I would like to share several announcements here at the beginning.
1. Peace United Church will have the “Hanging of the Greens” with communion this Sunday.
2. Grey Eagle UMC will, like last year, have a progressive “Hanging of the Greens” where the greens will be hung over 4 Sundays.
3. Christmas Eve Worship will be at 4:00 PM for both churches this year. Grey Eagle UMC will be led by a supply pastor.
We begin a new liturgical year this coming Sunday, Year C, and we will focus on the Gospel of Luke. The season of the year that begins a new year is known as Advent. The seasons in a Liturgical Year are Advent (4 weeks), Christmas (12 days), Epiphany (5 to 8 weeks), Lent (8 weeks), Easter (7 weeks), and Pentecost (all the rest). (We will have a quiz this Sunday!)
This Sunday our readings are:
Jeremiah 33:14-16 – What was the promise that God made to the “House of Israel and the House of Judah” (in other words: Israel before the split)? It was the promise to David that his descendants would rule forever. Jeremiah was a prophet at the time when Judah (the southern half of original Israel) and Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians and the king’s sons were executed, the king was blinded, and then carted off to Babylon. How will the old promise be renewed? There is a irony in verse 16 which says that Jerusalem will have a new name: “The Lord is our righteousness”. That is translated in Hebrew as “Zedekiah” who was the king I just mentioned when Jerusalem was destroyed.
Psalm 25:1-10 – The psalmist asks for protection from those who afflict him and seeks forgiveness of his past sins. A key phrase to consider is mentioned three times in this passage: “steadfast love”. What does steadfast love mean to you? Have you ever felt God’s steadfast love in you life? How do we reflect or imitate this steadfast love to the people in our lives? What about the strangers in our lives?
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 – Paul prays for the people and the church at Thessaloniki. He gives thanks for them, asks to rejoin them, prays for their growth in love, strengthened holy hearts, and blamelessness before God at the return of Jesus. Is there anyone you should be in constant prayer for?
Luke 21:25-36 – Two weeks ago we read from Mark’s Little Apocalypse (Mark 13) and this week we read from Luke’s version. There are three sections to this reading: verses 25-28 “The Coming of the Son of Man”; 29-33 “The Lesson of the Fig Tree”; and 34-36 “Exhortation to Watch”. (Those were the titles used in my Bible. Your titles may be different based on the version and publisher of your Bible. They are not part of the original text.) What will be happening before the coming of the Son of Man and what should be the response of Jesus’ followers? What were the disciples supposed to learn from the fig tree? What will endure forever? Why should we be watching for the signs? After 1,980 years, do we really need to be on the alert? Or were these words said by Jesus for a certain people at a particular time in history that have nothing to do with us today?
Happy New Year, Everyone. May the Lord bless your reading of our lessons this week!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor