December 2, 2018

 FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

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A SONG FOR OUR FUTURE

In 1943, Casablanca swept the field at the Academy Awards and remains one of the top five most popular films of the twentieth century. Set in tension filled Morocco where Nazis, the exiled French and assorted characters struggle during World War II to overcome the darkness of Nazi oppression with the light of freedom for all. A memorable scene from the movie begins in Rick’s Café with Nazi soldiers and officers singing Watch on the Rhine a patriotic pro-Nazi song. Lazlo, a secret agent for the free French, asks pro-Allies Rick if the nightclub orchestra could play The Marseille, the French national anthem. With single notes that build into a swelling patriotic song, voice after voice join louder and bolder. One by one the French rise to their feet with tears in their eyes, voices now full of bravery and strength. The song they share, the faith and freedom they bear and the love they hold for one another, their occupied country and freedom drowns out the now muted sound of their Nazi oppressors. No one watching that movie scene at that time knew the outcome of the War, but they knew the power of voices raised with a common vision and goal. Singing together creates something more wonderful than could ever be hoped for or imagined, the whole so much greater than the sum of the parts, notes and voices joined in a chorus, an anthem, a hymn.

In 1943, people gathered in Clifton to create a church, our Saint Philip the Apostle Parish, that would sing the good news of God’s love that could be heard above the din of War, sacrifice and uncertainty. They sang a new church whose song echoed, resounded and rang out for seventy-five years until this very day. We gather at this Eucharist to give God thanks as we draw our notes and melodies together, celebrating our relationship with ourselves and others and God. Our church has orchestrated spiritual, service and social ministries that sang out day after day, month after month, decade after decade, by the hundreds, by the thousands praying, laughing, weeping, grieving, rejoicing, celebrating, petitioning, offering, serving, sacrificing, and giving of time, talent and treasure. Songs of God’s love sung as a rallying cry for all that is true, beautiful and good. The keys of the kingdom were shared and used to unlock, not only the mysteries of heaven but, also the mystery of the depth and breath, height and length of God’s love and God’s powerful Spirit that dwells in every human heart.

This weekend we conclude our 75th Jubilee Year as we begin the season of Advent. Advent signals a new beginning and is the first note of a new song, a song for today, a song for all our tomorrows, a song for the future kingdom that belongs to all who have sung before us, all who sing with us now, all who will sing with the heavenly chorus in the advent of eternity.

We sing a new church into being.
Let us praise the gifts that differ, with good news our ministry, sing a new church into being, love in action faith our key.

Please stand and sing with me, sing the good news of Christ’s work accomplished on this holy ground yesterday, today and forever. Sing for our faith, sing for the love we hold for one another, sing to be light, sing for freedom, sing for justice and peace, sing for those who have no voice. Our notes and voices join in a chorus, an anthem, a hymn. Sing for we are …. Love in action, faith our key. (Women sing, men sing, men and women on the left sing, women and men on the right sing, we all sing.)

OUR JUBILEE PRAYER

Rejoicing in you, O Lord, with thankful hearts we pray as. . .

We Remember
gratefully our past companions on the Journey
whose sacrifice inspires us.

We Celebrate
the good news of love in action that empowers spiritual,
service and social ministry.

We Believe
in God’s providence as faithful stewards who continue
Christ’s work using the Keys to the Kingdom.
Amen

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