Christmas Eve Meditation

  • I want you to think about your favorite song tonight.
    • Might be a Christmas carol
    • Might be a “church song” – hymn or choir piece or contemporary song
    • Might be anything else
    • Think about how you feel when you hear that song.
      • Emotions song brings up –> Joy? Love? Healing? Peace? Fun?
      • How it takes you back –> Tunes and melodies can be powerful memory triggers for us.
        • Where were you when you last heard it? Who were you with? What were you doing? What was your life like?
      • Has that song (or any other favorite song) ever inspired you to do something?
        • Reach out someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
        • Take that leap that you’ve been considering/worrying about
        • Even something simple and silly – jump up out of your seat and dance
      • Take just a moment to sit with that song – all the emotions, all the inspiration, hum a few bars if you want to (or if you’re like me and you probably can’t help yourself!)
  • Okay, now take all those feelings that are wrapped up with your favorite song – all the comfort, all the joy, all the inspiration – and multiply it. Multiply it by ten. Multiply it by a hundred. Multiply it by a thousand or ten thousand or a million! This will get you just a little bit closer to experiencing the song that the angels sang for the shepherds that night so many years ago.
    • From what Scripture tells us, wasn’t a particularly complicated song – Lk: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all whom he favors![1] –> One of the things that I like to do when I’m looking at a passage of Scripture for the week is look at the original Greek or Hebrew to see what kind of little nuances can be found in the language – a slightly different meaning here or there that can deepen our understanding of a text. So I tried to do that with this text this week. And do you know what I found? Nothing.
      • All words used are exactly as they say
        • Glory = glory
        • God = God
        • Peace = peace
      • So I looked at a number of different translations of the Bible side by side to see how the various “pros” treated this text. And again … they all say almost the same thing.
        • NRSV (our text): Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all whom he favors!
        • King James version: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
        • The Message: Glory to God in the heavenly heights. Peace to all men and women on earth who please [God].
        • While the wording differs ever so slightly, the message in them remains the same: Glory to God! Peace on earth! God finds delight in human kind.
      • And you know, I think that consistency is comforting. The news that the angels brought to the shepherds that night was so important that the words they used were plain. They wanted to make sure they were understood. They wanted to get the point across. And at the same time, the news that the angels had to deliver was so wonderful, so stirring, so awe-inspiring, that it led them to burst out in song!
        • Head Angel to shepherds: I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.[2]
        • In this, the angel is saying: God loves you so much that God has come to be with you in the flesh – to live as you live, to feel as you feel, to love as you love. And in taking this step, God is welcoming you home. –> message for those shepherds thousands of years ago, message for everyone down through the ages
          • And this is the power of God’s message: that through the birth of this Christ-child – through this miracle about which the angels sing – we are given grace upon grace. This beautiful little baby boy whom we celebrate tonight will grow up to be Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. He will teach people about God’s Word. He will echo God’s love in all that he does and all that he says. He will bear the sins of the whole world, covering them for us with God’s exceptional grace and giving us a way to turn back to God in faith.
  • And you never know when God is going to burst into your life with that message.
    • See this in shepherds –> a bunch of guys out in the fields minding their own business
      • This was their life. This was their livelihood. Historians tell us that the shepherds more than likely didn’t live somewhere else and commute in to work every day. They ate out there. They slept out there. They spent all their time out there with the sheep.
      • In the middle of their ordinary, every day lives –> BAM! Angels singing! Proclaiming good news! Bathing them in heavenly splendor!
      • And what effect did this magnificent event have on the shepherds? When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”[3] –> The shepherds said to each other, “We’ve got to go now. This message that God has shared with us is so important, that we’ve got to drop everything. This song that the angels have sung to us is so inspiring that we cannot wait another minute.”
  • Sometimes, God’s entrance into our lives is quiet. It’s subtle. It’s a private, sacred moment between us and the Holy One. But there are other times when the work that God has for us to do is so important, so pressing, so special that it requires God bursting into our lives with angels and songs and every ounce of holy splendor that the Creator can muster!
    • Poem from Ann Weems in the bulletin – “Godburst”[4]
    • Tonight, as we celebrate the birth of that Holy Child into our faith, into our lives, and into our hearts, let’s let that Godburst so inspire us that we find ourselves running through the streets to share God’s love and our own joy with as much angel-exuberance and Spirit-joy as we can muster. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Amen.
 
