Advent 29 Nov - 20 Dec
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNTRY
Advent is a season of deep memory, a time when we are called to hear again the ancient stories of the God who has journeyed with us from the beginning, and who, in the fullness of time, took on flesh, and came to walk in this world with us.
Aboriginal Dreaming also tells ancient stories of God; how to care for creation and how to live in right relationship with each other. We who live on Dharawal land, acknowledge their Dreaming and intimate relationship with the Creator and acknowledge their elders past and present for their stewardship of and lifelong connection with God’s Creation.
One deep Biblical memory is found in Isaiah 40:31 “but those who wait upon or hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
ADVENT HYMN - TIS 286 ‘Light one candle’ (repeat)
Light one candle for hope, one bright candle for hope.
He brings hope to every heart. He comes! He comes!
The first candle
1st voice: We light the first candle of Advent in the circle of God’s eternity,
a circle green as the earth where Jesus came to live with us. Silence
2nd voice: We light the first candle of Advent to celebrate the prophets,
who waited long and looked with expectancy for the coming of the Messiah. Silence
3rd voice: We light the first candle of Advent for ourselves, for we, too, wait with expectancy
for the coming of God’s Kingdom and the reign of Christ the King. Silence
HYMN – TIS 265 ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’ vs 1, 3 & 5
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
How long, O Lord, how long? How long will it be before we see justice roll down like waters and
righteousness like an ever flowing stream? When will you act, O God?
We confess that we are beset by impatience and frustrated that peace seems so far away.
We confess our own complacency to do our part and our unwillingness to speak out in your name.
Renew us we pray. Revitalise us by the power of your Spirit.
Enable us to endure, even when we want to give up.
Let it be, gracious one, that we might wait with greater patience
and be found ready for whatever task you call us to embrace. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Those who wait upon God receive assurance and empowerment.
So, in faith, I declare that we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.
BIBLE READING Mark 13: 21 – 27, 32 - 37 (NIV) If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. “But in those days, following that distress, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
BIBLE READING 1 Corinthians 1: 4 - 9 (NIV) I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
In this is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
MESSAGE - “The Master will be home at any time – watch & wait!”
Let me begin with three stories:
Some years ago Janene and I had a couple of days away, without our teenage/young adult children, we were confident that everything would be fine at home, after all they were and are good kids.
Having said that we’d be home ‘after lunch’ on a particular day, we’d had a good run in the car and arrived home, unannounced in the late morning instead. We had arrived before they’d had a chance to tidy up the house after having friends over the night before. Nothing bad, just messy. We were berated for not having rung ahead so the place would be all nice and clean and tidy…
A new pastor had arrived in a small mid-west American town. As is often the case the news of his arrival including a photo was found on page 2 of their local newspaper. A week later this new pastor caught the bus from outside the church into town, having paid for his fare, the driver gave him his change. The driver had given more than he should have. The pastor in that 2-3 second moment could have said ‘well today’s my lucky day’, or ‘the driver obviously knows who I am and has given me a discount’ or ‘I need to give him back what is due’. The pastor decided on the last option.
As he was getting off the bus some stops later, the driver, said to him ‘you can expect to see me in church next Sunday. Have a great day.’
The third story:
As of last week 73,669,827 people voted for Donald Trump in the US elections.
Many of them believe that Donald Trump is the ‘Lord’s anointed’, another King David, human, prone to fits of anger and alleged adultery like the original King David but nonetheless the Lord’s anointed – conservative appointees to the Supreme Court and strongly anti-abortion etc etc
Some of you might understand that view. In the 1930’s before WW2, the Lutheran Church with the notable exception of Dietrick Bonhoeffer, in Germany, supported Adolf Hitler their new Chancellor because he was ‘anti-Jew, anti-communist, anti-gypsy & anti-gay’.
Mark Ch 13 says If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
The Master is away, for a long time, he isn’t here to keep an eye on me, do I need that? Or do I take great comfort in his comments ‘he has left us in charge’ ‘with our assigned tasks to do’ while in the 1Cor Reading we also hear “you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end” Such confidence! Is it misplaced?
Some of you would have read in my weekly devotional 10 days ago, that I’m required to have a ministry Supervisor to keep me accountable to my Ordination Vows and to our Church’s Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice. We meet every 8-10 weeks. I always look forward to these meetings because I depend upon Alan’s wisdom and insights, his ability to know when I might be getting into sloppy habits, or take a short cut in my approach to a particular issue which only he will notice, given that having known each other for 25 years he knows me well.
And while I bring my own measure of wisdom and experience to ministry out of the past nearly 40 years, I am still learning, still growing, still susceptible to that pot hole in the road I might not see. It’s an accountability based on love and respect and with that an acknowledgment that I too prefer routine and order. A creature of habit like each one of you.
That’s why our Lord gives us the gathered community of the Church to be there with and for each other while ‘the Master is away’ knowing that he may return at any moment and that there will be no time to ‘tidy up the place first’ or to give back later that due bus fare. Simply put, we are to live each day as if it is our last on earth, as if Jesus was literally walking beside us. But that’s impossible you say, to be able to live like that, a burden and responsibility too great to carry.
Remember Jesus also said ‘take my yoke (my discipline) because my burden is not heavy (arduous)
We don’t carry it on our own, the Holy Spirit is our Helper as are each one of you too!
He gives us a clue how to live this life of great expectations in the words to ‘watch’ and to ‘wait.’
Both are active verbs in the Greek. So, no just doing the same thing day in and day out, being idle, never growing in faith, never stepping out in trust.
This waiting and watching is not passive or reactive.
Faithfulness is not just doing what you’ve always done, like some faith communities do believing that being faithful is somehow static and unchanging. It is God who is unchanging.
I would never have grown in my faith since the day I publicly confirmed as a 17 year old that ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless I had watched for the Spirit’s work alive within me and around me. Unless I’d pushed my own little boat out into the deep in response to Jesus’ call to come follow me…
To trust in Him afresh as each day brings its own unique challenges and opportunities.
And nowadays when I no longer have the physical stamina and energy I once had, I depend upon his leading and calling all the more. May you watch and wait with eager longing too, for the Day of the Lord, and to his Name be Honour, Praise and Glory, for ever and ever. My Sovereign Lord!
HYMN - TIS 275 vs 1, 2, 3 & 5
Hail to the Lord’s anointed
Great David’s greater Son
Hail, in the time appointed
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression
To let the captive free
And take away transgression
And rule in equity.
He comes with help and mercy
To those who suffer wrong
To raise the poor and needy
And bid the weak be strong
To give them songs for sighing
Their darkness turn to light
Whose souls condemned and dying
Were precious in his sight.
He shall come down like showers
Upon the fruitful earth
And love, joy, hope like flowers
Spring in his path to birth;
Before him on the mountains
Shall peace the herald go
And righteousness in fountains
From hill to valley flow.
O’er every foe victorious
He on his throne shall rest
From age to age more glorious
All blessing and all-blest.
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever
That name to us is love.
James Montgomery 1771 – 1854
HYMN – TIS 220 - Paul Bartlett
BLESSING & BENEDICTION
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD-jBLZSZNU In English & Hebrew in Israel