Lent & Advent

Advent 2020 – December 4

Jim Hopkins

December 3, 2020

Not a Spectator Sport
Deborah Lee
(Rev. Deborah Lee is the Executive Director of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity)

Jeremiah 1:4-10 (NRSV)

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

The Christian faith is not a sideline sport.  It is hands-on and active. One in which we are all called to discipleship.  It’s a faith where everyone gets called, and no one gets to sit on the sidelines.  It is both a tremendous honor to be a follower of Jesus, and a huge responsibility.

Our holy scriptures are full of stories of ordinary characters who get called to fulfill big roles.  This was the case of Jeremiah, a young man called by God to play the role of a prophet.  The task was huge.  To tell his nation’s rulers and his people that they were going down the wrong path, that they were not living in accordance with God’s vision and values. And there were going to be consequences. If they did not mend their ways, there would be death and destruction.  

No wonder Jeremiah didn’t feel up to the job.  But he soon found out that it was futile to come up with excuses – age, skills, experience.  God tells him, no worries. All the words and skills you need will come from me.  I have known you before you were even born – and I call you for this.

At Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, I get to see the way God calls people every day and equips them with the courage and abilities to take on big roles.  I get to see immigrants, incarcerated persons, and ordinary people of faith express their faithful leadership to uplift the humanity and dignity of those stigmatized and marginalized. They are leaders like 14-year-old Hulissa, who got 56,000 signatures on a petition seeking to stop the deportation of her father, Hugo.  It is 82-year-old Elena, who writes a meaningful prayer for immigrants and the incarcerated to be read at every meeting. It is Curtis, who after 38 years of being incarcerated and finally home, outreaches to the homeless and is willing to help anybody who needs support on their road to recovery. It is lay leaders from congregations like yours who are providing food, housing, emotional support, and all manner of accompaniment to vulnerable immigrants in their time of need.

This Advent season:

  • May we be still enough to hear God speaking and calling us for this present moment.
  • May we be comforted, knowing that the God who has known us from our very beginning, still knows us today. 
  • Should we feel unprepared or inadequate, or limited – by Covid or some other factor – may we be assured that through God, all things are possible.  That our strength and power comes not from our own abilities, but from God. 
  • May we remember that God will give us the courage, wisdom and guidance, to fear not.  Or in the face of fear, to be faithful anyway.

Dear God,
Give me ears to hear your voice and calling.  Show me how I may remain faithful to the call you have for my life in this place and in this time.  Give me the courage to hear what you may be calling me to “pluck up or pull down,”  or “to build and to plant.”  Show me what it is.

LABC Zoom Gatherings

A Time For Prayer – 10:00 a.m. Saturday

Forever Young – 1:00 p.m. Saturday (Christmas Carols with Charlene)

Forum – 8:45 a.m. Sunday (Discussion with Hugo Aguilar and daughter Hulissa. Hugo is facing imminent deportation.)

Worship – 10:00 a.m. Sunday (Communion, Candle of Peace)

Bible Class – 11:45 a.m. Sunday

Self Help Workshop – 3:00 p.m. Sunday (Led by LABC’s own Mariel Paul, MSW)

LABC Youth Group – 7:00 p.m. Monday

No Soup, But Study -6:00 p.m. Tuesday

Looking Ahead

Blue Christmas Service – 2:00 p.m. Sunday, December 13