 
Godburst by Ann Weems

When the Holy Child is born into our hearts

    there is a rain of stars

       a rushing of angels

           a blaze of candles

   this God burst into our lives.

Love is running through the streets.


[1] Lk 2:14.

[2] Lk 2:10b-11.

[3] Lk 2:15.

[4] Ann Weems. “Godburst” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poems for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 29.

Christmas Eve Advent Reading

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Scripture – Isaiah 9:2-7

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

Advent Reading – “This Year” by Ann Weems[1]

I wonder if God comes to the edge of heaven each Advent

   and flings the Star into the December sky,

      laughing with joy as it lights the darkness of the earth;

   and the angels, hearing the laughter of God,

      begin to congregate in some celestial chamber

         to practice their alleluias.

I wonder if there’s some ordering of rank among the angels

   as they move into procession,

      the seraphim bumping the cherubim from top spot,

      the new inhabitants of heaven standing the back

         until they get the knack of it.

(After all, treading air over a stable and annunciating at the

      same time can’t be all that easy!)

Or is everybody – that is, every “soul” – free to fly

   wherever the spirit moves?

Or do they even think about it?

Perhaps when God calls, perhaps they just come,

   this multitude of heavenly hosts.

Perhaps they come,

   winging through the winds of time

      full of expectancy

      full of hope

   that this year

      perhaps this year

      (perhaps)

   the earth will fall to its knees

      in a whisper of “Peace.”

 

Lighting the Candle

 

Prayer: Newborn God, tonight, we rejoice with the angels. We hear your laughter, we feel your joy, and we want to add our “Alleluia!” to the eternal chorus. We fall into rank with all those throughout the ages who have sung your praise, all those since the beginning of time who have anxiously awaited the birth of a Savior – of grace and glory and redemption all wrapped up together in swaddling clothes. On this holy night, God, we find ourselves full of expectancy. We find ourselves full of hope. Fill us with your peace so that we may walk in your light and extend your hand of mercy to a world in need. Amen.


[1] Ann Weems. “This Year” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poetry for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 41.

Fourth Advent Reading

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Scripture – Isaiah 11:1-6

1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

 

Advent Reading – “Unexpected” by Ann Weems[1]

Even now we simply do not expect

         to find a deity in a stable.

Somehow the setting is all wrong:

      the swaddling clothes too plain,

      the manger too common for the likes of a Savior,

      the straw inelegant,

      the animals, reeking and noisy,

      the whole scene too ordinary for our taste.

And the cast of characters is no better.                       

With the possible exception of the kings,

         who among them is fit for this night?

      the shepherds? certainly too crude,

      the carpenter too rough,

      the girl too young.

And the baby!

Whoever expected a baby?

Whoever expected the advent of God in a helpless child?

Had the Messiah arrived in the blazing light of the glory

         of a legion of angels wielding golden swords,

      the whole world could have been conquered for Christ

         right then and there

      and we in the church – to say nothing of the world! –

         wouldn’t have so much trouble today.

Even now we simply do not expect

         the face the world armed with love.

 

Lighting the Candle

 

Prayer: Surprising God, sometimes we find ourselves in a comfortable rut. We hunker down in our rut, doing what we’ve always done because we’re comfortable … because we can … because we don’t really know what else to do. Shake up our routine, Holy One. Speak to us in the unexpected. Lead us in the unexpected. Remind us that nothing was more unexpected than ultimate power in a tiny baby. Nothing is more unexpected than salvation in a criminal’s death on a cross. Help us to embrace the unexpected instead of fearing it. Help us to look for you in those unexpected moments – your grace, your love, and your triumphant glory. Amen.


[1] Ann Weems. “Unexpected” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poetry for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 47.

