The season of Advent has arrived

The season of Advent has arrived, marking the beginning of a new church year. A season of hope and expectation; a season of waiting, watching and preparing; a season of repenting by returning to the ways of our Messiah Jesus over and over again, in each day. A season of peace, transforming peace with justice, bringing wholeness, health, reconciliation and unity. A season of joy living in communion and communication with Jesus and members of the family of God. A season of love, re-creating, re-newing, re-membering love; upholding the dignity and worth of each human being created in God’s image. I invite you to take approximately three minutes now to view this lovely video by Christine Sine, with Christ Child Lullaby, played by Jeff Johnson.

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Advent Calendar

Many folks appreciate Advent calendars to help celebrate the Advent season and prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas-especially young children, and young-at-heart adults! 🙂 There are a wide array of Advent calendars available, many of which are online and some free of charge.

My favourite online Advent calendar is free of charge, and available at the Canadian Lutheran World Relief website. The main reason I highly recommend this Advent calendar is because it succeeds in making the linkage between the world’s poor and the variety of ways in which CLWR works to make a difference to their quality of life, as well as promoting education, justice and peace, thanks to CLWR’s supporters, encouraging supporters by reminding them that they are in solidarity with the poor and are making a difference through the various CLWR projects around the globe.

Click on the following link to access the CLWR Advent Calendar.

Advent-tide blessings to one and all.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

Ben Huberman gives us the following challenge: “Let there be light! Many of you already know that the photo in photography means light. More often than not, though, we shy away from actually showing its source in our photos. In time for the shortest days of the year (at least in the northern hemisphere), let’s give our trusty lightbulbs, flickering candles, and pedestrian street lamps their due respect. IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO THAT FEATURES A LIGHT SOURCE. We’re entering a truly light-filled season. Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorahs, and Kwanzaa kinaras are spreading their glow in homes the world over (or are just about to), while main streets and public buildings are being prepared for the winter holidays with an explosion of bright decorations. Take a look around you. Choose one of the light sources you see, and make it the focus of your challenge entry. It can be a dramatic chandelier or a pair of dying candles; the moon, a row of glaring lightbulbs in the parking lot, or a gaudy lava lamp stored in your attic: anything goes. The light doesn’t even have to be switched on: some lamps are just as fascinating for their shape as for the photons they emit.” Be sure to check out the other entries here.

Nativity Lights

Nativity Lights

“O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” Isaiah 2:5

Light bathing the frosty trees while walking

Light bathing the frosty trees while walking

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2

Medicine Hat lights at night

Medicine Hat lights at night

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Another Nativity

Another Nativity

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

Advent wreath & candles

Advent wreath & candles

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

And finally, a little music, “Light of the world,” Tim Hughes:

The season of Advent

The season of Advent 

In the church liturgical year, this is the season of Advent, which marks the beginning of a new year—so happy new year! The English Advent is derived from the Latin Adventus, meaning “coming.” Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and thus is four weeks long. The liturgical colour for Advent traditionally has been purple, which symbolizes royalty. However, more recently blue the colour of hope has become more common in many churches.

  • We prepare for Christ’s coming into the world as a baby.
  • We celebrate Christ with us now in daily life.
  • We look forward with hope to Christ’s coming again.

One of the traditions during Advent is an Advent wreath, which may have originated in Germany, usually made from evergreen tree branches. The wreath symbolizes:

  • Eternity and God’s love for the world.
  • Consists of four candles, one for each week of Advent.
  • The candles remind us Christ is the light of the world.
  • The candles also symbolize: Week one prophecy or hope candle; week two Bethlehem or peace candle; week three shepherds’ or joy candle; week four angels’ or love candle.

advent

 

Prayers for Bethlehem during Advent & Christmas

Prayer changes both things (i.e. history and events) and people. Today, when I visited the World Council of Churches web site, I discovered the following wonderful project that people of faith can participate in from around the globe.

As many Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Advent and Christmas in the security of their homes and communities, they are invited to pray for justice, peace and security for Palestine and Israel – and to send a prayer or a peace message to Bethlehem.

You too can participate in this project by clicking here.

1 Advent Yr A

1 Advent Yr A, 2/12/2007

Isa 2:1-5

Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson,

Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &

Chaplain of The Good Samaritan Society’s

South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta

 

“Living in Hope”

 

You may remember the story of the long and rough Atlantic crossing where the seasick passenger was leaning over the rail of the ocean liner and had turned several shades of green. A steward came along and tried to cheer him up by saying, “Don’t be discouraged, sir! You know, no one’s ever died of seasickness yet!” The nauseous passenger looked up at the steward with baleful eyes and replied: “Oh, don’t say that! It’s only the hope of dying that’s kept me alive this long!”1

I hope that it’s NOT only the hope of dying that’s kept us alive this long! Although we need not fear death, and are given hope after death—nonetheless, today in our first passage from Isaiah we are given the opportunity to live in hope. Today we begin another new Church Year with this first Sunday in the season of Advent, which is the Sunday of hope.

