Worship for Dec 6

Trinity United Church

Second Sunday of Advent

December 6, 2020

Liturgy:

Isaiah 40: 1-11

God’s Words of Hope: God says,”Comfort my people! Speak out and do not be afraid. Man’s life is short but God’s words endures forever. The Lord God strengthens us with his Power. The Glory of the Lord will be revealed. It prophesies that God is coming!

Psalm 85: 1-2; 8-13

Our loyalty to God allows love and faithfulness to meet; we become righteous and peace will be with us.

2 Peter 3: 8-15 

Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God.

Mark 1: 1-8

The Preaching of John the Baptist – The one who will come will baptize  you with the Holy Spirit.

Opening Hymn

VU #7: Hope is a Star

Opening Prayer

Great God of Love and Wisdom, you are closer to me than my breath.

Your presence is behind the veil of my heartbeat. Bless me to see you there.

Embolden me with your strength to help even in the smallest way, the birth of this new earth:

Even if it is only by sharing a smile to anyone or a voice of concern to someone,

Even if it is only to place cookies or a loaf of bread at a neighbour’s door;

Even if it is only to open a door for a stranger.  Divine Mother, Loving Father, help me to use each moment of this short life, to be present with you, and to contribute to the well-being of this whole world just by my thoughts anchored in you. Amen

Reflection

Healing Our World

Dr. Anjanee Gyan-Dyck, LLWL

Daily, our planet with us the inhabitants on it, seem to be undergoing waves of changes. It is mind-boggling to pinpoint one change when they all seem mysteriously connected. Right now, we are experiencing another lockdown due to a surge of the COVID virus pandemic.  This has presented a confluence of many other societal changes from overfull hospitals, hundreds and thousands of deaths, and anger at having to wear a mask. Humanity is becoming increasingly fragmented. Our ideas of security in the material world are gradually eroding.

To talk about “healing our world” is really a misnomer. Our world, today, can only be healed and changed when we change in our perceptions and attitude of faith. Just like the people of Judah in the Isaiah reading, we too have forgotten that God can help us and is helping us. The people of Judah had been in exile in the wilderness of Babylon. Isaiah reminded them that God has witnessed their sufferings and tribulations. Now they must turn away from their evil ways and blindness and awaken to the power and glory of God.

The prophet assured the Israelites that God will set them free and take them home to Jerusalem to begin a new life. Speaking from God’s message to him, Isaiah explained to them that while human life is short, God’s words endures forever. Today, 4 000 years later, we too face unsettling events. At present, it seems as if we are in an exile with tribulations and God, the Ultimate Ground of Being, is just a fiction of our imagination. We too have turned away from Him.

The changes that are happening all around us are like watching a mystery show. Everyone around this world can watch current events in real time. We stare at the television in horror of everything that is unfolding like the social unrests, political divisiveness and deliberate refrain to help, sufferings from the virus while millions of people doubt the truth of these troubles. Conversely, we also watch the sacrifices of first-responders, many giving their lives to save others, while too many simply sit back and “yearn for some messiah to supernaturally deal with our problems” (Spangler, p. 17). The people of Judah were hoping for a military king to magically deliver them.

The reading in the New Testament from Mark 1: 1-8 brings our attention to the Holy Spirit, the active power of God, and the Spirit’s mystical involvement in the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Today, we feel it impossible to believe in the mysterious much less to find God, to see Him at work, or to experience His presence. Some of us spend our time travelling to far-away places or searching for the right church, the right minister, the right book or the right church service in the hope of finding God. Some times it is even easier to fill our emptiness with material satisfactions.

Yet we yearn to know that we are not alone and we feel a compulsion within us to find what is missing. We believe that somehow we can find a way to connect to God and could find Him instantly. 2 Peter, verses 8-15 describes about God’s time. It explains that God’s time is not the same as how we look at time. It points out God’s time is right now, this second, this instant because God is omnipresent. He is Infinite and present everywhere at the same time. Jesus often referred to God’s presence as the “kingdom of God.” In verse 14 of Mark 1, Jesus teaches that “the kingdom of God is near.” The Pharisees believed that the Kingdom of God was an actual place to be built. In Luke 17: 21, Jesus replied to them that “the Kingdom of God is within you.”

Isaiah, the prophet, had a difficult time to describe the power of God within us to the people of Judah at that time. In his words of hope to them, he had to speak in a metaphorical way. For example in Verse 11, he stated: “God will take care of his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs together and carry them in his arms; he will gently lead their mothers.” Perhaps, the Infinite God may not be able to physically hold us but Psalm 85: 9-10 shows that when we do turn away from foolish ways and reach out to God within us our lives change because God’s “love and faithfulness will meet; and righteousness and peace will embrace.” God’s coming is in our awareness of Him. It is his power that flows out from us and into our world making it a new earth. This is our healing and the possible healing of our world.

To inwardly connect to God is open to every human being on earth whether you are Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims or other denominations and faiths. He, is closer than our breath, nearer than hand or feet. When we become aware of God’s Spiritual Presence inside of us, in our hearts, we come face-to-face with the amazing

realization of God’s Holy Presence in us. I could not have told you this truth if I had never experienced this realization, just as many others have done. It is from this experience that each one of us can feel some of the good qualities of God. We can never be separated from the Spirit of God as long as we keep it alive in us.

God’s Presence within us is really the great mystery of love that Jesus tried so hard to give. The prophets of old, the psalmists, and the witnesses of the New Testament were often ridiculed and killed for explaining that God reigns in our hearts. The good news is that you can prove this truth. You can close your eyes and focus on the Divine within. Within a short time of practice, you will be able to experience God’s love, strength and tenderness.

The way of our world today is one of a divided society and of indecision, indifference and worry. The writer of 2 Peter 3:8, wrote this

second letter near the end of the first century, when Christians were asking, “Is the Second Coming ever going to happen?” Even today, Christians ask the same question. God’s plan for a new earth and a new heaven can only happen through us, God’s children. By reaching to Him with sincerity in quiet meditation, the Spirit of the Lord will be upon you. By being aware of God’s Presence, we acquire our salvation of love and compassion, faithfulness and truth, righteousness and justice, and the peace of shalom and wholeness.

These are the spiritual disciplines we need to experience and practice in our personal lives, families, communities, places of faith, and societies. It is only then, as the past messengers of God have prophesied, that we can bring the kingdom of the new heaven and the new earth at hand. May we prepare this way anew by healing ourselves and

changing our world.

To heal yourself 

Look within the cave of your heart. Here in a lowly manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes lies the baby Jesus. His dark eyes meet yours; his playful fingers touch your face; and his loving smile casts a magical glow that permeates every cell in your body washing you in love and peace and oneness in all. There is only peace. The Peace that passeth all understanding. God’s Peace is God’s Presence. 

Closing Prayer

God of wonder and mystery, I am ready to meet you in my heart and in the many faces I see in the streets and homes. I will shout your Holy Name to the wind and the sky, in the valleys and the mountains, and the trees and the seas, and Your Glory will be revealed. A new day has dawned for me and with your help, a new heaven and a new earth, for the place where we stand is holy ground.

“Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon us.”

A Blessed Christmas to you. Amen

Closing Hymn:

VU# 2 Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus


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