Friday 9 February 2007

Friday Morning Prayer for 15 December 2006: 10 more days till Christmas

Good Morning! Welcome to another Friday Morning Prayer and today is the last Friday Morning Prayer of December. You may remember that we are now in the time of Advent (the four weeks before Christmas), and actually there are only 10 more days left till Christmas. First, I would like all of you to listen to a passage from the Bible. You can look at page _ of the hymnbook.
Listen to the Word of God. A Reading from the Gospel according to St Matthew: Watch out, then, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. If the owner of a house knew the time when the thief would come, you can be sure that he would stay awake and not let the thief break into his house. So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him. The Gospel of the Lord. [All: ]Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know who the Son of Man is? Jesus is the Son of God but he calls himself the Son of Man as a sign of being humble. There is a 19th Century saint in France by the name of St Therese and she has made a statement like this. It is printed on page _ of the hymnbook.
"It's said in the Gospel that God will come like a Thief. He will come to steal me away very gently. Oh, how I'd love to aid the Thief!... I'm not afraid of the Thief. I see him in the distance, and I take good care not to call out: 'Help! Thief!' On the contrary, I call to him, saying: 'Over here, over here!"'
Do you recognize this picture of St Therese? You may have seen it in the lobby just outside the entrance to the school hall, above the computers at the Ground Floor IT Gallery. In the Bible, Jesus asks us to be ready just like someone to take caution, to take care, not to let the thief break into the house. Advent is the time to prepare for Christmas. It is not just a time make preparations for Christmas parties but it is also a time to be ready for Jesus’ coming. Jesus came to humankind at the first Christmas 2000 years ago; Christmas is coming again in 10 days time; and one day, Jesus will come back to us.
Jesus says we have to be ready as if a thief would come at an unexpected time. We know Jesus is not a thief. But Jesus will come at a time that we do not know, very much like a thief. We call this kind of writing a metaphor. A metaphor is a word or a phrase, which describes something by referring to something else that has similar characteristics. For example: 'The city is a jungle' is a metaphor. We know the city is NOT a jungle, not a forest, without animals, but the city is like a jungle because the jungle is full of excitement just like the city is. So to say 'The city is a jungle' is a metaphor.
St Therese says: Jesus will come to steal me away. She is playing with the metaphor of the thief. Jesus says we have to make ourselves ready because we do not know when the thief would come. The original metaphor is using the idea that both Jesus and the thief would come at an unexpected time. But St Therese says Jesus is a thief because Jesus will come to steal me away. So the metaphor is using the idea that Jesus and the thief would come to steal things. The thief would steal valuables from our house just like Jesus would steal us because we are valuable in his eyes too.
So how shall we get ready? If we know a thief is coming, we would not sleep and stay awake. The words associated with waiting are being alert and watchful. [alert] [watchful] Being alert and watchful is being quick to see, understand and act. For example: I'm not feeling very alert today - not enough sleep last night! I didn’t see the teacher coming into the classroom. If a driver is not watchful, traffic accidents may happen. So by being alert and watchful would be a way to prepare for Christ’s coming. One way to be alert and watchful is to know what our goals in life are. Another way to be alert and watchful is to pray always.
Let’s pray now by using the prayer at the bottom of page _ of the hymnbook. Please say the parts in bold letters.
It is time for us to wake from our sleep: the day of our salvation is near.
All: Lord, may your kingdom come!
Prepare us for the coming of your Word by opening our hearts to receive him. R.
Throw down the walls of hatred between nations, clear the way for those who work for peace. R.
Lord, keep us ever alert and watchful as we await the coming of your Son, so that, faithful to his teaching, we may go to meet our Saviour. We make our prayer through our Lord. Amen.
To end our prayer, let’s sing O Come, Divine Messiah. Just to go over some words which you may know already: Divine (holy), triumph (victory), flee away (go away). And I would also ask you to pay attention to the rhyming of the words: waits the day and flee away.

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