A Time to See the Clouds

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Gate Pa – Advent 1 2014
Psalm                                     Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19                                                               
First Reading:                         Isaiah 64:1-9                                  
Second Reading:                    1 Cor 1:3-9                                      
Gospel:                                    Mark 13:24-37                               

What I want to say:
Advent is a time to hear the invitation to see the world through God’s eyes, to long for all God longs for, and to be part of the coming in to being

What I want to happen:
People to approach Advent slowly, out of the normal rush, taking care to be part of God’s ongoing work of salvation

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

lot to worry us in world today
            Home invasions and crime
            ongoing financial struggle
            threat natural disasters
            will all blacks win world cup
in world -ISIS
            Climate change
            ongoing financial struggle
fear can cripple us with fear
does cripple people – afraid live their lives
readings today written out times great fear

     2.     Isaiah

from what called Third Isaiah
            first Isaiah written before exile
            second during
            third Isaiah – after exile
            when exiled elite allowed to go home
            not as expected
not welcomed with open arms those left behind
new people moved into land not welcome them
Jerusalem – no walls – constantly vulnerable raids
temple yet built
in fact life many ways better back Babylon
out that we have this prophets longing
longing to live in God’s presence
            with all that means
this prayer comes out knowledge life is found only in God
            God’s mercy
            God’s life
            God‘s action
all their efforts amount to nothing
that this life will change us if we let us.

     3.     Mark

a new year
a new gospel
back to Mark
            wrote his people living in world Jersualem
                        city God
                        where story Jesus had centred
            all Jews banished from promised land
all non-Romans, and even Roman poor
            lived under heel Roman elite and Roman legions
start Mark where left Matthew
at the end
in Jesus all important last speech
last instructions
            in gospel to group disciples whose expectations were about to take a real beating
            through Mark’s community struggling understand how Jersualem could fall
            who expectations of life as flowers of the way were not being met
            whose expectations that Jesus would return real soon were not being met
to those unrealised expectations we hear these words
these last words are Gods words to us this Advent
words of challenge
words of judgement
twin themes of watching for signs of impending end
            are in it for long haul
to do this uses apocalyptic style writing
too often read literally
            some facets of this that would described anguish of fall Jerusalem
mostly style that paints grand picture that offered hope
hope like Isaiah
that God is in control all things
all is working out for good.
Mark inviting hearers of Gospel to pay attention to events happening around them
            not too withdraw in fear and hopelessness – so let’s just stay safe
            not to withdraw because God will end it soon anyway so let’s just keep our heads down and be good in our own little world
In Mark Jesus invites hearers to be alert
            look into heart of all that causes us to lose hope
            see buds of hope sprouting
                        join in work of allowing that hope to bud and blossom

            4.     Christmas

Here we are new church year
            in advent
            preparing for Christmas
            story we know all too well
                        too well really
            no longer surprises us
            no longer shocks us
nice story
become more about babies and families and being happy
than shocking story God’s dramatic entry into this world as helpfulness
            poor baby

our expectations get in the way
just as they got in the way of returning exiles
just as they would get in the way of disciples
just as they got in the way of Marks community

We are invited us to use Advent time let go of our expectations for our lives
Prepare ourselves to be taken by surprise by the Christmas story
and to allow that surprise to shape and mould us into people of God


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