I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
FAMILY STORIES OF HOPE
Today, connect your family stories to this week’s Advent theme of hope. Think about how you can begin sharing your family stories of hope in God.
Have everyone in your family write down three things that they hope for. These are not Christmas lists, but rather big things that they hope God can do in your life or in the lives of those you know. Once you’ve all written down your three things, take turns sharing with one another what you hope for, and then praying for one another’s hopes.
What does hope feel like?
What is a hope you had that has been fulfilled?
How has hope in God helped you in hard times?
Light the Advent Candle Gospel Reading: Matt. 21:33-46
HOPE IN THE RESPONSIBILITY
In these days leading up to Christmas, we all have several responsibilities that seem to stack up on our shoulders. If it’s not buying gifts and hosting or showing up to social gatherings, it’s cooking, cleaning, or simply managing the household as the kids are out of school. Sometimes even the fun and good things of the season, like decorating and taking part in the various family traditions, can seem to become responsibilities instead of joyful events. It’s ironic how our “preparations” for the Christmas season can even keep our hearts and minds from preparing for what Christmas is really about.
Jesus tells the story of a master who leaves his land to tenants while he goes away, and about how those tenants ultimately take what they were given and go against the master. The scripture tells us that the religious leaders of the day knew Jesus was talking about them. He was saying that the responsibilities that God had given to them were going to be taken away and given to others because they had forgotten why those responsibilities were given to them – to serve God, and to love others with His same kind of love. They had gotten so caught up in the what they felt like they were supposed to and had to do, that they forgot that it was really a joy and an honor to be given the opportunity to partner with God like they had.
Jesus says that He is going to give the responsibility to others. We, as we walk with God, believe who He says He is, and take joy in being His partners, can be those ‘others’. We get the chance to partner with God in bringing hope to an otherwise dreary world. And Advent is the perfect season to begin practicing the act of taking joy in these responsibilities that God graciously gives us.
O Son of God, we wait for you in love for your appearing. We know you sit on the throne, and we, your name, are bearing.4
4) Adapted from Phillip P. Hiller, “O Son of God, We Wait for Thee,” trans. Joseph A. Seiss (1890), Cyber Hymnal, http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/o/s/o/osonogod.htm.