Holy Communion for Advent 3 Sunday, 13 December 2020

Preacher: Revd Canon Helen Cameron,
Chair of Northampton District of the Methodist Church

Celebrant: Revd Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga

Introit: O Nata Lux


Brothers and sisters, we meet in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


God’s mercy, grace and peace be with you.

Good morning, and welcome to our Holy Communion Service on this third Sunday of Advent.

Let us pray.

Prayer of the Week – Advent III

This is the time for hope’s renewal.
We know Christ will bring righteousness
as surely as flowers will come again in spring.
Lord, we light candles to rage against the dark.
Keep us fierce and faithful bringers of hope.


Hymn:  Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness

Light of the world,
you stepped down into darkness,
opened my eyes, let me see
beauty that made this heart adore you,
hope of life spent with you.

So here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down,
here I am to say that you’re my God,
and you’re altogether lovely,
altogether worthy,
altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days
oh so highly exalted,
glorious in heaven above.
Humbly you came
to the earth you created,
all for love’s sake became poor.

So here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down,
here I am to say that you’re my God,
and you’re altogether lovely,
altogether worthy,
altogether wonderful to me.

And I’ll never know how much it cost
to see my sin upon that cross.
And I’ll never know how much it cost
to see my sin upon that cross.

So here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down,
here I am to say that you’re my God,
and you’re altogether lovely,
altogether worthy,
altogether wonderful to me.

Tim Hughes (b. 1977)

Gathering Prayer

Jesus said: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Welcome to the house of God.
We have come from all the corners of the earth.

Welcome to the hospitality of God.
We come as we are; we bring our life, our stories, our journey.

Welcome, brothers and sisters.
We are the rainbow people of God.

Welcome, chosen people.
May God our companion bind us in his love.


The Confession

We confess that, in the midst of all our anxieties,
we have not made room in our hearts for others.
We confess that, paralysed by fear, prejudice or apathy,
we have not made room in our homes for the stranger.
We confess that, forgetting the welcome we have been shown,
we have not made room in your Church for those who are different from us.
We confess that, in the busyness of life,
we have not made room in our lives for you, O Christ.

Gracious God, forgive us and renew us.
Use this Advent time to break open our hearts
and open our arms to welcome you.


Lighting the Candle

Hope is a candle, once lit by the prophets,
never consumed, though it burns through the years;
dim in the daylight of power and privilege
when they are gone, hope will shine on.

Peace is a candle to show us a pathway,
threatened by gusts from our rage and our greed.
Friend, feel no envy for those in the shadows
violence and force their dead-end course.

Love is a candle whose light makes a circle,
where every face is the face of a friend.
Widen the circle by sharing and giving
God’s holy dare: love everywhere.

Richard Leach (1994)
© Selah Publishing Co.

The Word of the Lord

Isaiah 60: 18–22

Read by Ola Atoyebi

18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
21 Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land for ever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendour.
22 The least of you will become a thousand,
the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the Lord;
in its time I will do this swiftly.’


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

John 1: 1–5

Read by Raphael Atoyebi

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd Canon Helen Cameron,
Chair of Northampton District of the Methodist Church

One of the joys of my role as Chair of a Methodist District that includes Milton Keynes
but also includes Loughborough, Leicester and the Chilterns is the infinite variety of my work.
I can be in the centre of Milton Keynes at Christ the Cornerstone for a meeting one night
and the next night be chairing a meeting in a tiny country chapel in deepest Leicestershire.
I have learnt to carry a torch in winter so that I can light my path,
see where I am walking and not fall over into mud
or on one glorious occasion – the village duck pond.

We all need light to flourish, to be healthy and to grow
and that is true not just for plants but also for people.
My husband, whose hobby is astronomy or stargazing
tells me there are very few locations in the UK that are truly dark –
many urban communities are over-lit and light pollution can be a problem and stars can’t be seen.
The little island of Sark in the Channel Islands promotes visits to its ‘dark skies’
for those who want to see and study stars.
Darkness is therefore not always a bad thing
and sometimes we learn things in the dark, from the dark.
Dark is necessary.

It is, I think, what we do with darkness that matters.
Most of us get to rest then, and we are thankful for those who work and serve others in the night.
Some people abuse the darkness to do evil things and that makes some people nervous of the dark.
Darkness itself is not evil but what we choose to do in it and with it can hurt others.
The darkness can feel overwhelming, can exacerbate our hurts and fears
until we no longer feel able to tell if we are running from monsters or frightened of shadows.
This time of year can be hard.
Christmas as a season is hard when you feel dislocated from the joy and celebration.

