Advent 2, Dec. 6, 2015

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Title:Advent 2, Dec. 6, 2015

  Advent 2, Dec. 6, 2015  (full size gallery)

A crisp morning in Second Advent – clear but chilly with a layer of frost

The first weekend in Advent has many community events. Some of us went to the University of Mary Washington combined orchestra and chorus on Friday, Dec. 4. Many old favorites were included, some new settings and the traditional sing along at the end .

The next night, Historic Port Royal scheduled their first trolley tour visiting two homes for plenty of food and fellowship and ending up at the Portrait Gallery. Many parishioners had key roles. Cookie led the tour. The Heimbachs house was featured and brought alive by entertainers Jim and Helmut. Marilyn was featured as harp soloist at the Farmer household. Other parishioners were part of the crowd – Cherry, Woody, Clarence and Betty.

We recognized the birthday of two members of one of our newest families – the Felicianos, in this case Talia and mother Linette. Their son has been on our military prayer list. 

During the announcements, Woody and Cherry advertised the "Everett Christmas" next weekend.  Attendance has increased from 30 the first year to 42  last year. They are hoping to reach 50 which in that case they would get Marilyn to play her harp. 

Catherine highlighted the church’s Family/family Nepal connection. We are helping a family after that experience their home lost after the devastating earthquake last April. David Caprara of Global Peace Foundation who took a day to find our family and deliver our letter will be here talk about how we can develop the program. 

Catherine reiterated the Altarpiece capital campaign after the kickoff last Sunday, Nov. 29 when Cleo Mullins described the project. 

Helmut said he had received a thank you from social service for the men’s participation in purchasing Thanksgiving dinner for two families.  Next Sunday is the last day to contribute toward their Christmas help for two families.

Coffee hour was led by a team – the Faibisys, Cookie, Eunice and the Wisdoms. It featured two soups – potato soup with bacon, chile, a choice of vegetables, brie and  desserts featuring fudge and cookies. Today was St. Nicholas Day and we had a picture when Helmut played the part Dec., 2010. 

Our Second Advent readings affirm the coming of a deliverer, the Messiah. Malachi announces the approach of God’s messenger, who will refine like fire. Baruch calls for the exiles to celebrate their return home. Paul reminds us to wait for Jesus’ return in glory. In today’s gospel, John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus’ public ministry, calling his listeners to repentance.

The sermon focused on the Old Testament readings from Malachi. Malachi was the last book of the Jewish prophets. "The times were turbulent. Judah was only a small insignificant place in the sweep of the great Persian Empire that ruled over that part of the world."

"Where was the Lord in the lives of the people of Israel? Malachi told them that the Lord they sought would suddenly come into the temple and purify the priests, the descendants of Levi, so that they could do a better job of cultivating God’s presence in the temple."

The image from the scripture is vivid – "For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. "

"The season of Advent calls us to exactly this sort of purification, this preparing of the way for Jesus to come into our hearts, our home, and our church so that we can share our gifts of love with God and one another as fully and as richly as possible—so that we can share that gift of the abounding, merciful and compassionate love that God has for us and that we have for one another –so that we can share this gift of love like sharing with one another refined gold and silver."

One focus of the sermon was on silence – "But we could deepen our listening for God and more intentionally prepare the way for God to come to us by also practicing the art of simply being silent when we gather. The kind of silence I’m talking about is not just an empty space to be dreaded and filled as quickly as possible.I’m talking about creating a reverent, hopeful and spacious silence—a welcoming silence into which we may hear God speaking to us."

"When you came in, you may have noted the signs on the church doors. “Let us be silent that  we may hear the whisper of God.” Now we all know that sounds help us hear God and feel God’s  presence—music, loving words spoken to one another, scripture being read aloud, the sound of  the river, the rustle of the wind in the trees, birds singing—of course, God speaks to us  through sound. And we’re attuned to those ways of hearing God"

"That sort of silence is restoring, life giving, renewing and also refining, because it’s  the spacious sort of silence that allows us to wait on God with reverence and with hope. Silence gives us the space to hear the refining things that God has to say to each one of us and to us a congregation."

"Last week I spoke about the abounding love that we share with one another in this congregation, and how that abounding love that we intentionally share with one another is one of the ways that we prepare to stand before God on the last day. Today, I’m offering all of us the opportunity to deepen that abounding love we already have for one another by being  intentional about offering one another yet another gift—the gift of the reverent and expectant silence"

"So here’s what I propose—that we move our conversation, business, and catching up with one another to right after the service—to continue to use our space for that purpose, but to 
adjust the time in which we do that—at the end of the service, rather than at the beginning."

"Silence after readings, after the sermon, during the prayers, before the confession, a 
silent prayer before receiving the bread of heaven—all of these silences give us space to hear
God speaking with tender compassion not only to us as individuals, but to us as a  
congregation."

"Where is God today? God is here among us, not only in our abounding love for one another,  spoken aloud, but also in the gift of silence that we can graciously give to one another, the  kind of silence that gives God the space among us to refine us and draw us ever more closely to one another and to God."

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