A Taste of Apocalyptic Literature in Luke’s Gospel (Annabelle Wallace)

We gather to worship God
First Sunday in Advent
10:00 am November 28, 2021
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
led by Rev. Annabelle Wallace
Music director: Binu Kapadia, Elder: Nick Nation
children’s time: Rev. Annabelle Wallace
vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford
*indicates that those who are able may stand

Music prelude

Greeting
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words
L: I lift up my eyes to the hills –  from where will my help come?
P: My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

*Opening praise: Hope is a star   vs 1    #119

Hope is a star that shines in the night,
leading us on till the morning is bright.

Refrain: When God is a child there’s joy in our song.
The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong, and none shall be afraid.

Words: Brian A. Wren Music: Joan C Fogg © 1989 Hope Publishing Group For music and words. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

*Call to worship
L: Hope is a flame that is given by God.
P: Hope for a new world burns in our hearts.
L: Hope burns in the message of the Law and the teaching of the Prophets.
P: Hope is revealed in Jesus Christ.
(The candle is lit.)
L: Let us pray…
P: Source of light, burn in our lives and in your world with your renewing hope. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Approach and Confession

Eternal source of birth and new life, we come in hope and expectation for you continue to create and call. We come to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. Smooth out our roughness; lift up the parts we try to hide from you, straighten up our priorities. May we trust in your holy imagination and seek the salvation of your found in your Living Word.

God, there is much trouble and despair in our world. The powers of violence, poverty and hatred seem so strong. We often feel powerless and hopeless. Forgive us for losing sight of your vision. Remind us of your faithfulness and of your promises. Instill in us an empowering sense of hope as we await your coming.  Amen

Response: I waited, I waited on you Lord

I waited, I waited on you, Lord, I waited, I waited on you, Lord You bent down low and remembered me When you heard my prayer

Words: Psalm 40; Music: J. Bell; © WGRG 1987 Iona Community, GIA Publications Inc Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Assurance of God’s love

We are forgiven and offered new life!  This is the message of love and hope and peace, revealed through Jesus Christ and offered to us daily. Thanks be to God.

Transitional Music: Jesus, we are gathered    #514

Jesus, we are gathered; Jesus, we are gathered; Jesus, we are gathered; we are gathered together with you.

Words and music: Patrick Matsikenyiri © Patrick Matsikenyiri, 1990. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Story

If someone was coming to your house to visit – what might happen.  Mostly we prepare.

  • We clean up.
  • We plan a meal.
  • We prepare a meal.
  • We get excited about the arrival of our friends. Sometimes we keep looking out the window to see if they are there yet.

The season of Advent begins to day

We have a tradition of having an Advent wreath.  Four candles of Advent – one Candle for the birth of Christ.

Some people think that advent is just a count down for Christmas. 4.3.2.1 its here.

But it is not. It is not just a four week before Christmas – it is a season of its own, with its own readings and hymns (wonderful hymns)

Advent is like preparing for someone to come to your house.

Advent is about inviting.

Oh come, oh come Emmanual.  Come and rescue us from ourselves.

Getting ourselves prepared for the coming of the Lord.

The bible readings we read during advent remind us that God is in charge – God will come again – so get ready, be prepared.

Advent is about preparing. 

Preparing ourselves for God’s entrance into our lives. Cleaning ourselves up

Advent is about waiting. 

Waiting for God to enter (to re-enter) our world.

Come Lord Jesus.  Come bring things to completion. The wonderful end when God’s world is complete.

The Lord’s Prayer         #535

*Song: Long ago, prophets knew     #121

Long ago, prophets knew Christ would come, born a Jew, Come to make all things new, Bear all people’s burden, Freely love and pardon.

Refrain: Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring! Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing! When He comes, when He comes, Who will make Him welcome?

God in time, God in man, This is God’s timeless plan: He will come, as a man, Born Himself of woman, God divinely human.

Refrain

Mary, hail! Though afraid, She believed, she obeyed. In her womb, God is laid Till the time expected, Nurtured and protected.

Refrain

Journey ends. Where afar Bethlehem shines; like a star, stable door stands ajar: unborn son of Mary, Saviour do not tarry!

Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring! Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing! When He comes, when He comes, We will make Him welcome!

Words: Fred Pratt Green © 1971 Hope Publishing Co. Music: Piae Cantiones © public domain. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Scripture reading:      Luke 21: 25-36             NT(NRSV)

Response: Emmanuel, Emmanuel

Emmanuel, Emmanuel, his name is called Emmanuel. God with us, revealed in us,
his name is called Emmanuel.

