapped in strips of cloth,

then I shall go and tell others what I have seen-

for let’s be honest, what else would there be to do?

What else could anybody do in my place?

~

Concluding Reflections

For this season of my life I have been placed here, in Essex

Amongst natural beauty

The rich legacy of history

And the uncertainties of contemporary culture

God, just as you are righteous in all your ways

And loving toward all that you have made

Enable me to act with clean hands and a pure heart

For the good of all that is around me