06 Dec 2021
Christ Jesus, “Being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Philippians 2 : 6 – 7
In this first reading from Isaiah, we hear reminders that we have a God who always offers hope and a welcome. It is a calling of God’s people to return to the mountain of the Lord and it promises us that He will teach us His ways by sending us His Word. He will bring peace to His people.
In the second reading, the word of God came to John the Baptist, calling him to prepare the way of the Lord, that is Jesus, the Messiah. He quotes from Isaiah 40 : 3 – 5. John also promises that all mankind will see God’s salvation. He calls all people to repentance and salvation and he also calls them, as Isaiah did, to turn back to God. We hear the promise from Isaiah and John the Baptist that we will walk in the Light of our Lord, the light of Jesus Christ and will find salvation.
The desire of John for all people to see God at work has not changed. It is still a call to us all today. John’s call to “prepare the way of the Lord” is still relevant now. We need to take this calling seriously as we too spread the good news.
Something in us always needs to be called back to our Lord. Advent is a time to reclaim what we have lost in our hearts and lives. It is a time to acknowledge that Jesus has already come. Advent is a time of expectation and preparation, when we hear again the promises of God, who offers us to be with us always.
O Lord, You are our God;
we will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.
(Isaiah 25 : 1).
Emmanuel, God with us, grow in us an excitement as we anticipate the coming of Christ Jesus. Connect us anew with the newness of life that Advent brings, a way to experience again Your peace, love, and joy and as we experience it in our hearts may we share it with others.
07 Dec 2021
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Mark reminds us that Advent is a season of waiting. Mark reminds us that waiting is not just an opportunity to pass the time. As Christ followers as those who expect the appearance of ‘the master of the house.’ Advent is more than just a preparation to commemorate and celebrate the birth of the Messiah and Saviour of the world; but also to be alert and awake and participate in God’s acts of salvation and renewal. A friend of mine reminded me that keeping awake is not to be asleep with your eyes open. It calls us to a heightened awareness of the brokenness Christ came to mend, the woundedness Christ came to heal and the darkness Christ came to destroy with His light. Waiting becomes moments to renew our strength for the tasks to which God calls us. In Jesus God brings us God’s presence, love and forgiveness so that we may offer it to the world, where God has called us to be.
For the salvation of the Lord, we watch and wait,
Even when we feel sleepy.
Even when we are distracted and stressed
Empower us to wait, not by counting down the minutes,
but by intently seeking Your gift of grace.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
08 Dec 2021
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies
It is difficult to imagine that the Apostle Paul is actually writing from prison as he writes here to the Phillipians. There can be no more isolated and lonely place than the prison cell. Paul was not somehow a superhuman and oblivious to the suffering he was undergoing. For Paul to know that the Philippian disciples were continuing to share in the truth and reality of the gospel would be to him as a light in the darkness and consolation in his suffering. He does not express fear or anger, but instead thanksgiving and joy for the gospel and concern for the community, reminding them to put love at the heart of their witness.
Traditionally the third Sunday in Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” or “Joy Sunday.” Paul’s words and example invite us to look for joy throughout this Advent, as we prepare for, as we anticipate this yearly reminder that God’s love is with us “until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Father, we are so often caught in the prisons of our own brokenness, struggling to see beyond the daily struggles that we deal with. Remind us of your grace, flood us with your love, draw us beyond our sinfulness, and help us to focus on the joy of the greatest gift of Love ever given. We ask this in Jesus name.
09 Dec 2021
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
“ Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.” Henri Nouwen.
In this letter to the Philippians Paul is writing from prison and is suffering greatly. His message here is to rejoice IN the Lord always, no matter what our circumstances. Through this rejoicing he says we should not be anxious. Oh yes! In real life that is exceedingly difficult! But he does not say we should ignore our difficulties, but rather to present them to the Lord with thanksgiving. Being able to rejoice regardless of our circumstances is an indication of what life in Christ Jesus really means. Here again we hear the promise that Jesus will be present with us no matter what. Throughout the bible we have the promise that, “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8 : 10
Advent is a time of expectation and the acknowledgement that Jesus is coming anew into our lives. But it is also a time of great sadness for many people. Jesus was sent into this world for each individual and for the sake of all people. This truly is something to rejoice about. Therefore, we can rejoice in the fact that Jesus came to this world, to each individual one of us, not just for our sake but for the sake of all people. When others see us rejoicing through challenging times, despite our problems, they will be inspired to turn to Him and to follow Him. He is the source of our joy!
Lord Jesus Christ we rejoice because You are part of our whole lives, the good times, and the tough times. Send us Your peace, which is beyond our understanding. Strengthen our faith and trust in You. May we rejoice in You in all circumstances and may our faith in You continue to grow as we share your joy and peace with others, to Your praise and glory. Amen
09 Dec 2021
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
The Rev. Luvuyo Sifiso reminds us that “Imbongi”, is a Xhosa word which means praise-singer. Using historical poetic compositions, it is the duty of the imbongi to introduce the chief at gatherings. The imbongi walks ahead of the chief announcing the chief’s arrival at any event or meeting. He prophesies over the chief and the tribe in a language that is unique to the experience of the people. Almost like a modern day imbongi John the Baptist appeared in the desert. John’s ministry entails not only announcing the arrival of the Messiah, but also to prepare the way for The One who is coming. John ushers into our human experience The One whose kingdom stands in contrast to the kingdoms of the world. John seeks to awaken the conscience of those whose lives are against the light and abundance of God’s kingdom. John calls those preoccupied with the old to the new life that God offers in Jesus. A new life of abundant love, generous forgiveness and sufficient grace.
O God, thank You for the assurance of Your grace and forgiveness.
For Your gift of love and acceptance
Offered in Jesus Christ our Lord.