HAPPY NEW YEAR to everybody!
I am not in need of a calendar, nor have I gone senile.
It is Advent and the Advent season is the beginning of a new Church year.
As we celebrate Advent this year, we will be using the Advent Resource provide by Leader Magazine which is an Anabaptist resource for Church leadership. Here is what Leader magazine has to say about this years Advent theme, Dare to Imagine…
Dwelling in the space between the texts and our 2021 context made us long for renewed imagination in our lives and church lives. So much has been put on holdor turned upside down that we need to listen and respond to God’s presence with new ears and renewed hearts and minds. As we begin a new church year, let’sdare to imagine our path forward with God toward God’s good dream for our world. Rooted in our lives of faith and our trust in the Spirit, and arising fromour engagement with the Scripture texts, this worship series dares all of us to speak aloud our laments, confessions, and hopes for coming days; to look fora new language to express our faithfulness; to engage and honor the imagination of our children; to offer sermons that call us beyond our comfort zones; andto explore new carols and melodies to loudly sing our praise to God.
This Sunday the first week of Advent, our theme will be, Dare to imagine God’s goodness!
The scriptures that we can meditate on are…
Jeremiah 33:14-16 New Revised Standard Version
14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.
6 Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 New Revised Standard Version
9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Luke 21:25-36 New Revised Standard Version
25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
As you sit with these texts this week, ask yourself the following questions…
During the holiday season, I usually feel.
When I think about going home, I usually feel.
How does Jeremiah envision the coming of the Messiah?
Advent does not just look backward to the first coming of Christ; it also looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ.
Thinking about the Second Coming makes me feel.
How does looking forward and looking backward during Advent give us the assurance to “stand up and raise your heads” (21:28) as we wait for the Second Coming?
How does paying attention enable us to see the gap between the kingdom of God and what we currently experience?
How does paying attention enable us to see signs of the coming kingdom now?
How do the practices of Advent (praying, waiting, and watching) help us to pay attention and be present to others waiting for the kingdom of God?
Let’s talk about it on Sunday.