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What do We Expect?....or..The Advent of Advent

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

What Do We Expect?...or The Advent of Advent

I love Advent.  I don’t love it because it means Christmas is almost here, although that is definitely a bonus.  I love it because we celebrate a liminal period, a time between, a time of anticipation.  It is a challenging time.  It is a time packed with different emotions for different people.  It is a beautiful time.  It is a time of hope.  

I am committing myself to doing Adventen reflections for this blog.  My goal is to do them daily, starting next Sunday.  I hope to explore they daily lectionary and connect it to my experiences here in Zambia as well as to the happenings of the world.  Please join me and hold me accountable.  

Below is a precursor, the preparatory notes and outline to the sermon I preached this past Sunday at Chimwemwe Presbyterian Church.  Since I preached manuscript-free, this is the only documentation I have.  Hopefully it gives some insight into my sermon preparation process as well as some material to chew on as you anticipate the coming of advent.

 

Readings

Daniel 7:9-14

Revelation 1:4-8

 

Primary Texts

“I saw one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.  And he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away.  And his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed”—Daniel 7

 

“Look!  He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.  So it is to be.  Amen.”—Revelation 1

 

Overarching Context

-The coming of Advent—the coming of Christ—Waiting in expectant hope

-Advent—“the coming”

-What are we waiting for?

 

Authorial Context

-Daniel, a Hebrew under the Babylonian Empire

-John of Patmos, a Christian under the Roman Empire

-Apocalyptic visions as unwilling subjects

 

Textual Context

-Daniel—the beginning of the apocalyptic visions, taking place during the beginning of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar.  Narratively it takes place after Daniel survives the lions’ den under the Persian emperor Darius.  Historically, it takes place before Persia takes over Babylon.

 

-Revelation—John’s very first vision; part of his salutation to the seven churches; just before his explanation of being imprisoned and persecuted; just before explaining the impetus of his visions and epistle

 

Present Global Context

-Massacres in Iraq, Lebanon, France, Nigeria, and Mali. 

-Refugee crises

-FEAR

-INTOLERANCE

-HATRED

-INJUSTICE

If the Church is simply awaiting the eschaton and not actively working for the Kingdom, what do we expect?  We should expect the situations that are happening.

 

Present Zambian Context

-Kwacha down, Prices up

-Load shedding

-Unemployment

Again, if the Church is simply awaiting the eschaton and not actively working for the Kingdom, what do we expect?  We should expect the situations that are happening.

 

Present Christian Context

-False Prophets

-Modern apocalyptic rumors—blood moon, Obama and the Pope as antichrists, supposed Satanic roots of the national day of prayer and fasting

-Navel-gazing

-Fear

-Reflecting unjust society

 

Motifs

-Coming with the clouds

-Son of Man

-ALL people—every nation, language, and tribe will praise or wail

-KINGDOM

 

Devices

“These are the days of Elijah, declaring the word of the Lord.  And these are the days of your servant, Moses, righteousness being restored.  These are the days of great trials, of famine and darkness and sword.  Still we are the voice in the desert crying, ‘Prepare ye the way of the LORD!’

Behold he comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call.  So lift your voice, it’s the year of Jubilee, and out of Zion’s hill salvation comes!”

-The clouds are coming in at the beginning of this rainy season.  The clouds are coming

-Christmas is coming

-Christ is coming

 

Theme

WHAT DO WE EXPECT?

 

The Good News

-We have a God who is the ALPHA and the OMEGA, who is and who was and who is to come!

-Our vision need not be focused on the end times.  Our vision needs to be focused on the Kingdom.  For he will come like a thief in the night, when we least expect him.  But he also comes like a King riding on the clouds.  And like a baby born in a stable.  And like a friend to the poor and the prostitutes and the immigrants.  And like a prisoner and criminal under the oppressive reign of empire.

-What did people expect with the coming of the messiah?  What do we expect with the coming of the messiah?  

 

Outline: What do we expect?

Readings

Daniel

Revelation

The Apocalyptic Genre—Visions of Expectation

Present Global Context—WHAT DO WE EXPECT?

Present Zambian Context—WHAT DO WE EXPECT?

WE ARE IN NEED OF A SAVIOR!  WE ARE IN NEED OF A MESSIAH!

Explanation of Advent: Waiting with expectant hope; the season leading up to Christmas

Present Christian Context of waiting: WHAT DO WE EXPECT?

What did people expect with the coming of the Messiah?

When Jesus did come, he made it clear that we are not simply sitting, waiting, wishing

-Daniel and John of Patmos clearly were doing activities that got them persecuted, arrested, exiled, thrown into the lion’s den

If we truly want the Kingdom to come, then we should be working for that Kingdom.  We should be defying empires.

