Saturday, December 03, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #6 - John the "Plow"

The gospel of John is, in my opinion, the most poetic of the gospels. From the opening line, John canvases all of time and space to make the important point that God is always coming to us - and in the case of John the Baptist, is doing all he can to plow the way clear.
While it might not be poetic to say that John purpose was to plow the way clear for Jesus, I do like the drama of this statement. The hope of the Advent season wasn't something that John was meek in sharing. John, even in the midst of giving testimony and being questioned for his actions, continues to speak boldly - to clear the path and make the way strait for the Lord.
Hope does not have to be quiet.
Hope can be BOLD! 
Thank you John the "Baptist-Plow" - sometimes boldness needs encouraged!

The Testimony of John the Baptist JOHN 1:19-28
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Eli′jah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 They said to him then, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Eli′jah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Friday, December 02, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #6 Reflecting on some lessons of the week

#avantageousadvent Day #6... Some reflection from Marie on a few texts from this week's lectionary readings.

Psalms 72 v.1-7 Faithful prayer that the powerful will be just and good to ALL people to flourish and prosper and enjoy the fruits of all the earth we have been given.

V.18-19 We are to praise and give God glory to God who does all good for us always.

Isaiah 30 19-26 If you have faith even in times of adversity and strife and if you persist in your faith and not be enticed by superficial things God will see to it that you have all that is necessary and more.
When you read these texts, what do you discover?


Thursday, December 01, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #5 Advent Blue

About a week ago, I dug out my watercolors to help me to actively ponder the season of Advent to come. The blue image below is what resulted in my doodling and searching for hope. 

 So. Much. Blue. 

The liturgical color for this Church season used to be purple, but now is blue. In many ways this seems fitting to this time of waiting, this time of longing for and anticipating hope, joy, love and peace of this season. But this focus on the color blue also allows me to wrestle with the difficult things of life: injustice, violence, poverty and the like. 

When you think of feeling blue this time of year, the popular song by Elvis, (one of my personal favorites) "Blue Christmas" speaks to the need and hope to be with the ones we love in this holiday season.

It seems every way I look today, there is lots and lots of blue.
What are the blue things of life that you notice today? 

Psalm 72 is a prayer for guidance and support for the up and coming King. It calls for those who are in places of power to work on the behalf of those that do not have power - and in all things to work for peace. 

This Psalm speaks of the 'King' as one that has a radiant quality, who will,"be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! In his days may righteousness flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!" 

This leader has a huge responsibility - and seems to be focused on using their power for the benefit of others; to bring hope for all the blueness of life. 

That in the midst of this sea of blue, that there is light and hope because of the Christ child.I like that Advent is represented in the color blue and its important for me to recall that blue is not only a color for sadness - but it also is the color of hope. 

What are the "Hopeful" blue things of life that you notice today? 
Prayer:
We long for peace and hope.
We long for leaders who use their resources and wisdom to care for the needs of others.
We long for the ability to see hope in the blue of this Advent season.
Jesus, help us see the beauty of this blue season.
Help us to know that Advent blue is the color of hope.
Amen

A Psalm of Solomon.

72 Give the king thy justice, O God,
and thy righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge thy people with righteousness,
    and thy poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
    and crush the oppressor!
May he live[a] while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth!
In his days may righteousness flourish,
    and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day 4: Hope for peace

Submitted by Cindy Swan
Peace in time of monsters by: Delawer-Omar


Advent Day 4: Thursday, November 30, 2016
We are in a time when there is daily exposure to wars, floods, fires and other discouraging news. It is difficult not to become overwhelmed by the problems and have concerns and a desire to change it.

The good news is that we are now in the season of Advent. It is a time to focus on Hope. I am thankful for this message and the encouragement it offers as it also brings with it feelings of peace and comfort.  The theme of Psalm 124 is we are delivered from those who seek to destroy us. Our faith teaches us we can turn to God in our time of need as He is on the side of those who seek Him. With God there is always a way out as He is the creator of heaven and earth. Another important message to reflect on is from Isaiah 54:vs10. It states, “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord who has compassion on you.

Prayer:
God, help us to remember this good news and the offering of hope during this Advent season and be thankful for all we have.

Psalm 124
1If the Lord had not been on our side-
    let Israel say-
2if the Lord had not been on our side
     when men attacked us,
3when their anger flared against us,
      they would have swallowed us alive;
4the flood would have engulfed us,
       the torrent would have swept over us,
5the raging waters
       would have swept us way.

6Praise be to the Lord,
        who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7We have escaped like a bird
        out of the fowler’s snare;
    the snare has been broken,
        and we have escaped.
8Our help is in the name of the Lord,

       the Maker of heaven and earth. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#advantageousadvent #3 God's gifts

Submitted by Linda Johnson...

Advent day #4 by Linda Johnson…
Genesis 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.

God gives you all, but you must be mindful of his wonderful gifts. 😊 Just like God's love, he shares everything with everyone.  Wow! What a wonder it will be when we meet one another. I am certain my heart will burst.

Image found at; clarityfitnessny.com

Monday, November 28, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day 2 - Hibernation or wake up call?

From guest writer Ian Eastman...

 “It isn’t even officially winter yet and I’m already counting down the days until Spring. The most appealing alternative to winter I’ve ever heard comes from the bears, who just sleep the whole thing off. Truth is I can’t put life on hold until I get to do all the things I like to do again in the Spring. There are a lot of productive and enjoyable things to do this time of year, too. In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul tells of the eternal hope we have in Christ: “We have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5).  Yet he also tells us that we don’t have to spend our days hibernating for the future: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” 



Image found at "Teachhub"

Saturday, November 26, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day 1: The Hope App

Advent 1 Sunday, 2016 November 27th

In a time that we are very aware of time: with cell phones, planners and apps; the idea of missing something seems impossible. But even with all these tools to help us not “miss” out on what we plan for our day; we sometimes do miss a prompt or call to something good.

As the season of Advent begins, this week we are called to focus on “Hope” for the good things of God. Perhaps like my cell phone that often is turned to mute to save me from being distracted – I might miss out on a call that is good. The gospel of Matthew chapter 24:36-44 is a wake-up call to see life through the lens of hope and the goodness of God.

In the midst of the business of life, we need a reminder – an alarm – a hope prompt to help us live into these days of Advent that help us see where God is active in the world and our lives. This Advent, God help us to set an alarm – to look with and to live into days where God’s goodness light the path ahead. May hope be the application that helps you enter this season of Advent and carries you to the day we anticipate – Christmas Day. #advantageousadvent, #advent16

Matthew 24:36-44[Jesus said to the disciples,] 36“About that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”



Something to think about:

How does hope help you anticipate Christmas? 
What do you hope for this Advent Season? 
Where can the 'Hope App' help you wake up to hope around you?