Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

Hope 113711

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Sermon 112711

 

Su27       First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 64:1-9

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:24-37

 

Isaiah 64:1-9

64O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— 2as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! 3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. 5You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.

6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. 8Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.

Psalm 80

1Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

2before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!

3Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

4O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

5You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.

6You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.

7Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

17But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.

18Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.

19Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 13:24-37

24“But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sermon 112911

Hope

Today is the 1st Sunday of Advent.  Advent actually started on Thanksgiving Day this year, but the period of Advent always includes 4 Sundays and weeks before Christmas.

It is not certain when the celebration of Advent began, but around 350 AD looks likely. The word Advent comes from the Latin words Ad Venis, which mean ‘A Coming’.

Originally, Advent was a four week solemn period which included fasting and physical sacrifice to prepare for the day of Christmas, but it is far less solemn now, and tends to be at the same time as the capitalist season of Christmas shopping.

But I would hope our commemoration of Advent includes serious prayer, serious reading, and thought about what it means that Christ is coming.

Now, some people get hung up trying to argue that Advent celebrates the first coming of Christ or the second, or the coming of Christmas, but I tend to think it is for all those reasons and more. Advent is a season when we can celebrate and notice the coming of Christ into our lives. And not just the first coming of Christ into our lives but the ‘always coming’ of Christ into our lives, because as we may all know by now, it is not as though we experienced Christ coming just once into our lives…instead disciples of Christ experience Christ coming into our lives continually, and no matter how much we know or think we know, Christ is always out there waiting to teach us more about God, about heaven, about reality in this universe.

Christ continually comes and continually stays just one step ahead of our understanding—the more we learn about Jesus, the more we see we have yet to learn.

So advent is a time generally to redouble our efforts to learn and grow as spiritual Christians. Prayer and Bible reading, meditation, even fasting are some of the practices Christians have followed for thousands of years to recognize the coming of Christ in the Advent season.

The theme overall for Advent is ‘expectation’ we worship and celebrate in expectation of the soon to come coming of Christ. Each week of Advent also has a theme and the theme for this Week 1 is ‘Hope’.

Do you have hope in your life? Do you hope things will different in your life? The ability and the hope of personal growth and change are built upon the belief that Christ promised us the chance to reform our lives and to live differently than before, whatever before was like.

Right now, there is war, and poverty and desolation and hopelessness all over the world. Do we have any hope of changing it and changing the world? And is there any hope of changing the world or even saving the world without Jesus?

Do any of us believe we can save the world by earning more money or by spending more money or by attaining anything? Is there any war, or any invention or any idea that can save the world except Jesus’ basic idea of loving God and loving your neighbor?

So, as we hope for a better world, think about what the world would be like if Jesus had never come to earth. True, the whole world does not follow Jesus, but without Jesus at all there is no hope. With Jesus, there is hope.

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