Baptist & Baubles

3rd Sunday in Advent

This short act of worship has been prepared for you. I invite you to share in a few moments with God, knowing that other people within Paulton, Trinity and Chew Stoke Methodist Churches are sharing this act of worship with you.

Revd Martin Slocombe




We hang Baubles on our Christmas Trees…

May the Baubles be a reminder to us of God’s fruit and provision for us.  Fruit not just to feed our bodies, but our minds and souls from the beginning to the end of time.  May they be a reminder that we can’t see all of God’s glory and gifts in one glance, but we need to turn and look at all its facets and reflections.

We light our third candle as a reminder of the glittering glory of Gods gracious provision for us.



Advent God we look upon our baubles and see in them all that you provide for us, may we be aware of your glory and your power and see your love reflected all around us and within us.  Amen

Hymn 79 v1 – Of the Father’s love begotten

           Of the Father's love begotten
        ere the worlds began to be,
        he is Alpha and Omega,
        he the source, the ending he,
        of the things that are, that have been,
        and that future years shall see,
        evermore and evermore.


Hymn – 82 – Hark the glad sound! The Saviour comes

   1      Hark the glad sound!  The Saviour comes,
           the Saviour promised long;
           let every heart prepare a throne,
           and every voice a song.

   2      He comes the prisoners to release,
           in Satan’s bondage held;
           the gates of brass before him burst,
           the iron fetters yield.

   3      He comes the broken heart to bind,
           the bleeding soul to cure,
           and with the treasures of his grace
           to enrich the humble poor.

   4      Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
           your welcome shall proclaim,
           and heaven’s eternal arches ring
           with your belovèd name.

Philip Doddridge (1702–1751)


Prayer of adoration & confession

To you, O God, we lift our hearts.
You are our saviour; you are our power; you are our strength.
You are the giver of life-giving water to quench our spiritual thirst.
You are the bounteous one beyond our imagining.
You are the giver of gifts beyond compare.
To you, O God, we lift our heart, we raise our eyes to your heaven, and we shout in adoration.


Blessed God, hear our prayers of sadness and regret for the times when we have been blind to the needs of our neighbours, deaf to the cries of the distressed, silent at the sight of injustice, careless with the frightened and supportive of greed and corruption.
We confess our obsessions with things material and frivolous, whilst being dismissive of things that really matter.
Open our ears and eyes, and our hearts, to be more receptive to what we see and hear from those we meet.

Loving and merciful God, you know the depths of our sorrow.
You know the depths of our grief for wrongs done.
You know the pains of regret for deeds undone.
You know the depths of our hearts.
To you, Lord God we repent, and forgiveness is given.
Thanks be to God.  Amen.


Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Luke 3:7-18 

7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

10 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.


In the last month or so I have had the pleasure of baptising two babies.  Chester was 9 months old, and Beatrice was 7 weeks old.  Neither of them knew very much about what was happening in the service, indeed, Beatrice pretty much slept through the whole event.  Neither of them asked what they should do in response to their baptism because they were too young to understand.  When we baptise children, it is not about their response, but about acknowledging the gift of God’s love for them, before they could know anything of it.

But as adults, we cannot hide behind a lack of understanding.  When God calls us to faith, he also calls us to make a response.  Being people of faith should make a difference in our lives.

Luke’s gospel reading reminds us of the need to bear good fruit, to make a positive difference.  The baubles we have hung on our tree are really stylised fruits, a reminder of God’s provision, but also of our need to reflect his provision in our lives.

I find many people want to know what their faith means in today’s society, what should they be doing in response to the things happening in the world today.  Today we ask the same question as the tax collectors and the soldiers – “what should we do?”.

John the Baptist warns of the danger of relying upon past glories.  He reminds his audience of their ancestry from Abraham, but that history will not save them from the axe if they are failing to produce good fruit themselves.  As churches today, we are struggling to respond to a sharp decline in membership and attendance, and it is easy to look back and lament better days, but that does not help us now.  What matters today, is what we do today, what fruit we bear.