But because Christmas is not all about feeling cheerful,
or pretending we’re not hurt or afraid, I think that is understandable.
Christmas is about hope,
about recognising that even the deepest darkness is no longer impenetrable
because the light has come.
Light is the first notes of the trumpets of salvation,
the light will prevail, the darkness will be quenched.
We can say, even when we don’t feel it, that hope has come to us.

In the opening verses of John’s Gospel we read the hope-filled and stirring words,
‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it”

We are, as God’s beloved children, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth,
called to give an account for the hope that is in us as I Peter 3: 5 reminds us.
This should be a hope not just that we and those we love
might survive the current global Covid-19 pandemic unscathed
but that in the darkest of days for all the citizens of the world
the light of Christ might shine brightly in us and through us so that we reflect the glory of God.

David Frost interviewing Archbishop Desmond Tutu on television many years ago
said to him, ‘Archbishop, you strike me as an optimist.
How do I stay optimistic with all that I know about the world and human nature?’
Archbishop Tutu replied with passion, ‘Optimist? That is far too weak a word for a Christian.
I see the same world you do. I know the same human weaknesses.
I am not an optimist, rather, I am a prisoner of hope. My faith gives me hope.’

Hope is not always about being able to remove the darkness in our lives, and the life of the world.
We are living through a pandemic; more than 58 thousand lives lost in the UK alone.
Covid-19 has affected those of the black and Asian communities more than any other.
Elderly family members, my own father included, died without their loved ones present
to hold them as they took their last breaths.
Many in care homes are lonely and those who live with dementia
denied that which comforts and helps them.
Children miss their grandparents; young people can’t find work
and many especially in the hospitality and retail sectors face redundancy.
There is a lot to be sad about. However, …

We can and must give an account of the hope that is in us even when so much is uncertain
during this time of pandemic and lockdown and limitation and loss
because we believe God is author of all, the giver of life, of every breath
and he holds us all in a loving embrace.
So we believe nothing and no-one is ultimately lost
and we believe nothing can separate us from the love of God seen in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are people of hope.
We have a hope that is based, not on how the world looks on any one day,
or on the progress of humanity to think of others rather than themselves,
but based on the word made flesh and come among us.
Our hope flows from our knowledge that God is with us,
bearing our burdens and healing our wounds.
God is with us transforming us, redeeming us,
making a place for us in the eternal life of God and at the very last, bringing us safe home.

So what do we do in the darkness?

A friend of mine was born and raised in Wales;
he speaks Welsh first and English as a second language.
He told me a story once I have never forgotten.
He was visiting his grandparents on the island of Anglesey
and they had taken him with them to their chapel where there was a festival of hymn singing going on.
The chapel was full, three hundred people singing in four-part harmony.
It was wonderful and beautiful and stirring.
Then the lights went out and the entire chapel was plunged into darkness.
What had happened? A power cut!
Sion said he has never forgotten what happened next –
there was no hesitation, no laughter, no interruption,
what happened was that people went on singing in the dark.
They went on singing, in the dark.

You might find this an unhelpful image when we are missing congregational singing so much
but I hope that you can see beyond the immediate circumstances
to the strong metaphor at the heart of this story.
The people in that Welsh chapel went on with their praise and glory of God
whatever the prevailing circumstances were,
nothing (not even a power cut) was going to cut their worship short.
Impressively, they were so familiar with what they were singing
that they knew the words of praise by heart, they didn’t need to be able to see a book.
They were familiar with praise.
This group of Christians were determined and faithful,
not easily put off their stride, they persisted.
The light of their faith continued to shine despite the darkness around them.

So, what of us this Advent 2020?

We are called to be persistent in our faith and in our prayer in a year like no other
and to keep praising God, to be kind and generous,
to reflect the light of Christ in our relationships, our communities, our bubbles and our groups of six.
God is with us. Thanks be to God.

The light shines in the darkness and it cannot be overcome.

Choral Reflection:  O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion

An Affirmation of Faith

We believe in the Creator:
the maker of all things.

We believe in the Son:
the redeemer of our broken world.

We believe in the Spirit:
The sacred wind that binds all things together in the family of God.

Creator Father, beloved Son and living Spirit.



By Don Head

Heavenly Father we thank you for the opportunity to join in worship
in our building and by use of digital technology.
We pray that we may use this time to prepare for your coming afresh
to us, our communities in this city, to our nation
and the whole of that creation to which you have given light and life.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who sent your messenger at your first coming to prepare the way for you,
grant that your ministers and faithful people may likewise prepare and make ready your way
by bringing light into the world so that we may be found acceptable in your sight,
who is alive with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

The world appears so complex and we are confused.
We are bowed down by this pandemic and are weary,
yearning for all those things we are unable to do,
like hugs and handshakes, singing and sport in large groups.
We are thankful for the start of distribution of vaccines
and commend to your care all who care for the sick and work in preventive medicine,
for those in social work and community care,
for all who work to provide our food and essential services.

