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Week 1: November 30
Sermon: A ‘brood of vipers’ Expecting the World to Change, Rev. Ryan Canaday
Scripture: Leviticus 16:4-5, Leviticus 16:20-22, Luke 2:2-3
John is speaking to those whom he loves...his fellow “brood of vipers.” They are the outcasts and despised--tax collectors, soldiers, and a crowd of nobodies. “Brood of vipers”: this was more of a warm welcome than a word of condemnation. Notice, the “brood of vipers” didn’t turn around and leave after John’s opening words. No, they asked questions: what must we do? They were filled with expectation. It’s like they got it...they understood that the world was about to change through God’s acting...they were waiting...they were expecting. John was clear, this was no small thing. What God was doing through Jesus meant preparing for their hearts and lives to be changed. Proclaiming the good news meant a call to action--an invitation to live differently, act differently.
Advent. Are we among the “brood of vipers”? Are we getting it? Are we hearing John’s call to action? Do we really expect the coming of Jesus to change the world? Will we participate in that change?
Week 2: December 7
Sermon: Joseph Names the Baby , Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes
Scripture: Matthew 1: 18-25
Each December, we enter into a season of longing, waiting, expecting, and reflecting. Spirit meets us in the ache. We ask God to enter into the deepest places of cynicism, bitterness, and hardness where we have stopped believing that tomorrow can be better than today. For Joseph, this story did, indeed, change everything. With the invitation from the angel to name Mary’s child, Joseph confronts this corrosion of the heart with the insistence that God has not abandoned the world, hope is real and something is coming. We open up. We soften up. We turn our hearts in the direction of that day. “The not yet will be worth it,” Advent whispers in the dark. “You, too, can write a story of change.”
Week 3: December 14: Christmas Cantata
Week 4: December 21
Sermon: Stories of Change, Rev. Ryan Canaday
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
The ‘divine’ Caesars of the Roman Empire in the first century demanded the worship of the people. The Caesars made lots of promises. Caesar Augustus--who ruled when Jesus was born--promised peace, salvation, and a blessing of renewed humanity. The Caesars ruled with power, fear, and brutality. They all said the same thing: “Bow down to me...” We have lots of Caesars in our world, don’t we? You have yours. I have mine. And they all say similar things, don’t they? Luke’s angels come on scene shouting: “Don’t buy into the Caesars! It’s a lie...all of it! It’s a fraud! The One who is to come promises to be with us! This One promises relationship!” If what the angels are saying is true, it’s a story that changes everything.
Like the shepherds, I need to hear the voices of the angels during this last week of Advent.
Week 5: December 28
Sermon: Do You Know Your Name? Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes
Week 6: January 4, 2015
Sermon: Home By Another Way, Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes