Finding God in Creation
Sun 4 Dec – Sat 10 Dec
Introduction to the Week
Our focus for the second week of Advent is joy. Traditionally joy would be celebrated during the third week of Advent, but as we think about God’s presence in nature, joy seems a natural response. Unlike the rest of Advent, joy is marked by the colour pink.
Joy may seem a strange theme to have in Advent – it can feel like a premature celebration in the midst of our waiting. But, joy is about much more than simply celebration or happiness. Joy is about encountering the presence of God, even in the midst of despair. We can see this in the reading this week, in which God’s creation produces life and joy from the harshest of environments.
As you continue to wait for the mystery of Christmas, you are invited to look for God’s presence in nature. Where do you find God in creation? What is God doing around us? Is there a place in nature that brings you an overwhelming sense of joy – the knowledge that God is present?
The resources this week will invite you to sit and wait in this joy.
8:45am – Chapel
9:30am – Inter-generational Gathering
6:00pm – Night Church
Individuals and Small Groups
Text: Isaiah 35:1-10
The Return of the Redeemed to Zion
1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Going Deeper: Commentaries and Exegesis
Anathea Portier-Young, via WorkingPreacher: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=851
Michael J. Chan, via WorkingPreacher: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3118
Prayer of Contemplation
Find a place in nature where you feel a sense of joy, awe, peace or wonder at God’s presence. Spend time in that space, paying close attention to what is there: the plants, the animals, the hills, the fields, the sky. How would you describe them? Where is God in that moment for you? [You are invited to share a photo of your place under the Action heading this week].
You might like to say these words of Invocation:
God of all kindness, everything that exists comes from you. You renew our joy in your creation, and give us a heart attentive to those we meet. And then we can better show your luminous presence for every human being. Amen.
Prayer from Taizé, Prayer for the Protection of Creation, http://www.taize.fr/en_article19787.html
Prayer for the Week
Jesus Christ, teach us to empathise with Earth.
Make our spirits sensitive to the cries of creation,
cries for justice from the hills and the trees.
Jesus Christ, make our faith sensitive to the groans of the Spirit,
groans from the deserts, the salt plains, the winds.
Jesus Christ, make our souls sensitive to the songs of our kin,
songs of celebration from the sea, the land and the air.
Christ, teach us to care. Amen.
Prayer from Seasons of Creation, Outback Sunday (Australian Version 1) Liturgy, http://seasonofcreation.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/liturgy-outback-sunday-1.pdf
Something to Ponder
Michael Leunig, Tree, http://www.leunig.com.au/works/cartoons
Questions for Reflection:
Diana Butler Bass says that there is a spiritual revolution happening in which the question “Who is God?”has evolved into the question “Where is God?” Have you seen or felt this change? Why does it matter?
Take time to reflect on theologian Sallie McFague’s question, “What if we saw the earth as part of the bodyof God, not as separate from God (who dwells elsewhere), but as the visible reality of the invisible God?”
How does this deepen your understanding of God? Of the earth? Of their interconnection?
Butler Bass quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu as saying, “The first law of our being is that we are set in a delicatenetwork of interdependence with our fellow human beings and with the rest of God’s creation.” Do you see this belief proclaimed in our society? If so, how?If not, how can we work to make it happen?
Questions sourced from: http://dianabutlerbass.com/wp-content/uploads/SG_Grounded.pdf
Video and Encyclical: Pope Francis, Laudato Si, https://laudatosi.com/watch
Book: Diana Butler Bass, Grounded, Available for purchase from: http://dianabutlerbass.com/books/grounded-finding-god-in-the-world-a-spiritual-revolution/
Sharing Photos: Where do you find God?
Spend some time outside. Go for a walk. Find a place in nature where you feel a sense of joy, awe, peace or wonder at God’s presence.
As you are outside take photos on your phone or camera of the world around you. Where do you encounter God? Where do you find peace and joy in the world?
Looking after Creation at Christmas
Christmas is a time of celebration – but celebrations tend to make a mess!
Clean Up Australia has said that:
Australians produce over 40 million tonnes of waste per year, much of which ends up as discarded rubbish and in landfill. Over this Christmas we will also purchase additional items such as Christmas trees, food, packaging and unwanted gifts.
A recent Australian survey by McCrindle Research has shown that 78.5% of Australians have received a present that they didn’t want. 13.7% of people will throw away these unwanted presents – meaning they go unused from manufacturer to landfill.
In 2009, a staggering $38.7 billion was spent on Christmas celebrations. In addition, it is estimated we spent $7.6 billion on food in December, up to 20% of which was thrown away. That equates to 3 million tonnes of food being wasted a year, which could generate as much as 13 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Clean Up Australia is encouraging Australians to think about active ways we can cut back on waste this Christmas – It’s as simple as making thoughtful purchases, considering how you dispose of waste and reusing leftover Christmas treats.
Every Australian produces approximately two tonnes of garbage a year – and we need to reduce this. We encourage everyone to be conscious of our waste during this Christmas period and ‘do our bit’ to reduce its impact on our environment.
Does this seem like an appropriate way to treat God’s creation? Think about Question 2 in the reflection section above: If we saw the Earth as part of God, rather than separate from God, would it change how we act?
Spend some time thinking about how you might be able to reduce or recycle your Christmas waste this year. You might like to get some tips from Clean Up Australia.
Households and Families
The 4th December is the second Sunday in Advent. This week we light one purple candle (the candle of hope) and the pink candle (the candle of joy).
One thing that sometimes happens as we get ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth is we expect to be happy all the time. Joy is not the same as happy. Joy is a deeper feeling created by knowing that God cares for us. Joy is remembering that through Jesus God’s care for all was revealed. During Advent, we pray that we may remember again God’s gift of Jesus to the world and know the joy that gift brings to all people.
As you light the candles of hope and joy, you might like to use one of the following prayers:
During Advent we need not shut the door on our empty wilderness places and pretend that all is well. Rather, Advent invites us to name our brokenness, joining our hopes for restoration with the dream of Isaiah. Today we light the second candle of Advent – the candle of Joy. The flickering light of healing now joins our prayers for the peace and justice of God’s realm. Your kingdom come, O Lord, Your kingdom come.
We rejoice in the reality of who you are.
Links from the Calendar
Thursday 8 December: http://www.cleanup.org.au/au/Media/give-back-to-the-environment-this-christmas.html