String of Lights

Readings: Malachi 3:1-4 or Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. Phil. 3:1-11, NRSV

Today, on the second Sunday in Advent, we light the Bethlehem candle, the candle representing faith and Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Last Sunday’s candle was the candle of hope, and next week we’ll light the candle of love. It helps me to be alive in the expectation of the coming of the Messiah to remember what the candles represent, and about their meaning in my life. 

Today’s passages are all about hope, faith and joy. John the baptizer is preaching the words of Isaiah; they resound in Handel’s Messiah, as in Baruch in his apocryphal book. And Philippians is the epistle of joy.

Paul is praying that the church has the true knowledge, knowledge with full insight, to know what is best to do before the Messiah returns. What is knowledge with full insight?I like to think it’s the difference  between knowing about and knowing. I read somewhere that knowing about is like having a string of Christmas lights: Knowing is plugging them in. 

It seems there are lots of folk who know about Jesus but how many of us know him?
O that we would pray the prayer that Paul is praying for each other today with complete faith.Come Lord Jesus, come.

Offered by Bill Albritton, to light our path to Bethlehem.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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