Thursday, December 3, 2015

Whiteboard: The Sunday of Peace

We need this Sunday now more than ever.

The Second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Peace, and in a world that feels anything but peaceful right now, we need this Sunday more than ever.

With political rhetoric ratcheted up to surreal levels, recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, the largest refugee crisis since World War II, and this very morning news of a mass shooting in a community center in San Bernadino, California it is fair to say that peace is the last thing on our minds.

Our thoughts are filled with anxiety and fear; too many conversations are laced with animosity and indifference.

In the midst of this dark and broken world, we dare to strike a match for justice and light an Advent Candle for peace.

Advent is that season of preparation. It is the beginning of a new year for us in the worship life of the church. A year that does not begin with the revelry and celebration of Christmas or with the cosmos reshaping events of Easter. No, our year begins with preparation because faith is about the journey as much as it is about any end destination. So we carve out this time to get ready, to prayerfully consider our preparation. What do we need to do to steady our hearts and steel our wills as we eagerly anticipate the birth of Christ once more in our hearts and in our world?

This Sunday we will gather. We will pray. We will sing. We will the old, old stories and join our hearts with the dreams that God has for us today. We will prepare our hearts and talk about peace. Because it is into a world just such as this that Christ Jesus came to reveal the fullness of God's love, the promise of God's forgiveness, and the opportunity of a life truly worth living.

Come and light a Candle of Peace with us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale.


Luke 3:1-18 The Proclamation of John the Baptist

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

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