Words and music: Bob McGee © C.A. Music, 1976 for both. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Message

Advent 1 – Year C      Text: Luke 21: 25 -36

Today as we listened to the Gospel of Luke we had a taste of apocalyptic literature.  Apocalyptic literature is about the end times.  It is literature that uses strange images, often violent images to describe the end of the world. There are short bouts of apocalypse in the Gospels and the long bout in Revelations.  I did not like apocalyptic literature.  Mostly because I did not understand it.  I am not one who appreciates poetry.  I like the plain and direct communication.  A rose is a rose – not a symbol of love. And I don’t like apocalyptic literature because some people take it literally – rather than poetically or symbolically and then they take God’s hopeful message and scramble it into condemnation and worry and fear of life.

Over the years my eyes were opened.  I learned.  I discovered. There is a place for apocalyptic literature in our life journey. Because there are times when we feel overwhelmed.  There are times when the pressures of life overwhelm us. It seems like we are sitting in a boat in the middle of the ocean and waves are growing in size and power. We strain to see across the horizon for some sign of land.  We search for the secure shore line. All seems lost – it seems apocalyptic- strange images haunt our consciousness.

We listen to the news – wanting to hear and see the world getting better but there are signs that things are not getting better, that things are coming apart, unglued. What we see instead are heavens that shift into strange configurations, chaotic disturbances. Epidemics, drug “pandemic.” Stabbings. Killings. Shootings. Dishonesty and corruption in leaders and people alike.

So Jesus looks into the heavens and sees there signs of strange cataclysmic events.

Is this vivid, cosmic, apocalyptic language so odd to us?  We look to the heavens in our time and see global warming, the thinning ozone layer the growing disparity between the rich and the poor.

Maybe Luke 21 does not sound so odd to us after all. How can you honestly look up into the heaven and not feel that the old world is breaking apart becoming unglued.

But note this is not the only message in today’s gospel.  Jesus says more than a simple, “It’s bad all over and going to get worse.”

Jesus says, “Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

We need to link that Bible word “apocalyptic” with another Bible word “redemption”.

We think of apocalypse in negative terms. The world is coming apart at its seams, the heavens are turning ominous and dark, and that’s bad news.

But Jesus speaks of this time as a time when all the signs suggest that “your redemption is drawing near.” And that’s good news.

When Jesus is born, the prophet Anna praises God and sees in this baby a sign of “the redemption of Jerusalem.”  Now in Luke the adult Jesus is saying that a time of redemption – that time when God will come, will save, will move to bring to triumphant completion God’s saving work – is near. Look up.

The good news is not that heaven and earth are disintegrating, falling apart, going to “hell in a handbasket.” No! The good news is “your redemption is drawing near.”

We look over the horizon toward the shore line, towards the future and what do we see Jesus Christ, the Son of Man reigning supreme. What we see on the horizon is not simply an end; it is also a beginning. It is not just death but also birth.

Christians can be honest, even pessimistic about the prospects for our world because, though our world ends, God’s world is just beginning. It is God’s world.

Jesus says that this time, our time that seems at times so scary and chaotic, is a time for “testimony”. A time for us all to lift up our heads on high and tell the world a story that it cannot know if we don’t tell it, namely, that by the grace of God, the worst of times can be the best of times, that an apocalyptic ending is also a redemptive beginning.

We ought not be too tied to this world, as it is. For this world, as it is, is not fully what God intends. There are wars and rumors of war, sadness, heartache, and tragedy. We’ve made a mess of things, fouled our world, despoiled our earth. In our better moments we must honestly admit that matters are out of our control, that the world’s large problems are beyond our ability to fix.

Here is a story told by one – After the devastating hurricane, all of the power had been out for the past three days It was hot, humid and miserable during the day.  But it was frightening at night. Rumors were that there had been much looting, robbery and violence.

Thus when, in the darkness, there was a pounding on our front door, we were filled with great fear. Was this a robber? Was this a looter trying to find out if the house was empty? There was no way to call anyone for help. What will we do?

The knocking continued. We peered out the window but only darkness and looming figures on the front porch.  “Hey”, a voice called out to us. “We’ve got a big bag of ice for you, some fresh water too!” We heard the voice of our next door neighbours, our friends. Friends who had come to bring us wonderful gifts.

As we peer into darkness in fear, it makes all the difference in the world whose face we see. Apocalyptic means, advent means, that when we look over the storm-filled horizon, we see the face of God. That makes all the difference, in the end.

In a world at war, with bombs falling, terrorism raging and personal violence growing, biblical apocalyptic makes sense.  Biblical apocalyptic has a firm sure answer for a people who are no longer sure of themselves. The world’s fate is not left in our hands. Our actions are not the only actions.  God is with us.

