Monday, December 10, 2012

December 16, 2012    

  • Zephaniah 3: 14-20: The prophet offers a new psalm of thanksgiving for God's deliverance from exile, protection from present and future enemies, and promise to make the name of this people renowned and praised everywhere on earth.
  • Canticle: Isaiah 12:2-6: "Surely it is God who saves me." Recommended for this day: Sing "The First Song of Isaiah," 2030, The Faith We Sing (pew edition). Have the choir or a cantor sing the verses from another edition (Singers or Accompaniment).
  • Philippians 4:4-7: After calling for the local bishop (?), Syzygos, to intervene to work at reconciling a conflict, Paul reminds the congregation that in and through all situations that may face them as a community, from within or without, they should rejoice in Christ, continue to act with gentleness, offer intercession without anxiety, and trust in the presence and power of the peace of God.
-"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings having a human experience," Teilhard de Chardin
- "that peace which passes all understanding," I understand it now. It really is the natural state of the human being. It is our natural habitat.
-Paul was in prison, and he had a choice to make. He could have chosen to be bitter, focusing on the negative, all that was wrong with his life, all he had lost, but instead he chose to focus on the positive, on all that was right, on all he still had. I rather imagine his letter to the Philippians is written as much to himself as it was to them. Rev. Dr. Douglas Oldenburg
-You see, we are not always free to determine WHAT happens to us, but we are relatively free to choose HOW WE WILL RESPOND to whatever happens
-Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…--think-about such things!  verse 8
-Attitude is your paint brush; colors every situation
--Our attitude more than our aptitude  determines our altitude  Carter
-Carry your own weather with you.
-Life is 10% what you make of it and 90% how you take it.    Irving Berlin
-The only disability in life is a bad attitude.
-We either change the action or the attitude.
-The way to change your attitude over the past  is to deal with the present
-The last human freedom is to chose ones attitude. Frankyl
-An attitude towards others parallels our attitude towards ourselves.
-Be proactive (value driven) vs. reactive (feeling driven)  

Luke 3: 7-18: An excerpt from the preaching of John the Baptizer. One more powerful is coming! Unquenchable fire awaits! Don't just stand there: Repent! And show that repentance in the way you live and work in the world.  
- John does not call his hearers vipers, he calls them a brood of vipers. The brood are the: children, the produce, the fruit.  Is the warning against John's hearers or against  their ancestry, their authority or their traditions?  Wesley Avram

-Advent is a time for joy, not primarily because we are anticipating the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, but because God is already in our midst  Bergant

-Advent is preparing for the long view. Not a time to prepare for Christmas
-Paul also calls us to rejoice. In fact, he says that we should rejoice always, because the Lord is near.
-At this time in its history, Israel practiced proselyte baptism -- that is, gentile converts had to be bathed as a sign of radical change, purity in the new faith and birth into the people of Israel. John makes the shocking assertion that even Israel must be washed.  John pays for his preaching with his head; we may come to the river singing “Just as I Am,” but we will not leave these waters without having participated in a painful, deadly, costly work.Willimon
-John.  He could not reach the cause, the human disorientation itself.
-This day is traditionally called "Gaudette Sunday." It means "rejoicing Sunday," from the Latin word, gaudere, to rejoice.
-Rejoice, for what is happening is wonderful. Repent, because from now on, everything will be different. Rev. James Ligget
-Advent is not just a rehearsal of the past. It is also a time when we look forward to, and prepare ourselves for, the Second Coming  of Christ.
-Believing that Christ is alive among us, our Christmas preparations are not for a coming event but rather for clarity of vision to recognize what is already here. Let all who have eyes, see! Let all who have ears, hear! The One we await is already with us; Thus we are invited to "lift the veil. Let us rejoice and sing! Kathrine Hawker

-"Advent is the season for leveling and upsetting, for repentance and abasement
and for getting a perspective on one's self." Marty E. Marty
 -Advent is an inauguration new beginning. (a new awareness)
-Baptism is a journey that includes all other journeys
-When God gets into us for just a moment, a minute, a fraction of time, we often ask the question within, “What can I do?”  And then, God gets very specific Marquart
-Luke starts the narrative today by naming some very "heavy hitters": Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias and the high priests Annas And Caiphas.  Together they had a firm political and religious grip on Israel.  But Luke is telling us today that they aren't the major players they seem, because at a very specific time and place, "...the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah in the desert."  It's as if Luke is saying, "Hold on to your hats, everything is about to change and in the most surprising ways.  The powerful will be brought down and the lowly raised up." Jude Siciliano
-The good news of a coming messiah has its bad-news side.
-How do we justify our getting so much at this time of year, with John's insistence on giving away so much? Stoffregen
-"When repentance and forgiveness are available, judgment is good news (v. 18). The primary aim is to save the wheat, not to burn the chaff." [p. 49] John offers hope and new life for the tax collectors, the soldiers, and all sinners. We all can be gathered by Jesus into his kingdom. Understanding this make it Good News. Craddock.  

SERMON                                 LIFTING THE VEIL (Katherine Hawker, more above.)     

