Dear Brothers and Sisters at Hope,
I found this on Facebook, and it was worth sharing: “If we are rushing through the stores this holiday season, then let’s rush….to hold the door for someone else, to tuck a folded bill into the red pot, to share a smile instead of annoyance in the check-out line, to lend a hand to the frazzled mom, to say a real thank you to the workers. Yes, let’s rush…to simply be kind.” How awesome is that? In a world where we see increasing levels of violence and anger, let us be the ones who reverse the trend. Let us be the ones who bring Christ to others as we are led by the Spirit to serve God and share the love of Jesus. Let us be the ones who are simply and deeply kind so that others might know that they are valued and cherished in the eyes of God. Kindness-it can make all the difference. As it is often said, “Kindness is not an act-it is a lifestyle.” Kindness is a choice that embodies Jesus’ command that we are to love one another.
Advent is a season of quiet, hope-filled anticipation as well as a time to clear out the cobwebs in our faith life and renew and refresh our hearts as we prepare to make a home for Christ there. I pray you will join us for weekend worship as well as for mid-week worship on Wednesdays at 4:30pm so that together we will be prepared to greet Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus.
A blessed and holy Advent be yours! Love, Pr. Jen Schaefer+
Second Sunday of Advent~~~December 4-5, 2021
The Prayer of the Day Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming give to all the people of the world knowledge of your salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Gospel: Luke 3:1-6
John the Baptist is a herald of Jesus, whose way is prepared by “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” As we hear the careful record of human leaders, we sense the spectrum of political and religious authority that will be challenged by this coming Lord.
1In 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, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as 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.
5Every 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.
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HOMILY Not everyone can whistle like our Deacon Jill to get attention from a crowd. Some will say “If you can hear the sound of my voice, clap once” and repeat it to get people’s attention. Eventually. 😊
~~~While the prophets of scripture may have felt at times that they were speaking in vain, they caught enough attention that we continue to hear their words reverberate today. “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God,” we hear from Micah 6:8. “Comfort, O comfort my people” encourages Isaiah 40:1. What was it about them that captured the attention of the people around them? Was there some kind of magnetic quality about them? Was it a fierce or wild look in their eyes? Or were their words from God simply so true in times so desperate that listening to them felt like solid ground in a shifting time?
~~~We know theirs were not the only voices people could listen to. While the prophets were encouraging people to return to God, to care for the vulnerable, to be restored in relationship with one another, there were surely then, as now, competing voices for the people’s attention—voices of power, greed, despair, or complacency that were louder than the prophets’ call. And yet the prophets were heard through the generations.
~~~The words of Isaiah were resonating so powerfully that John the Baptizer picked them up and echoed them centuries later: “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.’” John heeded Isaiah and lived these words, calling those who heard him to repent and to begin anew, to prepare the way. In so doing, he invited more and more people to live Isaiah’s words with him.
~~~Yet John’s voice was not the only one people heard. Today’s passage from Luke begins with some of the other voices that competed for the attention of the crowds in the region near Judea and Galilee in the first century: Emperor Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip the ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias the ruler of Abilene. And yet amid these rulers’ claims to power and voice, people were drawn to John the Baptizer. John, who heard the word of God in the wilderness and went around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John, who answers in Luke 3:10 when the crowds ask, “What then should we do?” by saying, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” John, who showed them that valleys are filled and the mountains and hills made low when those with plenty share with those in need. They heard something they knew to be true in his words. In his words, they heard restoration, justice, and hope.
~~~But John was not the source of the words. Nor was Isaiah the source of the words. Isaiah and then John were like the ones standing nearby who hear the sound of the speaker’s voice and clap in response. Because of their clapping, more and more people can identify and heed the speaker’s voice. They, too, can join in the clapping to draw attention to the speaker, so that more and more people in turn can hear the words. They point to the source of THE WORD.
~~~The voice to which they draw our attention may not be the loudest in the room. Sometimes it is the still, small voice. But it is steady. It is persistent. It is the voice of God who continually invites us all to return, to care for the vulnerable, to be in relationship with one another.
~~~After all, prophets’ words are not an end unto themselves; they point us back to God. They show the way when we’ve gotten a little turned around. They draw our attention when we’ve been distracted by the clamoring of other voices. Prophets tell the truth about things as they are and remind us that there is a better way. Prophets call us to notice where we’ve gotten off the path and call us to return to relationship with God and with one another—to share a coat when we have two, to share food when we have extra. Prophets are channels for the words of God so that we might hear those words, live them, and be channels too. Prophets call us to do God’s work with our hands as we share the love of Christ with all people.
~~~Listening to them can help us live the words of God in our own time, as they endeavored to do in theirs. Across the generations, we participate in the call to return to God, to care for the vulnerable, to restore relationship with one another. And we are called to trust that none of this is done in vain, but rather prepares the way.
