The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introduction to the readings for the season of Advent, beginning with the first Sunday in Advent, Hope, November 29, 2015

Our Advent season begins this year with a new cycle of readings.

This morning we begin with a reading from the book of Jeremiah followed by a reading from the gospel according to Luke.

In our first reading, the prophet Jeremiah offers his desolate listeners a word of hope for a new and different future far different from their present reality of exile and despair. 

Just as we anticipate a word of hope for our circumstances, and especially at Advent, listen for what rings true for you in Jeremiah’s hope-filled words proclaiming God’s gracious promise of new leadership.  

A reading from the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 33, verses 14-16:  “A righteous branch from David’s line”

“A new day is coming,” announces the Lord. “At that time my gracious promise to my people will come true.  I made it to the people of Israel and the people of Judah.

“In those days and at that time I will make a true and rightful Branch grow from David’s royal line.  He will do what is fair and right in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved.  Jerusalem will live in safety.  And it will be called The Lord Who Makes Us Right with Himself.”

Our responsive hymn this morning is found at VU#882.

….Hymn is sung…

This Advent season we have the distinct privilege of reflecting on God’s redemptive work with humanity through the lens of the gospel according to Luke. 

The author of Luke, himself thought to be an outsider and champion of those on the margins, is very intentional about bringing the concept of radical hospitality and inclusion of all.  Here this morning, however, we fast forward to Chapter 21 and a story about end times just as Jesus anticipates The Passover Meal. 

Odd as that may seem as our church calendar wants to emphasize new beginnings at Advent, we have to begin somewhere, yes?  For, in our end is our beginning.   

Listen attentively for what emerges for you as we hear a word about “end times” and how limited our understanding of time actually is when measured over and against God’s time.  

A reading from the 21st chapter of the gospel according to the author of Luke, verses 25-36 “Signs in the heavens and on earth”

 “There will be miraculous signs in the sun, moon, and stars.  The nations of the earth will be in terrible pain.  They will be puzzled by the roaring and tossing of the sea.   Terror will make people faint.  They will be worried about what is happening in the world.   The sun, moon, and stars will be shaken from their places. 

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud.  He will come up with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up.  Hold your head up with joy and hope.  The time when you will be set free will be very close.”

Jesus told them a story: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees,” he said.  “When you see leaves appear on the branches, you know that summer is near.  In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that God’s kingdom is near.

“What I am about to tell you is true.  The people living at that time will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away.  But my words will never pass away.

“Be careful.  If you aren’t, your hearts will be loaded down with wasteful living, drunkenness, and the worries of life.  Then the day the Son of Man returns will close in on you like a trap.  You will not be expecting it.  That day will come upon every person who lives on the whole earth.

Always keep watching. Pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen.  Also, pray that you will not be judged guilty when the Son of Man comes.”

 

Response: Through these words from long ago,

                    May we hear God’s living Word.