Posted by on Dec 1, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Pray—Praise—Prepare

Dear Lord….thank you so much for all you have provided for us. We often take for granted all you give to us…like a home, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, friends, family, your Son. We are so very thankful to you for the care and safety you provide for us. May we continue to realize what gifts we have been given by you, be thankful for them and help others who need to know your love and saving grace.

Our gospel lesson for today the first Sunday of Advent is from Mark 13:24-37. In this reading, Jesus is speaking to his disciples for the final time before he is to go through the events of his arrest, trial and crucifixion. In these verses, Jesus is telling the disciples and followers to be alert and ready at all times.

These words really speak to the people of Jesus time about the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the devastation of the war with Rome. Jesus tells them that they will know the time may come when the fig tree’s leaves begin to appear…and the branches are tender. This means it could be close to summer.

Jesus also says that the Son of Man will come with power and glory, but the time will not be known. He also says that time will pass away, but his words will not pass away. He also underlines the fact that no one but the Father knows what the day or hour will be for the coming. And…he challenges the people to always be aware….and ready. He then uses the illustration of a man leaving on a journey and leaving his house in the care of stewards. This illustration also speaks to the fact that those who are caring for his house do not know when the owner will return. I really believe this illustration also speaks to us as believers.

You say…what does this have to do with us this year…and now as we begin the celebration of Advent…leading to Christmas when this man, Jesus, was born as a baby and we all received the gift he would provide for us.

Just as Jesus was training the disciples in this section…He is also training us. We are to be alert, but to keep on with the work God has asked us to do as His disciples. We are to be ready…to be alert…to be good stewards…to prepare.

This time of all of our lives has been so very challenging. Not only have we had to be separate from family and friends, but we have been warned to be sensitive to where we go…to avoid potential exposure to the virus. Many of us have not been able to attend our “normal” Thanksgiving celebrations due to the potential dangers.

Yes…we have been able to get other things done, but we are missing our friends. We are now missing out on having the privilege of attending church services and worshiping together. We pray every day for calm…for guidance in making the decisions to keep ourselves and our relatives safe and well. It is also important that we pray for our leaders, the incarcerated, our family, friends, nation, church. This is vital.

In the middle of this trying time in our lives, we now have the chance to again celebrate the coming to us of Jesus as a baby. It’s a good time to praise God for this gift…to thank Him for giving it to us. Even though the times are different…we can still sing God’s praises for his gifts. We can still listen to and sing along with the favorite Christmas carols.

It is just that the practice of praising God at this time will look different. What will you praise God for? The gift of Jesus? Yes. The gift of life? Yes. The gift of family who we can talk to and look forward to being together when this is over? Yes. We can praise God for his care of us. We can praise God for the opportunity to realize what we really have in our lives because of His saving love and grace. Things may be different…but this life is still a gift from God.

Then…we can prepare. We all are used to the previously normal preparations for Christmas…from decorating the house…purchasing and wrapping presents…preparing meals for the family when they come for the Christmas celebration. These preparations will be a little different this year…but we will prepare, nonetheless.

However, there are other areas of preparation we can address during this time. Most importantly, we can raise our vision beyond what “it used to be like” to what it can be with God’s help.

We can prepare to be kind to people in words and deeds We have seen so much of the other ways of talking with and about people…it’s possible God is asking us to change what became a habit and be prepared when we see people again.

We can prepare to surround the people we see with God’s love when we see them again. We may not agree with them all the time, but we can show kindness and love as God shows to us. We are His disciples…and he asks us to accept all people.

We will prepare to be motivated by God act as he directs us…to be inspired to act when it is necessary. He will move us to say and do something when we see things that need to be done.

Let us enjoy the preparations for welcoming Jesus again this year. We will be prepared to welcome “God with us” this Christmas and all through the coming year.




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