                                            I love this way of looking at Advent.  It is not so much something outside coming to us but rather an  awakening of
                                 something already within....a clarity of vision.  You might rather use this for a Christmas sermon  but I think it is more needed now.  Lindy

-Only the fulfillment of what we really are can give us joy. Tillich
-Grab on to that which already has hold of you!
-During these four weeks, we prepare for what already is.
-May we have eyes to see. May we have ears to hear. May our imaginations envision
-Do we wear masks to appear holy or to become holy?
-Do you not know that you are God's temple? 1Cor. 6:19
Hope for the future is hidden in the present E. Dickenson 
-Michelangelo says the beautiful sculptures he created were already there, he just removed excess. Could be used for children's sermon
-We are part of that which we call eternal We are incarnations of what God is. The me in me is God Catherine of Genoa
-for God is always future needing to be born." Meister Eckhart
-Eternity is not perpetual future but perpetual presence. Abraham Heschel
-Hope for the future should energize the present.
-Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow." Toni Morrison, Beloved (story of freed slaves) time, future, past
-Men are willing to let God control future more than present.
-Repentance is not about the past but about the future.
-The past is past; the future is God's; the present is ours.
-The future has a way of coming unannounced. George Will
-Most people put off till tomorrow what they should have done yesterday. Edgar W. Howe
-We are the body of Christ or "God bearers". Spong

-Joy comes through you , happiness comes to you.  Vanzant
-The gift of Joy is your birthright   S.B. Breathnach
-Joy is not in things, it’s in us.  Richard Wagner

- The Greek word for "repent" is metanoeo. Meta means change, and noeo means mind. It is closely related to metamorpho, and change of form from which we get the word "metamorphosis" like what happens to a butterfly. So the kind of change John is calling for is a radical change, a transformation. He was saying change your souls in the same way that a caterpillar changes its form to become a butterfly.

-Expecting a child whether it's your own or expecting Jesus, it's all the same: You'll have to change your priorities.  Life will never be the same again.  There will be new joy.  Rejoice, for what is happening is wonderful. Repent, because from now on, everything will be different.  There will be new responsibilities. 

- What's the difference between John the Baptist and Winny the Pooh? Both have same middle name
-Deja vu all over again
-"Get Ready, Get Set...Wait!"
-As the child who had never before been to a Christmas service said when asked what it was like, "I want some of that `umphant.'" "What's that?" the child was asked. "You know, it's what those people were singing about--`O Come all ye faithful, joyful and try umphant' I'd like to try some of that `umphant.'" John C. Morris

1.   Are You Ready for Christmas?
Scripture: As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'" Luke 3:4-6 (NIV)
Wow!  Look at that! (Hold up the calendar.) There are only fourteen days until Christmas!  Are you ready for Christmas?  That is a question we hear quite often these days, isn't it?  What do people mean when they ask if you are ready for Christmas?  Well, they usually mean things like...
     . Do you have all of your shopping done?
     . Have you finished wrapping all your gifts?
     . Have you put up your Christmas tree and all the decorations?
     . Have you sent your Christmas cards?
     . Have you finished baking all of the Christmas goodies?
     . Is your house clean and ready for visitors?
Are you ready for Christmas? What things do you need to do before you will be ready?  (Allow time for answers.) There is another question that is much more important than "Are you ready for Christmas?" That question is, "Are you ready for Christ?"
In our Bible lesson today, we hear the voice of John the Baptist crying out to the people, "Prepare the way for the Lord. Fill in the valleys and level off all the mountains.  Make the crooked roads straight and the rough places smooth."  Did John the Baptist really want the people to work on the roads?  No, what John wanted was for the people to get ready for the coming of the Messiah. What he really meant was that the people needed to get their hearts right and return to God.  You see, no matter how good people may think they are, there are always some crooked ways and rough places in their lives.  There are things such as dishonesty, selfishness, pride, jealousy, and many more.  John wanted the people to make those crooked ways straight and rough places smooth so that Jesus could come and walk among them.
During this special season of the year, you and I need to make sure that we are ready for the coming of the Christ of Christmas. We need to look into our hearts and ask God to make our crooked ways straight and smooth out the rough places so that we can walk with Jesus each day of our life.  Let's ask him to do that right now.
-2. Tell the story of the Ugly Duckling and how the duckling was awakened to his new identity. Advent is telling us, "you can become more than you already are."  But first you must want to become more (or better or more loving or more truthful, etc.)  When you feel that need to change, then Advent has begun in you. 

O God , help each of us to break through to what is already true: We are beloved in your sight. Amen.

-Deepen our faith this day. Give us a new grasp on things unseen and eternal.  Help us to see that through the veil of the visible the meanings of life must come, invisible, eternal and spiritual. Quicken our hopes. Expand our love....

-O God, we give thanks for light of the star by which we are still led to the manger and far beyond. Encourage us in our journeys and welcome us to that newer way where we will find ourselves. Peter Gomes
Oh God, because He lived and because you lived in him we now know you live in us and you are a part of us and we are a part of You and because of that our lives have more direction, deeper meaning and greater purpose.

-Advent is preparing for the long view-What does Advent mean?" I answered that the word "advent" means coming; the Advent season is when we reflect on the coming of Christ
 -past, present, and future. Past: when Christ was born at Bethlehem; present: that Christ may be born again in our lives now; future: when Christ will come again. Rev. Dr. David A. Killian
-The message of Advent is future, not past
-* Expectations are not's where we look for them that's wrong.
-* Is God really absent, or does God appear so because we are looking for the wrong God? Paul Nuechterlein
-"Oh come, O come, Emmanuel"
-One-sentence parable: Look at the fig tree. 
 - church calendar does not portray a circle that has no beginning or end but  portrays a spiral...a propeller  moving forward through time or like the threads on a screw with each rotation pulling us along toward our final goal.  That goal 

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