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The Coming of Christ as Saviour

The Advent season begins with a service live from Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church in Glasgow. With the Rev Doug Gay and Glasgow University Chapel Choir. Reading: Romans 13:11-14.

The coming of Christ as Saviour: Advent hope amidst national and global challenges.
The Advent season begins with a service live from Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church in Glasgow.
Reading: Romans 13:11-14
Preacher: The Revd Doug Gay.
With Glasgow University Chapel Choir directed by James Grossmith.
Organist: Kevin Bowyer.
Producer: Mo McCullough.

38 minutes

Last on

Sun 1 Dec 2013 08:10

“The coming of Christ as Saviour”- Advent hope amidst national and global challenges

“The coming of Christ as Saviour”- Advent hope amidst national and global challenges


The Advent season begins with a service live from Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church in Glasgow.

Preacher: The Rev Doug Gay.

With Glasgow University Chapel Choir directed by James Grossmith.

Organist: Kevin Bowyer.


Romans 13:11-14

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; 13 let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.


On the first Sunday of Advent a cry goes out to the people of God.  Not a gentle, coaxing appeal but a loud and dramatic call: ‘Wake up!  The time has come!’  It’s a time of judgement, of testing when, if we’re awake to the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we shall get ready for the final glorious coming of Christ when his kingdom will finally be established.  So are we prepared?  If we’re serious about our longing for God, we have to be serious about living in a way that doesn’t make nonsense of our desire for him to come into our lives.  It means being awake to the prompting of the Spirit, allowing the grace of God to flow through our lives and enrich those around us.


Lord our God, help us to prepare for the coming of Christ your Son our Saviour.  May he find us waiting, eager in joyful prayer.  Amen.




We welcome you to Glasgow on a painful and difficult morning, when our city is waking up in grief following the accident late Friday night in the heart of the City. As we come to worship we hold in our hearts and prayers all those affected by this tragedy, and all those still working to respond to it. 

We begin our worship with the great Advent hymn of hope and longing, ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’.



MUSIC – HYMN:  O Come O Come Emmanuel (Veni creator)



Opening Prayer


DOUG:  I’m joined in leading our prayers by Wendy Young from our congregation.


Let us pray:


We have been told and taught that this is your name
That you are called Emmanuel – you are God with us.
This morning we join the song of your people down through the centuries
The song of those who cry out to know that you are with them

Even in exile and mourning,
Even in heartbreak and pain

Even when death’s dark shadows are cast over us

We call you Emmanuel – we believe you are with us


This morning we join the song of Advent

Glad for the weave of memories and names
In which you are revealed,
We worship you Lord Jesus Christ as Son of God and Lord of Might,
as Rod of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring from on high, Desire of Nations

We sing again that you are Liberator, Exile Ender,
Wise Law-giver, strong hell-mender,

We sing you are the generous home maker, heaven preparer,


And you are the comforter of those who mourn.



The earth and its weary people cry to you
from the loneliness of exile,

from the foot of the mountain,
from the depths of hell,
from the path of misery,

The earth and all its weary people cry to you
from the darkness of night and of death


Come and liberate your creation from its exile –
Wherever it lives apart from the joy and wholeness you intend for it

Come and make safe the way that leads to life



Come to us here and now – in this place and this time,
In this city and in every city where your people mourn

Come Holy Spirit – speak the promise of advent to our souls and bodies
and prepare the way of Christ in us.

These things we ask in your name Jesus Christ
And join our hearts to pray the prayer you taught us, saying

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and for ever. Amen.



Now we sing the hymn Behold the Mountain of the Lord – a much loved paraphrase of Isaiah 2 widely sung in Scotland since the 18th century – which voices the prophet’s dream of swords being beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks. Of a time when we study war no more.  We sing it to the tune GLASGOW.



MUSIC – HYMN:  Behold The Mountain Of The Lord (Tune: Glasgow)



EVAN:   Old Testament Reading - Psalm 122


The Psalm set for today is Psalm 122 – Israel’s prayer for the peace of Jerusalem. We hear it today as a call to prayer for Israel and for every nation – for Jerusalem and Glasgow and all our cities – and as a reminder to seek the good of the country in which we live, wherever we are.


I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ 

2 Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem is built as a city that is bound firmly together. 

4 To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks to the name of the Lord. 

5 For there the thrones for judgement were set up,

the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you prosper.

7 Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.’ 

8 For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ 

9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.


MAUREEN:  New Testament Reading - Romans 13:11-14


Our New Testament reading comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans – it combines words of challenge and of hope – we read from chapter 13, verses 11 to 14.