John’s message is a simple one – do what you can.  Firstly, he advises the crowd to share out of their abundance – their clothing and their food – not to give everything away and create hardship for themselves, but to share what they can afford to lose.  That doesn’t mean to say it will not be costly, but not devastatingly so.  The tax collectors and the soldiers are advised to be honest and to be satisfied with a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.  None of these things should be unduly difficult to achieve, and each are appropriate for the person asking.

One of the challenges of living a life of faith is to know how to respond to so much in the world which seems to go against God’s will for us, when so much is beyond our ability to influence or control.  John’s answer to us is the same – do what you can.

Our faith demands a practical response to the problems we see in the world around us.  We are not going to make a huge difference to climate change, or to the problem of refugees, or to finding a cure for Covid, but we are called to do what we can in the places that we are.  And if enough people do that, then we can make a huge difference together.

It seems, from all the scientific advice, that cases of Covid are on a significant rise again.  Restrictions have been increased this week, and I would not be surprised to see them increased still further.  I am having meetings and carol services cancelled, not because we want to, but because it is a small thing we can do to protect each other.  None of us here will solve this pandemic by putting a meeting on Zoom rather than having it in person, but it is our Christian duty to do what we can to help reduce it’s transmission.  Wearing masks, sanitising our hands, restricting the places we go is costly, especially at this time of the year, but not devastatingly so.  We are asked to do what we can, to give up some of our freedoms, out of our surplus, for the good of everyone else.

The crowd were amazed at what John was saying to them, but how much greater will it be when the Messiah comes?  Today, we are asked to do what we can with the resources that we have.  That is all that God asks of us.  May his generosity inspire us to do what we can.


Prayers for others

Come, Lord Jesus, into the darkness of the world; a world where there is injustice, racial tension and war, where many people still lack the basics of food, shelter and clean water.

Come, Lord Jesus, into the uncertain future of migrants who risk everything to escape atrocities, yet know they could still end up paying with their lives.

Come, Lord Jesus, into our communities, where many are struggling with redundancy and debt, and foodbanks have become a lifeline for those in need.

Come, Lord Jesus, into your church and inspire us to reach out and to do what we can to help those in our local communities and beyond.  We pray for the church in Chew Stoke and in the wider Chew Valley, we join with the Circuit today as we pray for our congregation in Box, that we might catch a glimpse of your mission and vision for us.

Come, Lord Jesus, into our lives and into the lives of those for whom we are concerned;

 We pray for those caught up in natural disasters, for the volcano eruption in Indonesia, and the floods in New South Wales in Australia

And we pray for ourselves

Come, Lord Jesus, give reassurance where there is fear, and confidence where there is doubt.  Whenever people are hurting, come and let your light shine.


The Lord’s Prayer

We say together the prayer that Jesus gave us:


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.  


Communion Hymn – 615 – Let us break bread together with the Lord

   1      Let us break bread together with the Lord;
           let us break bread together with the Lord:
                When I fall on my knees,
                with my face to the rising sun,
                O Lord, have mercy on me.

   2      Let us drink wine together with the Lord;
           let us drink wine together with the Lord:

   3      Let us praise God together in the Lord;
           let us praise God together in the Lord:

African-American traditional song


Holy Communion for Advent (p124-128)

Hymn – 84 – On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry

   1      On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
           announces that the Lord is nigh;
           awake and hearken, for he brings
           glad tidings from the King of kings!

   2      Then cleansed be every life from sin;
           make straight the way for God within,
           and let us all our hearts prepare
           for Christ to come and enter there.

   3      For you are our salvation, Lord,
           our refuge, and our great reward;
           without your grace we waste away
           like flowers that wither and decay.

   4      To heal the sick stretch out your hand,
           and bid the fallen sinner stand;
           shine forth, and let your light restore
           earth’s own true loveliness once more.

   5      To God the Son all glory be
           whose advent sets his people free,
           whom, with the Father, we adore,
           and Holy Spirit, evermore.

John Chandler (1806–1876)


Christ the Sun of Righteousness

shine upon you

and prepare your hearts and souls

to meet him when he comes in glory;

and the blessing of God,

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

be yours, now and always.  Amen.

The day of the Lord is surely coming.

Be faithful in worship,

unwavering in hope,

fervent in the work of God’s kingdom

and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.


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