Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Advent readings and themes, updated & revised

[document with same contents attached; it's formatted a little more clearly there. pax, jbg]

Advent 2019 ~ "Joy to the World!"

 

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room;
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and nature sing.
And heav'n and heav'n and nature sing.

 

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy

 

No more let sin and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

 

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness.
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

 

 

Dec. 1 ~ Hope

Matthew 24:36-44 [no one knows the day or the hour, be ready]

 

Dec. 8 ~ Peace

            Matthew 3:1-12 [John the Baptist, bear fruit worthy of repentance]

 

Dec. 15 ~ Joy

            Matthew 11:2-11 [John in prison to Jesus; are you the one who is to come]

 

Dec. 22 ~ Love

            Matthew 1:18-25 [when Joseph awoke from sleep]

 

Dec. 24 ~ Matthew 2:13-23 [flight into Egypt]


 

Advent wreath readings:

 

Dec. 1 ~ Hope

Matthew 24:36-44 [no one knows the day or the hour, be ready]

 

In the words of the great hymn written 300 years ago this Advent:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room;
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and nature sing.
And heav'n and heav'n and nature sing.

 

We light this first candle of our wreath to prepare the way, to light a path, to signal to our hearts and human hearts all around that Christ will come, and we only have to open the door. Let the light of Christ so shine.

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending us your Son. May we each prepare Him room, and sing with all heaven and creation of how your perfect plan will bring us together, with each other, and in you forever. Amen!

 

 

 

Dec. 8 ~ Peace

            Matthew 3:1-12 [John the Baptist, bear fruit worthy of repentance]

 

In the words of the great hymn written 300 years ago this Advent:

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy

 

Christ will reign forever and ever. His rule began in a humble manger in Bethlehem, and lifted up even on a cross, his glory could not be hidden. Jesus shall reign wherever the Word is shared, and the Gospel proclaimed, where the joy of the Lord echoes and sounds off of the rocks and hills around those who will but listen. We light the candle of hope, and a candle for peace to the Prince of Peace.

 

Prayer: God of all calm and quiet, Lord of conflict and over confusion, you O Holy One who has promised to bring us peace, let us all invite the Prince of Peace into our lives, to rule over us, and to show us your way. Amen!

 

 

 

Dec. 15 ~ Joy

            Matthew 11:2-11 [John in prison to Jesus; are you the one who is to come]

 

In the words of the great hymn written 300 years ago this Advent:

No more let sin and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

 

Sin has been part of creation since almost the very beginning, but God has allowed us to stray so that we might return with willing hearts, and a greater understanding of the whole of creation. We find joy in accepting your will for our lives, renouncing sin that can choke out life itself, and turning away from disobedience towards the hope and peace and joy that is your Word, alive in the world, as are these three candles.

 

Prayer: Loving and living Lord God, help us to overcome sin, cast out darkness with light, and shine as you have put your light in us, so others might see your way, and know your path. Grant us joyful hearts in this Christmas season, in Jesus' name, Amen!

 

 

 

Dec. 22 ~ Love

            Matthew 1:18-25 [when Joseph awoke from sleep]

 

In the words of the great hymn written 300 years ago this Advent:

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness.
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

 

When Jesus truly rules the world, it will be love that is the law. Not imposed from without, but blossoming forth within. As Jeremiah spoke of your covenant written on our hearts, as Mary sang your hymn of freedom and redemption after learning of her place in your plan, may we guide and guard one another, especially those who need our protection, with love always, as you first loved us. May your love shine like the light of all four candles around this wreath.

 

Prayer: Love is your song, O Lord; as Hannah sang with a thankful heart at the tabernacle, as David danced before the ark, as your people rejoice with the saints and the angels in heaven, we sing your song of love with wonder, amazed at what you have chosen to do with all that you have made, and how you are already at work within us, even now. And all God's people said: Amen!

 

 

Dec. 24 ~ Matthew 2:13-23 [flight into Egypt]

 

In the words of the great hymn written 300 years ago this Advent:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

This is what we are called to together to celebrate: the Lord, our God, has come among us, to live with us, and to take us home at the end of our days. The gap between Heaven and Earth, from death into life, is bridged not by our work, but by God's loving intention.


Let earth receive her King;

We are here to make preparation for the fullness of time, for the end of days, for the completion of this part of God's eternal plan – which by a gift of grace includes us.


