Sunday, November 29, 2015

Getting In the Mood - Advent1

First Sunday of Advent (Year C)
with 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13      @FirstUMCBville     @kerrfunk

• Thanksgiving has come and gone,
perhaps you have put Christmas decorations up,
perhaps you have begun to listen to Christmas music.
What gets you in the mood for Christmas?
(Personally: The Carpenters. Sleigh Ride.
It’s The Most Wonderful Time. Etc)
This time of year I am also reminded of another song:
“There’s Only Two Songs In Me” by They Might Be Giants.
We are a people of one story, one great big little story of God creating humankind then entering humankind in order to redeem humankind because humankind messes up. That’s our story.
We tell it at Christmas.
We tell it at Easter.
We tell it throughout the year.
And so:
• The typical First Sunday of Advent message:
Prepare. Get ready. Don’t lose Christ
in the gifts and the trimmings, the hustle and the bustle.
“Keep Christ in Christmas.”
(by the way, First Church is hosting a Blue Christmas service on 12/21 if it’s NOT The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, if your Happy Holidays are not so happy)
• But there’s more.
Today’s reading from 1 Thessalonians, the Lectionary text for 1AdventC,
is not so much about the birth of Christ but more about the return of Christ, which we proclaim at least regularly during communion, and which Paul and companions *eagerly* awaited.
1 Thessalonians is one of Paul’s earliest letters, written 15 ish years after death and resurrection of Christ, from Paul’s second missionary trip. Spent a short time in Thessalonica but ran into troubling times.
Not loss of football games trouble, but more like the violent trouble we see too frequently today, like the weekend’s deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado (3 dead). Friday’s shooting was carried out in the name of stopping violence against unborn. And let’s call it what it is: domestic terrorism.
Paul had been violently run out of town by religious leaders who did not agree with Paul’s teachings.
We see a lot of violence perpetrated over disagreements, too many in the name of God.
Each time it happens, I say “Lord have mercy”
or “Come, Lord Jesus.”
• Paul had been violently run out of town, and 1 Thessalonians was written to check up on the fledgling church community (they were good!) to bless and encourage them and remind them to prepare for / keep faithful until the return of Christ, which was immanent, coming soon!
In a move that surely frustrated his opponents and surely had God’s hand in it, Paul’s being run out of Thessalonica served to spread his gospel, not diminish it!
• My appeal to you (and to myself!)
May your conduct -- the way you live your life, your faith,
the way you interact with people,
especially in the face of trials (health)
and tribulations (opposition, violent or not)
-- result in your reliance on God,
your sharing the good news,
your attractive discipleship
(not like those who ran Paul off).
• Show your life ruled by, saved by, changed by Christ,
and you be found blameless at his return.

• Hymn 206 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13        (CEB)              11/29/15

How can we thank God enough for you, given all the joy we have because of you before our God? 10 Night and day, we pray more than ever to see all of you in person and to complete whatever you still need for your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus guide us on our way back to you. 12 May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13 May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.

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