Worship at Home for Sunday, December 11, 2022

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Third Sunday in Advent. This is the Sunday when we light the Candle of Joy. May we find joy in our hearts as we anticipate the arrival of the baby Jesus.

If you are unable to worship in person you may wish to set up your own Advent Candles at home and follow along with the liturgy in the bulletin.
If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

  • Thank you for all who helped with the Advent Tea!
  • Cookie Sale Date: Dec 10th from 9 to 1 or when we run out. Selling by the pound. Choose your own cookies and pack your own box. Place: St Peters downstairs
  • Youth to meet on Sunday, December 11 at 4pm to shop for their adopted family and to practice for the Christmas Eve program. Pizza will be served!
  • Please sign up to ring Salvation Army Bells Friday, December 16 and 17 at Walmart. Friday has one spot open at noon. Saturday has openings at Noon and 2pm.
  • Carols and Cocoa on Sunday, December 18 at 2pm. We will carol at members homes and return to church for cocoa and treats.
  • Christmas Eve worship will be at 6:30pm and 11pm.
  • Christmas Day is on a Sunday, and worship will be at 9am

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 35:1-10, Luke 1:46b-55, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

Sermon: Strengthen Your Heart and Be Patient

We are being called to strengthen our hearts in James’s letter. In the Contemporary English Bible instead of “strengthen your hearts” it says strengthen your resolve “You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near.” (James 5:8, CEB). Strengthening one’s heart sounds more poetic, but it is our resolve that we are strengthening. In this case we must strengthen our resolve to wait patiently for Jesus.

We live in an impatient society. Yes, people have always been told that they need to be more patient. James was written close to 2,000 years ago. Even then people needed to be reminded to be patient. Especially people who anticipated Jesus’ arrival at any moment. A couple of thousand years later, we know that the arrival is not so imminent.

We might think that people 70 years ago weren’t impatient. Last week as I sat in the Brueseke Library waiting for shoppers to visit the Upper Room Store, I found a book about “The Hymnal” of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The author of this guidebook to every hymn in “The Hymnal” commented on how the people of his day were too impatient to truly reflect on the hymns which they were singing. I wonder what the author who spent 12 years researching and writing his book would think of Google or Siri. Today libraries filled with information are available in a second or less on our smart phones.

We are now an instant society. The patience of an agrarian culture is lost on many in urban environments where food can be selected and delivered using an app on your phone. James uses the example of a famer to illustrate patience. A farmer in Palestine would plant crops and wait for them to be watered by the October and November rains. The farmer would then wait for the April and May rains to strengthen the mature crops before harvesting. Both these rains were important. The farmer knew the wisdom of waiting patiently for the rains.

Lives of faith are like that. When our faith is first planted it feels like the joy of a new warm rain has fallen in our lives. The expectation is that our faith will grow by leaps and bounds like the new shoots of green plants bursting from the soil. But then comes the time of slow growth or no growth. There are long periods of time when the refreshing rains of the Spirit do not fall on us. The patient person knows to strengthen their heart and resolve to wait until the rain of spiritual blessing falls again. The patient person knows that Jesus’ will come.

The church year reflects this cycle of rain and waiting. During Advent we are waiting for the joyous faith giving inspiration of Christmas. Celebrating Jesus’s birth reminds us that God is alive in this world even in the smallest of people and humblest of places. Then come the months after Christmas when we work and wait for the joy of the resurrection at Easter. Patience is required.

Like people today, James’ friends in faith struggled with issues in their lives. There were rich and powerful people who took advantage of the people who were poor and lacking a voice. James berates the rich and calls them to repentance. James encourages the poor to patience that Jesus’ and joy will come to them.

James advises us to be patient with one another. We are not to grumble against one another. Oh boy, that is a hard one. This admonishment includes sighs, groans and eye rolling at the behavior of our friends in faith. Strengthening the heart and resolving to be patient is going to require a lot of prayer and repentance when dealing with one another in love.

We live in the promises of the coming Jesus. Like John the Baptist, we may wish for reassurance that Jesus is the one promised. We see bits and pieces of the hope that God promises. So, we wait patiently for the coming of the Christ Child. We wait patiently in joy that is quiet and not so quiet. We strengthen our hearts and look forward to that day when the weak will be strong, the fearful filled with courage and all sing and leap with joy down the Holy Way.

Prayer: God grant me the strength of heart to patiently wait for Jesus’ coming in this world. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl (doing better!), Marilee, Beverly, Jim, Jenny, Dixon’s daughter, Barbara, Melvin, Mitchell, Mahala, Maybelle and Mary, La Rae, , Bud, Bob, Ruth, Tyra, Ed, Marilyn, Tom, Jeff and for peace in troubled and war-torn places

 

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