Lectionary (First Sunday of Advent): Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36:44
Theme: God is at work in the world, and will one day finish God’s work of redeeming God’s good creation
Reflection on Isaiah
God is in the process of, and one day will completely redeem creation and fully restore God’s image in humanity. For too many of our people, salvation means escaping this place and enjoying some “create-your-own” fantasy world in the clouds. But Jesus was clear in Luke 4, and Isaiah is clear in today’s passage, that God’s justice and mercy will prevail here, on this place that God proclaimed “good” at creation. In the meantime, we are called to engage in and be channels for God’s peace and reconciliation. How are you individually and as a congregation working for peace in justice in your communities? What are the arenas where God’s voice needs to be heard?
Reflection on Matthew
In the communities where I served, the concept of “the rapture” was widely believed and anticipated, and this passage from Matthew was one of the texts used cited as evidence. Those who believe will be whisked away and spared from the suffering and judgment that will ensue when Jesus returns. But a closer reading of this text offers an alternative story. The taker is not God, but a thief who attacks without warning. The worldly things in which we place our value and trust can be whisked away at any time, but the gifts of God (faith, hope, peace, and love) are imperishable. What are the worldly things in which you place your trust and find your worth? When Jesus does return, will those priorities still matter in the Kingdom of God?
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”
“Soon and Very Soon”
“For the Healing of the Nations”
“I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light”
“We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”
Up in the Air– Clip “What’s in your Backpack?” Ryan gives a speech about all the things we carry around that weigh us down.
Mean Girls- Clip “Prom Queen Speech” After winning Prom Queen, Cady addresses her school about how meaningless the crown is and that they all deserve a piece of it.
Call to Worship
The days are getting darker and darker.
Night’s blind shadow, longer and longer.
Our hearts sigh to the eastern sky.
We gather today at God’s sacred mountain,
The place where the prophet promised the Word of the Lord would be!
We’ve brought our swords and our spears, our lust for war, greed for power!
God judge our broken hearts, mend our unjust ways!
Instead of the kingdom of self, the land of fear, and the foreclosure of hope.
Make our knotted systems fair to all; help us support the Kingdom of God.
Then we will follow you,
Beating our swords into plows,
Feeding the poor.
Then we will follow you,
Beating our spears into pruning hooks,
Giving everyone a fair share.
Then we will hear the Word of God come forth from Zion!
by Rev. Nathan Decker
God of promise and hope, we take time this morning to share offerings of time, talent, and treasure. We present ourselves to you, knowing you are the source of all good gifts. Your word reminds us that we do not know the day or hour when our faithfulness will be examined, and so we pray that we might live each day and each moment striving for lives of love and compassion for the least, lowliest, and the lost, in a way that is pleasing to you. We pray this in the name of the Christ, whose coming calls us to preparation and repentance. Amen. (Matthew 24:36-44.)
by Ken Sloane