Let every heart prepare Him room;

Because we have a place, not because we have earned it or deserve it, but because God has sent word on ahead, to make a room ready with us, even as Jesus has gone on ahead to make a place for us forever.


And heav'n and nature will indeed sing, when all is made ready, and the dear Christ enters in.

 

[Lighting of the Christ Candle]

Faith Works 11-16-19

Faith Works 11-16-19

Jeff Gill

 

After the harvest is over

___

 

After the harvest, we prepare to give thanks. Thanksgiving doesn't come until a bit later this year, Nov. 28, but it is upon us as surely as is pumpkin spice. For those of us in the cities and towns, our rural touchstone, our country sensibility, comes down to a pumpkin spice candle if not the dreaded latte, but that's just a faint whiff of the reality all around us.

 

After the harvest is the season we're moving into; the leaves have fallen, and snow isn't general all over Ohio, but we can tell we're in a time of transition even if we've never sat on a tractor.

 

After the harvest, and the work done by farmers and farmer families and farmer friends, we drive past open, cleared, stubbled fields. And it looks like their work is done.

 

After the harvest, the work is not over, but it does change.

 

After the harvest, the crops have to be stored or sold or sorted or sifted (or a little of all four). After the harvest, the fields have a final tending before the frost goes deep; even in the age of no-till, there's work to do to put the soil and stubble in condition for the long winter in readiness for next spring. After the harvest, the equipment must be cleaned and sharpened and stowed. The harvest is over, but the work continues.

 

In the harvest of faith, we celebrate baptism and new beginnings, but the work of discipleship continues. Faith can't just be about the washing of sin and waiting for heaven. If that's all it is, we have to puzzle at what God's plan is really all about, or "why the Lord tarries so" as my grandmother used to say.

 

From the harvest of faith that is confession and redemption, we have the work of discipleship, the making and shaping of disciples, to occupy our long winter until the spring of ultimate advent. Not the Advent we start Dec. 1, perhaps, but the time of arrival of the end which is not a new winter, but a glorious spring. That promised coming of a redeemer is not just an end, but a new beginning. Even so, having been harvested in faith into the storehouse of the Lord, are we just waiting for that coming again, that second Advent? No.

 

After the harvest, in the storehouse, whether you imagine that to be a high ceilinged church or a quiet corner of your morning at home before going out to work, in the place where you gather together your intentions and keep them safely hid in Christ with God, it takes work to "just keep" the fruit of the harvest in store and in shape.

 

After the harvest, we all have tools to sharpen and storehouses to clean out in the recesses of our hearts, around the workshop of our thoughts. Winter might keep us closer to home, but there is still work to be done, after the harvest.

 

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him what you do after the harvest at knapsack77@gmail.com, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Notes from my Knapsack 11-21-19


Notes from my Knapsack 11-21-19
Jeff Gill

Two or so cheers for temperance
___

One hundred years ago . . . that's the opening of more than a few columns or news stories, marking the centenary of this or that important event.

The end of World War I last year around this time, other such anniversaries get marked, but you'll hear little about how on Oct. 28, 1919, the Volstead Act was finally enacted, and took effect January 17, 1920.

Prohibition is the general term, but the enabling legislation was the Volstead Act, and in terms of national regret and forgetting it's up there with the Dred Scott Decision and Plessy v. Ferguson with legal precedents we'd like to sweep under the historical carpet.

Unlike our long struggle with slavery and civil rights, Prohibition only took twelve years for us to reverse, but the impact of that period had lasting effects, some would say right down to the present. And it began before 1919, with the Anti-Saloon League and its head, Wayne Wheeler, setting up shop just west of here in Westerville, Ohio in 1909. Their influence led Granville to interfere in Newark politics around saloon enforcement in 1910, resulting in mob violence and the lynching of an Anti-Saloon League deputy officer on Courthouse Square, and hard feelings that echo in county relations to this day.

Prohibition is generally considered by folks on the left and the right to have been a classic "bridge too far," an extension of state power into personal behavior that was ultimately unenforceable and unmanageable, undermining civic authority in other areas by looking foolish in the decade-plus of Prohibition failures. It's cited today around drug policy, and most immediately around cannabis regulation and legalization. "How did Prohibition work out, huh?"