Sunday’s Sermon: Let Justice Shine

  • I came across a really powerful video this week.
  • “First-World Problems Anthem”[1] –> Now, for those who aren’t familiar with this fairly new term, “first-world problems” encompass all those trivial issues that we complain about in our daily lives simply because we have nothing better to complain about.
    • Term has become popular, especially on social media sites (facebook, Twitter, etc.)
      • Way for people to recognize ridiculous nature of their own complaints
      • Way for other people to help you come to that realization
      • Often used in self-deprecating manner –> making fun of the things we whine about
    • But this video shines a whole different light on the idea of first-world problems. In the video, 11 of those “problems” are rattled off one after the other – things like “I hate it when my house is so big I need 2 wireless routers,” “I hate it when my mint gum makes my ice water taste too cold,” and “I hate it when I go to the bathroom and forget my phone.” But instead of being uttered by the privileged people who posted them on Twitter in the first place, these first-world problems are read by third-world people – more specifically, people in Haiti following the devastating earthquake there in 2010.
      • Like I said, shines whole different light – harsh and exposing – on our lives and our attitudes
      • Purpose of video: raise funds for an organization whose goal is to provide fresh drinking water for everyone
      • But the video also brings into focus one of the most important things that we’re waiting for during this season of Advent – justice. You see, with the birth of the Savior come both God’s love and God’s justice.
        • 2 promises that can’t be separated –> God’s love is a love that encourages and forgives and is also the great equalizer
          • Wants the same good for everyone
          • Offers the same acceptance to everyone
          • Same love for each and every person, no matter their status, bank account balance, geographic location, or any other factor –> God’s love will always be God’s love.
          • And God’s justice will always be God’s justice. – not talking about “first-world problems” justice –> talking about real justice
            • Freedom for those who are oppressed
            • Food for those who are hungry
            • Shelter for those who are homeless
            • Inclusion for those who have been shoved to the side their whole lives
  • See this promise of God’s compassionate justice in Scripture reading
    • First of four sections in Is referred to as “Servant Songs”
      • All speak of how this unnamed “Servant” will serve God among the people –> embody God’s love and work for God’s justice
      • Much debate among scholars over who “servant” really is
    • First proposal – “Servant” = Christ
      • Certainly recognize this – Is: Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.[2] –> sounds like Jesus’ baptism
        • Mt: When Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”[3]
      • Also a declaration in today’s text that sounds like God speaking of the coming Savior: I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations[4]
        • Jesus own description of himself in John: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.[5]
      • And then there’s the general spirit of this Servant. This Scripture speaks of how the Servant will bring about God’s eternal justice through dedication, faith, and perseverance. It speaks of how the Servant will be one who is compassionate, humble, and wholly selfless. Again, these sound like Jesus.
        • Paul in Phil: [Jesus] emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.[6]
        • Jesus own words (Mk): For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.[7]
  • Now, all that being said, there are also scholars who argue that the identity of the Servant has been left intentionally ambiguous because that enables the role to be fulfilled by any number of different people in different situations.
    • Scholar: Israel received from [the] prophet Isaiah what the church received from its Christ, and that is what the church testifies to the world – the revelation that the God who creates is a just God, who restores sight to the blind, freedom to the captives, and grants strength to those who serve.[8] –> So Isaiah spoke the Servant’s words of compassion while crying out for justice. Jesus lived a life of compassion and embodied God’s justice whenever he could. And we have the chance to continue to convey God’s message of love while we work for justice in this imperfect world in which we live.
    • Different “Servants” played that part à recent history
      • Nelson Mandela
        • Could’ve had easy power – been chief of local tribe
        • Became lawyer instead –> firsthand witness to injustice of apartheid in South Africa
        • Arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life in prison for leading groups opposed to apartheid
        • Spent 27 years in prison
          • Could’ve used those 27 to grow angry, bitter
          • Instead lifted others’ spirits and maintained integrity of his political beliefs
      • Deitrich Bonhoeffer
        • Lutheran pastor in Nazi Germany
        • Helped form “Confessing Church” – church in Germany that refused to cowtow to Nazi party or compromise their faith to align with Hitler’s demands
          • Opposite of “German Christians” – combined Christianity with Nazi party beliefs
        • Arrested for helping Jews escape in 1943
        • Spent 2 year in concentration camps before being killed by Nazis in 1945 –> inspire other prisoners as well as guards/other Nazi camp workers up until the moment of his death
    • And these are just a few examples. Countless people throughout history have been that Servant for God – that voice for justice in the face of oppression, that call for peace and equality, that bringer of hope for those who are threatened and those who feel broken down and left behind.
  • So what does the work of the Servant look like? –> Is description of Servant’s mission: He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth.[9]
    • In terms of Jesus as Servant: Think of Jesus’ mission here on earth – to bring God’s grace and forgiveness, to share God’s love with everyone, and to welcome the marginalized back into the fold from which they had been excluded for so long. Like Isaiah’s “Servant,” Jesus did this …
      • Without fanfare – without crying or lifting up his voice or trumpeting his deeds in the streets.
      • With fervent determination – He lived his mission to the very end, even through the pain and humiliation of the cross, without growing faint or being crushed by the weight of such a momentous task.
      • With a heart for those who had already suffered too much – Is: a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench –> Here, Isaiah is talking about those who have been left battered and bruised by life, those who feel so weary and worn-down that the flame of their passion, the flame of their faith, maybe even the flame of their life is barely flickering.
        • See this in Heb. – “dimly burning” = connotations of being utterly depleted (dull, colorless, even fearful) à When simple justices – basic human decencies – are denied, this is how people are made to feel.
          • Dull, colorless, fearful
          • Rejected, worthless, afraid
        • Isaiah’s assurance was that God would send a Servant to “faithfully bring forth justice” for all those who felt like bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks – for all those who still feel beat-down and overloaded and demoralized. And it’s this Servant-Christ – this Emmanuel, this Prince of Peace, this Christ-child – that we encounter in our hymn for today, too: Come, O Long-Expected Jesus.
          • Come, O long-expected Jesus, born to set all people free … Born all people to deliver … By your own eternal Spirit, come to claim us as your own.[10] –> conveys that waiting that the world been doing
            • Waiting for a deliverer
            • Waiting for hope
            • Waiting for justice
    • Work of the Servant in our own lives:
      • Important element = active waiting, not passive waiting à Bonhoeffer: We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice; we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.
        • We cannot sit idly by and watch one injustice after another chip away at God’s creation. God came to earth in the form of a tiny, vulnerable child in order to both truly feel the sting of that injustice and to fight it with everything that God had … and that includes us.
      • Sometimes, it’s hard to be the one seeking justice! It could mean recognizing things about ourselves that we don’t want to see – prejudices, misinterpretations, even fears. It could mean speaking up when we’d feel more comfortable staying silent or stepping out when it would be so much easier to stay rooted in anonymity. It could mean giving up some of our own comforts so we can make sure our brothers and sisters in Christ don’t go without.
        • “First-World Problems Anthem” –> To watch people in such impoverished circumstances voicing those dumb little things that we whine about every day is chastening to say the least.
        • Remember Is description of Servant’s mission: [The Servant] will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth.[11] –> Nothing about this promises that striving for justice – the role of the Servant – will be fun or easy or comfortable. But it does convey what a truly crucial role this is.
  • Nelson Mandela once said, “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it lowest ones.” I think we should say the same about the church, and I think we should say the same about ourselves. We should not be judged by how we treat those who have enough, but those who have nothing at all. Friends, we have brothers and sisters out there who are hurting, who are struggling, who are afraid and desperate and have nowhere to turn. As we wait for the Christ-child this Advent season, how can we shine God’s light of both love and justice on those who need it most? Amen.

