What does it mean to be called, and how should we respond? Today we hear two powerful stories about God’s call and those who heard it. In both stories, the call comes without warning, offers no explanation, and requires openness and risk from the ones called. It is safe to assume that we, too, will be called over and over again. When, where, how and why remain unknown. But we can also assume that God is behind it. The rest is up to us.
One of life's most important challenges is knowing what we are called to be and do — and accepting that call. Some find that easy; others struggle with it. Jesus, too, came to realize His calling, and He accepted it when He stepped into the River Jordan to be baptized. He was called to give His life for others. At baptism, we, too, are called as God's own. We are all called — like Jesus — to be for others.
The imagery of the Messiah as the ‘Good Shepherd’ and Israel as the sheep appears throughout Old Testament Scripture. God was intentional in sending the announcement of Jesus’ birth to those Israelites who by their occupation represented the role of His Son. As soon as the angels left, the shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem. After meeting Mary and Joseph and seeing Jesus, they had to share with all those they met what they had experienced. They had seen for themselves the fulfilment of God’s word and a promise of hope for the future.
Today we celebrate a light in the darkness. But not everyone can see it. John the Evangelist had to explain it, because the world did not recognize Jesus. God is indeed here among us, in human flesh. We are invited to see this amazing light and help others recognize it, too.
Tonight, we light all the candles. The first candle is the hope shining for those worn thin by times of waiting. The second candle is the hope shining for those worn down with wearied souls. The third candle captures the hopeful expectation of those eagerly watching for God's glory in our day. The fourth candle is the hope of a new tomorrow shining for those seeking freedom from the wounds of this world. Tonight, we light the Christ candle. This candle radiates the hope of Jesus Christ to all who are willing to receive it. Today we celebrate a light in the darkness. But not everyone can see it. John the Evangelist had to explain it, because the world did not recognize Jesus. God is indeed here among us, in human flesh. We are invited to see this amazing light and help others recognize it, too.
This morning we light four candles. The first candle is the light of hope for those in times of waiting. The second candle is the light of hope for those who are wearied by the circumstances of life. The third candle is the light of hope for those eagerly watching for God’s promised glory. The fourth candle is the light of hope for those who carry the wounds of life. Today we acknowledge our pain and the pain we have caused others. As the light shines, we turn to the Savior Who came to rescue the lost, to help the hurting, and to bind up the broken. This last week of Advent is brief, one day, but the message is profound. The fulfillment of God’s promises is about to happen! This single day places us in a long line of yearning people. Christmas is upon us, yet the task of endless anticipation is a sacred reality we need to embrace. Just as with those who are inches away from relief, rescue or reversal of any kind, still hang on. All of life is like this.
This morning we light three candles. The first candle reminds us of those who find themselves in a season of waiting, resting in hopeful anticipation for God to act. The second candle is for anyone feeling weakened and wearied by the circumstances of life. We echo the cry of scripture to renew their strength and increase their power. The third candle awakens our spiritual senses, challenging us to embrace the glory of God, as we await our Savior's promised coming. Today we are in the rhythm of both gratitude and yearning. Between the two, there is great space for hope. We are learning to be a patient people, continuing on, grateful but also impatient, in hope. We don’t give up hoping just because some of the things we long for in God’s reign of peace and justice have already happened. We’re there, and yet we’re not. So much remains unfinished; so many have not yet experienced what has been promised.
Today we light two candles. The first candle illuminates patience in the areas of our lives where God has called us to wait. The second candle extends the promise of strength to all who feel weary and weak in the shadows of this world. As we continue our Advent journey, may our hope be kindled as the light grows brighter. In the Gospel today we hear John the Baptist exhorting us to prepare the way of the Lord. If we are to be Christ-bearers in this world, we must be willing to empty ourselves of all that is not compatible with Christ. This is a lifelong process and it is helpful to have good companions along the way – like those of us gathered here. Let us pray today to continue together on the way of perfection and welcome Jesus into our lives.
This morning we light the first candle which reminds us that throughout history, God's people have spent time waiting, wandering and wondering about the timing of God's eternal plan. Like the people of old, we long for God's presence to illuminate the areas of life where. we are called to wait. This morning we echo the words of the Psalmist, "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14) On this first Sunday of Advent, we are reminded that God’s people have not always been faithful. Yet despite our sinfulness, and because of Jesus, God is faithful to us. Keep watch. We do not know the exact hour when the Lord will come to us individually or at the end time. We dare not take God for granted.
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