Archive for 2016

Reflection for the 4th Week in Advent

The name “Emmanuel” — God with us — is profound.   Just as Joseph was comforted by his dream which brought him into the presence of God, so we too need to find comfort, strength, and joy in the name “Emmanuel” — God with us.

 

To realize that God is with us — not just in a spiritual way….but physically in the person of Jesus…must be a source of comfort and hope.  Just as it enabled Joseph to become willing to take Mary home as his wife, so must the name enable us to run the risk of faith in our life.

 

Realizing that God is with us must also give us courage.  Joseph was a humble, simple tradesman — totally unqualified for what God was asking.  Yet, the name Emmanuel gave him a boldness to set out on an unknown path in his life.  So too with us.  God is constantly asking us to step out of our comfort zone into a life of faith.  While we do not always know what this faith will ask of us, or where it will lead us, we do know that God is with us.

 

And finally, the name Emmanuel must fill us with joy.  Jesus is our Messiah.  Jesus is the one who can save us from our sin if we let him.  Does the fact of God’s redemption in your life get you excited?  Do you truly long for God’s redemptive love in your life?  Knowing that God is with us must fill us with excitement and joy today — and every day — every minute of our life.

Prayer for the 4th Week in Advent

Lord Jesus, with wonder and praise we have gathered as a family to await that voice which announces your birth. What wonders you work in our lives as you become human, like us. It is good to know that you walk with us every minute. There are so many choices we have to make, so many adventures ahead of each of us. Help us to listen well. What praise is yours as you reveal the depths of your love for us. Take good care of the ones we love so much as they walk with you on their own journeys. Thank you for this wonderful season, and for the gift of sharing it with special people, and for letting us know you better. May we, like Mary, give you birth in our hearts all the days of our lives. We love you. Amen.

Bulletin – December 17-18, 2016

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Bulletin – December 10-11, 2016

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Reflection for the 2nd Week in Advent

Even as we focus on the Christ Child, and even as children of all ages anxiously await the celebration of his coming, we cannot delude ourselves into imagining that the cobra is tame.  Events in recent times — especially those which took place at Ohio State this past week — have shown, all too tragically, that there is no such reality as absolute safety.  No one is immune from violence — the cobra is poised to sting, ready to strike anyone, anywhere, without warning. We are far, indeed, from Isaiah’s image of the peaceable kingdom.

 

Images in the media may fill us with outrage and sadness, but there is cause for hope.  Jesus is God’s definitive answer to suffering.  Jesus is the one who is filled with the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, and power.  He has entered human history to pour out this same Spirit upon us. He came to remove the stain of sin, so that, freed from a guilty conscience, we could yield to him in trust and allow him to transform our lives.

 

We enter into this world of hope through our repentance.  When we repent, the gates of heaven are opened to us, and our relationship with Jesus is restored and deepened.  In repentance, we remove the veil of confusion and deception which sin weaves in our hearts, and we are enabled to see the beauty of God’s truth and goodness.  Our hearts and minds are lifted to heaven, and we catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom.

 

It is to us, after all, that God has entrusted the task of establishing justice and harmony upon the holy mountain.  And someday,  however distant,  we  will  accomplish this,  through the power of Jesus’ name.

Prayer of Waiting

Patient God

sometimes I forget

that you wait for me.

 

You wait for me

to finish wrapping

and decorating.

You wait for me

to finish baking

and shopping.

You wait for me

to finish my busy schedule,

my time with friends,

my outside interests.

 

Help me

to give you

more than my wiped-out self

at the end of the day.

Help me

to participate fully

in the birth of Jesus

in my heart.

Amen.

 

Bulletin – December 3-4, 2016

2016-12-03

Reflection for the 1st Week in Advent

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah foresaw the day when “many peoples shall come” to God’s holy city, so that we may “be instructed in God’s ways and walk in God’s paths.”  The result of this divine intervention will be a profound peace such as the world has never known.  “Nation will not take up sword against nation;  they will never train for war again.”  Jesus inaugurated what was prophesied by Isaiah;  we taste of the promise now in the church but will not know it in fullness until Jesus comes again in glory.

 

During Advent, the church invites us to prepare our hearts in anticipation of a closer union with God — both now and in the future.  We make ready the way of the Lord, not out of fear, but because, in the deepest part of our being, we long to “walk in the light of the Lord.”

 

Jesus personally experienced this great longing in the human heart. He yearned for all men and women to share his unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Thus, he warned us of the necessary judgment: “Be prepared, because God’s Chosen One is coming at a time that you least expect.”  We prepare now in joy, for the day is approaching when our preparations and job will be over.  And so it is that we must sing for joy as we wait to meet our God.

Prayer for the first week in Advent

Come, Lord Jesus, Come

Born to set your people free;

Free me from fear,

Release me from my sin,

Let me find rest in you.

 

You are the hope of all the earth,

You are the desire of every nation,

You are the joy of every longing heart.

 

You are born to rescue me —

A child,

And yet a king.

You are born to reign in my heart forever.

Bring your gracious kingdom to me.

 

Fill me with your eternal spirit,

Rule in my heart forever.

And by your grace,

Bring me to your glorious throne.

Amen.