Category Archives: Advent

Advent Conspiracy- Worship Fully

This devotional is adapted from the Advent Conspiracy family guide.

Take some some time in prayer and worship today. Light a candle if you have it. Read Psalm 111 or a favourite Advent or Christmas or scripture passage. Read this devotional. Pray to God, giving thanks for the gifts of this season, and asking to see how you can more fully live out your worship.

Worship Fully
Think of it, God has given us air to breathe right this minute, a heart that beats every second, jagged mountains, luminous oceans, shimmering rivers, breathing forests, still ponds, grassy fields, moss comfortably growing at the base of a telephone pole, a worm turning the compost over, a baby’s bright eyes focusing on a reflection, coffee lathered in a mug, paint applied, paper cut, beads strung, clay pressed, wood sanded- all of it blanketed by God’s beauty.
And God placed us in this world to explore it, describe it, steward it and respond to his beauty and his creativity. This Encounter with God draws us into an expression called worship. We relate back to God through our work and play, rest and pain, hurried chaos and silence. Categories of where and how and when are
broken apart as we see more of Christ in all things and respond to him in all things.
When Jesus arrived, the angels responded in a massive outburst of joy in front of the shepherds, Magi came with their huge caravan from far away to bow down before him, and for 2,000 years people have celebrated his first coming at the same time that they waited for his return. This year it’s your turn to Worship Fully.
You see, Christmas is about so much more than a fun day, good parties, and a few new things, it’s about Jesus, who came as a Servant King, who came to show us the way home, fill us with his Spirit, and welcome us back into his family. So, the hope is that we use all of the Christmas merriment to remind us of him, to remind us that we’re going home to be with him, face-to-face. We won’t carry our Christmas bags, or our cool new stuff with us, we’ll carry the memories of how we participated in his adventures, how we watched for him, and how he revealed what he was up to in our lives and the lives of the neighbors we served along the way.

So, may you worship Jesus more this season. May you care for others in new ways. May you worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all!

 

 

 

Hope- Advent 1

Reflection from Nov. 26, 2017

What does it mean to hope for Christ’s coming in the future?

Jesus speaks as though there will be a big triumphant coming all at once. But he also says, no one knows. He says these things will happen within the generation, and yet, nothing like that has happened yet.

 

So what does Jesus mean by this coming? What is he trying to get the disciples to do? He says- keep awake- keep alert. Why do we need to keep awake, is it so that we don’t sleep and miss out on God’s coming? That’s kind of like what Jordan was saying (click here to watch the video of Moderator Jordan Cantwell’s Advent message) about being aware of where God is already present in the world. That has a lot to do with hope- knowing that God is with us, always, no matter what.

 

Remember also what Jesus says about keeping awake like the servants in his parable, they keep awake to keep working- each servant has a task that has been assigned by the homeowner, who is away on a journey, but will return. Is that how it feels for us sometimes- that God is absent? That we are all alone. That the work we do is for nothing?

 

Could it be that what Jesus is asking us to do is to keep awake, and not give up hope? To keep working for God’s kingdom, even though it feels sometimes like we are like we are alone- to keep trusting that she is with us.

 

This may not be what we want to hear- because we want what is written in Isaiah- we want God to tear open the heavens and come down with a great show of power and might and fix all our problems.

 

What if what is actually going to happen is more like what is written at the end of that passage: “God is the potter, and we are the clay”?

 

What if instead of big displays of power, God works through molding us into the people that can heal this world?

 

I was thinking recently about the phrase “thoughts and prayers” that gets tossed around a lot after tragedy strikes. And some people have taken to mocking it, saying , nothing ever changes, and that it is an empty phrase. And they have a point- mostly this is around gun violence in the States and criticizing people who send thoughts and prayers, but will not act to change the gun laws.

But prayer does require action on our part. I believe thoughts and prayers are useful and can’t create change. But praying to God doesn’t mean asking God to tear open the heavens and come down, it’s a conversation with God.

 

When we pray, we also invite God to respond back to us, to invite us to do something about what we prayed for, to be guided into the work God has for us, and we need to be open to that.

 

If we pray for ourselves, for change, we need to be prepared to hear how God can guide us to make those changes, if we pray for people we knowing struggling with loss, we need to be prepared to hear God guiding us to be the ones who offer help and comfort, if we pray for people suffering due to injustice, we need to be prepared to hear God guiding us to work to correct that injustice.

This is how we hope as Christians- actively, with hearts open to hear how God will mold us like a potter, how God will equip us, his servants, to fulfill the task that we have been given, so that God’s kingdom can come, on earth as it is in heaven. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Love, the greatest gift.

Here’s the candle lighting liturgy from Sunday- it was written by Jean Hamilton from the Gathering Drama File, Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2015-2016, and read by two of our Sunday school children.

It’s a reminder to us that love is the most important gift that we can ever get- and it’s not something that can be bought, or planned or even earned. It’s a gift, and when we have it, it’s important to cherish it. So as we get into our last few days before Christmas, let’s remember what’s important and and act accordingly! May you all have a very blessed Christmas time!

Voice 1: Well, it’s nearly Christmas, and this is the payoff

The end of the year and we’re into the playoffs!

For this is the Sunday when love is the theme!

So what do you make of it? What is your dream?

Voice 2: I know about love, I know all about it

The singers all sing it, the shouters all shout it.

Everyone’s shopping, wanting to try it

Everyone’s hopping to find it or buy it.

Just buy the right presents, just drive the right car,

And love will be yours! It’s right there in the stars.

Voice 1: I think that’s a problem, I think that’s all wrong,

If that is the story you heard in a song.

It’s not about money, it’s not about shopping,

It’s not about buying, it’s not about hopping.

Don’t have to be pretty, don’t have to be clever,

Don’t have to be anything different whatever.

To love everybody, both neighbour and stranger,

This is the gift of the Child in the manger.

Voice 2: That sounds really cool, I think that I get it.

Let’s light a candle so we don’t forget it.

First Sunday in Advent- HOPE

What is hope? On Sunday, we watched this video from the Advent Unwrapped website being run by the United Church. It talks about hope being like a seed, that needs to be nurtured so that it can grow.

The song we sing often in Advent is “Hope is a star” and the first line is: “Hope is a star that shines in the night, leading us on til the morning is bright.”

In both the case of the seed, and the star, the sign of hope is something small in the present, but holds promise for something good in the future. Hope is the opposite of fear- fear tells us something bad is likely to happen, but hope says something good WILL happen.

And for us in the church, we are called to not only have hope, but to work towards the fulfillment of the promise of God’s kingdom. It’s not enough to just hope that everything will get better, we have to work for it- in fact, this is how we can know that something good is going to happen, because we have committed to make it so. And since God’s kingdom is about justice and compassion and ultimately, love, working to bring it in means building and strengthening relationships and community and concern for everyone in our world.

In our world today, there is much fear that closes borders, closes wallets and closes hearts. Our way is a way of hope- of opening ourselves to relationship, opening ourselves to the possibility of change and growth, opening ourselves to see where God is leading us- where that star is leading us until the morning breaks.

Blessings, Kristin