Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 8, 2013 - Second Sunday of Advent

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for December 8th: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12; Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming UMH 216; theme: Second Sunday of Advent Romans: We are studying the book of Romans for our bible study. And the first thing that we learned, is the Paul always considered himself to be a jew, who was given the task to include gentiles into the family of God. One of his major task for the urban Roman task was to make sure that these groups could put their differences aside and live as one, so diversity has been a major theme of the church for years. He was trying to teach the jews to learn to accept the gentiles, in spite of their upbringing. Today we still struggle with the same issues. The gentiles of today are the homeless, the needy, the unchurched. We say that we want to church to grow, but ideally, we want to attract people who are able to give their tithes, and who are well mannered. We don’t want people who step out of line, who are hard to control. The word gentile meant – barbarian. Someone who did not have manners, and did not fit in the genteel society. So Paul still has a message for us – the church is for the gentile and the jew, the church is for everyone who comes to our door. Matthew: Last week we talked about the second coming of Jesus, today we move on to the story of John the Baptist. Last week the theme was hope in the midst of darkness, this week the theme is about the righteousness of God (and the wrongness of man). This week, advent gets personal and reminds us that we are sinners. And that in order to live in God’s world we have to repent of our sins. We have to know what our sins are, and we have to be willing to do something about them. The world to come, is not a world where sinners are welcome. John is just an ordinary man with an extraordinary message. He is telling us that one who is extraordinary is coming to do the work of letting us into a new world, but before he can help us, we have to be able to help ourselves. We have to be able to ask for help. And we need to prepare ourselves to go to the rivers edge to be cleaned. For advent, you may clean the house, you may clean the church, but did you clean out your soul in preparation for something new that God will do in your life? Questions: What are you doing for advent in order to cleanse your soul? What justice issues does God need to address this year? Who are the gentiles that need to know that they are welcome and accepted in the church? How can we strive to be a more accepting church?

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