You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; 13let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.


The Word of the Lord: All:  THANKS BE TO GOD



MUSIC:  Hymn – Wake, awake! for night is flying (Wachet Auf)





For hundreds of millions of Christians all over the world – time starts again today.


The first soaring notes of O Come O Come Emmanuel – are a kind of liturgical alarm call – they awaken us to a new Christian Year – it starts today, on the first Sunday in Advent – today we begin our season of preparation for the great festival of the incarnation at Christmas.


To live within a calendar which includes Advent - Christmas and Epiphany - Lent, Easter and Pentecost - is to live in time differently.

It’s to see the time of our lives as time from God and time for God –

When we trace the circle of the year as a spiritual journey – we open ourselves to being called in new ways in each season of the year. Believing that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God – as we make time to focus on his birth, and on his death and resurrection – we believe the God of all time makes time for us.


The liturgical year resists the reduction of time to what the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor calls  - the modern secular outlook of “homogenous empty time”. Church time is the opposite – it’s designed to be varied and full – it’s a bureaucrat’s nightmare – filled with moveable feasts and fasts – who wants Semesters 1 and 2 when you could have Martinmas and Candlemas.


Advent is meaning-full time – it refuses to just count time in “shopping days” – it says there is more waiting for us. This time – Sundays and weekdays – days off and workdays – this time can be holy time – days in which we reflect on the time of our lives - and this time is also travelling time – …these four weeks are the time it takes us to get to Bethlehem.



MUSIC:  Anthem  - Philip Ledger:  Adam lay y-bounden




In the Epistle set for today – Paul says to the Christians in Rome – “you know what time it is” – it’s time to wake up – the night is far gone, the day is near. It’s a good text for an early service on a winter Sunday morning.


And not all time is the same. Salvation - Paul says to the Roman Christians - is nearer to us now than when we first became believers; the New Testament contains an unsettling mix of expectations about the Second Advent of Christ – for some believers it seems just about to happen – others take more of a long view. What unites them is the faith that their future is in God’s hands. Time is not being lost. Time is not spinning out of control. They believe that time is being saved as they are through Jesus Christ who is the Lord of time.


These first Christians shared the conviction that because of Jesus Christ – his Cross + Resurrection, both history and their story were not meaningless, were not random, were not lost – that belief gave them hope in dark times.  Even if it’s still dark – outside or inside. The night is far gone, the day is near.

There have been many times in the history of God’s people when that belief was sorely and tragically tested – dark nights of persecution, dark nights of war, dark nights of suffering, dark nights of the soul.


There were times when the psalmists in ancient Israel called on God to wake up – wake up God – why are you asleep; the Gospels carry the story of Jesus asleep in the storm – and the disciples shaking him awake – don’t you care that we’re dying here..? On this morning of all mornings, because it is Advent Sunday, we need not be afraid of crying out that we need Emmanuel – we need God with us.

Paul’s words in Romans are the words of a pastor – just before the words we read he has reminded his hearers of the heart of their calling – Love your neighbour as yourself – Love does no wrong to a neighbour – as we saw amid the trauma of Friday night Love runs towards the neighbour in need, not away from them. Love takes the risk of coming near - of getting close

It is just after Paul has said that, that he calls his hearers to wake up. Salvation is nearer now than when we first believed – God who has run towards us in Jesus Christ, who has become our neighbour, who has become Emmanuel to us – that God is still coming close to be our Saviour.

Paul’s challenge to the Roman Christians breaks on through to us – to give up on darkness and embrace the light – to clear our heads and hearts – to clean up our acts – to love our neighbours as Christ has loved us. He wants us to put on Christ – to live like Jesus – to live into our baptisms – to live honourably.

Don’t lose yourself in a pattern of drunken self-indulgence, because you’ll lose sight of your neighbour, don’t be sexually careless or decadent, because you’ll lose sight of your neighbour, don’t waste time envying and quarrelling with one another, because you’ll lose sight of your neighbour.

You know what time it is… it’s time to see your neighbours… it’s time to stand with them in care and solidarity – to get near to them in love as God has come near to us Christ.

What was powerful in the pain and confusion of Friday night, is that people suddenly saw strangers as neighbours and ran towards them to help. What was honourable in the hours and days since then, was to see the dedication of those who we as a society ask to be good neighbours on our behalf – police officers, fire fighters, ambulance workers and paramedics, hospital and council workers. To see them do what they do week after week – move in close to people in need and trouble and distress.