[1] “First World Problems Anthem” by “Water is Life” (non-profit), Feb. 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFuLSB73ciU

[2] Is 42:1.

[3] Mt 3:16-17.

[4] Is 42:6b.

[5] Jn 8:12.

[6] Phil 2:7.

[7] Mk 10:45.

[8] Richard F. Ward. “Baptism of the Lord (First Sunday After the Epiphany) – Isaiah 42:1-9 – Homiletical Perspective” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Year A, vol. 1. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 223.

[9] Is 42:2-4.

[10] Charles Wesley. “Come, O Long-Expected Jesus” in The New Century Hymnal. (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Publishing, 1995), 122.

[11] Is 42:2-4.

Third Advent Reading

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Scripture – James 5:7-11

7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

 

Advent Reading – “The Coming of God” by Ann Weems[1]

Our God is the One who comes to us

      in a burning bush,

         in an angel’s song,

            in a newborn child.

Our God is the One who cannot be found

      locked in the church,

      not even in the sanctuary.

Our God will be where God will be

      with no constraints,

      no predictability.

Our God lives where our God lives,

      and destruction has no power

         and even death cannot stop

            the living.

Our God will be born where God will be born,

   but there is no place to look for the One who comes to us.

When God is ready

      God will come

         even to a godforsaken place

            like a stable in Bethlehem.

Watch …

      for you know not when

         God comes.

Watch, that you might be found

      whenever

         wherever

            God comes.

 

Lighting the Candle

 

Prayer: God of many faces, we pray that you will open our eyes during this Advent season. Open our eyes to the many ways you appear in our days – in the faces of those we love, in the faces of those we find it hard to love, in the faces of the strangers in line at the grocery store and the person on the corner holding a cardboard sign that asks for help. Open our hearts to the ways that you stir us to move with you – in the sound of a ringing bell, in the words of the carol that we’ve heard a hundred times before, in the silent spaces. Keep our hearts, our minds, and our souls watchful, God, for the whenever and wherever moments. Amen.