I don’t know if you noticed it, but in the opening verse of our first lesson, it is the faculty of seeing more so than of hearing or speaking that is emphasised. Isaiah the Jerusalem prophet and preacher is given a beautiful vision of hope: “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz SAW concerning Judah and Jerusalem. As the old adage has it, a picture contains at least one thousand words. What a wonderful picture-vision of future hope Isaiah describes here today! Mount Zion—another name for Jerusalem and the temple there—shall be the highest of all mountains. Here the prophet is likely meaning higher not in the literal sense of feet or kilometres; rather, in the sense of the most important place on earth spiritually, insofar as it is the place where humankinds’ highest dreams and hopes shall come into fruition. It shall be God’s capital city of all nations. Peoples from all directions shall flock to it for God’s instruction, God’s Torah, or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message: “He’ll—i.e. God will—show us the way he works so we can live the way we’re made.” I like that, we shall be able to live the way God has truly made us to live. That is to say, it will be a living in hope because God shall exercise his perfect power to judge and arbitrate the nations which shall produce the result of transforming completely the way the world exits. The consequences of God’s judgement and arbitration shall be the beating of swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Weapons of war and death shall become agricultural implements of peace and life—people shall no longer learn war any more. The endless resources presently being put into war shall end. Then there shall be enough resources to live in peace and prosperity for all nations. No more divisions of the world and its peoples into rich nations and poor nations. There shall be enough of everything for people to live healthy, meaningful, contented lives.

WOW! What a vision of hope that is! A vision of living hope for hundreds of thousands—even millions—of people down through the ages, right up until today. Is it for real, or is it too good to be true? Will the day ever come when God can actually right all wrongs and solve all of the world’s most difficult problems? Commenting on this passage, one scholar, Rev. Victor Zinkuratire, writes: Faced with so many problems that have no obvious solutions, Africans need to hear this message as an antidote to fatalism and as a prod to action.

Reading this poem in the context of contemporary Africa, with its seemingly insurmountable problems, one may be tempted to shun the challenge by trying to convince oneself that the opening phrase “In days to come” refers to the world beyond time rather than our present one. Certainly the Hebrew phrase can refer to the end time…but it can also refer to events within time…. It is in this latter sense that we in Africa should understand the phrase if we want this word of God to be a source of hope for us in our present hopelessness.2

I would suggest that it is not only the continent of Africa and its peoples that face such seemingly unresolved problems; rather, it is all nations and every people from every land who would do well to live in this hope during the present time with a view to a hope-filled future in anticipation of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

In the 1999 movie, Music Of The Heart, based on the true story of single parent, Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep), who, against all obstacles, pursues her vocational dream of teaching violin to children in an inner-city school. Roberta faces resistance from teachers, parents, and students alike.

However, with sheer perseverance, and a deep love for the children and the music, Roberta’s program and teaching talents produces successful and popular results. Several of her students gain enough confidence and inspiration to further their education and develop promising careers—including her own two sons.

Nonetheless, after ten years of teaching, the school district authorities threaten to eliminate Roberta’s program due to budget cutbacks. Roberta decides to fight back and discovers that several others—including world class professional musicians—support her cause and agree to perform a fundraising concert at Carnegie Hall.

Music of The Heart is a contemporary story that epitomizes, among other things, what it means to live in hope in the present and for the future. As Claire Booth Luce once said: “There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. There are only people who have gotten hopeless about it.”

Today, on this first Sunday of Advent, we are given the opportunity to begin again; to give up our false or misplaced hopes and renew our true hopes; to dream dreams; see visions like the prophet Isaiah; to live in hope now and for the future. The first candle of Advent is burning now and serves as a reminder of walking in the light of the LORD. Jesus our Light, has come, is ever coming in the everyday ordinary events of life, and, one day, shall come again to fulfill all of the biblical prophecies in a complete, definitive way. That is our hope, which gives us more than enough to live for in the present and for the future!

Our lives are like this first Advent candle of hope; they can shine light in the dark places of our community, our city, our province, our nation and world. It often starts out small—like baby Jesus did in a humble manger long ago. Yet, the more we exercise and live in hope, the larger it grows, until more and more people’s lives are touched by: a simple smile, a kind word, a loving deed, a heartfelt prayer, a shedding of tears, and shared joyful laughter. As lights burning with the Light of Christ in us and through us we can and do make a difference—spreading God’s life transforming hope to one and all! Ours is a living hope, for we worship and serve a living Messiah as he comes to us in and through life’s everyday events and the worshipping community gathered around the word and sacrament. Amen, come Lord Jesus!

 

 

1 Cited from: James S. Hewett, Editor, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988), p. 292.

2 Victor Zinkuratire, “Isaiah 1-39,” in: Daniel Patte, General Editor, Global Bible Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004), p. 192.