Weekly Newsletter of the Seymour Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
December 8, 2013
What you will find here:
This week’s scripture & Announcements
11A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 9They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
10On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
Reflections on the text:
Wolves – and Lambs – the leopard and the kid – the child in the den of the adder – all getting along – O My – what a wonderful world.
It’s a “dog eat dog” world, we say: “Nature, red in tooth and claw.” It’s survival of the fittest, and it’s not pretty. All true in its way. But is it all that’s true?
“Nature, red in tooth and claw” comes from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s lengthy nineteenth-century poem “In Memoriam” (canto 56), in which the poet wrestles with the incongruity between a good and loving God and the terrors of an uncaring Nature.1 Tennyson describes the person of faith,
Who trusted God was love indeed And love Creation’s final law- Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw With ravine,2 shriek’d against his creed-
I might be good to rehearse Tennyson’s incongruity here-a tension that still plagues us and our hearers-because we find in today’s reading one of Isaiah’s many “environmental impact statements.” These are not unique to Isaiah in the Bible, but they are found often in this book-statements that make clear that the work of God affects not only human life and humanity’s future, but the whole creation. Nature may be uncaring, but God is not. When God acts to rescue, creation, too, rejoices in its own deliverance (Isaiah 35:1).
But what of the vision of this text? Cows and bears grazing together? Wolves and lambs, leopards and kids, children and snakes? Can this be more than a fairy tale?
The Bible is not naïve; it knows full well the pain inherent in the created order-even when that order is working as it should: “The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God” (Psalm 104:21). So how do we get to Isaiah’s peaceable kingdom-and when? We are not naïve ether we know full well the pain of the current created order. It is hard out there!
The text is one of the positive messianic promises that we are blessed with as we hear the prophet.
David’s family tree looked bleak in the eighth century-a mere stump of its former glory-under attack by the Assyrian hordes that would take captive much of the northern kingdom and turn the southern kingdom into a vassal state. But stumps can grow even in nature, and the more so in a creation guided by the active word of God. God will not renege on God’s everlasting promise to David (2 Samuel 7:12-17): a new “David” will arise, anointed with God’s spirit (see 1 Samuel 16:13), who will restrain the wicked with the power of a word (Isaiah 11:4b), in order to provide for the poor and meek (v. 4a), those who stand particularly in need of God’s care.
And where will anyone see such a kingdom?
Though looking to the future, it had a present effect in the eighth century BCE and can have one today as well. What if we chose to live now in the freedom of the promise, in accord with its pictures of God’s future kingdom? God keeps showing us a world of peace where rulers and people care for one another, for the poor and the needy, for the creation and all its creatures. What if we moved into that world even now? True, our world remains compromised and dangerous, and we will have to deal with that in appropriate ways. But, to the degree we are given the courage, we can invite God’s future into the present and practice it even now. And then the world of nature, red in tooth and claw-though it remains real-can be tempered by a new vision of a creation that sings God’s praise because all are fed and all are loved.
Are you ready – are your preparing for the coming of the Lord? And what my friends are we willing to do to assist in making the dream and vision of the prophet a reality.
The entire poem is available online at www.online-literature.com/tennyson/718/
Grace and Peace
THIS SUNDAY – WHITE GIFTS – On Sunday December 8th, we will begin to prepare for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ with the “Hanging of the Greens” service. We will also have our annual “White Gifts” collection to benefit the Valley Toys-for-Tots. On that Sunday, we ask you to bring a new toy for a boy or girl, wrapped in white (or any color) and place it under our sanctuary Christmas tree. These gifts will be delivered to TEAM, Inc. in Derby for distribution to needy children in the lower Valley towns. There is a special request for gifts suitable for older kids; they typically get lots of things for the littlest angels. No child should be without a gift on Christmas morning, be a cheerful giver! Thank you for sharing your blessings.
Next Sunday, the Adult Choir will render the cantata “Jesus is Born the King” by James Denton. The cantata has many unforgettable carols. The cantata is a fresh approach to the greatest story ever told, the story of God’s eternal love to mankind in sending Jesus to live in the hearts of those who will crown Him the king of their lives. Please plan to attend and bring friends, neighbors, and relatives to support the choir.
During the month of December, Christmas carols will be sung starting 10 minutes before the service. Come early and join in!
Advent Worship Opportunity – an early worship experience during Advent, “55 Alive”. At 8:55 AM each Sunday morning, we will offer a brief 30 minute worship experience in the church sanctuary for those who find the holidays busy and hectic – or are just looking for a quiet reflective experience. This service will be a quiet meditative service of music, the word and communion. Interested or have questions, see Rev. Ed.
Thank you to everyone who donated cookies to the “Gazebo Carol Sing” last Sunday.
Friday, Dec. 20th at 5:30 PM, the Adult Choir will go Christmas Caroling. Please let George Bashura, Dave Lawson or Cherie know if you would like to join in the caroling, and if you would like them to carol to someone ill.
LISTEN! As you drive by the church on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Christmas carols will be played on the Memorial Chimes by Bethany Catlin & Mackenzie Foreman and other students of Cherie’s.
Please join us after the service in the Fellowship Hall for coffee hour. It is being hosted by Sharen Taber.
The Altar flowers are given by the Marshall family in memory of Raymond T. Marshall.
The Advent bulletin covers are given by Connie and Stan Wiesniak in memory of loved ones.
Sunday, December 8th
10:00 AM – Worship
11:00 AM – Coffee Hour
11:00 AM – Parish Life Mtg.
11:15 AM – CANTATA REHEARSAL WITH NARRATORS IN CHURCH!!
12:00 PM – Adult Choir Rehearsal
NEXT SUNDAY, DEC. 15TH at 10:00 AM
CANTATA “JESUS IS BORN THE KING”
GREETERS: Kim Walsh & David Bell
LAYLEADER: Betsy Entwisle
DEACONS OF THE MONTH: Tom Hay & Betsy Entwisle
ANNUAL MEETING is Jan. 26th
To everyone who has to prepare a report for the Annual Report, please start working on them and get them to me as soon as you can. Thank you, Connie