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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

First Sunday in Advent: Thanksgiving leftovers

11/29







It’s the first Sunday of Advent. And the end of Thanksgiving weekend. Jazz pianist Martha Kato has come to join us for the morning. And there is a beautiful Advent creation by Pat K and Leila.  The main focus of our reflection  this morning is 1 Thessalonians 3: 9-13. 3: 9-13.

9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

It is the first Sunday in Advent.  Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday has come and gone. Small business Saturday too and Cyber Monday tomorrow.  I don’t even know what else.  Last night, my son Dan and I had left over turkey and dressing and the cranberry salad that has become a tradition for our family. So today, maybe some Thanksgiving leftovers.

I first thought of talking about signs.  So much in the world is happening right now. We want to believe in our security but it’s hard to. And in response, we turn our anxiety against people fleeing for their lives. Presidential candidates speak of registering Muslims. A poll of Republican voters showed 72% believed that a Muslim should not be president. (Probably a lot of those believe we already have one..) Hungary closes its borders. We hesitate at accepting 15000 Syrian refugees, Germany will take in a million before the end of the year. Can we recall the 1939 voyage of the damned? The MS St.Louis with some 935 passengers headed to Cuba from Germany, denied entry to Havana, and then the US, sent back to Europe. The concern then was that Nazi spies might be hidden among the refugees.
As I’ve said before, Perfect love casts out fear, but fear can cast out even perfect love.
A gunman opens up fire at a Planned Parenthood killing 3, injuring 9. Inspired by edited and manipulated misleading  videos. And the Washington Post reports 62 police killings in the last 30 days.  But I am not looking for sigs to interpret. Not today.
It is the beginning of Advent. A new church year. And I want to look back on last week And begin by giving thanks.

Our scripture this morning comes from 1 Thessalonians—the oldest book in the NT, probably around 51 CE.  Paul had begun a church there, had been forced to leave. Sent Timothy there to see what how the folks were holding up. And in response to the report, this is what he wrote…
9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?

That’s where I want to start…with thanks…part of Thanksgiving…I remember the first Thanksgiving I had to spend without my boys…my family..  but friends reached out…invitations came.. even this year , up to the last minute, people checking in ,making sure I was OK with a place to go. We do that. One year in college I couldn’t make it home, the woman who owned the pizza place we always went to invited me and my roommate to join her family. Signs? They say the basic sign of the presence of God is hospitality… from the tradition of the desert found in the Old Testament to what we do for each other today.

Paul is very specific…9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?
So today I want to say thanks to you… .for being here…for staying faithful through long and difficult times…and see if I can allow myself to feel joy because of each of you…let us take a minute, look at each others’ faces, and feel thankful…whatever life we have is brought there by you

Take a look at this table…Pat Klein is celebrating a birthday with her sister this morning…but she came in yesterday to make this table for us….

Pat and Leila gave beauty


When my ribs were broken, and I couldn’t do the prep work, every Sunday I came in and saw Dion ready to help it lifted my spirits.

Notice what Paul says next, 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face….another experience we have at Thanksgiving… we want to see those we love face to face….when anyone of us is not here, we want to see you again, face to face…

Last week, we had our second meeting of asylum workers from the US and Germany…we had visited each other’s homes 5 years ago…the new global migrant crisis led us to want to see other again…I went looking for a grant, but thanks to Russ, we hooked up everyone from Tucson to New York to Berlin and literally saw each other face to face…

And why does Paul want to get back there, see the people?  to restore whatever is lacking in your faith.  To lift the spirits of those going through hard times…not sure if you know it, but every time I see you, you do that..we’re called to do that for reach other…to lift each other’s spirits, help us through …and we have that choice, to lift up, to cheer, or to bring down, and ultimately break apart…

Paul yearns, he prays, to see his people again..
11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

I pray that can be our prayer too…may our way be directed to those who need to see us…brothers and sisters…

I have said before that Walter Brueggeman says that the beginning of resistance is doxology…when we think about what we need, it is overwhelming…it can stop us…but can we think about what we already have?
And that begins with each other…and for that we can give thanks….

We all said what and who we most give thanks for. Mainly family and friends. And the church.
Martha did improve for us for our doxology. We made our final circle, sang Amen. And left. Giving thanks.


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