HOPE—Rev. Norma Lowrey
Scripture: Ephesians 1:14
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called-his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
Thought for the Day: During the second session of the Jesus Apprentice series that we just completed, we were asked to look at a group of phrases to determine which phrase spoke to us as the definition of the “Good News”. “Hope for the hopeless” leaped out at me and hit me over the head. Without hope, we have nothing to look forward to and can get quickly stuck in a rut of “woe is me/us” as individuals and a congregation.
C. S. Lewis said:
At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the pleasures we see. But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get “in”… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.
We look forward to this Advent Season, a season of hope that the birth of the Christ Child will bring, a new way of looking at an old problem…today was a really bad day, but tomorrow will be wonderful. This past year has been a year of change for our faith community and 2016 will, no doubt, bring other changes, but because we believe the “rumor” in the New Testament, we share that hope with our community as we continue to be a congregation with visible stability, good stewardship and humble servants.
Prayer: Thank you, dear Lord, for the hope that your Son has given each of us. May we reach out and share that Good News daily with others along our way. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
TWO CHRISTMAS CONCERTS
Scripture: Romans 8:24-25
Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Thought for the Day: The great theologian, Paul Tillich, preached a sermon entitled, The Right to Hope. In the sermon, he said:
There are two kinds of waiting, the passive waiting in laziness and the receiving waiting in openness. He who waits in laziness, passively, prevents the coming of what he is waiting for. He who waits in quiet tension, open for what he may encounter, works for its coming. Such waiting in openness and hope does what no will power can do for our own inner development… Such openness is the highest activity; it is the driving force which leads us toward the growth of something new in us. And the struggle between hope and despair in our waiting is a symptom that the new has already taken hold of us.
I invite you to reread those words as they are loaded and lofty, pointing to a depth within the concept of hope that is often overlooked. Hope should always have an openness within it, an openness through which we reach toward what we do not yet know. In this season of Advent, when the world is inviting you to a lazy kind of waiting that has everything to do with Black Friday and buying on credit and glitzy wrapping, allow yourself to pause with an openness to God. Feel the tension as one who is to be in the world but not of the world; feel the tension that is drawing you to the saving act of God soon to be revealed in a stable’s feeding trough.
Prayer: Thank you, O God of Hope, for this amazing season. Give me the courage to wait and hope – to pause with a passionate belief in what is not yet fully realized. Yet in this active waiting, I trust that what is not yet is already coming into being. Amen.
LET US COME TOGETHER
TO BEGIN ADVENT
Scripture: Romans 6:16 (Common English Bible)
Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, that you are slaves of the one whom you obey? That’s true whether you serve as slaves of sin, which leads to death, or as slaves of the kind of obedience that leads to righteousness.
Thought for the Day: In her book, A Fruit Always in Season, Mother Teresa writes:
At this Christmas when Christ comes,
will He find a warm heart?
Mark the season of Advent
by loving and serving the others
with God’s own love and concern.
Tomorrow officially begins Advent for Christians around the globe. In a time of violence and division, fear and distrust, the words of Mother Teresa are both challenging and troubling. Yet their discomforting quality does not make them any less important for us. One of the ways Advent meets us is by suggesting strange or even absurd ideas, and then clearly saying to us, “This is the way of God’s righteousness.” Allow yourself to be pushed a little this Advent season, nudged out of your usual and comfortable ways.
Prayer: I know your grace is with me, O Righteous Lord, and with that gift I am willing to step outside of what I know and claim as comfortable. Even with this grace, I ask you to guide me ever so gently. Amen.
The First Sunday of Advent
Scripture: Proverb 24:27
Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for you in the field; and after that build your house.
Thought for the Day: Take a deep breath! Now let it out slowly… Hopefully you are prepared for what I’m about ready to say (write): With the Thanksgiving leftovers still in refrigerator, it is time for Advent. This Sunday we begin our 2015 Advent Adventure: A Child Awakens. My desire is to see our congregation focus on preparation of both home and heart. In the Proverb quoted above, there is a clear order of importance – a necessary prioritization when one is preparing. The symbols that surround us in our homes help form and inform our attitudes, but intentional times of prayer, scripture reading and worship MUST be the first work that is done. That is the foundational piece that needs to be in place prior to building the house. Make yourself ready, and make sure it is more than simply decorating the Christmas Tree.
Prayer: I am thankful for the opportunity this season offers me, O Lord of the Incarnate Word. Allow me to prepare space within myself for a child of hope to awaken. Amen.
“The Hope Awakens”
based upon Jeremiah 33:14-16
Scripture: Psalm 107:8
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.
Thought for the Day: I believe Meister Eckhart, the 14th century philosopher and mystic, summarized things well with the words, “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”
Prayer: Lord God, thank you! Amen.
Scripture: 1st Chronicles 16:7-10
Then on that day David first appointed the singing of praises to the Lord by Asaph and his kindred. O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Thought for the Day: We have some funny rituals to help us express gratitude to God. The comedian, Kevin James, said: “Thanksgiving…not a good day to be my pants.” We tend to over indulge at every level of the food pyramid and then feel guilty in the days that follow. Food was central to the celebrations of gratitude in ancient Israel, but there was also dancing and singing, telling stories and the acting out of God’s amazing works. In today’s world, gratitude is conveyed in a heavy coma inducing meal, but in our faith history, gratitude was a full and rich experience that required more than a stomach. As we look toward our Thanksgiving experience, let us think of some ways in which we can celebrate with all of who we are.
Prayer: Lord, I will make this Thanksgiving a celebration that challenges not only my body, but also my mind and spirit. Amen.
but also be mindful
of those who are finding it difficult
to be thankful right now.
Scripture: Psalm 148:3
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Thought for the Day: On this day in 1877, Anna Sewell published the classic Black Beauty. It has become one of the best selling books of all time. In the novel, there is a quote to which I have always been drawn. She writes:
There is no religion without love,
and people may talk as much as
they like about their religion, but
if it does not teach them to be good
and kind to man and beast,
it is all a sham.
With just two days until Thanksgiving, let us be mindful of those who have taught us about the central Christian tenant of love, but let us also reflect on whether we are doing a good enough job of teaching the next generation about love for all creation.
Prayer: O God who was and is and shall be, awaken my memory as I reflect on those who set for me an example of love. Whether I ever thanked them or not, I thank you and pray that my life can show gratitude as I set an example for others. Amen.
The FROGGE’s wishing you
DON’T MISS THIS SUNDAY
First Sunday of Advent