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ,for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty!

Jesus Christ already came and started this Kingdom.  This Advent may we expect faith.  May we expect action.  May we expect righteousness in each other.  May we have expectant hope for a Kingdom that we are helping to build.

Posted November 23, 2015

 

Posted by Tyler W. Orem with 0 Comments
Tags: advent, wisdom

The Evangelists

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

I sit here reflecting and writing in the cool winds of a much needed rainstorm.  It has been the bathe-twice-a-day kind of hot lately, of course using buckets of cold tap water.  Thank God for opening up the skies!  

The past 8 days have been a tornado of activity and blessings.  Last Saturday I was invited to speak at a fundraising event for the HIV/AIDS and Community Service work of the Mufulira United Church of Zambia Central Congregation.  Deaconness Mary Mwamba graciously extended this invitation with a request that I speak on the social problems in the United States for the sake or comparison.  Rev. Hopkins Changwe (the TEEZ Training Manager) and I headed to this district on the border of the DRC bright and early.  After several hours of practicing waitience (a term beautifully coined by the one and only Josh Orem while blogging from Kenya years ago), we finally started the event.  It was truly beautiful!  The guests were shocked to hear about systemic racism in the U.S.A., especially since the myth of a postracial society with a Black president has permeated so profoundly across the globe.  As I spoke it was solidified in my soul that the Church in the United States needs to start learning from the community systems that thrive in Zambian congregations.  For, this was not a gathering of the powerful seeking to give conscience-soothing charitable gifts in collection plates.  Rather, it was a community of people laboring together for each other’s wellbeing, with each livelihood being tied up in all others’ livelihoods.  There was no discernible distinction between the service providers and the served.  Imagine if U.S. American mainline congregations flipped the social paradigm from hierarchies of power to communities of righteousness!

The next day Rev. Changwe and I led a Service of Holy Communion at the Buchi UCZ Congregation here in Kitwe, en route to Lusaka.  He had requested that I preach the sermon on our way back from the aforementioned fundraising event.  I thus got some much-needed experience in manuscript-free preaching.  I am sure that such experiences will abound throughout the rest of my time here in Zambia.  Mama Holy Spirit is teaching me daily!  The Communion itself brought to mind the fish and loaves, the water-into-wine, and multiplication of the widow’s oil and meal.  As over 1,000 people came forward, elders worked furiously in a back room to keep up a steady flow of bread and juice.  It is amazing how much I am learning about abundance in a land considered to have such scarce resources! 

Immediately following the service we got into the Toyota Hilux and began our journey to Lusaka.  This was my first time seeing Zambia outside of the Copperbelt.  The Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, Bob Marley, and Lack Dube made a fitting soundtrack for our ride through the countryside.  Our week in Lusaka was filled with training and many wonderful conversations—both with our students and PC(USA) mission co-workers who reside at the university.  The following is the blog I wrote for the TEEZ website:

This past week we went to Justo Mwale Theological University College (JMTUC) in Lusaka for a Tutors’ Training Course.  Our participants represented the Reformed Church of Zambia (RCZ), the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), and the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (UPCSA).  All 21 of them are training to be Evangelists for their respective churches at JMTUC’s Booth Centre.

Differing from most of our training groups, these folks have been together for much of the year, taking classes and doing ministry with each other.  They thus had a rich knowledge of the forming, storming, and norming stages of group development that we discuss so heavily in our course.  Over a week of shared classes, nshima, worship, and conversations in Nyanja, Tumbuka, Bemba, Chewa, and English, we also felt very much a part of their group process.  What a blessing this was!

The major mission of TEEZ is to equip and empower lay members to take leadership in the church so that the body of Christ might function at its fullest and so that people’s gifts to creation might be shared.  These evangelists live out exactly that life—leading the church as lay members with myriad gifts.  They minister in the far reaches of the Eastern Province and in the urban centers of Lusaka and the Copperbelt.  Hearing them share their challenges and joys in this work opened our eyes and hearts all the wider to the need for and the beauty of extending theological education.

The Reformed and Presbyterian traditions in Zambia are alive and well!  Their future can only get brighter with the leadership of these 21 evangelists.  May God bless their mission as they add “TEEZ Tutor” to their many roles in the Kingdom!

 

As many thousands mourn in Burundi, the Central African Republic, France, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen, may we remember that there is hope in a God who partners with human beings to bring about a Kin-dom of justice and love.  I am honored to meet many such people here in Zambia.

Posted November 18, 2015

 

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Being planted in the rich soils of Zambia to inspire regrowth at home. “Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit” -Matthew 13:8