Thoughts for the Week beginning December 1st 2019
Written by Sue Miles and based on:
Isaiah 2: 1-5, Romans 13: 11-14, Matthew 24: 36-44.
Isaiah 2 1-5 Everlasting Peace
1 Here is the message which God gave to Isaiah son of Amoz about Judah and Jerusalem: 2 In days to come the mountain where the Temple stands will be the highest one of all, towering above all the hills. Many nations will come streaming to it, 3 and their people will say,
“Let us go up the hill of the Lord, to the Temple of Israel's God.
He will teach us what he wants us to do; we will walk in the paths he has chosen. For the Lord's teaching comes from Jerusalem; from Zion he speaks to his people.” 4 He will settle disputes among great nations. They will hammer their swords into ploughs and their spears into pruning knives.
Nations will never again go to war, never prepare for battle again. 5 Now, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light which the Lord gives us!”
As we are away when I would normally be writing this, I have started it early, Remembrance Day actually. A day when we are particularly thinking about all those who have died or have been hurt in so many different conflicts around the world. There have been wars which were supposed to be the last of all wars, and yet there are still so many areas of our wonderful world where anger, hatred, distrust and fear exist, resulting in death and destruction of so many and so much. We are told in verse 4 that disputes among great nations will be settled, nations will never go to war again. Isaiah’s vision of weapons of war being turned into agricultural tools is a promise for the days to come - a promise, a longing for what the future holds. May we pray that at this coming of the season when our Prince of Peace was born there may be peace throughout God’s wonderful world.
Hymn for today
7. King of the Nations, come, embrace
and unify the human race;
command our sad division cease
and be for us the Prince of Peace.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
Jubilate Hymns version of Veni, veni, Emmanuel John Mason Neale (1818 - 1866) © Jubilate Hymns Ltd
This week sees the beginning of Advent, a time of waiting, of preparation, a time to strengthen our faith, a time to look forward. Yet it also difficult not to look back, a chance to review where we are now and what we can learn from last twelve months. Of course there are negatives as well as positives as we look back. At Wylde Green we have lost some members of our congregation, and uppermost in my mind is the celebration service we went to today of our long standing and faithful member, Bill Bellshaw. We have however welcomed new people to our church and of course, after three years of prayer, God has sent Revd Dr Chris Dowd as our new minister. We look forward to seeing what God’s plan is for us all and Advent is an excellent time for preparation, new beginnings and fresh commitment.
Hymn for today
O Lord, how shall I meet you,
How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you,
My hope, my hearts delight!
O kindle, Lord most holy,
A lamp within my breast,
To do in spirit lowly
All that may please you best.
Rejoice and Sing No 140 Paul Geerhardt.
Each Sunday in Advent we light a new candle on our Advent wreath. The Advent wreath is thought to have originated among German Lutherans in the sixteenth century. However the modern wreath representing the Sundays in Advent came three centuries later with Johann Hinrich Wichern, a Protestant pastor in Germany making a wooden ring with small red tapers and four large white candles for impatient children to light as they awaited Christmas. Today we light a red candle on each of the four Sundays, representing hope, joy, love and peace. On Christmas Day we light a large white candle to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the light of the world.
Let us as each week passes make sure that we do not lose sight of what we are preparing for and then celebrating. As each candle is lit may we reflect on its significance and pause to reflect on God’s coming to earth. For our future, we must pray that in this season of Advent our faith grows stronger as we joyfully welcome Christ’s coming.
A Prayer for Advent
Lord Jesus our Saviour, the One who is to come, we come to You now.
Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them by your selfless love.
Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood.
Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit.
Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence.
Come Emmanuel: enter our lives, possess them always
And only for yourself.
St. Augustine of Hippo (adapted)
Romans 13: 11-14
1 You must do this, because you know that the time has come for you to wake up from your sleep. For the moment when we will be saved is closer now than it was when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, day is almost here. Let us stop doing the things that belong to the dark, and let us take up weapons for fighting in the light. 13 Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day—no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. 14 But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires.
In many ways 2019 is not so different from when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans. The way modern society conducts itself can often be inappropriate, caring little for others and for the consequences of its actions. Faith seems to play a very small part in many people’s lives. Yet they are happy to celebrate Christmas. Why? Well for some it simply means being swept up in the commercial hype we see all around us. An excuse for drinking, partying, spending ridiculous amounts of money on unneeded items. Perhaps some might make their annual visit to Church to sing carols, but do they really care about the real meaning of Christmas? We are also not good at waiting. The mince pies have been on the shelves in the shops for weeks already, the decorations up and even carols can already be heard in some shops.
Paul tells us this way of life must stop, we must conduct ourselves properly, living in the Light. Let us never forget what Christmas is all about, and use this time of Advent to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord.
Prayer for today
Lord as we await your coming, guide our thoughts, words and actions so that others may witness the true meaning of Christmas. May they come to know You too, and rejoice in Your coming. Amen
Matthew 24: 36-44
36 “No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows. 37 The coming of the Son of Man will be like what happened in the time of Noah. 38 In the days before the flood people ate and drank, men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat; 39 yet they did not realize what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes. 40 At that time two men will be working in a field: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind. 41 Two women will be at a mill grinding meal: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind. 42 Watch out, then, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. 43 If the owner of a house knew the time when the thief would come, you can be sure that he would stay awake and not let the thief break into his house. 44 So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him.
Here we read how Jesus tells His disciples that neither angels, ordinary humans or even Himself, knows the timing of His return. Only the Father know when it will be. Consequently some people will be totally unprepared and will be taken by surprise. The questions frequently asked are when, why, how will it happen and how will I know? How easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking it won’t happen yet, or it is only the period of Advent again.
Let us look past the outward trappings of the preparation for Christmas, and look at ourselves and our own lives. We have expectations, we have hope, let us be ready.
Prayer for today
You keep us waiting,
You, the God of all time,
want us to wait
for the time in which to discover
who we are, where we must go,
who will be with us, and what we must do.
So thank you………..for the waiting time.
Iona Community Worship Book.