And it's true, managing people's bad habits through passing laws and promoting enforcement as a tool of social control has limits. Smoking was not made entirely illegal, but I'm still impressed with the changes we've made over the last quarter-century; likewise drinking and driving, which was largely shrugged off in my youth, and now is much less common and generally frowned upon by drinkers and non-drinkers alike. All without making alcohol illegal.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat concerned to see the boozification of almost everything, from lemonades to ciders to seltzer water. Beer is sold in a variety of places I never would have expected to run into it, or step in it; wine is the genteel beverage of choice on TV and by even the most moderate of celebrities. Does everyone need to spend most of the day buzzed, or is this just alcohol marketing run wild?

So I'd like to offer two cheers for a quaint subject: temperance. Sadly it's become associated with Prohibition, but that's not what the word really means at root. 2020 might be a good year for The New Temperance to become popular.

Temperance just means restraint, or more importantly, self-restraint. Making your own choices, and not those of the marketing department. To be temperate might mean having one drink, not five; in other cases, it might be choosing the beverage that isn't "with added alcohol!"

Temperance doesn't have to be abstinence. It could just be moderation. But in 2020, that might be revolutionary.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's temperate in most things. Tell him what you think of the New Temperance at knapsack77@gmail.com, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Faith Works 11-9-19

Faith Works 11-9-19

Jeff Gill

 

Warmth and shelter and other human needs

___

 

As you all have no doubt noticed, it's getting cold again. And that means a number of us in Newark and Licking County have been thinking about what to do for persons who are among the unsheltered homeless. The Newark Homeless Outreach crew has been at work every Saturday right on along, God bless them, and we just passed the one year mark for Vertical 196 on South Fifth Street as a weekday meal and hospitality ministry of the Licking County Jail Ministry.

 

And a group has been meeting literally since a few weeks after the last warming shelter effort was made last March to debrief doing overnight shelter for those not served by the current emergency shelter programs. The Licking County Foundation has hosted, our county Emergency Management Agency has taken a leadership role, and we have the county Health Department, Red Cross, Humane Society, Licking Memorial Hospital, the Transit Board, and many faith groups all at the table.

 

The Salvation Army has stepped up and offered to be a leader in this effort, as they long have been in emergency shelter services -- and one of our challenges in the last two years has been their 60-bed shelter on the east side of their building is full with families for pretty much the entire year, let alone in the wintertime. But they have started doing breakfast as much for warming as for the food Mondays through Saturdays, in their dining hall area where the weekday soup kitchen/lunches are served, and the weekend evening dinners.

 

But until all the Christmas gifts are allocated and relocated from the Toy Run that was this past weekend, and the start of the Angel Tree program, which so many of you reading this help support, they don't have room to do an overnight warming shelter. Newark Central Christian the back-up plan, through Thanksgiving. After Dec. 1, the primary location will be at the Salvation Army, which works out logistically and practically in many ways. But until then, with some transportation help from Newark Naz and the county Transit Board, if we have a series of nights forecast for below 10 degrees, the Warming Center effort will be looking to Newark Central to host.

 

Beyond Thanksgiving, if we need to provide emergency warming shelter space for those who aren't in our regular shelters (Salvation Army east-end, St. Vincent Haven, New Beginnings), the dining hall and adjoining area of the Salvation Army can host, but we will still need volunteers. This is where you have an opportunity, which is this Wednesday night.

 

There will be a training for Warming Center volunteers on Nov. 13, at 6:00 pm to about 8:00 pm or so, in the chapel at the front of the Salvation Army post on E. Main St. If you attend, you are not obligated to volunteer -- you might decide you can help in a different fashion after hearing out the training information, and that's just fine. But if you'd like to be better equipped to assist with a warming center night this winter, this training can answer your questions and help your understanding of homelessness and unsheltered persons in the wintertime.

 

You do not need to sign up in advance, but they'd love to know how many to prepare for. You can contact them directly at 740-345-8120, or let us know at the church office and we'll pass the word along. I know many churches have a Wednesday night program or Bible study (we do at my church), but if you are led to learn more about serving those who have no where else and no one else to turn to, you won't go wrong attending this training.

 

Thank you for your prayerful support of the work of service in Christ's name that we did last winter, and will be part of again in the coming months!

 

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's gotten to know lots of new sisters and brothers on the streets and in the meetings around this issue in the last year. Tell him what you hope to see happen in 2020 at knapsack77@gmail.com, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.