Worship at Home for Sunday, November 27, 2022

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the First Sunday in Advent when we begin our journey to Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ Child. This Sunday we will light the candle of Hope. 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 to everyone who helped with the Turkey Supper!
  • Hanging of the Greens after worship on Sunday, November 27.
  • The Advent Tea will be on Saturday, December 3. Reservations for seating at 2pm are being taken, 437-2779. 11am is full.
  • The Cantata will be on Sunday, December 4 at 3pm.
  • 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

o Bakers: please bake 3 different kinds. 3 dozen of each kind. Need cookies put down in the kitchen by noon on Friday December 9th Thanks to all the bakers and candy makers!

  • Please sign up to ring Salvation Army Bells Friday, December 16 and 17 at Walmart.
  • Carols and Cocoa on Sunday, December 18 at 2pm.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

Sermon: Stay Alert

“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” — Maya Angelou

On this first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Hope and stay alert for the coming of Jesus. We are in the moment of anticipation and preparation. In Matthew 24:36-44, Jesus is telling his listeners that no one knows the hour that the Son of Man will return. We think that we know what we are waiting for but have no idea when it will arrive.

When the faithful hopeful asked Jesus when he would come into his Kingdom, they envisioned that Jesus would be a powerful ruler doing away with the Roman occupiers. God had other plans; our King would give of himself to die on the cross. Jesus would then return to put the world in line with the Heavenly Kingdom in some mysterious future.

For the last several weeks we have read scripture passages about the time when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Babylonians. In Haggai the people slowly returned to rebuild the temple. Centuries later the temple rebuilding was complete. During Jesus’ time, the second temple was an impressive building intended for the worship of God, but it also was a place of political, economic, and social importance. Jesus warned of the temples’ demise.

The second temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. (also known as AD). The Romans reduced Jerusalem and the temple to rubble in response to a Jewish uprising against their Roman occupiers. In the face of rebellion, the Roman response was harsh and complete. For the second time Jerusalem and the Temple were demolished by a powerful empire intent on squashing all dissent.

Matthew wrote his Gospel for a community of believers who lived in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple. Matthew and his audience were in shock and grief caused by witnessing the demise of what they thought the world was and hoped that it would be. Matthew composed his Gospel after reflecting on the life and teachings of Jesus in the light of this catastrophe. The resurrection provides the promise of new life in Jesus. The faithful are living in the hope of Jesus’ return.

But when and how is Jesus’ tor return? Jesus tells us that no one knows, but we must always be alert and waiting for this sacred moment. The people of Noah’s time were living complacent lives up until the flood waters flushed them from the earth. We are given images of two people being together and then suddenly one is gone. Jesus does not say which is the more desired outcome. Jesus tells us this story to imply that the moment will come as a complete surprise.

We need to stay alert for all possibilities. Staying awake all the time is physically impossible. Rather we need to look for ways to be prepared. Like a homeowner who checks his house for potential problems and then fixes them before they turn into real problems. For example, replacing the old roof before there is a chance of rain. Or cutting utility costs before the disconnect notice arrives in the mail. Or putting a handrail on the stairs to prevent a fall. Or childproofing a home before the infant gets into the cleaning supplies.

There is a group in our area called Prevention Consultants of Missouri. Their goal is to prevent drug abuse and addiction. You may have seen those prescription drug disposal bags that are being given away. These are from Prevention Consultants. They also offer mental health resources such as suicide prevention workshops. The goal is to look for ways to stay alert and prevent the mental health crisis and drug addiction before it starts.

As the faithful, we can stay alert by praying for ourselves, each other, and the world. We can read the Bible and listen for God’s guidance. We can look around our spiritual lives and look for places that might be of danger to us spiritually. Each person has a weak place in their holy armor that needs tending to. We can look around for signs of Jesus which may be completely different from what we expect them to be. We need to stay alert for all possibilities as we wait in Hope for the coming of Jesus.

Prayer: God of promise and praise, help me to stay alert and watchful as I anticipate your coming during Advent. May I live in the hope of your Kingdom. 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 and for peace in troubled and war-torn places. Special prayers for Kurt and Carol Keller who are on a Mission Trip to Senegal.

The Family of Earl Fuchs who passed away on November 14.

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