2nd Sunday in Advent - Rules and Unsung heroes
The weather has certainly turned very bleak today, causing one think of those less fortunate in our society who face the prospect of many miserable nights on the streets. We give thanks to God for the volunteers and agencies that work so hard to alleviate their situation.
People went to deserted places to hear what was most important. Gathered here today, we light a second candle as a symbol of our pilgrimage towards the things that will last for ever: righteousness, loving-kindness, peace and an eternal home in you, O God, who calls all things towards the fullness of life. Amen.
Hymn Come thou long expected Jesus by Meredith Andrews
We have heard your call, coming from strange places. We have received your gift, calling us into unexpected connections. We have been nurtured by your invitation, making friendships along the way. We approach you now with humble hearts and expectation, knowing you welcome all – stranger and friend. Amen.
God, you have comforted your people, making paths where there seemed no path. You have lifted up valleys, relieved droughts, and made high places low. You have gathered your people in the eternal place of love. You speak to our hearts, and you forgive us for our wandering ways. Your light and love and faithfulness and work are true, ever true, always lasting. We praise you, for the goodness you are, and the pathways you make before us. Amen.
Hymn Blessing – we pray for peace – Laura Blessing
Now and Then Reflecting on 2020 through the Christmas story – meditations by Emily Hoe-Crook and found in Roots which we subscribe to as a church.
Scene 1 Rules and regulations
Our response to directives from central authorities alongside life under Roman rule
Isaiah 40.1-11; Mark 1.1-8 Luke 2:1-5
Now – and then
How might our response to living with frequent directives and legislation from central authorities through a pandemic reflect the reaction of those living in the Middle East at the time of the nativity? How much grumbling really was there, or were people happy to acquiesce to Roman rule? There may be more resonance between ourselves and the Holy Family at this time than we imagine. Can we draw closer to Mary and Joseph’s experience because of our current circumstances?
Monologue: voices of authority
NOW…an anoymous member of Parliament
It’s not easy facilitating a situation like this, you know. It’s unprecedented, a pandemic with global travel, people going wherever they want, mixing with anyone they feel like. It’s hard to keep a handle on this. And movement equals more cases. It might seem like we don’t know what we’re doing, and perhaps acting too late, but honestly, it’s like herding cats! You try telling students in freshers’ week they can’t party!? We’re trying to keep public freedom and the economy going – we’re between a rock and a hard place here. Yes, public opinion is important, and no, we don’t want unnecessary deaths or suffering, so please, just do as we ask. We do have your best interests at heart, you know, and this is all for the greater good.
THEN… A Roman Centurion
This is for your own good, you know. By taking a country-wide census we can get a better handle on where things are up to – who lives where, which tradesmen have moved, how families are growing. There’s more movement than ever now – people moving about all over the country whereas before, you stayed where you were born. It’s like herding goats! We need to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. You might well ask why people can’t just register where they live and collate the answers. Hmm. Perhaps that would make more sense, make things more straightforward, but in all honesty, it makes things harder for us. We’ve got the economy to think of. Just do as we ask, or there will be consequences. We have your best interests at heart, and this is all for the greater good.
Comment by Julie Newitt
Imagine that you were Mary and Joseph, just getting used to life as a married couple, waiting for the birth of this child, perhaps still having wagging tongues about the conception of this child. Then suddenly you hear that the Govt has called for a census – for Mary & Joseph this was a 70 mile journey on a donkey for Mary, not the most comfortable of animals to sit on especially when you are about to give birth. For Joseph it meant walking the 70 miles and being responsible for finding a place for Mary, that would be safe and comfortable. M&J would have been very worried, what bad timing this was. They would not have wanted to follow the rules, but they knew they needed to.
Like us over this pandemic, we thought I can stay inside for 4 weeks, but the weeks became one month and then two and now 9 months. We are being told to not mix with loved ones, to not hug and kiss and hold them. We are told we have to wear a mask covering our faces and putting a barrier between us and others. We can’t see properly or hear properly, but we have adapted to a new ‘norm’ even though we long to go back to life as we knew it.
As Christians we have to acknowledge that God is still in charge, we each have to do the right thing as we are called to think of others and put them first. We follow the laws because we know that Jesus said ‘give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God, that which belongs to God. We have learnt new ways to continue to praise and worship God in this time of COVID and in many ways the technology as enabled more people to listen to God’s word. The vaccine gives us hope that 2021 will be a year when life can return to normal. Let us thank God that He has given scientists the means to create this.
Hymn The Blessing
Scene 2 Unsung heroes
The contribution of key workers and the shepherds’ key role in telling the Good News