It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

Author Unknown

Thursday, November 24, 2005

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, NOVEMBER 27, 2005


Mark
Chapter 13

1 As he was making his way out of the temple area one of his disciples said to him, "Look, teacher, what stones and what buildings!"
Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be one stone left upon another that will not be thrown down."

2 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple area, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
"Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be when all these things are about to come to an end?"
Jesus began to say to them, "See that no one deceives you.
Many will come in my name saying, 'I am he,' and they will deceive many.
When you hear of wars and reports of wars do not be alarmed; such things must happen, but it will not yet be the end.
Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes from place to place and there will be famines. These are the beginnings of the labor pains.
"Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them.

But the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
3

When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit.
Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
"When you see the desolating abomination standing
4 where he should not (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains,

(and) a person on a housetop must not go down or enter to get anything out of his house,

and a person in a field must not return to get his cloak.
Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days.
Pray that this does not happen in winter.
For those times will have tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of God's creation until now, nor ever will be.
If the Lord had not shortened those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect whom he chose, he did shorten the days.

If anyone says to you then, 'Look, here is the Messiah! Look, there he is!' do not believe it.
False messiahs and false prophets will arise and will perform signs and wonders in order to mislead, if that were possible, the elect.

But in those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,

and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

5 And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory,

and then he will send out the angels and gather (his) elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.

In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

Here are excerpts from my search today on the 1st Sunday of Advent.

The Christian church year begins with Advent (from the Latin adventus meaning coming or arrival) which is also a time when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest November 30 (St. Andrew's Day) and lasts until Christmas Eve. (November 27, 2005)

Our church includes an advent wreath in their Advent services. The wreath consists of four candles (three purple and one rose) arranged in a circle of evergreen which symbolizes eternal life. The candles are lit progressively as follows:


First Sunday: one purple candle
Second Sunday: two purple candles
Third Sunday: two purple candles and the rose candle
Fourth Sunday: all four candles


The rose candle is also called the "Joy" candle and it comes out of the history of Advent. The Advent fast was broken on the third Sunday in anticipation of the great event to come. Often a fifth white candle will be placed in the center of the circle. This is the Christ Candle, symbolizing Christ's birth, and it is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ

Advent is one of the few Christian festivals that can be observed in the home as well as at church. With its association with Christmas, Advent is a natural time to involve children in activities at home that directly connect with worship at church. In the home an Advent wreath is often placed on the dining table and lighted at meals, with Scripture readings preceding the lighting of the candles, especially on Sunday. A new candle is lighted each Sunday during the four weeks, and then the same candles are lighted each meal during the week. In this context, it provides the opportunity for family devotion and prayer together, and helps teach the Faith to children, especially if they are involved in reading the daily Scriptures.

The First Sunday of Advent is the Church's "New Year's Day". In the Judeo-Christian tradition, Sunday begin at sundown of the day before when the faithful celebrate First Vespers. Advent begins the Christmas cycle

I have come to bring you peace.
Not the peace of the season, for it is too fleeting,
Not the peace of the carol, for it is nostalgic,
Not the peace of the greeting card, for it is too slick,
Not the peace of the crib, for it is too wistful.

Rather, I have come to bring you peace,
Peace of the ordinary, the daily, the homely,
Peace for the worker, the driver, the student,
Peace in the office, the kitchen, the farm.

I have come to bring you peace,
The peace of accepting yourself as I fashioned you.
The peace of knowing yourself as I know you,
The peace of loving yourself as I love you,
The peace of being yourself as I am who I am.

I have come to bring you peace,
The peace that warms you at the completion of a task,
The peace that invades you at the close of the day,
The peace that sustains you at the beginning of the day,
The peace that reinforces you when you are reconciled with one another.
The peace that touches you when your family is in order.

Without peace, my coming is unfulfilled.
Without peace, my birth is forgettable.
Without peace, Christmas is a contradiction.
I have come to bring you peace.

Liguori Publications Excerpt from Advent - A Quality Storecupboard

It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world

I hope to bring you Advent reflections daily - time permitting. If not daily it will be often. It's important to prepare our hearts at this special time of year...Advent is a SEASON OF HOPE.

'ON YA' - ma

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