That this happened in the early hours of St Andrews Day was a powerful word to Scotland and the UK about the dilemmas which had been raised earlier in the week by the White Paper on independence. Whether we support YES Scotland or we support BETTER TOGETHER – and this is a difficult and divisive issue for us - we need to wake up to the need to treat each other as neighbours. To see each other’s humanity and to cherish it.

The churches are mostly neutral on the referendum question.  But on this point we are not neutral: Christians can never embrace a nationalism, whether British or Scottish, which is based on hatred of our neighbours. Christian teaching about one humanity in creation + one church in baptism always comes first and trumps our preferred national identity, whatever it is.

As Andrew was first to hear Christ’s call – and as Andrew’s cross was a sign of his humility – our conversation about how we will be neighbours with others in the future can draw on the example of his openness to God and humility before God.


Today is also World AIDS Day, when we are called, along with the whole world, to remember that our neighbours are people living with HIV and AIDS. In the face of a global challenge, which disproportionately affects the world’s poorest countries, we are reminded today of the need for internationalism and global awareness. You and I know what time it is – it’s the time when people of every nation are being called by the United Nations – to get to zero – to hope and pray and work for: “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”


As God has come near to us, has been God with us in Jesus Christ – so we, on this Advent Sunday, are called again to be neighbours to one another. As we journey towards the nearness of God at Bethlehem, let this time be one in which we realise what Paul says we owe each other – which is the love of a neighbour – the love of Emmanuel – which runs towards those in need.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.


The choir will sing Mendelssohn’s great anthem of hope dawning in the darkness, ‘Im Advent’.



MUSIC:  ANTHEM – Im Advent (Mendelssohn)





DOUG:  Our prayers for the world, the church and ourselves are woven together with John Bell’s tender and poignant hymn of loss and hope - set to the tune of the Iona Boat Song. Let us pray:


God of all the world, we bring your world to you in prayer.

We acknowledge the frailty of our lives;

bairns o Adam and daughters of Eve
the dust of Eden stirred by your breath;
flowers of the forest that blossom and fade.
We are fearfully and wonderfully and vulnerably made.

Made to be held in love by you and by one another.

Hear our prayer today for those who were hurt by Friday’s accident at the Clutha Vaults Bar – we remember the friends and families of those who lost their lives, we pray for those who are gravely ill in hospital, we ask your grace for all who have been wounded by these tragic events.


MUSIC: Words - 'The Last Journey' / Tune 'Iona Boat Song' : published by Wild Goose Resouce Group (WGRG) - Copyright material

From the falter of breath, through the silence of death ... 


WENDY:  God of North and South, we bring your world to you in prayer.
On this day we remember all those who have died because of illnesses related to HIV and AIDS
Especially we remember all those whose journey with HIV and AIDS was and is made harder to bear because of stigma and discrimination
We pray that the day is near when we will get to zero – and we ask you to let it be so.


MUSIC: Iona Boat Song


From frustration and pain, through hope hard to sustain ...



DOUG:  Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord Emmanuel,
On this Advent Sunday we pray for all those whose work helps us to be a society of neighbours,
For the emergency services, the health service, council workers and care workers

For those who stay close to us when we face illness or death
May your Spirit help us to show and find the love which is heaven’s intent for all earth’s people.


MUSIC: Iona Boat Song

From the dimming of light, through the darkness of night ...


WENDY:  Christ our Saviour, Desire of Nations
We pray for your grace in our public life – especially in facing questions around the independence referendum

Give us Andrew’s openness to you and humility before you,
Help us to live a grateful for those around us,
And graceful in our treatment of others.

Awaken us to our political responsibilities

And season our politics with humility and respect

So may the praise and promise of heaven find an echo in our own lives.


MUSIC: Iona Boat Song


From today till we die, through all questioning why ...



DOUG  These and all our prayers we bring through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


WENDY  Our closing hymn gathers up affirmations of friendship between nations and of the unity of our world, which is held in God’s love. In Christ There is no East or West, in him no South or North.



MUSIC:  HYMN - In Christ There Is No East Or West (Tune: St Stephen)



Be joyful in hope, be patient in suffering
The night is far gone, the day is near.

Go in the peace of Christ to love God and to love your neighbour
And the Blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Rest upon you and remain with you, this day and for evermore,


MUSIC:  ORGAN VOLUNTARY  JS Bach: Fugue in C Major BWV 547



  • Sun 1 Dec 2013 08:10

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