Sunday, December 15, 2019

Lessons and Carols with Reflections

Lessons and Carols with Reflections
December 2019
Tony E Dillon Hansen

Opening Prayer
O Holy Creator of Day and Night, During this season, we come anticipating of time ahead and reflection of the year witnessed.  We are reminded to lift up those who have died and those who are suffering (mind or body). We are here to rejoice in the promise and inspiration of the Spirit among us. In this season, we know we can be better stewards of your creation. We confess that we give into expectation and distractions. Forgive us, help us to renew and to prepare our hearts in the words you gave us…

Lords Prayer

We come to you confessing what is on our hearts and minds.
We do so trusting that you want to hear our petitions
and that you have already forgiven what needs to be forgiven.
We believe that our prayers will be answered in your time
and in your almighty wisdom.   Amen.

First Lesson: Creation - Genesis 1:1-5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Reflection for Genesis 1:1-5 Creation.
Creation, change, a new beginning. Where do we start and what do we do? These stories from Genesis remind us that all were created by our Creator and that we have bountiful gifts with this life and this Earth.  Thus, we are stewards of that creation as charged by God. So what do you do with your gifts?  Jesus challenges us with the parable of talents to do something with your gifts. (Matthew 25: 14-29) Thus, show your gifts - your heart - because your heart is where your treasure is (Luke 12:34).  Our creation lesson reminds us that you are a child of our Creator and been given so much. Could you find your gifts closer to your heart?

Hymn 121: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus .

Second Lesson: Covenant - Genesis 22:15-18
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Reflection for Genesis 22:15-18 Covenant
As one of our gifts, we have a covenant with the one who brought us.  Covenants are relationships. Covenants, especially with our Creator, help us to understand our purpose, that we are meant to be here in this place and in this time.  What is your purpose as a child of God and what blessings has God bestowed upon you? We can serve God so that we honor those gifts and that covenant through sharing. How do we share our gifts and covenant?

Hymn 114: O Come O Come Emmanuel .

Third Lesson: Growing - Isaiah 11:1-4
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
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.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; 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.

Reflection for Isaiah 11:1-4 Growing
Advent is growing, anticipation and expectation: a winter spring with hope, joy, peace, love, renewal and new growth. This passage invokes the divine promise to grow.  The question for this is what does the spirit of the Lord promise for you?  What wisdom do you seek because growth is not just for youth but all God’s children. Our bodies may be broken, but our spirit gives us strength to soar and help those around us. Growth is a chance for us to be better than we were, even in our brokenness. How can we grow to love and serve God and those around us better?

Hymn 148: Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming .

Fourth Lesson: Birth - Matthew 1:18-23
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.”

Reflection for Matthew 1:18-23 Birth
Birth is beautiful and messy. Whether an animal or human being, there is a tired mother, offspring, family - possibilities and worries. This is a beginning for some, and for some, this is renewal.  Think of the journey across the Red Sea in Exodus, they left everything behind and witness the wreckage of pursuing pasts on the shore now as survivors. As survivors, we begin something new, and we learn that we cannot go back to the past.  That story happens in our lives as we consider where we are, where we have been and where we go from here.  That is anxious, scary, breathtaking and exhilarating joyfulness.  How can we renew and embrace the joy of birth?

Hymn 142: Silent Night .

Fifth Lesson: Complements - John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Reflection for John 1:1-5 Complements
This verse reinterprets the Genesis verse and gives us a spiritual interpretation of duality. Dualism is often interpreted as Opposites: light and dark, white and black, success and failure, spirit and body. Asian traditions refer to this as yin and yang (taegeuk in Korean).  Along with this text, we are reminded, we are not given one without the other. 

Usually, there is a blending rather than division – shades of gray.  If we consider, for a moment, the body comes into being thanks to the Spirit (and then Spirit sustains the body.) Failure helps us to realize success. Success serves then to reminds us we persevered through failure. Darkness gives us recharging, healing and contemplation so that in the light we might be everything God wants us to be – more than yesterday. 

We are formed in darkness to meet the new day. Sometimes, we are like Jacob wrestling with God in the night to find a new life, a beginning.  We can wrestle, we may fail, and we can live in the moment. Then, we can embrace all that we have been given: the covenant that sustains, the growth to go forth, the birth into new life with Christ – as we remember our baptism promise and commission. We can transcend division and be one with the Spirit!

That is the Christmas promise: that we can be one with the Spirit. Let go and renew in this season. Find your hope and promise right there for you in light and dark.

Hymn 132: O Come All Ye Faithful .

From 2 Thessalonians.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father and Mother, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17 comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

May the LORD bless you and keep you,
May the LORD shine upon you and be gracious to you,
May the LORD turn to you and give you peace, now and always..

Go in Peace