2017-2018

ADVENT

CHRISTMAS

EPIPHANY

LENT

HOLY WEEK

EASTER

PENTECOST

AFTER PENT

ADVENT 1 -  Year B  -  3rd December 2017

Potter and the clay (image by Quino Al on Unsplash)
 

Isaiah 64:1-9

 

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,

so that the mountains would quake at your presence—

2 as when fire kindles brushwood

and the fire causes water to boil—

to make your name known to your adversaries,

so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,

you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

4 From ages past no one has heard,

no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who works for those who wait for him.

5 You meet those who gladly do right,

those who remember you in your ways.

But you were angry, and we sinned;

because you hid yourself we transgressed.

6 We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

7 There is no one who calls on your name,

or attempts to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us,

and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;

we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,

and do not remember iniquity forever.

Now consider, we are all your people.

 

 

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,

you who lead Joseph like a flock!

You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.

Stir up your might,

and come to save us!

3 Restore us, O God;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.

4 O Lord God of hosts,

how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears,

and given them tears to drink in full measure.

6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors;

our enemies laugh among themselves.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.

 

17.  But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,

the one whom you made strong for yourself.

18 Then we will never turn back from you;

give us life, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.

 

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

 

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 
 

Mark 13:24-37

 

24 “But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light,

25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,

and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

DEVOTIONAL:  THE POTTER AND THE CLAY - Rev Anne Hibbard

 

Isaiah 64:6-8 (NRSV) 

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.

We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

 

It is a strange feeling.  Turning the news on and seeing many people with so much joy and all one can feel is grief and dread. Watching the celebrations are the hardest for the 40% of the population hopefully higher in the church who are in dismay, concerned for nation, church and family.  The media had many pictures of celebration after the upper house passed through same-gender marriage but not many pictures of despair. The concern for freedom of religion and speech continue as we move towards the motions being brought to the lower house.  Right now, the nation is split.  60% are celebrating and 40% are grieving even fearing the future for our country.

 

It is hard to rejoice with those who rejoice when one believes that what they are rejoicing over will cause their destruction and the destruction of the country.  How do we love in this instance for these precious ones, who we believe are caught in deception even as they celebrate their victories?

 

Our passage today from Isaiah whilst not giving answers can help encourage and comfort us.  The focus in prayer is that all of us would tremble in the Lord’s presence.  We have all sinned.  We all have filfthy rags in God’s eyes.  We all are fading.

 

Leaves on a tree as they begin to fade turn vibrant colours in seeming celebration. But the change of the colour is the beginning of the end. It is not long till they disconnect from the tree’s life and blow away scattered.  Some become a carpet on the ground, brittle, faded and lifeless.

 

When Christ journeyed to Calvary his colour shone brightly.  There on the cross, his life fell to the ground like faded leaves. This is the one who knew no sin, who became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God.  But praise God!  He was raised to life again and his leaves that are the healing of the nations,  are now eternal, one with the Father.  We too, the ones who are fading,  are offered this gift of eternal life through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  We look forward to Christ's return.  He is coming to reign.  

 

Even these ideologies that have led to this outcome in Australia will fall to the ground when Christ returns in all his glory.  Our gospel reading for the week reminds us in the meantime to watch, pray and be alert.

 

And what of our church? Let us not forget even in the midst of our turning away from the Lord, that our Father is the potter and we are his clay. As a potter smooths out the cracks and rough places, it is our Lord himself by the power of the Spirit, who corrects that which is erroneous in the life of the church. Our awesome potter can even piece together pots that have been shattered into many pieces and reform them into a beautiful whole. So let us not give in to despair.  But let us remember and give thanks for God’s transforming work in our midst as we hold on to the promise of Christ’s return. 

 

Heavenly Father, our Master Potter, in our church and in our country we are deeply divided.  Whilst some celebrate in victory others grieve and despair over the very same event. Help us to be aware of one another and not to cease loving each other despite our incompatible differences.  Teach us not to be afraid of the fragmentation but to trust in Christ who will bring all things together in perfect unity, even as he sifts the chaff from the wheat.

 

In Jesus’ mighty name

 

                  Amen   

 
ABOUT US

The School of Faith is a ministry of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations within the Uniting Church in Australia

ADDRESS
CREEDS AND FAITH STATEMENTS 

PO Box 968,
Newtown, NSW, 2042

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