THIRD WEEK OF ADVENT
THESSALONIANS 16-21, JOHN 1:14 & 23, EXODUS 34:2
Rev. Ron Robinson
Scripture Reading: Thessalonians 16-21
Focus Quote: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Don’t treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything; hold fast to that which is good."
This Advent as we ponder in our hearts how Christ is to be born and lived within us and among us, discerning and testing our faithfulness as Jesus was faithful, let us tend to the fire of the Spirit so that it consumes us this season so full of consumption. May webe open to the new visions of what we can still become, remembering to hold fast to all that is good, all that we once loved and dreamed. May we do, as St. Paul says, all in joy and prayer and thanksgiving. I like the way he does not leave it at joy, for with so much manufactured joy abounding it can be difficult to be grasped by the true joy of life from God; in fact this season may be particularly unjoyful for many of us for so many reasons. So, as Paul points out, if we are not joyful, let us pray, for prayer is a state of mind for all seasons and circumstances. And if we find we cannot pray during these days, let us be thankful instead, and know that an attitude of gratitude is enough of a gift, and that as the old church campfire song goes, “it only takes a spark to get a fire going” so pass along your spark.
Scripture Reading: John 1:14
Focus Quote: And the Word became flesh and lived among us…
Scripture Reading: John 1:23
Focus Quote: He (John the Baptizer) said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’”
In this lectionary reading for this Advent week, the gospel of John tells us of that wild crazy man John the Baptizer who stayed out in the abandoned places, the margins of society, doing the Temple’s work out among the people in the river Jordan, not looking or acting like respectable religious folks but helping remind the wounded and oppressed that they could be healed and set free by God, and yet not being full of himself either, but pointing the way beyond himself, to the Word made flesh. The Word that wasn’t made as a message, by the way, as a creed or as an argument or theological treatise, and not made as Spirit or some metaphysical truth, and lord knows not as a sermon. But the Word made flesh. Wonderful, imperfect, beautiful, everchanging, full of life and energy, yet fragile and decaying and capable of being hurt and oppressed, killed but not destroyed, and made very human. In the flesh, a real presence of God to others, to us.
So too should we be and should our Church. Finding ways to be embodied in our flesh, finding there too the incarnation of God, and in the flesh of our communities and in the earthy lives of those we struggle with. In the very desert wildernesses of our lives and times, of our culture and communities, we must be like John and make a way for such a Lord, one that overturns all our understandings, making a way out of no way. This week, today, this hour, make way for those who are coming into your life, for in them will you meet the Lord.
Reflections and Prayers for the Third Week taken from the Advent Devotional by Jennifer Sandberg for Universalist National Memorial Church, 2008.
Scripture Reading: Exodus 34:2
Focus Quote: "Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain.”
When Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, maybe he went so high to be closer to God. Or, maybe, he just wanted to be alone. We sometimes need to reach toward the heavens to exercise our bodies so our minds follow along. It feels so good to stretch our arms as high as they will go, so that we can feel as if we touch God. Sometimes we feel the need to knock on God’s door, just to make sure that our prayers are being heard. Our bodies need to feel that they are stretched out, so that our minds can be clear, and we can hear what God is saying to us.
Prayer: O Saving God, how we strain to be as close to you as possible. We feel your love and know that you are near as we go about our daily lives. Our hearts are full of your divine blessings. Keep us in your loving hands and guide us as we do Your work. Amen.
When the angels gathered above the shepherds were they noisy or silent? Did they laugh and giggle or were their mouths hushed? Do you think the shepherds heard rustling above them Looked up and saw row upon row of angels? Then one stepped forward and said to the cowering shepherds, their hearts beating rapidly, their breath coming fast, “Do not be afraid.” What would that have been like? Would you have fallen on your knees? Clasped your hands together in awe? Jaws unfastened in wonder?
How would, could, your describe it later? Would any words suffice?
Prayer: Almighty God, who sent angels to announce the birth of that Special Child, hear us today as we pray. We need your angels again. We are an anxious people. So many things are not right in our world. Send your angels into our hearts and still the nervousness we feel. Once again let us hear that multitude of heavenly bodies as they assemble around us. Help us to hear the rustle of many wings so we know that we, too, are your Special Children. Amen.”