Saturday, November 28, 2015

Advent Article

An article I recently wrote for the local newspaper:

Advent Article for Thanksgiving Edition of the Stanly News and Press (SNAP) 2015
 By Rev. Ray Sipe, Chaplain, Trinity Place    

Why are we waiting?

Thanksgiving is upon us. As we prepare for the big day with lots of food, family and friends gathering together, and preparations for the big game, we may not be aware that Advent is just around the corner, beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year.

For many of us, Advent has become an old churchy thing that no one does anymore. For others, Advent has become a renewed season of waiting, preparing, and for some, a time of soul searching and examination.  Wikipedia defines Advent as “time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.”

Advent (from adventus, Latin meaning coming) is a time of waiting. It literally is a time of waiting for the second coming of Jesus. This is the time in which we live – the time between the birth of Jesus and his coming again. We celebrate the season of Advent in the church as a time of waiting and preparation – both on the first coming and on the second coming.

As we hear the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during the season of Advent, we hear both the anticipation of the coming savior as a child in the manger, and of the second coming of the savior, to set this world right and establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Our Gospel texts this Advent season come from the Gospel of Luke. We begin with the end times, Luke 21:25-36, and hear Jesus describe the second coming. On the second Sunday of Advent, we hear John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of the messiah (Luke 3:1-6). On the third Sunday of Advent, we continue John’s proclamation (Luke 3:7-18), and on the last Sunday of Advent (Luke 1:39-55) we hear of Mary’s visit with her cousin Elizabeth, and of course, Mary’s Song.

Each of these texts tells of the coming of the messiah, gives us food for thought to reflect on the meaning of the birth of Jesus, and of his coming again. As we scramble through the preparations for Christmas, and end of year, and inventories, and cleaning up the records for tax time, and all of the many other things that occupy our time during December, I invite you to spend just a little time, pausing each day, to consider the coming of Jesus. If you don’t hear these texts on Sunday morning, I invite you to read them on your own, as your own Advent devotion. Instead of reacting to all of the things that are happening around you, take a few minutes to reflect on the birth of Christ, and what his presence means in your life. For additional Advent devotional resources, simply Google Advent Devotions and many will pop up. One of my favorite free resources is available at You can read it on-line or print it. A large print version is also available.

As we watch and wait this Advent season, we pray: Come, Lord Jesus. Awaken your people. Fill us with your light, and bring the gift of Peace on Earth. Amen.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

It is Good Friday, and as I ponder a sermon for the day, I come back to these words by S. M. Lockridge that I found a few years ago. I find them to be a powerful description of the day.

By S. M. Lockridge

It’s Friday
Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals

It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming
Has been achieved
But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross
Feeling forsaken by his Father
Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit

It’s Friday
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place

But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

Sunday is coming, and the rest of the story comes with it.