· Advent Vesper services each Sunday during Advent. Dec 8, 15, 22
· Sunday School Christmas Concert and Potluck Dinner – December 7 beginning at 4pm. Everyone is invited, family and friends too
· Downingtown Christmas Parade – December 14. We will have a float this year and we will be finishing up the candy canes and tags this Sunday during coffee hour
· Thank you to everyone for donating cardboard tubes from paper towel rolls – We have plenty and have stopped collecting them.
· The Troop Box and The Lord’s Pantry shopping cart are empty
· Volunteers are needed for Coffee Hour for the rest of December.
· NANCY’S ARK HAS ARRIVED IN BARTHOLOMEW HALL
Handmade knitted animals and crocheted caps made by Nancy Cianfrani will be on sale in Bartholomew Hall.
Easy shopping for Christmas gifts!! All proceeds will be used to support The Rector’s Discretionary Fund
· 2014 Offering Envelopes are in the mail. Please do not use them till January – some members have been given new envelope numbers for 2014.
Have a good weekend and see you all on Sunday
Theme for this Sunday: John the Baptist said “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming, he will baptize you with the Holy spirit and with fire.” (God’s promise of the coming “Peaceable Kingdom” begins its journey in our world with the call to repentance by John and the Baptism of Jesus).
- In the reading from Isaiah, the dead tree-stump of the line of Jesse (King David was the son of Jesse) will produce a shoot (that’s Jesus) who will inaugurate the “Peaceable Kingdom”.
- In the reading from Romans, Saint Paul teaches us that the coming of Christ (the Messiah) and the subsequent baptism of all people – even the Gentiles – was foretold by the writers of the Hebrew Scripture.
- In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, John the Baptist, a central figure for the Advent season, prepares the people in and around Jerusalem (and us too!) to prepare themselves by repentance, and to themselves by amendment of life for the coming of the Messiah – the “coming one” – who will baptize them with fire and the Holy Spirit.
One Hundred and Fifty-Fourth Weekly Meditation
“FROM THE READINGS FOR THIS SUNDAY…”
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of God shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding…
I believe that Isaiah of Jerusalem was the greatest of the Hebrew Prophets. That’s a personal opinion, of course, but I’m sure that there are many who would agree with me. From his predecessors to the north, Amos and Hosea, Isaiah inherited the mantle of prophetic warning: those who turn away from God’s law and God’s truth – that is, those who refuse to frame the conduct of their lives as a reflection of God’s love of mercy and demand for justice – do so at their own peril.
Isaiah appears to have been a well-educated man, and his writings certainly attest to that. He was also known in the royal court, and many scholars contend that he may have been a writer by trade – he was certainly one of the first “literary Prophets”. In any event, this extraordinary thinker offers much more than the “cause-effect” prophecy of warning, which so often characterizes the work of Amos and Hosea, so grimly determined to point the error of our ways. His prophetic work contains as well a vision of what God’s future will be like – a future created by God which lies beyond all our sinning, all our repentance and even all our imagining. As the spirit of God once brooded over the primordial chaos at the beginning of time, so that self-same spirit of God will again brood over the devastated world of our destructive sinfulness and create a world so beyond our expectations that only the eyes of faith can behold it.
And in Chapter eleven of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, this astounding vision begins to take shape with the use of an image which is the ultimate symbol of death: a lifeless tree stump. When I was ten years old, hurricane Carol roared through Massachusetts in one of the worst storm disasters in modern times. The winds of Carol toppled the steeple of Old North Church in Boston, the church of Paul Revere fame (“one if by land, two if by sea…”), and also toppled every tree on our property. I can still remember all the tree stumps left in the wake of Carol, and I can also remember that it took a full four years for me, my father, and my two older brothers to finally get those stumps removed (God forbid that my dad would actually spend money to hire someone to take them out).
There’s nothing that says “lifeless” quite so much as an old tree stump. Often, the tree stump also offers testimony to some kind of violence having taken place. The stump is there in the first place because someone has cut the tree down (probably one of those Babylonians), or perhaps because a great storm has felled it (like Hurricane Carol). In any event, the stump proclaims that something that was once living and majestic is now fallen and dead.
But Isaiah of Jerusalem also uses another image as he prepares us for the coming of the world of God’s intending: the image of God’s Spirit. Out of the dead and defeated stump a desperate, gasping murmur of life tentatively makes its way to the surface – a shoot. And on this vulnerable and tender shoot the Spirit of God finds a resting place. Thus the two great images of Isaiah collide, as atoms in a nuclear reactor, and explode to offer us a new and unimaginable vision of the world of God’s intending: “where the wolf shall lie down with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid…”
The STUMP and the SPIRIT: two images which stand in stark contradistinction to each other, and yet which combine under the beauty and splendor of Isaiah’s rhetoric to give us a shining vision of God’s plan for us.
· The stump of death indwelt by the Spirit of life.
· The stump of immobility and “stuckness” enlivened by the Spirit of movement and growth.
· The Stump of despair inspired by the Spirit of hope.
· The Stump of ending rejuvenated by the Spirit of beginnings.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to all the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
God bless, Tim