Advent is a time for a Christian community to practice hope. Where can we find the true HOPE?
1. The Context
– Mark’s Little Apocalypse
– We are expecting Christmas carol but the text is far from what we are anticipating
– Why does the text of the 1st Sunday of Advent begin with Apocalyptic warning?
– What does the word Advent mean?
– The Latin word ADVENT means ‘coming.’
– Three coming of the Lord Jesus: 1) He came among us at Bethlehem. 2) He comes among us NOW in the scripture, the waters of baptism, Eucharistic meal, and the community of faith. 3)He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
2. SO WE ARE TO KEEP AWAKE
– Where can we find God? Where should we look for God in this Advent season?
– It depends on what you are looking for
– Jesus’ warning in v21 “Look here is Christ, or There he is.” – That’s what they are looking for which is false/evil and leads us meaningless path.
– We don’t know about the time because God’s time is not our times.
– But his presence and his coming is something to be watchful. That’s why Jesus says “Watch out!”
– It’s something to be discerning. That’s why Jesus says STAY ALERT!
– How much are we anticipating his coming?
– How people of God anticipated in the book of Isaiah 64 “If only you would tear open the heavens and come down!” Their deepest longing that God would tear the curtain in two to be with us! That’s the Good News!
3. God cares those who are crying for God’s mercy
– Isaiah 64:4
– God himself came to the world to bring the good news!
– So Jesus himself is HOPE.
– Today when we look around us, our nations/home/ even churches are divided by their own understanding of inclusiveness. Where is answer/HOPE?
– A clue from the 1st Century Christians who gathered at Jerusalem during the Pentecost day.
– It was very dangerous and critical moment for them. They came from different world & social status. They spoken different languages, but it was strange. When they gathered and united in their devotion to prayer, they were filled with the Spirit. They understood each other. God was uniting them with their unique language and cultures, into one family through the power of the Spirit.
– As we are moving into the season of winter…
– Planting a seed may not be a good idea
– but the Good News is we may still plant a seed of love right now through our Loving Action that Jesus taught us through his life and death, and inviting everyone to join in our Faith Journey TOGETHER as we share the Good News about who came as the Light of the world, and who continue to come into our lives, and who WILL COME AGAIN not only n the last day of the judgement but EVERY DAY in our life of crying, loving, and sharing. Thanks be to GOD!
We all want to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, but waiting and enduring hardship without knowing the time are challenging us. The Good News is we are not alone in this journey. God is here with us.
1. The Context
– the parable of Talents: one of the most abused text in the NT
– the interpretation matters
– it is not “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”
2. What is the Point of the Parable of Talents?
– It is not about money but how to live as we are waiting for the Lord’s return
– Jesus reveals his departure.
– Jesus instructs his followers to endure the difficult time until he comes back
– A problem is no one knows how they they have to endure
3. Lessons of the Parable of Talents
– Each and everyone has received a large sum of money.
– Two of them worked hard as the master entrusted them.
– They received the same reward to ENTER THE JOY of the MASTER and being called GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT
– One of them kept the money in a place he thought safe.
– He was able to return as it was.
– But he received not praise but punishment
*** In order to be a Good & Faithful servant, waiting should be active, not just passively doing what we used to do.
*** Another lesson from the 3rd servant:
– The reason he received a severe punishment was not because he couldn’t make money.
– his problem was not about money but his lack of faith. V24b
– He has a wrong image of the master
*** Q to ponder:
– How are we waiting for the Lord’s coming?
– What is the real difference as we try to wait faithfully in this Bay area today?
– Do we trust God’s promise? Or do we want to see just more cash?
– No matter where we are at in our journey, the Good News is God knows not only our abilities but also our weakness and brokenness because He created us, and He redeemed us, and HE IS WITH US!
We all want to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, but waiting and enduring hardship without knowing the time are challenging us. How can we our hearts and spirits for the coming of the Christ?
[The Road Not Taken: I took this one less traveled by, and that made All the Difference”]
1. The Context
– Wedding in the 1st Century Palestinian: a wedding process, but times not specified
– A parable of 10 bridesmaids: 5 of them were foolish, and 5 of them wise
– They all had a wedding invitation, lamps, and proper dress
-5 of them were ready for the groom to be delayed, but 5 of them were not ready
2. Being Christian is not a problem, but living as followers of Jesus is different matter
– In the beginning of Faith Journey
– When darkness cover the place..
– People who tasted the life of Kingdom of Heaven on the mountain (Matt 5)
– The promise of Jesus in John 14:3
– We can be a peacemaker, and show mercies from time to time.
– But 10 years? 30 years? Lifetime? It definitely requires preparedness
3. Keep Alert
– GREGOREO: in Greek “Keep awake, Keep watching”
– That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sleep.
– Actually, in V5, those foolish and wise, all were tired and sleepy.
– It means KEEP WATCHING.
[Stopping by the roadside on Interstate HWY 44: ]
– Panning with God, Keep watching for God’s grace and mercy.
– God’s sanctifying grace will help us to grow and endure and mature, so that we may live as God’s Kingdom family. Amen.
We tend to recognize and honor only those religious elite, at the same time ignore the ordinary. How can we belong to the community that everyone welcome and appreciate to one another?
– Jerusalem leaders’ Confederation with Jesus
– Now Jesus turns to his disciples and the crowds
– Crowd: potential followers of Jesus and his teaching
– the crowd used to learn from the teachers of the temple
– Who were teachers of the temple?
– Moses’ seat: a metaphorical expression
– Who are they in today’s society?
2. Jesus’ Teaching
– “Do what they say, not what they do.” Why?
– We might be in that place
– THOU SHALL NOT COVET:
– Preacher: a person of yelling? make people feel guilty, giving them burden, not freedom?
3. Q to ponder
– Am I giving others a yoke of burden? or the Good News?
– As a congregation, are we recognizing only elite, the rich, the powerful?
– Jerusalem leaders failed not because of their teaching, but because of the lack of actions of what they said.
– In this world, like a baseball, there is only one pitch, one swing, one catch,
– No matter what we say, how much we know about the Bible, by one wild pitch or swing in the air, people in the world will blame church.
– But in God’s kingdom, God is so gracious and patient. God forgives us and gives us another chance.
– Another Good News is God himself in Christ become ONE TEACHER.
– So we don’t have to make a judgement on others.
– Not yet United Methodist Church
– Uniting Methodists Movement: Uniting in Christ by making disciples of Jesus to transform the world
– We may still disagree with each other, but we can live together and love one another.
– So let God speak to us. Then though we are all different, though we fail from time to time, we may all call God ONE FATHER by his grace, so that we may become ONE FAMILY.