The Rev. Sue Latourette is pastor of the Congregational Church of North Stonington, CT.
Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11 (NRSV)
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
A voice says, ‘Cry out!’
And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
‘Here is your God!’
See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.
2 Peter 3:8-13 (NRSV)
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
Reflection: Now Is The Time
“‘Comfort, comfort my people’ says your God” rings out in my mind in song from Isaiah. They are words of hope, encouragement, and promise. They are timeless as they speak as deeply to us now as they did Israel. Our Creating and Redeeming God is still at work.
I hear them echo in the psalm of the gratitude and relief that God indeed forgives and restores…and reminds us we must wake up to reality. The trials and tribulations we have faced will come to an end. We must not believe in false promises or follow deceitful gods. We must pay attention to how God is easing the way, making the path clear for what we, the faithful must do.
It is Advent, the time of coming to be as well as the time of what has been and what is now.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a savior could come down and sweep away all of the divisions, exclusions, eradications and exiling of fellow human beings?
That is what Israel wanted when faced with similar conditions.
Maybe that is what we look for in our leaders, too.
Oh, how easy it would be to sit back let someone else do what we long for.
Yet we have been given a savior – not that kind of leader we might want.
But the Savior is the kind of leader we need.
Jesus’ way of leading was to teach us how to live:
By calling out evil when he saw it, and exorcising it.
By including anyone that the prevailing culture excluded.
Jesus taught and led by recognizing each person as a child of God.
It was hard and risky work.
Yet, he did his work despite…or perhaps because of…the crushing weight of empire and religious pressure.
We need to reclaim our faith in God. It must be us, calling out from the mountaintops, taking to the streets, proclaiming that change is in the air. We are the ones to walk in Christ’s way. We are the wake-up call of Advent. We are called to be God-bearers in this world. To “…walk through these gray days as an announcing messenger. So many need their courage strengthened, so many in in despair and in need of consolation, there is so much harshness that needs a gentle hand and an illuminating word…” (Delp)
In Christ we are able to be so much more. We are given the grace to see as God sees. We are the ones, now, who are empowered to be shouting from the mountaintops. We are the voices calling out in the wilderness. We are called to be and do the hard work of healers, listeners, exorcisors of evil, and risk-takers who stand up to face the injustices posed not only to us but to our neighbors.
We are the preparers of the way. And though God’s view of time is not the same as ours, this Advent, it is our time. It IS time.
[Alfred Delp, “The Shaking Reality of Advent,” in When the Time Was Fulfilled, Farmington, PA; Plough, 1965. Fr. Alfred Delp was a Jesuit Priest condemned as a traitor for his opposition to Hitler. ]
May we be the healers, the listeners, the exorcisors, and the risk-takers who stand up to face injustices. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for the more than 265,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease
- For the compassion to make safe and reasonable choices as Covid-19 cases rise in the region and across the country
- For those who struggle with loneliness and depression during this Advent season
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the Advent season
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
Central Square Congregational Church, UCC, Bridgewater, MA
Scotland Trinitarian Congregational Church, Bridgewater, MA
Olivet Congregational Church, Bridgeport, CT
United Church of Christ, Bridgeport, CT
United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT
First Congregational Church, Branford, CT
First Congregational Church of Braintree, Braintree, MA
UCC Congregational of Boxborough, Boxborough, MA
Church of the Covenant, Federated, Boston, MA
Mount Vernon Congregational Church, Boston, MA
Old South Church in Boston, Boston, MA
This Week in History:
December 1, 1955 (65 years ago) Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, resulting in her arrest and sparking a boycott of the Montgomery Bus System, organized by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.. The boycott lasted over a year and caused significant financial strain on the Montgomery Bus System. It ending after a Supreme Court decision ruled that the Alabama law which segregated buses violated the 14th Amendment. Parks was one of the first to ride the newly desegregated buses in December of 1956.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”