Finding God in Our Neighbours

Sun 11 Dec – Sat 17 Dec

Introduction to the Week

The introductory clip this week, from the film Joyeux Noel, depicts a Christmas truce that broke out on the Western Front in 1914, during the first year of World War One. Similar truces happened across the front, with troops from opposing trenches crossing into no man’s land, sometimes sharing gifts, singing carols and playing football together. After the truce ended, there were some places on the front where high command had to move entire battalions of men who now refused to shoot at those in the opposite trenches with whom they had spent Christmas. It must be difficult to go to war with someone with whom you have just sung about the Prince of Peace!

This week, we are invited to think about the peace that God promises. In our world, which is so often defined by conflict and violence between people, we are invited to be naive and believe that through God in Christ, peace truly is possible. The reading this week invites us to hear just how foolish this vision sounds to human wisdom, as we hear of the wolf living with the lamb, and the calf with the lion. But, as the story of the Christmas truce reveals, God’s peace can break into our lives suddenly and unexpectedly, even between the worst of enemies. And while this peace may not be complete, it does give us a foretaste of that peace we believe is possible through Christ.



 

queanbeyan-uniting-churchWorship (11th December)

8:45am – Chapel

9:30am – Inter-generational Gathering

 


 

Individuals and Small Groups

bible-w-highlighter Readings

Text: Isaiah 11:1-10

The Peaceful Kingdom

1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

 

Going Deeper: Commentaries and Exegesis

Anathea Portier-Young, via WorkingPreacher: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=832

Barbara Lundblad, via WorkingPreacher: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1940


 

Candle and hand in darkness Prayer

Lectio Divina

You are invited to read the passage above (Isaiah 11:1-10) as part of a Lectio Divina contemplative prayer.

Make yourself comfortable in a place that is as free from interruptions as possible. Begin with silence for a few minutes, humbly asking God to quiet your heart and make you aware that you are in God’s loving presence.

When you are ready, begin reading and praying through the four movements, described below with both the Latin and English word that summarizes each one. With time and practice, these movements will become so simple and easy, because they flow naturally from one to the other:

Lectio (READ): On the first reading, simply open yourself to the presence of God. Read the passage slowly and prayerfully, allowing short pauses between sentences. (Over time you will discover whether it is more helpful for you to read silently or out loud- try them both…) As you read, take in the words and the overall flow of the passage. Then allow a time of silence following the reading- continue to open yourself to the Spirit of God.

Meditatio (REFLECT): On the second prayerful reading of the passage, listen for a particular word or a phrase through which God wants to speak to you. You will notice your attention being drawn to something (or if this doesn’t happen, just choose a word). Once you have “received” the word or phrase, begin to silently meditate on that. Reflect on why God would highlight this for you today, ask any questions that come to mind, and note things that seem important as you meditate on what you have received. Remember that the focus is on listening to what God has to say to you.

Oratio (RESPOND): On the third prayerful reading of the passage, listen now for God’s invitation, and respond from your heart. The Living God is always inviting us in some way… to let go of something, or to take up something; to do something or be something… the invitation can take innumerable forms. Following the reading, continue to listen for this invitation and then respond silently or out loud from an honest heart.

Contemplatio (REST): The focus of the fourth prayerful reading of the passage is to simply rest now in the love that God has for you. Let the words wash over you- there is no further need to reflect or respond- allow God’s Spirit to draw you close and fill you with love, grace and peace. Linger in this place of deep connection, for you are being filled and refreshed for your continuing journey.

 

Lectio Divina instructions adapted from: http://www.journeycenter.org/encLectioDivina.php

 

Prayer for the Week

God of peace, you came into our world not with a loud noise like thunder and lightning, not with a great army or with fireworks, but as a little baby.
This child was the peace-maker for the world.
Help us to be peace-makers, and to share the light of Christ in a world that needs to remember at Christmas that you gave us the best gift in the world – the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Prayer from Jan Oliver, KUCA News:Advent Liturgy (2000), http://sa.uca.org.au/documents/childrenandfamily/resources/advent-and-christmas/Advent-Wreath-Liturgy.pdf


 

man-reflecting Reflection

Something to Ponder

Christmas Bells
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – 1882

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Longfellow wrote this poem (later turned into the hymn “I heard the bells on Christmas Day”) in 1863 as the American Civil War raged. Having lost his wife only years earlier, and his son now fatally wounded in the War, Longfellow struggled with the joyful sound of the church bells playing carols at Christmas – and wrote this poem (more of the story is available in the video).

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. In his despair, Longfellow reflected that: “There is no peace on earth, for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!” Are there situations of conflict in our world (or in your family or in your community) that bring you this same sense of despair? Where is God in these moments?
  2. Despite his despair, Longfellow still found God’s peace and hope breaking in unexpectedly: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.” Where do you see small signs of God’s peace breaking in among humanity? Where do you see God bringing peace in your life?
  3. At Christmas, we celebrate the presence of Christ with humanity. If we truly saw Christ in the people around us, would this change how we treated each other? Would this bring peace?

 

Further Resources

Article and Video: Catholic Online, St Martin of Tours, http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=81

Photo: Mervyn Bishop, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory, Available from Art Gallery of NSW: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/58.2000/

 


 

action Action

Experiencing Poverty

“Abundance does not spread, famine does.” – Zulu Proverb

While we are celebrating Christmas, many people around the world will be experiencing situations of famine, war and uncertainty.

You are invited to spend a day this week fasting, or eating only very simple meals that might be a feast for others: e.g. Baked beans, Rice.

 

Loving Strangers

Give money to a Christmas Appeal (e.g. Target.UnitingCare Christmas Appeal, or UnitingWorld’s Everything in Common Gift Catalogue), or give food to a local food bank (e.g. St Bennies) to bring peace of mind to somebody this Christmas who might otherwise struggle.

Remember a time when you gave something to someone and experienced God in the act of giving.

 


 

Households and Families

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Advent Wreath

The 11th December is the third Sunday in Advent. This week we light the pink candle (the candle of joy) and two purple candles (the candles of hope and peace).

As we light the candle of peace we remember the light of Christ that will come into our world at Christmas – the light that brings peace to all people on this earth. A peace that crosses all boundaries, a peace that can be in all situations. The peace of Jesus that brings goodwill to our world.

No person can say that they truly understand the peace of God, but every person can experience it. We can be God’s instruments of peace in all that we do.

As you light the candles of hope, joy, and peace you might like to pray:

We dream God’s dream, of a world at peace
Where enemies are reconciled, and children play in safety;
Where the poor and powerless find justice.
We remember God’s promise of a Ruler of Peace,
Filled with the Spirit of God, of wisdom and understanding,
Of counsel and might, of justice and faithfulness.
We light this Advent candle, and we pray:
Come Lord Jesus!
Open our lives to the Peace which you bring;
let us turn to you, and get ready!

Prayer from: http://www.ucc.org/worship/worship-ways/year-a/ace/advent-service-prayers.html

 


 

calendar-1568148 Advent Calendar

week-3-calendar

Links from the Calendar

Tuesday 13 December: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE

Saturday 17 December: Target.UnitingCare Appeal and Everything in Common.

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