[1] Ann Weems. “The Coming of God” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poetry for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 15.

Second Advent Reading

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Scripture – Isaiah 12:2-6

2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.4 And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. 6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

 

Advent Reading – “This Year Will Be Different” by Ann Weems[1]

Who among us does not have dreams

      that this year will be different?

Who among us does not intend to go

      peacefully, leisurely, carefully toward Bethlehem,

   for who among us likes to cope with the

      commercialism of Christmas

   which lures us to tinsel not only the tree

      but also our hearts?

Who among us intends to get caught up in tearing around

      and wearing down?

Who among us does not long for:

   gifts that give love?

   shopping in serenity?

   cards and presents sent off early?

   long evenings by the fireside with those we love?

   (the trimming devoid of any arguing about

      who’s going to hang what where,

   the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg mingling

      with the pine scent of the tree,

   and carols gently playing over our idyllic scene)

   and the children! the children cheerfully talking about

      giving instead of getting?

Who among us does not yearn for

   time for our hearts to ponder the Word of God?

   moments of kneeling and bursts of song?

   the peace of quite calm for our spirit’s journey?

This year we intend to follow the Star

      instead of the crowd.

But, of course, we always do

      intend the best.

(And sometimes best intentions tend to get the best of us!)

This year, when we find ourselves off the path again

      (and we invariably will!),

   let’s not add yet another stress to our Advent days,

      that of “trying to do Christmas correctly”!

Instead, let’s approach the birth of our Lord

      with joyful abandon!

And this year

   let’s do what Mary did and rejoice in God,

   let’s do what Joseph did and listen to our dreams,

   let’s do what the Wise Men did and go to worship,

   let’s do what the shepherds did and praise

         and glorify God

      for all we’ve seen and heard!

As for the Advent frantic pace, we don’t have time for that.

We’ll be too busy singing!

This year will be different!

 

Lighting the Candle

 

Prayer: God of joy, help us to lose this year. Help us to lose our obsession with getting things perfect – setting the perfect table, finding the perfect gifts, decorating the perfect house and the perfect tree. Help us lose our preoccupations with shopping lists and over-packed schedules. Help us lose all of those distractions that pull our attention away from the approaching stable. God, help us get lost this year. Help us get lost in the overwhelming love of a mother for her extra-special child. Help us get lost in the faith of three sages who traveled so far on just a star and a prayer. Help us get lost in the wild abandon of angels singing joyful praise to a tiny baby. This is the year, God … this is the year. Amen.

 


[1] Ann Weems. “This Year Will Be Different” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poetry for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 71.

First Advent Reading

I realize it’s a little late, but I decided to post the Advent readings that we’ve been using in our worship services. Thank God for the beautiful, stirring, challenging poetry of Ann Weems!

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Scripture – Romans 13:11-14

11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

 

Advent Reading – “The World Still Knows” by Ann Weems[1]

The night is still dark

    and a procession of Herod still terrorizes the earth,

        killing the children to stay in power.

The world still knows its Herods,

    but it also still knows men and women

        who pack their dreams safely in their hearts

    and set off toward Bethlehem,

        faithful against all odds,

            undeterred by fatigue or rejection,

                                                               to kneel to a child.

And the world still knows those persons

    wise enough

        to follow a star,

    those who do not consider themselves too intelligent

        too powerful

            too wealthy

                                                                to kneel to a child.

And the world still knows those hearts so humble

    that they’re ready

        to hear the word of a song

            and to leave what they have, to go

                                                                to kneel to a child.

The night is still dark,

    but by the light of the star,

        even today

            we can still see

                                                                to kneel to a child.

Lighting the Candle

Prayer: God of light and life, as we enter into this Advent season, wake us up. The birth of salvation is on the horizon – the coming of the One and Only who can bring light into the darkness. Brighten our days and our nights alike with the light that will lead us to that Child. Help us to pause so that we can remember your peace again. Help us to be still so that we can experience your grace anew. In our hearts, we know that all the rushing around isn’t what’s important, but when we forget, teach us once again to kneel to a child … to The Child. In the name of The Child – that Jesus-Child – we pray. Amen.


[1] Ann Weems. “The World Still Knows” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poetry for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 59.