Advent 1 – Yr C (12/2/12)

8 Dec

Jeremiah 33:14-16

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Luke 21:25-36

 

Psalm 25:1-9;

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Opening Questions

  1. How might fear (of something) be a valuable catalyst in the development of your personal belief system?
  2. Natural disasters (earthquakes, Hurricane Sandy, sunamis, etc.) evoke apocalyptic thoughts.  How might those sort of events shape the way you think about moral issues?
  3. Is love more important to personal change than fear – or are both necessary?

Appointed Passages

Jeremiah 33: 14-16

14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

{Righteous – “acting in accord with divine or moral law.”}

  • Do you know someone (living or historically) that you woul describe as righteous?  What characteristics drive that conclusion?
  • Does righteousness arise only internally, or can it be imposed on others?

1 Thessalonians 3: 9-13

9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

  • By what standard do you measure your own faith?  Is faith a constant or does it need periodic restoration?
  • How do you play a role in restoring faith in others?
  • What specifically can we do to invite the action to “strengthen your hearts in holiness” (v. 13)?
  • What would an earthly leader have to provide to you for your heart to be strengthened?

Luke 21: 25-36

25 ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

29 Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34 ‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

  • How does faith provide strength in the face of natural disasters?
  • What is redemption (v.28)?  Do you need it?  How much and how often?
  • How can you bring the kingdom of God nearer to you in order to receive redemption?
  • Can too much worry be sinful?  When and how much?

 

Comment

I remember being surprised to learn in a discussion with one of my former priests that the beginning of Advent was a time that confession was encouraged.  It seemed odd to me that in a season marked by celebrations of joy in anticipation of the birth of Christ, we should take time to contemplate the worthiness of our faith and perhaps examine our moral framework for weak spots.  But when I thought about it, the concept of entering into a new era always provides an opportunity for a moment of reflection about who we are and what our roles should be.

The old testament lesson today reminds us the timelessness of a people who have become somewhat lax and worldly – forgetting the need to maintain touch with “righteous” actions.  As well, today’s Gospel passage from Luke also alerts us to the need to unburden our hearts from the worries of this life.  Sound familiar?  Need a reminder?  I daresay that most of us do – we’re only human.

I can certainly say that I need a refresher on redemption – periodically.  One of the definitions of the word is to “free from captivity by payment of ransom”.  In a sense, when we acknowledge our human mistakes, forgive ourselves and seek forgiveness and reconciliation from others whom we may have hurt, we are conceptually paying a ransom to free ourselves from the clutches of the past and become open to new possibilities and attitudes.  We have a fresh start, an empty bowl, a new beginning.  One that invites the presence of God and divine love to shape our human perspective – how refreshing!

My prayer for all of us today is that we look to the season of Advent as an opportunity for a new beginning.  The birth of a newborn child who will change the world.  The opportunity to shed the mental burdens of our human mistakes and move forward with a renewed but seasoned sense of values and appreciation for the change that is possible when triggered from within.


Quotes for Today:

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite a virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

Reinhold Niebuhr

 

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are.

Don Miguel Ruiz

 

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

Anais Nin

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