Look up.  See the signs.  Shall this be death, or life? Is it apocalyptic destruction or graceful redemption? Your redemption is near- said Jesus. We look and see God in the face, the face of the one who came to offer us new life – the one who came to “Execute justice and righteousness”.  The one called the LORD is our righteousness”. We see God who constantly forgave us, and always loved us and always will.

Let us go to bear testimony, that our redemption is drawing near.

*Song: People in darkness         #124

People in darkness are looking for light. Come, come, come, Jesus Christ. People with blindness are longing for sight. Come, Lord Jesus Christ. These days of adventure when all people wait are days for the advent of love.

People with sickness are praying for health. Come, come, come, Jesus Christ. People in poverty want to have wealth. Come, Lord Jesus Christ. These days of adventure when all people wait are days for the advent of hope.

People in trouble would like to be free. Come, come, come, Jesus Christ. People with arguments want to agree. Come, Lord Jesus Christ. These days of adventure when all people wait are days for the advent of peace.

People in sadness are trying to sing. Come, come, come, Jesus Christ. Bells in the steeple are waiting to ring Come, Lord Jesus Christ. These days of adventure when all people wait are days for the advent of joy.

Words: 1-3 Dosia Carlson, © Dosia Carlson, Words: v 4 Ken and Jeanne Stright © Ken and Jeanne Stright 1996. Music: Dosia Carlson © Dosia Carlson 1983

We respond to serve God

Prayer of Gratitude

Blessed are you, gracious God: You have given us light and life and freedom to be your people in this world.

Blessed are you, gracious God: You have called us into the church and given us this particular community of faith as pilgrims with us on the journey into new creation.

Blessed are you, gracious God: You have touched our hearts with hope so that we long to see the day of your redemption.

Accept, now the gifts we bring. Enable us to use them in Jesus’ name and for the coming of your new community of justice and righteousness.

Response: Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise him all creatures below; praise him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

Words: Thomas Ken; Music Genevan Psalter1551;last line, Ravenscroft’s Psalter 1621; both public domain.

Reflection on giving

We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission. For those in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelopes with you, simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service  today.

Response: Be still and know      Words and music: anonymous and public domain

Prayers for Others and Ourselves

(In Our prayer there are times of silence so that each of us may offer our particular concerns)

God of promise and fulfillment, in the spirit of Advent hope we offer our prayers to you.

We pray for the peace of our world. . . .

(silence)

God of peace, we pray, that those who lead and those who have power will hear your voice calling to forgiveness and love. Use us as your peacemakers in our families, neighbourhoods, workplaces.

We pray for those who mourn, those burdened, those who are lonely.

(silence)

God of comfort, you are our rock and place of shelter in changing times. Send the security of your everlasting arms to all who are in need of special comfort and understanding.  Use us to bring your love.

We pray for those who are ill, struggling with disabilities, living with pain.

(silence)

Gracious God, your caring knows no limitations. Bring comfort to all who find his world a struggle for quality and are burdened by limitations.

We pray for the poor, the marginalized, the overwhelmed.

(silence)

God who sent Jesus Christ that we might know justice and righteousness.  Help us to find ways to bring about a more equal sharing of your resources.  Help us to find ways to bring a sense of worth and acceptance to those who no longer feel needed or wanted. Help us to break the cycle of poverty.

We pray for the church around the world, our own congregations and our neighbours here at Emmaus Lutheran.

(silence)

Everlasting God, you have been faithful in guiding your people through wilderness places in times past. We ask, now, that you be our vision, our strength and deliverance, that we might travel unafraid into a future of love and unity in service to you.

God of grace and peace, be with each of us as we strive to be your disciples.  May we reflect your love and grace to all we meet this coming week.  We pray in the name of the One who cared for the lost, the least and the lonely.  Amen

*Song: Come, thou long-expected Jesus      #110

Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us;
let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art, dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver; born a child and rest in thee, born to reign in us forever; now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit raise us to thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley, public domain Music: Rowland Pritchard © public domain; harmony Ralph V Williams © Oxford University Press  from the English Hymnal Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: God to enfold you

God to enfold you, Christ to uphold you, Spirit to keep you in heaven’s sight So may God grace you, heal and embrace you Lead you through darkness into the light

Words: J. Bell, G. Maule; © WGRG Iona Community, GIA Publications Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Music postlude


Annabelle Wallace retains the copyright (©2021) on all original material presented by her. As far as we are aware, all of the unattributed material presented herewith is Annabelle Wallace’s own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.