On Sunday November 27th a supernumerary minister Rev Linda Philips led worship at Wesley Chapel. Les Sudron our steward told us that it was his granddaughter, Elsa’s 3rd birthday, so we all sang, happy birthday to her. It was the first Sunday in Advent and the first candle was lit in the Advent Wreath to symbolise Hope. There is light in the darkness and we are drawn to the light which gives us hope. We sang, ‘Come thou long expected Jesus’ before Linda led the opening prayers of praise, thanksgiving and confession. We heard the Old Testament Reading from Isaiah 2.1-5 where swords would be made into ploughshares and war would end.
We are called to walk in the light of the Lord. Linda lit 5 candles and positioned mirrors to reflect the light so that there appeared to be 15 lit candles! The message was simple; we are to reflect the light of God in the world. The power of the mirror in a window nearly burnt a house down, when it reflected the sun’s power in the mirror. We have received light and power from God to reflect and set a flame of enthusiasm in people’s hearts and banish the darkness in people’s lives. The mirror reflects only what it sees, what we receive, but mirrors only work well if they are kept clean; we need to keep ourselves clear of whatever blocks out the light in our life. We don’t need to be perfect to reflect the light. We sang, ‘Deep in the shadows of the past’ before we heard Matthew 24.36-42 being read. We need to be watchful, as one will be taken and one left. The Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour.
In the sermon she explained how the period of Advent looks forward to Christmas. Hope is the theme of the first Sunday in Advent. Jesus is seen as God’s light coming into the world. As the people of God we need to ready and waiting for his coming. Hope is expecting, anticipating, waiting for something to happen with confidence and trust in what is hoped for. We are not just waiting for Christmas but Jesus calls us to be ready for his coming which might be at the least expected time. We need to be ready. Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God as now present and yet still to come. We are not good at being patient and waiting. What Isaiah saw was a vision of a possible future peace which is not yet fulfilled, as there is still war. In Mozambique they had swapped some guns for sewing machines and others for tools. Are any good things happening? We don’t hear of good things. When there are natural disasters, people give big donations for victims. Iraq and Afghanistan are still in a mess following the intervention of the UK and America. God’s kingdom can start as small as a mustard seed. A Christian charity gave guns collected to artists to make into art installations. Peace is not a cessation of fighting but it is something concrete to struggle for a change of hearts to follow peace and justice. Advent is the time of getting ready or being ready for the coming of Jesus. Linda is not sure whether she believes in a coming day of judgement or just a day when our lives will be changed. We don’t know what will happen but we must be ready. God tells us how to live in the meantime in hope and work for hope. That is something to work for and be open to at all times and not just at Christmas. Every day we are to say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ and be ready to welcome him.
We sang, ‘Longing for light; we wait in darkness’ before Linda led the prayers of intercession. Worship concluded after we had sung, ‘Christ our King before creation.’