FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT – Hope
John 1:1-5 (NKJV)
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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
The Gospel of John speaks of Christ as the true light coming into the world. In commemoration of that coming, we light candles for the four weeks leading to Christmas and reflect on the coming of Christ.
It is significant that the church has always used that language—the coming of Christ—because it speaks to a deep truth. Christ is coming. Christ is always entering a troubled world, a wounded heart.
And so, we light the first candle, the candle of hope, and dare to express our longing for peace, for healing, and the well-being of all creation.
(Light the first candle)
Loving God, as we enter this Advent season,
We open all the dark places in our lives and memories to the healing light of Christ.
Show us the power of hope.
Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you,
That we may walk in the light of Christ.
Take time, in the busyness of this season, for quiet reflection—
For the light of God’s love can be shown everywhere.
We will let ourselves be surprised by wonder,
And set aside time to offer quiet thanks.
The good news of Advent is this:
Christ is coming.
We will welcome Christ into our hearts.
We will let ourselves be guided by his Spirit.
We will go forth from this place in hope. Amen.
Isaiah 8:11 to 9:7
11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: 12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.
14 He will be a holy place;
for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”
16 Bind up this testimony of warning
and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the Lord,
who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.
18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.
The Darkness Turns to Light
19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
9 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
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