~~~When we attune our ears to and live the words shared by the prophets, we are able to better recognize the One who was, who is, and who is to come, the Word who is restoration, justice, and hope. We are able to recognize the Christ who reconciles us and for whom we wait in this season of Advent with hopeful expectation.
~~~So, today, let us focus our attention and allow a hush to fall over us so that we may hear the voice calling from the wilderness: “Prepare the way.” Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
In this season of watching and waiting, let us pray for all people and places that yearn for God’s presence. A brief silence.
You send messengers into the world to proclaim the day of your coming. Make our bishops, pastors, and deacons, confident in their preaching, that their words and our lives witness to your grace. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Send your Spirit to all living creatures that are endangered. Provide them with shelter and care and bring us into right relationship with the earth that you create and call good. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Send leaders to our nations, cities, schools, and businesses to work on behalf of those who have lost parents, spouses, and loved ones; immigrants; the imprisoned; those living in poverty; and all who are oppressed. Make them bold in their commitments to justice and reconciliation. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Send your servants to care for those who suffer. Use our ministries and our lives to reach out with compassion to those who are hungry, oppressed, lonely, or ill (especially). Grant them healing and wholeness. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Send prophets to speak difficult truths, even when they are poorly received. Embolden those who ask hard questions and challenge accepted ways. Instill in youth and elders alike a passion for pointing to Jesus in all things. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
We remember your saints, both those publicly celebrated and those more humbly remembered. Confident that your work will be completed, we live in faith until the day of your coming. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
God of new life, you come among us in the places we least expect. Receive these prayers and those of our hearts, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Spirit through Christ for whom we wait. Amen.
Let us go out into the world in peace. Christ is near as together we are led by the Spirit to serve God and share Christ’s love with all. Thanks be to God!
We welcome all who worship with us today. Please complete one of the visitor cards at our guest table. If you would like to make Hope your church home, please speak to Pastor Jen. Everyone is welcome at Hope Lutheran Church.
Next Week’s Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
The October through December Word in Season Devotionals are available on the narthex table.
Altar Guild: Gail Zahs & Delores Hall
Usher: Mark Packer
Counters: Pastor Cheryll Armstrong-Kaukis and Karl Kaukis
Please call the church office or email Pr. Jen with any prayer requests you may have so they may be shared with the congregation.
Please continue to hold in prayer:
Diane & Al for healing and strength
Fred and Cyndi Carley for healing
Sandy Garant for healing
Kim for healing
John Hodler for healing
Jan for healing
Vanessa for healing
Maxine Linn (Mark Packer’s Mother)
Richard Massey and Rick for healing
Doreen Parkinson for healing
Herb Sixbury for healing
Dawn Seibert for healing
Carol for healing, hope, and God’s will.
Laura Everill, daughter of Phyllis and Tom Agness, for healing.
John Greene, Millie’s husband, for strength and healing & healing for all their family
Cheryl Burke who is in need of healing
Larry and Barbara Brady, as they focus on healing.
NEW AT HOPE
KINDNESS KORNER: Carry a spare bottle of water and offer it to a homeless person or get some bird seed and put it out for the birds.
BIBLE STUDY: On Monday’s, we have a study from 10 to 11am. Join us for an overview of the Bible. Study with us God’s love story for his people! All are welcome!
Sunday, December 19th at 3pm: 11-time Grammy Award winning Tommy Fairchild will lead us in a Christmas Carol Sing Along. Wine and Cheese reception to follow. Bring friends, all are welcome!
Poinsettias for Christmas: $15/plant. Sign up on desk outside of Narthex by December 19th
ADVENT—URE 2021 at Hope Lutheran Church
On Wednesdays in Advent, we will meet at 4:30pm in the Sanctuary for worship focused on the theme “Pop-Up Nativity”. We will join in prayer, song worship, and laughter as we discover a new way to celebrate. Don’t miss out on the fun and the time to reflect on Emmanuel, God with us, and our joyous anticipation of his Birth at Christmas!
Wed. Dec. 8 at 4:30pm–focus on Mary and Joseph, followed by a craft for us.
Wed. Dec. 15 at 4:30pm-focus on angels and shepherds, followed by a collection of Christmas goodies for our food pantry.
Wed Dec. 22 at 4:30pm-focus on the Three Kings, followed by the decorating of our Sanctuary for Christmas and a sharing of treats.
Please plan to join us in this holy season of Advent so that together we are prepared to celebrate the Birth of Christ at Christmas! As always, please bring a friend!
CHRISTMAS WORSHIP SCHEDULE AT HOPE
Friday, Christmas Eve, Dec. 24:
4pm Candlelight Worship in the Sanctuary
5:30pm Worship in the parking Lot
7pm Candlelight Worship in the Sanctuary
Sat. Christmas day, Dec. 25 10am spoken worship in Sanctuary
Our regular weekend liturgies of Sat. 5:30pm and Sunday 8:30 and 10am will take place for Christmas Dec. 25-26. Celebrate with us and as always please bring a friend!