There are economic problems arising from this lockdown
so we bring before you those who have lost their livelihoods and may lose their homes,
we pray for all who are suffering because medical procedures have been repeatedly postponed
and for all who care and provide extra needs to those who are unable to live independently.
We pray for the mental health of us all
and particularly those who have reached a point of breakdown and despair.

Almighty God, maker of all things and light to the world,
we pray that you will govern the hearts and minds of those in authority and worldly power
to bring the families of nations away from division
so that we may all be subject to your gentle rule
and live in peace, prosperity, to share your gifts
and work to restore our world as you would have it be.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask these and all our prayers in the name of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


Hymn: The people that in darkness sat

The people that in darkness sat
a glorious light have seen;
the light has shined on them who long
in shades of death have been.

To hail thee, Sun of Righteousness,
the gathering nations come;
they joy as when the reapers bear
their harvest treasures home.

For unto us a child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and on his shoulder ever rests
all power in earth and heaven.

His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
the everlasting Lord,
the Wonderful, the Counsellor,
the God by all adored.

His righteous government and power
shall over all extend;
on judgement and on justice based,
his reign shall have no end.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
and make us thine alone,
who with the Father ever art
and Holy Spirit One.

Isaiah 9: 2–7
as in Scottish Paraphrases (1781)
John Morrison (1750–1798)

The Peace

Jesus says,

‘Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid.’

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Cornerstone Christmas Appeal

The Cornerstone Christmas Appeal Group invite you to contribute to this year’s Appeal. The Cornerstone Christmas Appeal is a practical expression of the Congregation’s commitment to the outreach mission of our Church. The beneficiaries of our Appeal this year will be Advantage Africa, the YMCA and the Cornerstone Hardship Fund.

Please give as generously as you are able.

Account name: The Ecumenical Partnership of Christ the Cornerstone Milton Keynes.

Metro Bank:

Sort code: 23 05 80
Business account number: 37995851
Please write ‘Cornerstone Appeal’ as the payment reference.

Please make a cheque payable to ‘Church of Christ the Cornerstone’ and post it to:

Cornerstone Appeal
Church of Christ the Cornerstone
300 Saxon Gate West
Milton Keynes   MK9 2ES

(If we already have a gift-aid declaration from you, we will automatically claim gift aid on your donation unless you tell us otherwise.)

Thank you

Holy Communion

The Eucharistic Prayer

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become our spiritual drink.

Blessed be God for ever.

The Lord be with you
and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

Father, you made the world and love your creation.
You gave your Son Jesus Christ to be our Saviour.
His dying and rising have set us free from sin and death.
By your Holy Spirit you make us your friends.
And so we gladly thank you,
with saints and angels praising you and saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
All glory to your name.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

We praise and bless you, loving Father,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord;
send your Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts,
the broken bread and wine out-poured,
may be for us the body and blood of your Dear Son.

On the night before he died he had supper with his friends
and taking the bread he praised you, he broke the bread
and shared it with them and said,
‘Take – eat –this is my body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’

When supper was ended he took the cup of wine,
again he gave you thanks and shared it and said,
‘Drink this, all of you, this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and many for the remission of sins.
Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.’

So, Father, as we remember all that Jesus did,
we plead with confidence his sacrifice made once for all upon the cross.
We proclaim his death and resurrection until he comes in glory.

Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Lord of all life, help us to work together for that aim,
when your kingdom comes and justice and mercy will be seen in all the earth.
Look with favour on your people; gather us in  your loving arms
and bring us with all the saints to feast at your table in heaven,
through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honour and glory are yours,
all loving Father, for ever and ever.


The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.


Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Take this bread:

Share this wine.

In these Christ comes to us with love from God.
The gifts of God for the people of God.


Prayer after Communion

Let us pray:

We thank you, Lord,
that you have fed us in this sacrament,
united us with Christ,
and given us a taste of the heavenly banquet
prepared for all peoples.


Hymn: O come, O come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here,
until the Son of God appear:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, thou Lord of Might,
who to thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
in ancient times didst give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

Latin Advent Antiphons
tr. J.M. Neale (1818–1866)


The Advent Blessing

Brothers and sisters, be people of hope,
let hope live in your heart
and share the hope of Christ with all you meet.
Share hope, but noticing someone else’s humanity.
Share hope by listening to someone’s words.
Share hope by praying for our world.

This Advent season we need to see, feel and share hope.
As you go out into  the wonder of God’s creation,
share hope with those you meet.

And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father,
the Son
and the Holy Spirit
be among you
and remain with you
today and always.


The Dismissal

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ.