“Word and Light”
Adams United Methodist Church Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church December 20, 2020 4th Sunday of Advent Year B
Welcome to Adams and Sulphur Springs UMC, I am Pastor Missy. Thank you for joining us. If you would like to join Bible Study or a small group, please message us. Please comment with how many are watching if you are joining virtually. Light a candle to join the community wherever you are at.
Prelude: Mike Tyo Original Work
Opening Prayer: Lord of Love and Light, shine through our darkness, bringing us hope. Open our hearts for the journey, our eyes for the light, our spirits for the peace which you bring. Fill our mouths with laughter and speech with shouts of joy that we shall reveal the love with which you surround us. We offer this prayer in the name of the One who is coming into the world bringing your hope, love, peace, and joy, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Lighting of the Advent Wreath: “Today we light four candles of the Advent wreath. Each candle has a meaning. The first candle is Hope, the second candle is Love, the third is Joy and the fourth is Peace.” The candles are lit.
Scripture: “Colossians 3:15 – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Prayer: “Almighty God, you offer rest for our hearts, and peace for our souls. Give us grace to seek peace in our lives, peace in this community, and peace in the world. Through Jesus Christ, the prince of peace. Amen.” Scripture: ( Debbie Thrush is reading John, and Abi is reading Luke) John 1:1-5 Luke 2:8-20
Children’s Moment: Have you ever been in a dark room - I mean one that is so dark there is no light? Then if there is the tiniest bit of light pops in you can see it. Sometimes this happens in a really dare movie theater you can see if someone’s phone gets a text message and lights up, and it is soooo distracting. No matter what it seems to catch your eye unless there is a huge explosion on the screen – but if it is a dark screen or a quiet moment, everyone sees it. It is why even the smallest night light draws our eyes at night in the hallway. When we call Jesus the light that is kind of what we mean. That no matter how dark or sad or lonely we feel Jesus will always be like that tiny light on the darkest night or the moon outside lighting a path for us to walk on, or the Christmas star that is going to shine tomorrow night. Jesus will shine a light on the things of this world and show us the truth, the way things really are, and help us make good choices. When we ask Jesus into our hearts and lives then we become part of that light, just like on Christmas eve when we each get a candle to light and suddenly the light spreads from the one Christ candle until the whole sanctuary is full of beautiful light and we can see all the faces of those who are here. This year we will be a little different we are going to take our lights that we light at home and put them in the luminary bags to put outside all night. Instead of blowing out the light that makes me so sad, we are going to be able to put it outside or in our windows to share with our whole neighborhood and the whole world. Christ light shines through us and that one light spreads shining in and through the whole world until there is no room for darkness because there is so much light and love. Won’t you ask Jesus into your life today so you can be part of the light too? If you are feeling up to it you can, if you aren’t ready yet, you can stay silent for those words, and just repeat the words at the end of the prayer – just ask God for what you are ready for. Let’s pray together. Dear Jesus, please come into my life and help me be part of your light. Please help me to see your light and love around me this week as we get ready for Christmas. Amen.
Reflection: “Word and Light” We hear about the Word of God a lot. If we had the copyrights, I would love to use the clip from Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya says “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” when we get to this section. Most people say the Word of God is the Bible. I strongly disagree with that statement. The Word of God most certainly is not the Bible – it is Jesus. John tells us that right here in his Gospel. The only Word of God that we definitively have is Jesus. I think part of our misunderstanding comes form understanding what the word - Word meant to the Jews and to the Greeks when John was writing and when the New Testament was being written. When we think of words, it is the scrawling on pages or the utterance that mean something when it comes out of our mouths – which is why so many folks assume it is the words in the entirety of the Bible – literally, even though it isn’t. For the Jewish people during Jesus’ time, it was different according to William Barclay. Barclay quotes John Paterson “The spoken word to the Hebrew was fearfully alive…It was a unit of energy charged with power.” So we are talking about a people who chose their words carefully because they had power and weight. They also saw the Word of God being a creative force as the Word created the world and everything in it (Genesis 1). By the time Jesus was leading and teaching in synagogues the average folks were speaking Aramaic. They would refer to God as the Word of God in Aramaic so that they could accentuate the differences between humanity and God, and we could understand that God was not like us but more. So, for Jews the Word was so much more than what was written on a page, it was a creative force of God that literally brought things into being. They had also come to share in some of the Greek understanding of Logos as it related to their ancient Wisdom literature as they saw connections to their own traditions (think Ecclesiastes and Proverbs). For the Greeks, Word means Logos which came from a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus from around 560 BCE. He taught that things were always changing – you could never step into the same river twice as the water already moved on, yet it was all controlled by a greater pattern called the Logos – the word, the reason of God. This was the pattern of the world and the events in it. Everything was controlled by the Logos. As Barclay put it “Logos is the power which puts sense into the world, the power which makes the world an order instead of a chaos the power which set the world going and keeps it going in its perfect order.” This idea permeated Greek culture. So when we get to John, he is summarizing his entire book for those who are going to read it, essentially saying: “This one, he is the Mind of God, Reason of God made Flesh in this Man Jesus so that we may know God” – that is the Word of God. Jesus is the Word – not just a spoken word, but the creative and creating power, the Reason of God come to Earth so that we come to see God, so that we may know God as much as we humanly can. I think that is why it drives me crazy when someone quotes me some obscure rule from Exodus as the Word of God. Nope. It is not. Jesus now that is the Word – the Logos the reason and power and word….it is the only definitive thing God sent us to show us God’s own self. The rest has been our evolving understanding of God through the generations. But Jesus. Jesus is the Word made flesh for us to come to know God, to be light to the world. As Barclay puts it, in Jesus, “The Mind of God became a person.” This all to show us a glimpse of the God who created us and loves us so deeply that they wanted a better way for us, a way for us to be part of the recreating of the world, showing us the way, by shining the light of hope, love, joy, and peace into our lives. Jesus came so that we could be free. As I told the kids earlier, Jesus shines that light for us, and shows us things we don’t always see on our own.. When Jesus shows up, you can never unsee what Jesus shows you – no matter how hard you try. When Jesus shows you the truth about an evil or an injustice or a need – you can’t turn away, you can’t pretend you didn’t see it or deny that it was there. The light is for all of us. It shines into the scary spaces of our lives giving us hope. It shines into our fears, our self-doubt and our hatred reminding us of who we are and whose we are, and just like the Gospels this morning it reminds us that the Word is not just for us. This light is for everyone, for those who are not like us, those who are in fields or cities, who look different, smell different and act different. The Word is to be shared by the way we act, by the way we share the light and the way we let it shine through us into the world. So, this week how are you letting the Word of GOD shine through you? What are you doing to let God’s light shine? Where are you being the reason for someone to understand God differently and grasping the Word in a new way? How are you understanding God’s love and peace? How are you sharing God’s peace with someone?
Music: “O Come All Ye Faithful” played by Mike Tyo, sung by Sue and Craig Gamet,
Prayers: We praise your abiding guidance, O God, for you sent us Jesus, our Teacher and Messiah, to model for us the way of love for the whole universe. We offer these prayers of love on behalf of ourselves and our neighbors, on behalf of your creation and our fellow creatures.
We pray for all those struggling with health concerns. We pray for all of our church families who are separated from loved ones or can’t see them due to the COVID outbreak, and we pray for an end to COVID. We pray to the Lord. Lord Hear our prayer.
We pray for all those who are struggling, especially those in abusive situations Lord. We pray to the Lord. Lord hear our prayer. We pray for peace Lord. For peace throughout the world, but also here at home. We pray for understanding, curiosity and patience around challenging conversations concerning race. We pray for the safety of our police officers and our black and brown siblings. Lord we pray for mutual love, respect and for help with these hard conversations. We pray to the Lord, Lord hear our prayer. We pray in thanksgiving for people who go out of their way to help one another and find ways to show they care. We celebrate those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries this week. We pray to the Lord, Lord hear our Prayer. Lord we pray for those who are feeling frustrated, who are out of work, who are struggling with or have lost their jobs or businesses. We pray for those who are feeling overwhelmed, lost, and lonely. We pray to the Lord. Lord hear our prayer. We pray for healing for Ingrid, Pastor Al, Shelley, Mike Duell and for his wife Dee. We pray to the Lord. Lord hear our prayer. We pray for Kimberly Demianenko and Kenneth Gammet for a recovery from COVID. We pray to the Lord. Lord