Finding God with us
Sun 18th December – Sat 24th December
Introduction to the Week
We are almost there! Christmas is just around the corner. Everything is set. The excitement is building. But we have one more week of waiting ahead of us.
Why do we wait?
Last week, we were invited to see God present in our neighbours – and this has an amazing consequence for us this week. If God is in our neighbour, then God is also present in us. In the incarnation story at Christmas, we hear of a Christ that touches our very nature by being born a baby. Every one of us, no matter our differences, was once a baby, and so Christ’s story becomes our story. But to say God is in me is not a power statement. It does not imply that I am better than others. Instead, it invites me to see how I am joined by God with all people, all of creation, and all of the cosmos: and if this is true, then how can I not grow to love myself, my neighbour and all creation as I would God? This is the amazing power of Emmanuel.
So why do we wait during Advent? Because the waiting transforms us in love.
9:30am – Inter-generational Gathering
5:00-8:00pm – Live Nativity Trail (Starting from the Anglican Church. Takes 40 minutes).
24th December (Christmas Eve)
7pm – Sausage Sizzle
8pm – Carols by Fairy Light: Come dressed-up for a bit of nativity play fun.
11:30pm – Watchnight Service
25th December (Christmas Day)
9am – Christmas Morning Service
Individuals and Small Groups
Text: Matthew 1:18-25
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Going Deeper: Commentaries and Exegesis
Ron Allen, via WorkingPreacher: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3092
Holly Hearon, via WorkingPreacher: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2259
Pope Francis’ Five Finger Prayer
Using the fingers on your hand, start with the thumb and pray these intentions in this order:
1.) The thumb is closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “Sweet Obligation.”
2.) The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.
3.) The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.
4.) The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.
5.) And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.
Prayer for the Week
God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the centre, the focus of our lives
always, and particularly this Advent time.
Read more at: http://www.faithandworship.com/prayers_Advent.htm#ixzz4SykPfqQk
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Something to Ponder
Michael Leunig, Tree, http://www.leunig.com.au/works/cartoons
Questions for Reflection:
During his life, even from his birth, Jesus showed the great love of which a human life grounded in God’s presence was possible. What would it look like for you to live love as a way of life? To make love a path on which to travel through life? How will you be transformed in love this Christmas?
Article: Rev Dr Deborah Dennis, Spiritual Formation: A Journey Towards Christlike Transformation, http://seminary.ashland.edu/media/the-table/16/spiritual-formation-a-journey-towards-christlike-transformation
Music Video: Blessid Union of Souls, I Believe, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ89WDvQMbs
Prose: Jean Shannon, From Sydney to Bethlehem
We went for a waddle round the block to squiz at our neighbour’s lights.
The Andersons had the whole box and dice, reindeers, Santas, draping curtains of sparkle from the chimney to the letter box.
The Farouques across the street got into the spirit and had a couple of flashing candy canes. I know they don’t celebrate Christmas like we do
but they always pop a card in our mailbox and give a smile when we pass.
The Polacskis down the road don’t do it like they used to before their kids grew up and moved away. Milo isn’t as young as he’d like to be and Kev had to give him a hand getting the lights up on the tree. They’ve got these two ornamental bushes out the front they decorate like Christmas trees.
Kev’s had the BBQ scrubbed to an inch of its life. He’ll pick up the ice on Christmas Eve but the eskies are all lining the patio already. I’ve had the order in at the butchers since October so we’ll be right. I’ll do the meat on the barbie, smoke the turkey real slow. My sister will bring the seafood. The kids will make their favourite salads and bring junk for the littlies.
Mum will bring the puds, as she always does, although I think this might be the last year she can. Guess I’ll have to learn.
The Mall is crazy. Noise, no parking, carols busting out of every shop and not mixing with the ones coming from the loud speakers in the passage way. I want to put my fingers in my ears.
Sometimes I try and imagine the quiet that comes with snow. We went to New York last year and I was amazed at how, once it started to snow, the traffic sounds, in fact all the sounds, became muffled and then just settled down.
It’s hard in Australia to imagine those last few miles to the inn, maybe marching in silence, in the twilight as the snow drifts down. The quiet, the calm – like the carol….(softly sing wistfully) “silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright….”
Australians have such noisy Christmases. I guess we’re all Martha and no Mary’s.
What’s your favourite carol? Do you know where it comes from? What does it mean? What’s its origin?
Do some research and find out the story behind your favourite carol. What does it say about the love of Christ?
At this time of year, there is a lot for which we can be thankful. In particular, there are many people who work extra hard this time of year so that we can celebrate the birth of Christ (think about people in retail, hospitality, emergency services etc.)
Find a way this week to give thanks and show appreciation to those who serve so we can enjoy Christmas time.
Households and Families
The 18th December is the last Sunday in Advent. This week we light four candles: hope, joy, peace and love. The only candle left is the Christ candle – to be lit on Christmas day.
Jesus’ life modeled the great love of which human life grounded in God is possible. In our reading this week, Joseph is transformed as he realizes the great love he can share with Mary and her new baby, even if he isn’t the child’s natural father. Such is the power of love’s incarnation.
As you light the wreath this week, you might like to use one of the following prayers:
Love is like a candle shining in a dark place. As we look at the light of this candle we celebrate the love we have in Christ.
Links for Calendar
Sunday 18 December: http://madebyjoel.com/2012/12/paper-city-nativity-scene.html
Wednesday 21 December: http://youtu.be/kWq60oyrHVQ
Saturday 24 December: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzQK0YZYRrc