Jeremiah 33:14-16: God promises to raise up a descendant of David to reign over God’s people and to bring goodness, rightness, justice, and security to Israel and Judah.
Psalm 25:1-10: A prayer for God’s compassion and forgiveness, for God to make God’s ways known to the Psalmist, and to lead him in God’s truth. For God is good and righteousness, guiding the weak to justice and leading those who keep God’s covenant in paths of love and faithfulness.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13: The apostle gives thanks for the Thessalonian church, praying to see them and help them grow in faith. He also prays that they may grow in love, and have strong and holy hearts when Jesus comes.
Luke 21:25-36; Jesus teaches the disciples to be watchful for the signs of the coming destruction, using the apocalyptic language of signs in the heavens, dismay among the nations, and unusual behaviour in the natural world. After these signs, people will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud in splendour. So, his disciples must be watchful, ready to read the signs and keep their hearts faithful.
(Summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Readings in landscape A4 double sided folded ready to print version
Apocalypse (a reflection on the Gospel)
polar ice caps melting slowly
ocean waters eating our shores
seasons blending into each other
storms increasing in voracity
foreboding fills those who pay attention
war consumes lives faster than we notice
violence grabs young lives daily
prisoners push the limits of confinement
homeless people grow in numbers everywhere
despair exhausts those who work for change
these could surely be signs of the end
though I’m not looking for the Son of Man
because these things are not the work of God
global warming, war, poverty are all
works of human hands
destroying ourselves and our world may appear
to match the description of Armageddon
but if we obliterate ourselves
will our redemption still draw near?
perhaps it is better to change our ways
than to bring about an apocalypse
not yet meant to be
(Source: Rachael Keefe, Beach Theology)
It doesn’t matter whether or not you can have faith;
whether or not you are cynical or despairing,
hope-filled or hope-less:
what matters to God is simply that you are here.
We are entering the time of Advent,
in preparation for Christmas.
Advent reminds us that if God is to be born again
in the most ordinary parts of our world and our lives
that we need prepare for it.
We need to make the space in our lives
where love might be born.
Welcome to this tiny corner of a harsh and dark world.
Together, let us practice being ready
in the faith that Christ will come.
(Source: Cheryl Lawrie, Hold this space)
Sermon thoughts: Here are excerpts from Buechner’s sermon on the Gospel passage from Secrets in the Dark: I don’t know any other passage in the Gospels that is harder to understand, to feel our way into, to know how to respond to, than these words of Jesus about the Second Coming. He is speaking about the end of the world and about the coming of the Kingdom of God as the climactic last act of history, and he is speaking in words and images as foreign to our whole way of thinking as his subject itself. As the day approaches, there will be a great cosmic upheaval, he says, with signs in the sun and moon and stars, and the powers of the heavens themselves shaken. Is he speaking literally or simply in poetic hyperbole? Does he mean there will be real eclipses and strange comets that have never been seen before, maybe a reordering of the constellations themselves to scrawl some fateful starlit message across the night sky? Or is he speaking symbolically of some upheaval not of the world without but of the world within – an upheaval of the hearts and minds and spirits of the human race? The seas will go wild, he says, and at their roaring the nations will be terrified by whatever it is that is happening or about to happen, and then, most extraordinary of all-as the cause and climax of everything that has preceded it – the Son of Man will appear, he says, in a cloud, “with power and great glory.”
I think we are waiting. That is what is at the heart of it. Even when we don’t know that we are waiting, I think we are waiting. Even when we can’t find words for what we are waiting for, I think we are waiting. An ancient Advent prayer supplies us with the words. “Give us grace,” it says, “that we may cast off the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light.” We who live much of the time in the darkness are waiting not just at Advent, but at all times for the advent of light, of that ultimate light that is redemptive and terrifying at the same time. It is redemptive because it puts an end to the darkness, and that is also why it is terrifying, because for so long, for all our lives, the darkness has been home, and because to leave home is always cause for terror.
So to wait for Christ to come in his fullness is not just a passive thing, a pious, prayerful, churchly thing. On the contrary, to wait for Christ to come in his fullness is above all else to act in Christ’s stead as fully as we know how. To wait for Christ is as best we can to be Christ to those who need us to be Christ to them most and to bring them the most we have of Christ’s healing and hope because unless we bring it, it may never be brought at all.
“This is not what it looks like, like some scary scene from a horror movie, but one of my favorite science fiction movies Arrival… thinking about Advent through the lens of this linguistic first contact story which asks the question, if you knew your future with all its joys and sufferings, would you still want to live it? A story of risk, courage and faith…Advent as a first contact story has made me aware what a literally incomprehensible story this must have been… non linear writing, and septopod aliens trying to communicate that there is no time, future, past, only this present moment of choice to trust and connect or mistrust and destroy.
(sourced from a Facebook post by Rev Dr Beatrice Panne, December 2018)
An alternative reality in the darkness, Jeremiah 33:14-16
Advent is for many a season for feeling out of sorts. It is a period of waiting in the darkness. It is a season in which we are caught between joyful expectation and the harsh realities of the present condition while we wait for the promise to be fulfilled. This often puts us at odds with the commercial, consumeristic glitz of Christmas.
The prophet Jeremiah speaks to a community that is intensely aware of this tension. Jerusalem has been completely devastated in the Babylonian invasion of 587 BC, and the residents of Israel have been scattered from their homeland, living as conquered people in Babylonian captivity. For those living in exile, their way of life has been completely flipped on his head. Their sense of security has been violated. They have no idea if they will live to see their home again.
For many this leads to searching questions: Where is God in the midst of this? Why did such devastation happen? Is God present in exile? Will God allow them to return home again? What happened to the covenant with David? Is the grace of the covenant promises made long ago still operative for this generation and for their children?
Into this context of uncertainty and dislocation, the prophet Jeremiah imagines an alternative reality: the restoration of Israel, the practice of justice and righteousness, and flourishing life in the land that God has promised.
These words are just as relevant today for many who also find themselves dislocated from their own land and seeking refuge in other countries for a whole range of reasons. Unfortunately, we have seen many leaders demonizing the very people seeking safety and responding out of fear rather than compassion, love, justice and righteousness.
Often life can seem dark and hopeless, with no way out. This was the situation of those in exile. Yet we have hope. Hope that a righteous Branch will spring up and turn things around.
This is our hope and invitation today. This advent we share in that hope, made possible through God coming down to earth, that there is an alternative reality. The invitation is to how we share this hope, and its consequences with those around us, to live a life of justice and righteousness, to live out this alternative reality of God’s kingdom in the midst of pain and darkness. May our Lord be righteousness today. Amen.
(Source: Stephen Barrington, Facebook post)
2015 Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy – Peace
Something new is being hoped for. We look again to the coming of the Christ – God as a human, living compassion, teaching justice, releasing forgiveness and working redemption. We light the candle of peace. We recognise that things are not as they should be. Violence and injustice, hate and persecution, selfishness and greed all are too much present in the world.
This advent may we find peace once again for our world with our remembering of the Prince of Peace. This advent may God’s peace be made in and through us as we work to change ourselves and our world.
The advent, we commit ourselves to be peace bearers, peace makers and hope bringers as we join with God who joins with us.
Congregation responds: Peace and hope are here as God’s gifts to us and to the world.
(Source: Jon Humphries)
O Come O Come Emmanuel (Susan Wickham)