Month: December 2020

The Tender Mercy of Our God

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(This week marks the fourth and final week of Advent. The word Advent means “coming.” As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming as a baby in a manger so long ago and anticipate his coming again at the end of time, may we become more aware of the many ways Christ comes to us each day…)

Throughout this Advent season, we have been guided by two verses from Zechariah’s Benedictus in Luke: NRS Luke 1:78 “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Our focus this week is on mercy. Do you know the first adjective God uses to describe God’s self? Merciful. Above all else, our God is merciful. The Greek word for mercy appears five times in just the first chapter of Luke’s gospel! In this week’s sermon, I focus on how we open ourselves more deeply to the mercy of God: https://youtu.be/PkyGCvb10tk Hint: Mercy requires generosity on the part of the one granting it; but also requires a certain vulnerability on the part of the recipient. Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) makes clear that mercy is a gift forfeited by those who are proud and committed to independence and self-sufficiency. That message is a tough sell in America where we are taught from the cradle that we should “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.”

Throughout this season of Advent, I invite you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and God’s presence through scripture and prayerful meditation, perhaps using the process below. A free app to assist you with this way of practicing attentiveness to God’s presence can be found at https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-mobile-app/

  • Read a passage of scripture
  • After reading, say this simple prayer of the early Church, “Come, Lord Jesus” or the prayer of the boy Samuel from 1 Samuel 3:9-10, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”
  • Sit quietly for ten minutes or more, listening for God’s voice
  • If your mind begins to wander, refocus yourself by using a mantra, perhaps: “God, guide my feet into the way of peace”

You might use the following resources to select a scripture – a different one for each day or one for the full week:

  • Trinity’s weekly online devotional. This week’s devotion was written by Rev. Britt Leslie, Ph.D. (New Testament) and can be found at: http://www.trinitylafayette.org/advent/fourth-sunday-of-advent-our-savior-comes and focuses on the following scripture passages: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:47-55; Rom 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
  • Trinity’s weekly Advent group will focus on additional scriptures, including Exodus 34:1-6; Luke 10:25-37; Joel 2:12-14; and the 4th chapter of Jonah.
  • Twenty at Twilight is a weekly video post that provides a 20 minute guided meditation, a way of praying with scripture, to conclude the day focusing on and resting in the presence of God.  Each Wednesday evening, 20 at Twilight is posted to Trinity’s webpage (www.trinitylafayette.org) and FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMC509 and will also be updated on this blogpost.

Join us for worship on Christmas Eve live, via Zoom, on Dec. 24 at 6pm at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83072737662?pwd=cjNHU3liSkZENXlESUZBdVYvQTVPZz09

Walk in the Light

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This week marks the third week of Advent. The word Advent means “coming,” as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming as a baby in a manger so long ago, anticipate his coming again at the end of time, and – hopefully – become more aware of the many ways Christ comes to us each day…)

On the third Sunday of Advent, my morning message, Walk in the Light (https://youtu.be/q542XpTMVIw) looked at the beginning of the gospel of John (John 1:1-9). As human creatures, we need light for life. In reality, we don’t know the time of year Jesus was born. They didn’t issue birth certificates to first-century Galilean peasants! But it is fitting that we celebrate the birth of Jesus so close to the time of the winter solstice since, at Christmas (according to John), “the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)

But light is more than a physical phenomenon. Light signifies insight, vision, discernment and understanding. We can gain insight and understanding, we can discern more clearly, when we bask in the presence of the Light of the World, Jesus. Jesus is, according to John’s gospel, the incarnation of true Light and of God’s Word. He is the source of Life.

Throughout this season of Advent, I invite you to bathe in the light of God’s Word and God’s presence through scripture and prayerful meditation, perhaps using the process below. A free app to assist you with this way of practicing attentiveness to God’s presence can be found at https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-mobile-app/

  • Read a passage of scripture
  • After reading, say this simple prayer of the early Church, “Come, Lord Jesus” or the prayer of the boy Samuel from 1 Samuel 3:9-10, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”
  • Sit quietly for ten minutes or more, listening for God’s voice
  • If your mind begins to wander, refocus yourself by using a mantra, perhaps: “God, guide my feet into the way of peace”

You might use the following resources to select a scripture – a different one for each day or one for the full week:

  • Trinity’s weekly online devotional. The Dec. 13 devo is written by Suzanne Clemenz, Trinity’s Associate Pastor for Caring Ministries and and incorporates scriptures from Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; and John 1: 6-8, 19-28. View it at http://www.trinitylafayette.org/advent/third-sunday-of-advent-the-light-of-the-world
  • Trinity’s weekly Advent group will focus on additional scriptures around this theme of light, including: Genesis 1:1-5 and Revelation 21:1-4, 22-25 and, of course, our biblical theme guiding us through this season, Luke 1:78-79.
  • Twenty at Twilight is a weekly video post that provides a 20 minute guided meditation, a way of praying with scripture, to conclude the day focusing on and resting in the presence of God. This week’s 20 at Twilight reflects on Mary’s Magnificat in Luke, chapter 1. https://youtu.be/RlgiTPa94AM

No Peace Without Justice

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(This week marks the second week of Advent. The word Advent means “coming,” as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming as a baby in a manger so long ago, anticipate his coming again at the end of time, and – hopefully – become more aware of the many ways Christ comes to us each day…)

On the second Sunday of Advent, Pastor Suzanne’s morning message (https://youtu.be/qU2cJE75IWk) looks at the message of John the Baptist according to the gospel of Luke. In Luke’s presentation of the Baptizer’s message (found in Luke 3:1-17), we see that justice or righteousness (they are, by the way, the same word in Greek) are more than churchy words or concepts. They are about the way that we live. They are about sharing with those in need and not living from a place of fearful hoarding or self-preservation. They are about being in a right relationship with God, other people, and all of creation.

This Advent season, Trinity is focusing on the message of the angels to the shepherds on that night of Jesus’ birth: “Peace on earth, good will toward all.” Right now, we are all so desperate for more peace in our lives and our world. But we must remember that there can never be peace without justice.

Throughout this season of Advent, I invite you to engage in a process of being attentive to God’s Word and God’s presence through scripture and prayerful meditation, perhaps using the process below. A free app to assist you with this way of practicing attentiveness to God’s presence can be found at https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-mobile-app/

  • Read a passage of scripture
  • After reading, say this simple prayer of the early Church, “Come, Lord Jesus” or the prayer of the boy Samuel from 1 Samuel 3:9-10, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”
  • Sit quietly for ten minutes or more, listening for God’s voice
  • If your mind begins to wander, refocus yourself by using a mantra, perhaps: “God, guide my feet into the way of peace”

You might use the following resources to select a scripture – a different one for each day or one for the full week:

  • Trinity’s weekly online devotional. The Dec. 6 devo is written by Melissa Kramer, Trinity’s Director of Congregational Ministries and focuses on Mark 1:1-8. View it at http://www.trinitylafayette.org/advent/second-sunday-of-advent-prepare
  • Trinity’s weekly Advent group will focus on additional scriptures around this theme of righteousness: Matthew 1:18-25 (Joseph is the first righteous character presented in Matthew’s gospel); Matthew 5:17-20; and, of course, our biblical theme guiding us through this season, Luke 1:78-79.
  • Twenty at Twilight is a weekly video post that provides a 20 minute guided meditation, a way of praying with scripture, to conclude the day focusing on and resting in the presence of God. This week’s 20 at Twilight guides us through a prayerful process to consider how to bring more “rightness” into our relationships. View it at https://youtu.be/k5IYcVNemWU