READ Genesis 6-9
The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. (Genesis 7:17-22)
The wickedness is too much to bear. Cruelty and violence are overwhelming. Everything is corrupt to the core: “every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Fed up, God demolishes it. He drowns it in rain. Water, murky water, swallows up the whole of God’s creation. What was once a lush landscape had been marred by the evil of people, so God buried the whole thing in water. Only Noah and his family and a sampling of animals survive. And even they are powerless, reliant on God’s mercy to stop the rain and begin again. The lonely ark drifts on the vast expanse of water.
Until the rains stop, and the deep holds back its fountains. Still the ark drifts. The waters subside. But still the ark drifts. A bird sent out returns, finding no place—not a single twig—to alight on for even a moment. The waters recede further, though not enough to see more than the tops of mountains. No grassy plains, no flower-strewn meadows, no tree-lined valleys. Just rocky peaks. Noah sends out another bird. He doesn’t hold his breath. It may very well return bearing no sign of life. But wait—what’s that in its beak? An olive leaf, smooth, fragrant, redolent with life. Hope is born. The very same breath that he breathed into Adam, God took away from everyone in the flood. God wanted to start fresh. And he did—God has given us a new kind of breath, Holy Spirit breath.
In a way, God has breathed into us just like he breathed into Adam. We live because we have the Holy Spirit, the breath of life, in us.
God, you give the breath of life. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we can live in a way that shows our love for you and our love for other people? Thanks for promising not to destroy all flesh again. Instead, you’ve made another way. In Jesus, we have the hope of new life. Come soon, Lord. Amen.
BLESS & DO
Add the next picture to your tree.
Draw a rainbow and give it to someone to bless them.
READ Luke 2:1-21
While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:6-11)
So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. (Luke 2:16-18)
Eep! Have you heard the Good News? Jesus is born! A new branch is finally sprouting from the stump of Jesse. Mary is pondering it all. As she nurses little Jesus, she’s thinking about what it means that he is here, ready to save the world. The angels are proclaiming it. They come as a huge choir, singing about how amazing God is.
The shepherds are a part of it, too. God chooses to tell them first. The shepherds aren’t fancy or important, but they’re the first ones who get to meet Jesus. And today, you get to be there with the shepherds. You get to hear the Good News. You get to meet Jesus. You get to go tell other people about it. God has chosen you! He wants you to have a part in his story.
Jesus, we’re so glad you’ve come! Thank you for being born into our world. Thank you for loving us enough to come to save us and live with us. How thrilled and grateful I am that you willingly entered into the darkness of the world to bring your light and life. The life you bring is just the beginning of a whole new creation in your Spirit. I can’t wait to see what’s yet to come. Amen.
BLESS & DO
Add the Jesus picture to your tree.
Do things for others today that you might not ordinarily do to Bless them and show Jesus’ love.
READ Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96, Luke 2:1-20
Our readings this week draw our attention towards the awareness of God in our midst: Isaiah casts the prophecy forwards, of the light dawning, Psalms calls us to marvel at the splendour of God manifest in the world, and Luke is the story of that glorious moment of light dawning that Isaiah saw. This final week of Advent is a celebration – rightly so – and it is full of light and hope. This week we will encourage each other with what God is actually doing in our lives and our community. What are the things that God is doing among us that people might not normally see?
REFLECT, TALK & DO
When it’s dark, it can be hard to see what is right in front of us. When Jesus arrived, it was with light and joy – the angels lit up the sky, the stars pointed at the new thing that was happening. The reading from Isaiah draws our attention to this: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Over the last few weeks, we have been building an Advent tree: it’s full of our reflections and thanks, and prayers and hopes. Today, we are going to add the pinnacle of the Advent story– a baby in an unlikely place. The Christmas story encourages us to look in ordinary places for extraordinary things – for a light dawning in a dark place. Angels appearing to wisemen, a Bright star shining in the sky.
Advent is also a time for gathering together and for sharing, so I want to encourage you to turn to the people around you and have a bit of a think, together.
To finish off our Advent tree – we are going to add Jesus to the scene. During the service write down the stories that you have shared, and the ways that you have seen Jesus show up in your life this year, and then add them to the tree here, or take them home.
Isaiah called the people to look forward to the day when the people walking in darkness would see a great light. He encouraged his people to see a future, where a light has dawned on the darkness. God, please help us to see and know that light. Help us to be the light in dark places, and to recognise and share the stories of how we see Jesus in our lives. Thank you for your light, Jesus the Light of the World. Amen.
Watery Advent 5. JESUS
Usually, during Advent, we do an advent candle wreath, however this year we are doing a water wreath! Especially in the hot Australian Summer water is something that we anticipate, that we hope for. A cup of cool cup of water on a hot summer’s day, rain for our farmers and lawns, water to swim in, water for baptism! Water is a powerful symbol.
So each week, just like we would with a candle wreath, we’re going to fill a new cup instead of lighting a new candle as we reflect on Hope, Love, Peace, and Joy. Each week we will be adding more to the Jesse tree and to remind us of life growing out of the stump.
1: As we pour the water to complete our wreath, we celebrate the coming of Jesus.
All: We thank you for coming as one unlike anyone else. [Pour water into the fifth glass.]
2: We remember the one who came by water and blood, the one who cried for his dead friend, the one who was thirsty and asked a woman for a drink.
All: We thank you for coming as one unlike anyone else.
1: We remember the one who walked on water, the one who calmed the waves, the one who turned water into wine.
All: We thank you for coming as one unlike anyone else.
2: We remember the one who is living water for us here and now.
All: We thank you because our thirst for God is quenched in you. Amen.