Dec. 2, 2018 – Advent 1

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Title:Dec. 2, 2018 – Advent 1

 Advent 1, Dec. 2, 2018 (full size gallery)

A new church year (Year C) a new Gospel (Luke) and a new season (Advent) wrapped into one.

We had 42 in the service. We sang “Candle Glowing” and lit the first Advent Candle which is for Hope. While the Advent wreath with its four candles did bring light to churches, it was not to illuminate the interior as much as to symbolize the coming of Christ.

We also began a raffle for 3 of Mary Peterman’s water colors, the proceeds will go to the Heifer Project which concludes next Sunday. This is a packed week with the Port Royal Christmas Tree lighting on Dec. 7, the Choir Retreat on Dec. 8 and the Everett’s Party the evening of Dec. 9.

Advent is but 4 weeks and except for Christmas week Advent 1 is probably the biggest week. It was a day that began with fog that was appropriate for Advent 1. Advent begins in a season of darkness but using the Advent wreath we see light winning over darkness. And today the fog was gradually lifted.

The theme of this Sunday is for Jesus to come after being foretold in the Old Testament and after 400 years of silence from God at the time. Thus there is the theme of hope and yearning for Jesus to come again into our lives.

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

We sing hymns of expectations

->Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

->The King shall come when morning dawns,
and light and beauty brings;
“Hail, Christ the Lord!” Thy people pray,
come quickly, King of kings!

->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.

The sermon was about how we enter into Advent.

The sermon focused on love and prayer. “Advent is the Season of Spectrophotography, that season when we peer more deeply into the light filled work of God’s creative and inevitable changes in our lives. Advent is the season to discover yet again the graceful gifts for helping us to prepare that God has woven into the changes that must and will take place for each one of us. Right at the beginning of the season, we find ourselves unwrapping God’s graceful gifts, before Christmas even gets here! Two gifts, love and prayer.”

The name “Advent” actually comes from the Latin word adventus which means “coming.” It is a reminder of how the Jewish nation waited for the Messiah and how Christians are now waiting for the return of Christ.

During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Others consider the lighting of the first candle to symbolize expectation, while the second symbolizes peace, the third joy and the fourth love. The third candle is pink reflecting the change of colors. This third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing that the fasting was almost over (in some traditions it is called Gaudete from the Latin word for "rejoice").

The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world.

This year in Christian Ed we are looking a 3 words – Behold! Proclaim! and Rejoice for three weeks, Dec. 2,9 and 16.

“Behold” was the word of the angel to Mary, Zechariah, the Shepherds, Simeon in the King James Version. To Mary in Luke 1:31 “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.” It was a word to take notice and look at the situation and usually came after “Fear not”. To Zechariah in Luke 1:20 when he was skeptical about a son born to his elderly wife, “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. He used his age and wife’s age not to believe that she would conceive a son. To Shepherds in Luke 2:10 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

The readings on First Advent are about redemption and being faithful to that through perseverance. It is all about creative problem solving of hindrances. Jeremiah reminds God’s people of the divine promise of healing and restoration. Paul affirms the faith of the Thessalonian Christians, urging them to remain steadfast as they look forward to Jesus’ return. Jesus himself, in today’s reading from Luke, assures us that, though the cosmos may be in upheaval, redemption awaits the faithful.

In 626 BCE, God’s call came to a young priest, Jeremiah. Reluctant to take up his mission, Jeremiah often criticized his task, his performance and occasionally God. But he remained faithful to his commission and trusted in God’s plan to renew the people after judgment.

In today’s reading, Jeremiah 33:14-16 , the prophet communicates God’s promise of healing and restoration. The promise concerns God’s gift of a deliverer, a Messiah, from the line of David. This king’s reign will be characterized by justice and a right relationship with God, unlike the reign of King Zedekiah, Judah’s last king.

The Epistle is from 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. Paul’s stay in Thessalonika was relatively brief, and after he left, the new converts faced the hostility of their neighbors. Paul’s concern for the Thessalonians’ welfare led him to send Timothy back to visit (3:2). Timothy’s encouraging report about their faithfulness (3:6) occasioned Paul’s letter to them. Written from Corinth about AD 51, it is the earliest writing of the New Testament.

Paul expresses joy at the news of the Thessalonians’ perseverance and reiterates his continuing care for their spiritual growth. They are lacking, not in the faith that makes one a Christian, but in the teaching needed for further growth in sanctification. Paul instructs them about the moral implications of their faith (4:1-12) and the meaning of the second coming (4:13–5:11).

The Gospel, Luke 21:25-36 is a response by Jesus to the disciples’ questions about the end-time. He Jesus offers an imaginative picture of the cosmic changes that will signal his triumphant return for the final transformation of the earth.

One Advent theme that recurs throughout the season: the natural world speaks to us. Through the roaring of waves and the signs of sun, moon and stars, Jesus urges his hearers and us to pay attention to the deeper meanings hidden within.

The reference to the coming of the Son of Man “in a cloud” (v. 27) links Jesus’ anticipated second coming to his transfiguration and ascension. The redemption announced by Anna (2:36-38) is drawing near.

Jesus has a different interpretation of natural events that are frightening -the shaking of heaven and clouds. After listing a sequence of calamities that would leave most of us whimpering, Jesus tells us to stand up straight and raise our heads—salvation is at hand. “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”

If Jesus says that such catastrophic events can herald our ransom, it gives us a different perspective on the calamities of our own day. It is tempting to become paralyzed by the overwhelming scope of the problems in the world.

Yet Jesus sees these events with different eyes. To him, they are not causes for depression or inertia, but challenges to the Christian. Just as Jesus found a message within disaster, so our experience of floods, earthquakes and fires can alert us to the fragility of precious relationships. To God, no one is ever a nameless victim. God can turn our closets of fear into empty tombs. John Gardner echoes the theme of treasure hidden in disaster: “We are all continually faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”

In verses 34-36, Jesus warns his disciples of those habits that can effectively prevent readiness. Overindulgence and worldly cares (v. 34) can so dull the spirit that the Lord’s return will seem more of a trap than a sign of hope.

Watchfulness must be accompanied by prayer so that the disciple can endure the cataclysm of the last days and find comfort in the Lord’s presence