Season of Saints: Shepherd of the Saints
So far, we’ve talked mostly about ourselves as saints or potential saints. Today, at the end of one church year and the cusp of the next, we speak and sing primarily of the one around whom the universe itself pivots, Christ the King, Shepherd of the saints. Christ, our Shepherd-King gathers and makes saints from the most marginalized, damaged, abused, abandoned people on earth, leading the saints to eternal life now and in the new creation.
- Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
- Psalm 100 (UMH 821)
- Ephesians 1:15-23
- Matthew 25:31-46
Coming Home: Come Down Home
As we light the first candle in our Advent wreath today, officially enacting this annual ritual reminder, and as we move toward the celebration of the birth of the one God sent to save us from the law of sin and death, let us take seriously God’s call on our lives. Let us make our confession of sin, as individuals and as a human community. Let us pray that God will have mercy on us. And let us embrace our need for a Savior.
- Isaiah 64:1-9
- Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (UMH 801)
- 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
- Mark 13:24-37
Coming Home: HOME IS WHERE WE MEET
What is home? Home is anywhere we meet God, face-to-face and hand-in-hand. Home is the assurance that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, thus proving God’s love for us. Home is knowing that we are saved by the grace of God. Home is anywhere that we meet God’s people and welcome them in with the love of Christ.
- Isaiah 40:1-11
- Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 (UMH 806)
- 2 Peter 3:8-15a
- Mark 1:1-8
Coming Home: JOY IS OUR TRUE HOME
Let it be in a spirit of grace that we acknowledge that for many of us, welcoming guests or going home will never resemble in any way the pictures of perfect familial bliss that we see in the constant holiday barrage of Photoshopped advertisements, holiday television specials, and Christmas movies. Nevertheless, let us enter into this time with rejoicing, prayer, and giving thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. For no matter how hard the journey may be some days, we know that joy is our true home.
- Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
- Psalm 126 (UMH 847)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
- John 1:6-8, 19-28
Coming Home: GOD MAKES THIS WORLD OUR HOME
Are we willing to receive Christ into our hearts? And are we willing to live with Mary’s courage? Can her song be our song too? Can we refuse to give into the fear that the world screams constantly into our lives? Can we reject the notion that everything is spinning out of control, and embrace that the world is simply about to turn, just as God intends it? Can we admit that there are things about our world that need to be turned upside down for the sake of others?
- 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
- Luke 1:47-55 (UMH199)
- Romans 16:25-27
- Luke 1:26-38
Coming Home: A MANGER FOR THE WORLD
There is only one home that is permanent, and that is the home we make with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate tonight, and whose coming again we will not fear, but rather, will look for with the hope of Joseph, and the joy of Mary, and the curiosity and conviction of the Magi, and the boldness of the shepherds in the field. Let us gather around the manger. Let us gather around the Table of our Lord.
- Isaiah 9:2-7
- Psalm 96 (UMH 815)
- Titus 2:11-14
- Luke 2:1-20