Third Sunday of Advent
‘Flourishing’ brings images of life, growth, vibrancy, doing well, thriving, and so forth. From the text, we find a community of people who came to John to be baptised. Why did they want to be baptised? We can’t really tell. But I guess they sought something better and real for their spiritual life. Therefore, they came to John. Even though John addressed them as a ‘brood of vipers,’ that didn’t discourage them. They weren’t put off. For John also said to ‘bear fruits that befit repentance’, which I believe they did in the end, for they enquired about it. The multitudes, the tax collectors, and the soldiers all asked the same question, “what shall we do? Teacher, what must we do?”
These questions echoed Simon Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), when, after hearing it, the people were ‘cut to the heart.’ The people were so moved and touched that the only reply they could utter was a question (like above) – ‘what shall we do?’ The crowd was so convicted in their hearts and left with no choice but to ask what they needed to do. In reply, Simon Peter said that they needed “to repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.” And verse 41 says that those who believed were baptised and about three thousand souls were added that day. How about that for a ‘life-flourishing society!’
This reflection is being written during the time COVID-19 is spreading across most parts of the world. Thus, speaking about ‘life-flourishing societies’ in the context of COVID-19 comes with many challenges and requires courage to believe it to be so. Christians are encouraged by Jesus’ words, “in the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). An implication here may be that whatever we face in this world, like this present time, we need to be spiritually life-flourishing societies. For Jesus’ sake.
-Moegauila Lasei, Congregational Union of New Zealand
God our heavenly Father, we acknowledge your mercy and grace upon our lives. For all that we see and hear, all that we face and experience in life, your word teaches us to trust in you. Help us to be life-flourishing people. We give you thanks. Amen.
Presbyterian Church of Wales
Hiraeth is a Welsh word meaning, “the longing of the heart”.
We are longing once again to be able to join with our congregations, nationally as a denomination and internationally as a wider church, for worship and to spend time in fellowship together.
Please pray for the lonely in our midst, and for the frustration we as church feel in not being able to comfort those in need.
Pray for people who live in unhappy circumstances and who feel trapped in their own homes.
Pray for people of all ages whose mental health is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and for all those who are comforting them.
‘For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.’ Phillipians 1:8 (ESV)
We ask you to pray for us as a nation that we may draw closer to God. That our hearts will be warmed by his love.
Please pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief in our midst. We ask for God’s light to shine in our hearts, through the church and by word and deed into our communities.
‘Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation’ Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV)
Please pray for new ministry initiatives in our church. Pray for new leaders who respond to God’s calling upon their lives, to help the church to journey with them in defining and refining their calling.
Pray for our new MSP-4 programme called ‘Golud’ – a programme to develop churches that are dementia-friendly. The aim is to develop a scheme that will offer a person-centred response to dementia, and hopefully will encourage church communities in all parts of Wales to respond appropriately.
Pray for our children and youth work, especially as we try and continue to reach them remotely with the Good News.
‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth’ 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)