Friday, December 07, 2012

Adult Forum Class, 12/2/2012

Adult Forum class is hosted by Terry and Danese Grandfield at 9:15am Sunday mornings in The Langor Lounge. All are welcome!

The Need for Patience and Faithfulness

It was appropriate we started our class with this question:
What does the word advent mean? 

Sunday marked the beginning of the advent season, a time of waiting and preparation for the coming, or arrival of Jesus. I especially like the description of this advent season as a time of waiting expectantly, much as any woman who has ever carried a child does throughout the nine months of the baby's gestation in the womb.

For us as Christians, this celebration of waiting and hoping is not just in remembrance of Christ's first coming which has already taken place, but in the continued hope and expectation he will come again.

Not everyone grows up celebrating advent or Christmas. Those of us who did have some fond memories or traditions we especially enjoyed, or helped us to look ahead to Christmas day. I recall a special advent banner I received as a gift when I was a child that had a piece of delicious toffee candy tied for each of the days of advent. My sister and I loved eating those candies day by day, knowing each one we enjoyed meant we were one day closer to Christmas- and of course, presents!

The Old Testament lesson in Jeremiah 33:14-16 speaks hope to God's people, encouraging them he will make things right, execute justice on their behalf by "causing a righteous branch to spring up for David." Jesus "shall execute justice and righteousness in the land."

A leader who acts justly is one who observes and executes fair judgement for those who serve under him. He/She leads by example by treating people with kindness and respect, never copping the attitude "do as I say but not as I do." He/She realizes he/she must listen closely before making crucial decisions, especially when faced with situations involving disputes, where he/she tries to be objective and fair to both sides.

Jesus exemplified these leadership traits as he lived his earthly life. In Luke 21:25-36, he is giving his disciples warning signs, indicators to help keep them alert and open to his coming back. It would be impossible for us to live in our modern world without the use of signs, especially ones directing traffic. The way we know in advance certain severe weather patterns are approaching(such as the recent hurricane Sandy) is by various signs, or readings which give meteorologists an indication what is happening in the atmosphere, enabling us to be more prepared.

Some of what the Lord talks about in this passage is a bit overwhelming to hear and understand- signs in the sun, moon, and stars; people fainting for fear; powers of the heavens shaking. We are also pointed by parable to a tree, the fig tree. The "righteous branch" uses a real tree to share a way for us to know his second coming is approaching soon, by noticing the signs as we would be able to watch a tree sprout leaves and tell the season.

Since Jesus went up in the clouds to heaven his followers have assumed their generation would see his physical and visible return. He noted "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and glory." It is inferred that his second coming will be dramatic and visible.

A good leader helps his followers to be prepared and ready, especially in the event of impending crisis. This world seems to always be in a state of crisis, and he encourages us to remain prepared to deal with our present day struggles by stating "Be on guard that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life." Boldly he reminds us to "Be alert at all times, praying..."

"Though the Lord has established
the signs of the coming,
the time of their fulfillment
has not always been plainly revealed.
These signs have come and gone
with a multiplicity of change.
More than that, they are still present!
The final coming is like the first."
                                                    -Ephrem of Syria

Maybe paying attention to the signs means simply looking and listening for Christ not only during the advent season, but during all seasons. And maybe the best signs he gives us are those which are subtle, less dramatic and visible, within ourselves as well as in the lives of people around us..... Love, Joy, and Peace. It is important to recognize the signs, even the more noticeable ones, so we remember to allow the Christ child as well as the soon coming King to rule and reign in our hearts, spreading hope to the world.

At the beginning of advent may we make room for God in whatever way he comes to us.

Reflection from Living the Good News

Many people know the regret that follows overeating
or drinking too much. We feel stuffed or headachy,
unwilling to move, and worst of all, angry at ourselves.
Why didn’t we stop when we saw the danger signals?

Unless this stupid behavior is constantly repeated, it
is relatively harmless. After enough stomach aches or
hangovers, we learn our limits. But when Jesus applies
this metaphor to all of life, it becomes more significant.
Do we really want to reach the end of our days angry at
ourselves because we’ve missed the most important parts?
How tragic it would be to face the sad truth: “You missed
your chance. You could’ve been so much more.”

God’s coming should represent our ransom, our fortunate
delivery, and a glorious manifestation of God’s power. If,
however, we are not prepared because we are wasting our
time on less important matters, it will spring on us like a
trap. Now we have the opportunity to choose: how shall
we live?

If such decisions paralyze, we might pray psalm 25,
asking God to show us the paths we should follow and
guide us with prodigious care. In learning of God’s
kindness, we then become God’s friends, eagerly anticipating
the myriad ways God comes each day

Second Sunday of Advent, December 9, 2012
Title: Promise of Salvation
Bible verses: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68- 79; Philippians 1;3- 11; Luke 3:1- 6

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