Worship at Home for Sunday, December 5, 2021

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Second Sunday of Advent when we will use all of our senses to watch and prepare for Jesus’ birth. If you would like a home visit, conversation or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Sunday School after worship
  • Bell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm & Choir Practice at 6:30
  • Advent Tea on Saturday, December 4 at 11am and 2pm. 
  • Christmas Cantata on Sunday, December 5 at 3pm
  • Christmas Cookie Sale will be on Saturday, December 11 from 9am until sold out.
  • The Youth will meet on Sunday, December 12 at 4:30 to shop for their adopted families and practice for the Christmas Eve program.
  • Dorcas Christmas Party on Wednesday, December 15 at 11am at First Street Eats. Some members will be meeting at church to carpool or walk over together.
  • Sign up for Salvation Army Bell Ringing on Friday, December 17 (2 to 4 and 4-6 are available) or
    Saturday, December 18 (2-4 and 4-6 are available) Contact Pastor, if interested in ringing.
  • Missouri Mid-South Conference E-Courier

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Baruch 5:1-9, Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6,
To read online
https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=96

 

 

Sermon: Watching

Our theme for this Sunday is watching. Last week’s theme was waiting which is sometimes in Hebrew the same word as hoping. So, we have begun Advent waiting and hoping for the arrival of Jesus. Now we are watching as we wait and hope.

Watching is an active part of waiting and hoping. When we watch a sporting event, we are often hoping for our team to win. When watch for the school bus, we are also waiting for it to arrive. When we watch for signs of spring such as birds and flowers we are also waiting and hoping for warmer weather. Well, you get the idea.

Watching needs all our senses. In a recent Christian Century article, I read about a seventh century monk named Maximus the Confessor. Here is a quote from the article

Maximus believed that each of the physical senses corresponds to a spiritual faculty or capacity given to humans by God – and that all of these work together for good. For example, the physical sense of touch corresponds to the “vivifying faculty,’ the spiritual capacity to bring something more fully into life. (The Christian Century, November 17, 2021, “The Five Spiritual Senses: Lessons from Maximus the Confessor and My Dog” by Amy Frykholm)

Now before you say that this sounds theoretical and confusing, please note that the author of the article Amy Frykholm is comparing these spiritual senses with the care that she is giving to her rescue dog. Her dog had been abused. As a result of this abuse their pet was fearful. However, as she and her husband petted the dog and loved the dog through the sense of touch her dog lost his sense of fear and was able to experience joy. They petted and loved the dog back to life!

Watching can include the sense of touch. As we reach out and touch the world around us, we can experience and share God’s love. During Advent our spiritual watching for the holy can include physical touch. We could take time to touch the holiday decorations in our homes. We can cuddle our pets and snuggle our children. As we touch wrapping paper and ribbons, we can say prayers for those who will receive our gifts.

Maximus called the sense of smell “the incensive faculty”, perhaps because his monastery used incense. One way to watch for the arrival of Jesus would be to notice all the smells associated with Advent and Christmas. If you have a real Christmas tree in your home, the smell of pine might trigger the anticipation of the holy day in your heart and mind. The smell of pumpkin spice or baking cookies can connect us with the goodness of moments shared. Take time to connect with God by noting the smells around you this holiday season.

The sense of sight corresponds with the “intellective faculty’” which to Maximus was more than physical seeing. To Maximus the “intellective faculty” makes use of our mind’s ability to understand. Spiritually knowing and understanding is a way of seeing and watching. When you look around at the beauty of the decorations and watch for the holy, say prayers of love that you might better understand the meaning of the season.

Taste (the appetitive faculty) has to do with our desires such as the desire for food. We can watch for God by noting what our desires are. Some of these desires can separate us from God and need to be burnt away like the refiner’s fire in Malachi. Other desires such as the one that brought the people to the desert to hear John the Baptist can bring us closer to God.

Listening is the ‘rational faculty”. When we take time to listen to one another we can reason together. When we slow down and take time to listen, we are watching and waiting for the presence of God. When we take time to hear one another love is shared. The sounds do not need to be words. A baby’s cry, a bird song, the wind, the happy bark of a dog and more provide connections.

Luke 3:4-6 quotes Isaiah 40:3-5 and speaks of “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Luke 3:4). When we use all our spiritual senses we are watching and preparing for Jesus. In holy touching, smelling, seeing, tasting, and listening we reach out beyond ourselves into the spiritual holiness. Most of us are not going to build physical roads for people to walk or drive upon. We can create paths that lead straight from our hearts to God. Using our senses in spiritual ways allows Jesus to bond with us in new and wonderful ways. This Advent, I invite all of us to use all of our senses to watch, wait and hope while connecting more deeply with one another and God.

 

Prayer: Holy God, may we use all our senses to connect spiritually with you and lovingly with one another. May we watch with anticipation for the coming of the Christ child. Help us to be signs of your love in this world. Amen.

 

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, those who are struggling financially and emotionally.

Prayers for the family and friends of Henry Havelka, especially for his parents to Kristopher and Kelsey (Crabb) Havelka.

The friends and family of Virginia LeClaire who passed from this life on Sunday, November 21.
A memorial service is planned for a later date.

References: (The Christian Century, November 17, 2021, “The Five Spiritual Senses: Lessons from Maximus the Confessor and My Dog” by Amy Frykholm)

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