ADVENT 4

December 23, 2018
ADVENT 4
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

We light the fourth and final candle on the Advent wreath.  The time is getting close.

The theme of that fourth candle is peace.

The fourth candle’s light shines, radiates, and advocates for a ‘peace’ that goes beyond the absence of hostilities between antagonists.  Although at many times, I would certainly ‘settle’ for the absence of angry feeling and words, the lack of deadly weapons, and the ceasing of wars. 

The biblical sense of ‘peace’ is the presence of wholeness rather than the absence of barbs and bombs.

I remember reading but don't remember who wrote a version of the old Humpty Dumpty story.  Yes, Humpty might have been a good egg, but Humpty was also rather unaware and foolish.  He was rounded and not inclined to be safe on any flat surface.  He was roly-poly.  Not like that roly-poly pudding in that Beatrix Potter story.  Oh yes, there were Potters before Harry.

Why is something that is roly-poly trying to sit on top of a wall, we might ask.  Ah, the answer might be similar to one re a couple of creatures in a lovely garden who are asked not to pick the fruit on the tree which stands in the middle of the garden. 

We might foresee that both Humpty and those creatures in the Garden of Eden are heading for a fall.

We know from the nursery rhyme that ‘all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty back together again”.  Broken. Goner.

But this other version of the rhyme asks “what of the King?”  In it the King appears and puts Humpty back together again.  We might say Humpty is whole again and alive, because all the pieces of his broken life have been put back in place – by the King himself. 

That is my understanding of the Biblical sense of ‘peace’.

Blessed is this One who comes – to bring peace to the broken pieces of our lives.  Who comes in love to risk being broken himself so that others may have peace and wholeness in relationship with God, self, and community.

PRAYER OF THE DAY
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that binds us, that we may receive you in joy and serve you always, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.
 
LESSONS AND PSALMS
            Micah 5:2-5a
                 Psalm 80:1-7
            Hebrews 10:5-10

            Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]

CHILDREN’S SERMON: “Jesse Tree: Branch 4”

SERMON: “Abolishing to Establish”

WORD OF THE WEEK – From Micah 5
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,
            in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
            to the ends of the earth;
5and he shall be the one of peace.
 
FIRST LESSON from Micah 5:2-5a
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
            who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
            one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
            from ancient days.
3Therefore he shall give them up until the time
            when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
            to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,
            in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
            to the ends of the earth;

5and he shall be the one of peace.

SECOND LESSON from Hebrews 10:5-10
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
            "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
                        but a body you have prepared for me;
            6in burnt offerings and sin offerings
                        you have taken no pleasure.
            7Then I said, 'See, God, I have come to do your will, O God'
                        (in the scroll of the book it is written of me)."

8When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, "See, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God's will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
[46And Mary said,
            "My soul magnifies the Lord,
                        47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
            48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
                        Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
            49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
                        and holy is his name.
            50His mercy is for those who fear him
                        from generation to generation.
            51He has shown strength with his arm;
                        he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
            52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
                        and lifted up the lowly;
            53he has filled the hungry with good things,
                        and sent the rich away empty.
            54He has helped his servant Israel,
                        in remembrance of his mercy,
            55according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

                        to Abraham and to his descendants forever."]

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 24, 2018
NATIVITY OF OUR LORD, CHRISTMAS EVE
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
5:00 p.m. - A Worship Service for the Child – a service for families and children of all ages
9:00 p.m. – A Service of Holy Communion
     Both services include special music and candle-lighting

 In the depths of these dark days of winter, we are gifted with the appearance of Light.

John’s gospel declares, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

We may have our doubts about the truth of that verse, because we perceive some times get pretty dark.

But this night celebrates and calls us to see the vulnerable Light, the unexpected way through which the Light shines, the face of a human baby.

No, this night is not for us to get our minds a round, to plumb the depths, to fathom, to articulate all the gymnastic philosophical reasonings of how both eternal and temporal, the finite and the infinite, God and human can coexist in this Jesus.

This is a night to gently get our arms around this one who comes as one of us, with us, and for us.  Let that light shine in the darkness of our thinking that God does not care, that God does not see, that God does not accompany the people of the world God so loves.

Hold that light high – or better yet, hold that Light lovingly close to your heart, to keep the darkness of all those other thoughts in their place.

No, the darkness has not overcome it because the Light has come to stand with the world not only against such darkness but also in the very midst of such darkness.

Blessed Christmas.

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus' presence and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

EARLY (5:00 pm) SERVICE LESSONS AND PSALM
            Isaiah 9:2–7
                        Psalm 96
            1 John 3: 1-2
            Luke 2:1–14 [15–20]
            John 1:1-14
 
CHILDREN’S SERMON (5:00 p.m. Service)  “Wrap/Unwrap ”

SERMON  (9:00 p.m. Service)  “Living in a Extragavent Hope”

WORD OF THE WEEK
From Luke 2

10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

From John 1

5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

FIRST LESSON from Isaiah 9:2–7
The people who walked in darkness
            have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
            on them light has shined.
3You have multiplied the nation,
            you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
            as with joy at the harvest,
            as people exult when dividing plunder.
4For the yoke of their burden,
            and the bar across their shoulders,
            the rod of their oppressor,
            you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5For all the boots of the tramping warriors
            and all the garments rolled in blood
            shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6For a child has been born for us,
            a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
            and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
            Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7His authority shall grow continually,
            and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
            He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
            from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
 
SECOND LESSON - 1 John 3: 1-2
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
 
THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Luke 2:1–14 [15–20]
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
            8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
            14"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
            and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

 [15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.]

9:00 p.m. SERVICE LESSONS

Isaiah 52: 7-10
  Psalm 98
Hebrews: 1: 1-4
Luke 2: 1-20
 
FIRST LESSON FROM: Isaiah 52: 7-10

7How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” 8Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion. 9Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

SECOND LESSON FROM Hebrews 1: 1-14

1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? 6And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” 8But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. 9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” 10And, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; 12like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.” 13But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

THE HOLY Gospel according to JOHN 1: 1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

 

 
 
 
DECEMBER 30, 2018
CHRISTMAS 1
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

The Christmas season continues, at least in the church.

I realize that in the commercial world the after Christmas sales have been up and running since December 26.

But in the church the Christmas season extends for 12 days until The Epiphany (January 6).

But even in the church the gospel appointed for this Sunday has already moved us ahead 12 years.  Jesus is on a trip to Jerusalem with his family.  Mary and Joseph think he is in the care of other family members.  When they realize he is missing, they have three anxious days of searching for him before they eventually find him in the temple.

I cannot imagine any more anxiety-producing situation than a missing child.  That precious life which has been entrusted to us as parents is now, not only our of out sight, but also out of our care.  We are concerned for the child and for his/her welfare and well-being. We can be critical of ourselves for not paying appropriate attention.

In these days after Christmas we know we have been gifted with the presence of this Child.  And yet, we also confess that do not attend to this Child in our lives.  Like his parents, we lose Jesus. 

We also have the gift of this Jesus in one another.  As Matthew 25 reminds us: “when did we see you (Jesus) hungry or naked or in prison?”   We did not so see Jesus in one another.   We lost Jesus by not seeing him in one another.   “As you have done it to these, you have done it to me.”

So the second lesson for this Sunday invites us to so see and thus to bear with one another in kindness, compassion, patience, meekness, and humility.  Bear with one another by forgiving one another.

Extend the Christmas season by seeing the gift of God-with-us in the world and in one another.  And, as Mary was called to bear this Child, so are we called to bear the Child we see in one another with compassion and forgiveness.

PRAYER OF THE DAY
Shine into our hearts the light of your wisdom, O God, and open our minds to the knowledge of your word, that in all things we may think and act according to your good will and may live continually in the light of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.
 
LESSONS AND PSALMS
1 Samuel 2: 18-20, 26
            Psalm 148
Colossians 3: 12-17
Luke 2: 41-52
CHILDREN’S SERMON:   “Bear With”

NO BIG SERMON

WORD OF THE WEEK- from Colossians

12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love,

 FIRST LESSON from 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
18Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord”; and then they would return to their home.
  26Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.
 
SECOND LESSON from Colossians 3:12-17

12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Luke 2:41-52
41Now every year [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them. 51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

  52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.