The 1st Sunday of Advent - Dec 2, 2018

1 Advent/Year C

Jeremiah 33:14-26; Psalm 25: 1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13;

Luke 21: 25-36


Today, we begin a new year…a new liturgical church year…that begins with the season of advent…a sacred season that invites us to turn once again, to prepare for the coming of Jesus into our lives, fresh and anew…

It’s a sacred season, that invites us to slow down, to wait, to watch, to prepare, to make ready our hearts, to receive once again the one who came to be among us, the one who walked among us, the promised one, Emmanuel…God with us…

It’s a sacred season,that invites us once again, to join in walking the way of love, with Jesus, at the center of our lives…

IN the Walking the Way of Love stewardship packet that you were given a few weeks ago, there is an outline, that has been prepared, to help us not only begin, with this walk of love in advent…but to continue throughout the year, throughout all of the seasons, of the church year….each season, with it’s own teachings and messages, that invite us to turn away from the powers of sin, hatred, fear, injustice, and oppression, to follow Jesus in the Way of Love: the way of truth, love, hope, justice, and freedom….

Just as the seasons of nature, all have their special gifts to give us, so do the seasons of the church year.

In our advent season, waiting…waiting for God….is one of the gifts of this season…

This morning, I will share with you a story I shared with the quiet day attendees this  weekend…that tells us and teaches us…about the holiness and loveliness of this gift…. of waiting for God…

Reflection/How Long Does Night Take?

(A story for the 1st Sunday in Advent - Liturgy for the Whole Church – Susan K Bock)

Advent is the night of the Christian year. As a Jew begins the day at sunset, so Christians begin the church year in the darkening quiet of ever-deeper winter, hushing our frenzy, readying for Christ.

When my friend Justin was very young, and I was tucking him into bed, he asked me, “Susan, how long does night take?”

What an amazing question, and one I had forgotten to ask for a very long time! At the start of the night of our year, we might well ask it now: How long does night take?

If you’re sick and in pain, one night takes about a hundred years.

If you’re alone, and waiting for love, one night takes forever.

If you’re a child, and night seems a waste of perfectly good playtime, the night stretches on to eternity.

If you’re a reluctant Messiah, sweating blood in a garden while the whole city parties, the night is terrifyingly long.

Night is all about waiting, and waiting is about helplessness. Waiting for dawn or light or hope or relief, we are helpless to turn back the darkness or hurry the new day. All we can do is nothing. All we can do is wait. But that very helplessness makes every time of waiting, if we will let it be so, a time of waiting for God. Every wait can become holy, artful, and lovely, a waiting for God.

We have no choice: Advent makes us wait. But Advent asks us how we are waiting. With anger, resentment, sleepiness, boredom, and despair? Or with desire, because waiting is all about that, too? Desire. If we let ourselves feel our desire and bravely name it, then waiting can become the birthplace of hope, and faith, and especially, love.

Advent is the church’s night watch, our season of waiting. The helplessness and desire in waiting makes every wait, in the end, a wait for God. The good news of Advent is that if we wait, while we wait, in the waiting, God comes. The waiting itself is the thing, the very place we can meet God anew.

(In our gospel reading this morning)  - Near his end, approaching Jerusalem, Jesus gives us a clue to such brave and holy, artful waiting. The people are full of Passover joy in the hope a messiah will come, but he, sensing danger, is waiting with dread. Trudging along he sees a fig tree, heavy with buds, and his eyes are drawn upward where he notices, suddenly spring. Remembering the promise of spring, unstoppable after winter’s death, he says: “When everything around you is dark with violence and fear, stand up, raise your heads; your redemption is near.”

Stand up. Raise your heads. Look to heaven. Hold to spring when winter draws down your gaze and your heart. In this very darkness, especially here, God is near.

Every time of waiting is a wait for God. If we will keep company with our waiting, keeping it warm and alive with desire and hope, keeping it awake, like a mother attentive to her baby’s breath, feeding it with faith, if we will look up and not lose heart, then while we wait, in the waiting, because of the waiting, God will come.

How long does night take? When waiting is holy and artful, filled up with God, just long enough…….  End of story..


As we begin Advent, this long night-watch, our season of waiting…how will we wait? How will we spend our time in this season of waiting and watching…?

It’s time to begin our advent journey…

What will set us journeying in search of the Christ this Advent?

How far are we prepared to go out of our way

to look for the signs of His coming,

and to prepare a path?

How will we travel through this season?

will we be burdened by responsibilities and tasks,

loaded with others’ expectations, overwhelmed by their needs?

Will we be full of joy or weary of grief?


What will guide our steps in these weeks?

Will we follow a thread of longing,

the hint of an alternative pathway,

the words and music of the gathered community?


Sisters and brothers in Christ, Advent awaits us.

Let us place our feet on the road and begin the journey. ~ written by Ann Siddall


Please stand, as we mark the beginning of a new year, and a new commitment to walk together…in the Way of Love…


Walking the Way of Love COVENANT

(Exploring the Way of Love, Episcopal Church resources)

Leader:  Jesus’ way is the way of love. In him we find more love, freedom and abundant life. You are invited to turn toward Jesus and to commit to follow his Way of Love in the context of our community gathered, trusting in his power to change each of our lives and to change this world.

After each bidding, let us respond together by proclaiming: By the Spirit’s power, we will.


Leader:  Will you turn and center your life on Jesus, falling in love with our Lord again and again and again? 

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  Will you ground your life in the life and teachings of Jesus, as revealed in scripture?  And will you pray and simply listen for God’s voice in your life and in the world? 

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  Will you gather together in worship, to break bread and to thank and praise God?  And will you bless this world with your story, your resources, and your labor? 

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  Will you cross boundaries and fearlessly become God’s Beloved Community? And will you take rest, receiving God’s gift of grace and restoration, and letting God be God?

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  May the God who formed all things in Love, draw you near to God’s own heart, empower you by the power of the Spirit to live the Way of Love with fellow travelers, and send you to participate in the resurrection and healing of God’s world.

And may the blessing of our Lord – loving, liberating and life-giving – be with us and remain with us forever and ever. 

All:      Amen. 


All sing together – (LEVS)136 – I have decided to follow Jesus


Rev. Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska