A Month of Gratitude - Week 2
“Gratitude for New Life”
November 13, 2022 – Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-19
Color: Green (Table is Set with Autumn Flair)
Call to Worship
Leader: O God, our help and sustenance in times of trouble and tribulation, we welcome you here.
All: As we gather together once more, You give us hope.
Leader: We are grateful for visions of a new heaven and a new earth, though we do not always understand these visions.
All: Grant us wisdom as we join together in worship. Grant us the courage to enter into your vision of a healthy and vibrant future for ALL!
Leader: We come together to be made new in spirit and heart.
All: We invite the Spirit to move among us, to help us to listen deeply, and to prepare us for the emerging Day of the Lord.
Leader: Let us together worship the One who makes all things New! Amen.
Prayer of Illumination
Loving God, open our ears to hear your word and draw us closer to you, that the whole world may be one with you as you are one with us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Isaiah 65:17-25 (NRSV) Updated Ed
17 For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating, for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy and its people as a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days or an old person who does not live out a lifetime, for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat, for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. 24 Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox, but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.
Luke 21:5-19 (NRSV)
The Destruction of the Temple Foretold
5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Signs and Persecutions
7 They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8 And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray, for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.
9 “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified, for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes and in various places famines and plagues, and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance, 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and siblings, by relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name.
18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NRSV)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Prayer Following the Scripture
O Ancient of Days, through the outpouring of your Holy Spirit you comfort and bless all creatures. Gather from the four corners of the world all those who weep in despair or loneliness, those who are hungry, naked, or poor, those who have withstood oppression and are bowed in anguish before violence. Grant that they may rejoice in the new life of justice and peace that you promised your people through the compassionate witness of Jesus. Amen.
A Reflection on New Life by Pastor Alegra Lynne (they/them) * formerly known as Trista Wynne *
When we are called to a new revelation, whether of self, of our community or of our calling, often there is a need for clarification of who we are in relationship with the community. Throughout the Scriptures, there are times when a person, a couple, or a whole family group are renamed in order to reveal something special about who they are now. And I have reached a point in my life where this is the case.
When I traveled to Mexico last winter to sit with a traditional healer, and to have a week of quiet reflection to heal from the loss of my child and marriage, I was given a new name, but I was not yet ready to reveal it to the public. It was important for me to complete a cycle, (for me, a year) of grief, in order to prepare for the gift of new identity to emerge in its fullness. I knew that at the appropriate time, I would share it and it would be a sign of my transformation.
The name Alegra means “Joy”. Being given the new name while I was yet in the midst of my time of grief was like a prophecy. In time, I would emerge into a fuller awareness of myself, my calling, my relationship with others, and then, I would be essentially ready for the gift of a new life. As a sign of new life, now marking the passing of a former version of myself and stepping into the given promise, I am adopting the name Alegra, and moving my middle name to my surname for a time. I also have received dreams, visions and clarity regarding the pronouns that are best for describing who I am in the world, so I invite you to use the pronouns “they” and “them” when you refer to me in the third person.
Both of our lectionary readings this week are about new life as well. And we have a third reading that reminds us of the source of these promised revelations. I am about to create something new, declares the Lord, and you are invited to join me in the process of re-creation! This is an exciting time, where we get to have a foretaste of things to come, while we are yet in the midst of all of the challenges and difficulties and divisions that this life often holds.
Isaiah and Jesus both share something about the current reality surrounding them and they speak about the prophetic “time to come” when all things will be made new. We are invited, both by prophetic Isaiah and our Lord Jesus Christ to actively participate in the revelation of the New Life which is offered as a gift to all people, and indeed, to all of creation.
Isaiah’s vision holds imagery of lions and lambs laying down together, and portrays a scene in which all aspects of harmful and destructive activities will indeed cease. Our gospel in Christ Jesus echoes the affirmation that there will indeed be a time when there is no harm or destruction occur, where moth and thieves and rust are not present, and this foreshadows a time when death and crying and mourning are no more, for everyone and everything will be made new. And this is a glorious re-creational act of the Beloved Creator into which we, as followers of Jesus the Christ, imbued with the Holy Spirit, are called. This is to inform the ways we live our daily lives. And the question now presenting is: how will you share that gift of revelation?
May the joy of the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus guide you as you discern your calling and identity in the presence of our Beloved Creator. Amen.