Greetings one and all,
Welcome to Advent! Sunday, December 2nd was the first Sunday in Advent. The first candle, the candle of hope, has been lit and the season of anticipation has begun. Join us for worship as we journey toward the manger in Bethlehem where the Savior was born oh so long ago. Tonight our joint council meeting was held at Calvary in Rapid River. Thank you to all the council members who gathered together to review our ministry together and plan for our shared ministry opportunities for 2019. I am so appreciative of your dedication and support of our congregations. Thank you to Sue Young for your willingness to pick up the pizzas and thank you to Pete and Becky Eagle for providing the soda. Thank you to everyone who helped set-up and clean up. It was a wonderful time of sharing and planning. I am privileged and honored to be your pastor. The Women of the ELCA at First Lutheran in Gladstone are hosting a Crafty Christmas Creations night of fellowship on Thursday, December 6th beginning at 6:30. This is a fun night for women and kids to make Christmas crafts, have a wonderful dessert, and spend some time together. Come and join in the fun. Sunday, December 9th is Christmas Family Night at Bethany in Perkins. Our pot-luck dinner will begin at 5:00 p.m. We will have a program after dinner, decorate the church and pick our raffle winners. Make sure to turn in all your sold raffle tickets to church. You don't need to be present to win and I still have raffle tickets to sell if you are interested. Just let me know! Tuesday, December 11th, Trinity Ladies' Aid will meet at the church for our annual Christmas Cookie Basket project at 6:30 p.m. We will also be decorating the church and putting up the Christmas tree. Please bring 2 dozen cookies. Sunday, December 16th the beautiful ecumenical cantata will be performed at 4:00 p.m. at Faith in Rock and at 7:00 p.m. at St. Joseph's in Perkins. Free will donation will be collected to help cover the cost of the music. The joint council has set the time for Christmas Eve Services as follows:Trinity: 4:00 p.m.Bethany: 7:00 p.m.Come to worship! Here's this week's "Daily Discipleship" for your bible study on the gospel.
First Sunday of Advent (C) – Luke 21:25-36
Imperatives of Discipleship – Watch!
Focus Question: What are you watching and waiting for this Advent season?
word of life
“Be on guard, so that your hearts are not weighed down ….” Luke 21:34 (NRSV)
Read Luke 21:25-36
Happy New Year! No, this greeting is not one month early. This Sunday begins the new church year with the first Sunday in Advent.
1. How do you observe and celebrate a new year?
2. How might you observe and celebrate the new church year?
Advent has often been understood as a time of anticipation of and preparation for Christmas. Certainly we do look forward to the celebration of the coming of Christ enfleshed in the birth in Bethlehem. But Advent is also a time to remember, anticipate, and prepare for the promised coming of Christ at the end of time.
And so we begin the church year with Jesus’ teaching about the end of all years – the promised and anticipated coming of Christ at the end of the world.
The verses for today from Luke’s Gospel are a part of what is known as “apocalyptic” literature. The word “apocalypse” means “to reveal” or “to unveil.” The literature is mysterious and filled with signs, symbolism, and hidden meaning; and it often is interpreted as teachings about the end of the world. (Perhaps the most well-known example of apocalyptic literature is the last book of the Bible – the Revelation of John.)
The early first-century church believed that Jesus would return in glory as he had promised at the Ascension. (“Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 2:11 NRSV) The early followers of Jesus anticipated this “second coming” to occur in their lifetime. (See 1 Thessalonians 3:13.) They were to live lives of faithfulness, anticipating Christ’s victorious, glorious return.
3. What images come to mind when you think of the end of the world?
4. Are these comforting or disturbing images?
5. Do you think the Bible gives clear signs of the beginning of the end?
As many of the first followers of Jesus began to die and Christ had not yet returned, the early church faced a crisis in faith. How does one live faithfully “in the in-between time”? It is a question the followers of Jesus are to ask yet today.
Jesus speaks of signs of the beginning of the end – natural occurrences, as well as confusion and distress among nations. People throughout history have tried to identify these signs and predict the time of the ending of the world. But Jesus is not concerned about when these events will occur. He emphasizes the meaning of these signs – “your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28 NRSV) Jesus encourages his followers to be watchful, alert, and ready, always anticipating the coming of Christ.
6. What does it mean to live expectantly, anticipating the coming of Christ?
7. What difference does this attitude make for living in the “here and now”?
word among us
You might have already heard it. Its melody is sung and played every year at about this time. Its lyrics speak a message of anticipation and expectation. It has also been used as a strategy for eliciting good behavior from little children.
“Oh, you better watch out! You better not pout! You better not cry!
I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming town.”
We jovially sing this song in this season as we anticipate the coming of a mythical figure bringing reward for those who have been good “for goodness’ sake.” It’s a Christmas song. And, in many ways, it’s an Advent song.
1. What is the message of the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”?
2. How does that fit with your understanding of the Advent message?
We, too, sing in Advent of anticipation and expectation. We sing of One who is coming. We are reminded of how we are to live our lives – watching and waiting, alert for signs of his coming. “Be on guard! Be alert at all times! Stand up and raise your heads!”
3. How does one wait, anticipating the coming of Christ?
4. What will be the signs of the return of Christ?
While some would fear such a time and wonder what it all means, the followers of Jesus clearly know – the One who is coming is bringing gifts. “Your redemption is drawing near.” (vs. 28) The words to the song are transformed from a message of foreboding and anxiety to one of hopefulness and anticipation. For we know how the song and the story will end.
5. How does it make you feel when you hear about the end of time?
6. What might lessen your anxiety?
7. Does knowing that Christ will come again change anything about how you live? Why or why not?
We can face the troubles and anxieties of this age, for we know that this is not the final word. We can live faithfully and expectantly in the midst of great uncertainty and fear, for we know and trust that Christ is “coming to town.”
Knowing that makes all the difference in the world.
8. What difference does it make to know the end of the story?
9. What can you do to be ready for the return of Jesus?
Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Grant us expectant hearts, that we might be faithful as we await your coming. Amen
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
This week, listen for words
of expectation and watchfulness.