Father God, you sent your son into the world, not to condemn the world but so that the world may be saved. We thank you for this good news, the center of our faith. We thank you for the freedom to meet here to worship you.
Jesus, life of all the world, source and sum of all creation, we give you thanks and praise for your work in this broken world. Where there is hatred and devastation, even there we see signs of the new world to come. We see pockets of beauty amidst devastation; hear of miraculous escapes from certain death. We see people giving of what little they have to help others. We see people risking their lives to fight against tyranny and even natural disasters as they work to put out fires, hold back floods. We pray that we may continue to see signs of this hope in all the coverage of despair. We pray that you strengthen us to be, in some small way, one of those agents of hope to others.
Jesus, living word we give thanks that you who know our every need, give us life. We give you thanks for all the seemingly ordinary ways in which you bless us every day; for waking up each morning with a whole new day to explore, for our jobs, for an unexpected smile, for chances to get together with friends and loved ones, for the signs of spring after a long winter. We pray that you may help us to be more aware of what we have than what we lack, and give us the strength we need to hold out that focus of hope to those who may have lost sight of spring. While despair can be contagious, so can hope be contagious. Help us to hold on to our hope and spread to those we meet in our daily lives.
We thank you for the freedom, gladness, and truth which allow us to let go of our fears and guilt. Help us to remember that, through Jesus, we have already been forgiven. Help us to forgive ourselves, to let go of all those feelings of not being worthy, of failure, and bask in the freedom that brings. Help us also to extend this forgiveness to anyone who has hurt us or wronged us in any way. Make us open to all people, even those we might normally avoid.
Jesus, life of all the world, you are Lord of every nation; by your Holy Spirit’s power make your Church your incarnation till our lives of truth and grace show our world your human face! Amen
this prayer uses parts of Margaret Clarkson’s hymn Jesus, life of all the world which can be found at 776 in the Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada
By the light of one small candle
Total darkness disappears.
A glimmer of hope
Begins to glow.
This morning I was standing in line at the cash register at a local store. There was Christmas music playing in the background, and I became aware that all three of us in line were toe tapping etc. to the music. I noted this to them and suggested that it must mean that it was early in the season as later on we would likely be complaining about being tired of hearing it. We had a nice chuckle, and one of the women noted that it wasn’t even December yet. When I commented that Advent starts tomorrow one of the women asked what I’m giving up. I said that we give things up for Lent and not Advent, and that it is a good thing! That got me thinking…
We actually give up many things during Advent don’t we?
We give up common sense with respect to our eating habits. Our best intentions with respect to eating healthfully typically go out the window as the chocolate, candy and home-baked sweets are set out to tempt us, and big family dinners go on and on!
We give up on our budgets as we buy special clothing for Christmas parties, and get caught up in all the Christmas shopping hype. Out come our credit cards and we lose track quickly of how even really great prices can be too much if you buy too many things.
Neither of those are good for us, but there are more things given up during Advent and Christmas…
We relax those tight fists on our purse strings and donate more to charities and causes. Knowing this it is the main time of year for organizations such as World Vision to put out catalogues of items so that people see something concrete to go along with their monetary donation. Along with our money we loosen up and give more of our time and talents at this time as well. People go out to entertain at nursing homes, work to collect food and clothing for food banks etc.
It is a time to give up on despair, to be replaced by the hope that comes with the birth of the Messiah.
We give up on arguments, feuds, and wars (remember hearing about the troops in the WWI in 1914 meeting in no-man’s-land to celebrate Christmas) and accept the gift of peace from the Prince of Peace!
We let go of our inner Grinch and, in joy, we smile, sing, and celebrate the birth of a baby boy!
And finally, out goes our loneliness as we accept the love of God and the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
So it turns out the question the woman asked me in line this morning was pretty insightful after-all. What will I give up for Advent? How about you?
Posted in anticipation, Christmas, Reflections
Tagged Advent, charity, Christmas, debt, diet, giving, giving up, hope, joy, Lent, love, peace, World Vision
Getting Active For The Climate
Zechariah 7:10 “God-of-the-Angel Armies said then and says now: ‘Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another – that’s evil.'”
The Canadian House of Commons recently passed third reading of bill C-389 which is a bill to close loopholes in the human rights act which currently still allow people to fire people or refuse to rent apartments to people on the grounds of their being transgendered or transsexual. On the face of this it is a great move in the direction of treating each other with justice and being compassionate with each other. Unfortunately this bill will now head off to the Senate where it seems almost certain to fail.
When God said to treat each other justly and with compassion did he mean justice for everyone? Maybe he just meant for people like us (insert your own definition of us here), justice only for women, justice only for men, justice for only straight people, monogamous people, for our on race, religion etc. Surely we aren’t supposed to work for justice for criminals!
Have you ever noticed how many figures in the Bible spent time in jail. Jails are for criminals right? For truly bad people. The Apostle Paul spent a great deal of time in one jail or another and from there he wrote some of the letters that have become scripture.
Jesus had compassion on all the lowest characters in his society. The religious leaders of the day were horrified to see him with lepers, tax collectors, and women of ill repute. At the very end, on the cross, he was assuring the convict who was hanging beside him, an admitted felon, of his place with him in heaven.
My class were discussing the passage of the bill today and the fact that all of the MPs from our area voted against it passing. They asked me how anyone could vote against something as basic as not being discriminated against. I had no answer for them, but it gave me hope that they were asking at all. I think that our kids these days are more tapped into their sense of justice and compassion than we realize. I am certainly not saying that all kids are perfect. There is still a lot of bullying going on in our schools and work places. But it does give me hope that we are moving in the right direction.
Posted in Reflections
Tagged Bible, bill c389, bully, Christianity, compassion, God, hope, House of Commons, Jesus, justice, kindness, reflection, Senate, teachers, transexual, transgendered
From here we go on our way, separate but not alone, taking with us all God’s love to support us on our way.
May our kindness show God’s love. May forgiveness show our faith. Perseverance show our hope, our spirit show the peace of God.
After we leave today keep God close in our hearts. Pass along the joy of God, there’s no better time to start!
Posted in Music, Reflections
Tagged choir, Christianity, church, dismissal, faith, hope, hymn, kindness, love, music, not alone, perseverance, prayer, seperate, song, spirit