I want to tell everyone on the internet a little secret. I have been missing our children of Grace. Last Sunday I got to see many of you when you came to film your parts in the magnificent Christmas pageant, which we will show on Christmas Eve. I was SO glad to visit with you, even if we were wearing masks! But after that much too short time together, I started thinking about how much I also miss sitting and talking to you about God on our Family Sundays! So, I decided that today I would ask Katie and Nick to sit down with me so we could pretend that ALL the children of Grace are here, and instead of talking to the grown-ups about the stories we heard today, I would talk to you. (OF COURSE, the grown-ups can also listen because they can learn a lot too)! If you want to help, you can put things in the Facebook chat and Nick will tell me what they say.
So, if you look around the church and if you’ve been watching Miss Marj’s Godly Play videos, you know that we are in the season of ADVENT. What things are different in Advent? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. The hangings and what I’m wearing are PURPLE. We also have an Advent Wreath. In Latin, the word Advent means “coming,” so this church season is all about getting ready for someone to come. Who do you think is coming? (Give them a chance to answer). Well, it might be Santa, but that’s not who we at church are waiting for. And not Krampus because all the children of Grace -even Nick – have been very good. We are waiting for JESUS. JESUS is who we remember and give thanks for on Christmas. We are waiting to celebrate how long-ago Jesus was born into our world.
Today we heard a story about one of the first people to wait for Jesus – his cousin John. John was very holy and talked to God – and God told him that he had to help people get ready for Jesus. Who remembers what we call someone who tells people what God wants us to do? (Give them a chance to answer). A PROPHET! John was a prophet! Do you know who ELSE was a prophet? (Give them a chance to answer). There are lots of prophets in the Bible and we still have prophets in our time – but today we heard a story about the prophet Isaiah. If you have been watching Miss Marj’s videos you also know that Isaiah is on our journey with us as we get ready for Jesus’s birth.
Isaiah’s people were very sad because they had been forced to leave their homes and stop practicing their religion – but Isaiah told them they were going to get to go home again. He told them that they didn’t have to be unhappy anymore – that all of the things in their lives that had been broken would be fixed, and they could be happy again. They knew they could believe God because God had fixed broken things before – many times!
Sometimes when we are in a sad time or a place, we think of it as a “dark time” – a time when we can’t seem to see God’s presence in all the dark and we want to hide under our covers and not come out. I want to tell you a story about something that happened to our Jewish brothers and sisters many years ago. It’s a story about how things got very dark for them, but God sent them light. It’s a story about Hanukkah:
Read “”All About Hanukkah”
So, when you see lit candles in a menorah – a candle holder with nine places- and people playing with spinning tops called dreidels- you will know that our Jewish friends are remembering God’s ability to make any darkness light! They are also remembering that sometimes you have to fight very hard for what you believe in – to show people the light of God that’s in you.
The people John talked to were living in a dark time too, and they wanted God to send them light – and John told them that the light was coming. Who was that light? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. John said JESUS was the light that was coming – and that they should keep themselves busy and not mope around. They should work hard to be ready for the light.
So, here’s what I think. ALL these stories – about Isaiah’s people; about the people in the Hanukkah story; about Peter’s friends in Thessalonica; about John and the people he talked to; AND about US -are about remembering that God ALWAYS brings light, so we don’t EVER have to be afraid of the dark. Our job is not to forget that and to remember to thank God for everything we have by being HAPPY – because God wants us to be happy. That’s why we light a special pink candle today – to remind us to be JOYFUL because God loves us and is with us in dark times and ALWAYS sends light. Do you think you can try to be joyful even during dark times? Do you think you can remember that God ALWAYS sends light and that the light that is coming soon is JESUS? I know you can. I agree. And what do we say in church when we agree? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. AMEN.