December 5, 2021 - Advent 2

December 5, 2021 2nd Sunday of Advent - PEACE

Morning prayer

O God, whose will is justice for the poor and peace for the afflicted, let your herald’s urgent voice pierce our hardened hearts and announce the dawn of your kingdom. Before the advent of the One who baptizes with the fire of the Holy Spirit, let our complacency give way to conversion, oppression to justice, and conflict to acceptance of one another in Christ. We ask this through the One whose coming is certain, whose day draws near: your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (UM BOW)

Hymn #249 There a Song in the Air

1   There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky!

     There’s mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry!

     And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,

     for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

2   There’s tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth,

     For the virgin’s sweet boy is the Lord of the earth.

     Ay! The star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,

     For the manger of Bethlehem cradles of King!

3   In the light of that star lie the ages impearled;

     And that song from afar has swept over the world.

     Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing

     In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

4   We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song

     That comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.

     Ay! We shout to the lovely evangel they bring,

     And we greet in His cradle our Savior and King!

Lighting of the Advent Candle – PEACE

Malachi 3:1-4

3:1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight--indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap;

3:3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.

3:4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

We light this candle as a sign of the peace we yearn for in Jesus.  Light 2 PURPLE candles.

Children’s message – Talking to the prophets – Malachi

I am excited to introduce you to another prophet this week. Malachi is a prophet in the time around 420 BCE. His prophesies are based on the Temple, which has been rebuilt- remember we talked briefly last week about the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem. The thing is, when God sends Malachi (whose name literally means my messenger) to the people with God’s message- it’s about the neglect of the Temple, it’s underfunded and falling into ruin and the Jewish men were divorcing their Jewish wives to marry women outside of their faith and ethnicity. Nehemiah comes a little later to set the marriage issue back on the right path with God. But in the mean time, the message we heard in the verses from Malachi 3:1-4 is God’s plan for Israel. Which is always to be their God, God will take them through a time of refining, so that ultimately they will reflect God and God’s love for all creation. We see this fulfillment in the coming of Jesus, because we can’t be made clean on our own, we need help from Jesus to be our mediator- the go between for us to God. And everyday we need Jesus to be our mediator, there will never be a day, we won’t need Jesus and we long for the day we see Him return.

 

Let us pray: Gracious God, thank you for being with us as you refine us. Your desire is that we will reflect you, that we will hold your image and we will recognize You in others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You most gracious and forgiving Father for hearing the cries of our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight:  Today we bless your financial tithes and offerings as well as the gifts that have been purchased for the foster children in KidsPeace.   

Offertory prayer:  God of mercy and grace, we pray that the gifts we offer this morning might be used to bring some compassion to the chaos that is our world. We give these gifts in love, hoping they will heal some of the hurting; and as they do, make the crooked road straight for the coming of the Christ. May the hills that separate us from sisters and brothers be made flat and may the valleys of our isolation be raised up, so we will be ready to welcome the Christ as one. In that holy name, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Preparation Hymn: #219 What Child Is This

1. What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?
Refrain:
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.

2. Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. (Refrain)


3. So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own him;
the King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him. (Refrain)

Message scripture: Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Message:  The Gift of Peace                 Pastor Becky Cuddeback

I cannot be the only one praying for peace. I pray for it constantly, peace of mind, peace of body and soul, peace in the world, and every other form of peace can come to us. I long for the conflicts, wars, ideologies to be set aside, so peace can come. Now, there have been times, in our lifetimes, where we have witnessed almost peace in our world. Do you remember the joy of the reunification of Berlin and the crumbling of the Soviet Union? How about the Cuban missile crisis? The constant treaties and missed deadlines of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? I offer these examples and I am sure you could offer more, of times we were on the brink- teetering between utter destruction and lasting peace. Unfortunately, human peace never lasts, the old Soviet Union is resurrecting, Israel and Palestine will be at odds until the final return of Messiah and any given day, another nuclear disaster looms.

We can see the unrest even closer to home. The debates around covid have shattered our fragile peace, the illusion of neighborly love and in some ways, we will never recover in this generation and possibly into the next. Once the veil was pulled back, we can’t unsee what we have seen in regard to our interactions with our fellow human beings. Yet our hearts long and yearn for peace.

So, what does any of that have to do with John the Baptist’s proclamation of being the voice in the wilderness? He is ushering in the coming of Jesus and the Kingdom of God as a prophet of the God, Most High. The same God who instructed Isaiah to prophesy as recorded in Isaiah 9:2-7, for onto to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. The Kingdom is one of peace- the One to sit at the right hand of God, is the Prince of Peace. John was Jesus’ prophet, and as you recall from last week’s children’s message- a prophet is called/ordained to deliver the messages of God to the people of God. These prophecies can be characterized in a multitude of ways- they may be of encouragement or destruction, divine blessings or divine curses, but make no mistake, they are messages from God and God will be heard, and maybe through some surprising people. People like you.

In His first coming, Jesus is ushered in by John, in His second coming when each of us choose to follow Jesus on a path of discipleship, there was a prophet and you know their name- for me, it was Miss Virgie and in His third coming, it’s us. We are the ones going before the Prince of Peace to make straight the pathways, filling in the valleys, in short, we are to be removing obstacles to usher in the Kingdom of God.

How are we to do that? It is in sharing the gospel story, the good news of Jesus- not only with words, but by our actions. Taking seriously that we are being refined, stripped of what separates us from God, not just receiving the grace that saves us, but putting that grace to work in being peaceful people. Learning or relearning how to walk humbly with God, speaking truth in love, not condemnation, because none of us are righteous without Jesus, and loving mercy. We have at our disposal all the blessings of the Kingdom, Jesus left them with us in the power of the Holy Spirit - John 14… I will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to teach all things and remind you of all that I have said and Jesus told us to ask and we shall receive it, yet Beloved, we hesitate, for we think the job is too big or that we are too small or believe the fallacy that we are to merely sit and wait and sooner or later Jesus will mop up this mess, when we have the ability and the resources to start the work.

Do you have a kind word to share, a smile, or a meal? Unused clothing or bedding? Unfilled or undedicated time to share with someone who needs a listening ear? This is how we live as the prophets of the Prince of Peace. We slowly chip away at the hardness of this world, offering healing in the brokenness and fully living into following Jesus, going with Him, with Him, all the way.

 

Let us pray: Blessed Father, again you come to us offering the peace we so need and so desire. Help us search ourselves for what we need to shed in order to follow you more closely. Remove what hinders us and place on the pathways of righteousness so that all shall see the salvation and peace of God. Amen.

Closing Hymn #245 The First Noel

1. The first Noel the angel did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep, on a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Refrain:
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel.

2. They looked up and saw a star shining in the east, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light, and so it continued both day and night.
(Refrain)

3. And by the light of that same star three Wise Men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent, and to follow the star wherever it went.
(Refrain)

4. This star drew nigh to the northwest, o'er Bethlehem it took its rest;
and there it did both stop and stay, right over the place where Jesus lay.
(Refrain)

5. Then entered in those Wise Men three, full reverently upon the knee,
and offered there, in his presence, gold and myrrh and frankincense.
(Refrain)

Benediction:  Go into this week with the blessings of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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