Pusska -- Who Wasn't Ready
Jesus said, "What I say to you I say to all: Keep awake." Let us keep awake today as we meet with Jesus in our worship.
Invitation to Confession:
Let us share our mistakes and our troubles with Jesus and receive his gifts of love and forgiveness.
Jesus, you give us signs so that we may notice you.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, you send your angels to take care of us.
Christ, have mercy.
Jesus, you help us to keep alert at the right time.
Lord, have mercy.
"But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,  and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.  Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.  "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.  Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.  Therefore, keep awake--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,  or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.  And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."
The dark and gloomy Advent readings, so designed in order to highlight the contrast with the coming of the Saviour at Christmas, make difficult reading for adults as well as children.
This story concentrates on the "be ready" aspect of the reading.
Pusska - who wasn't ready.
Pusska was born one warm Spring day in April, along with her five brothers. At first, they were like little skinned rats who couldn't open their eyes, but after a day or two they all grew fur. Pusska was especially proud of her fur, which was a handsome stripey colour. She heard the grown-ups call her "tortoiseshell" and it was such a long word that she felt even prouder. She was a much nicer colour than her ginger brothers, and she was glad that she was a female kitten.
Being the only girl, she was also spoilt. Her mother was always on at the boy kittens to be gentle with Pusska, so she soon got to do exactly as she liked. If one of her brothers cuffed her or scratched her or snatched her food, Pusska would begin to howl for their mother and the boys immediately slunk away.
Soon they all began to hunt for their own food in the big garden where they lived. All except Pusska, that is. Pusska couldn't be bothered to hunt for food. She preferred to climb the tall tree that stood in the middle of the garden, and sit in the topmost branches inspecting her claws. Or she'd sit in the middle of the grass, washing herself and preening herself, so that her mother would say to the boys, "Look at Pusska washing herself! Why can't you be clean and well groomed, like her? You'd better share your food with your sister." And one of the boys would dump his catch at Pusska's feet, while she tossed her dainty head and smirked.
The boys gradually became more adventurous, and one by one they began to explore beyond the edges of the garden. They came back with scary tales of huge metal containers which roared past at great speed, and their mother warned them not to go near. "They're called cars," she said, "and your father was hit by one of them. We never saw him again." The boys didn't take much notice because they were too busy enjoying themselves. And besides, they all boasted that they were fast enough to run across the road long before any car could hit them. Pusska took no notice because she knew she was an enchanting little bundle of fur, and she wasn't even sure that she believed all her brothers' tales. They were always trying to scare her, just because she was the prettiest.
Then one day, when the kittens were about eight weeks old, two of Pusska's brothers disappeared. It happened shortly after some children had come to see them. Pusska's mother was very sad for a while, but she said they had gone to a good home. Pusska wasn't sure what "going to a good home" meant, but since there were still three brothers to hunt for her and bring her titbits of tiny mice and baby pigeons, she didn't much care.
Pusska's mother gathered her four remaining kittens together, and told them they would all be going to good homes before too long. She told Pusska that she would probably be next, because she was so pretty. And she added, "You must learn to hunt for yourself, for in your new home you'll probably be the only cat. No-one will bring you titbits then, you'll have to find your own."
That night she sent Pusska out with her three brothers to see what she could find. But the boys ran off, leaving Pusska to fend for herself. As they darted across the road Pusska began to follow them, when a huge car suddenly loomed out of the darkness with its lights blaring. Pusska was transfixed by the lights. She'd never seen anything like it before, and she didn't know which way to turn. Just as the car was about to hit her, one of her brothers dashed to her side and pushed her with all his might. Pusska fell into the kerb, but as she fell the car caught her a glancing blow on the side of her head.
After that, Pusska found she couldn't walk properly, for one of her front legs refused to work. She did her best to hop along on the other three legs, but when new families came to choose kittens for their homes, none of them chose Pusska. Nobody wanted a kitten who could only use three legs.
Pusska's mother looked at her sadly. "If only you'd learned to hunt with your brothers, Pusska," she said. "Then you would have been ready when the car came and you would have got out of the way in time. And you would have been ready for a family to choose you for their very own. You've missed your opportunity."
Pusska felt sad too, but she knew it was her own fault. She wished she'd been ready at the right time. But she never made the same mistake again. When her leg grew strong again, she became the best hunter for miles around, and although she always kept herself clean, she never again wasted her time preening herself. She spent the rest of her life living in the garden and helping out with all the new kittens that arrived, but poor Pusska was always rather sad that she never had a family of her own.
Advent is the time when we get ready for Christmas. Start aJesse Tree (which shows the genealogy of Christ in the form of a tree) by painting and cutting out the first symbols in the history of the story of salvation - sun, moon, stars to represent Creation, an apple to represent the fall, an ark and a dove for the flood.
Hang the symbols on the bottom branches of the tree (this can be a Christmas Tree, or just a large twig, but remember it has to last until Christmas.) A prayer for the hanging of the symbols:
God our Creator, thank you for creating the world and for making human beings to be like you. We are sorry that things went wrong from the beginning, and thank you for sending Jesus to put things right. Amen.
The Advent Wreath has four dark candles (usually purple for the liturgical colour of Advent) in a ring of holly or dark greenery, around a central white or gold candle. One candle is lit each week of Advent, with the central candle lit on Christmas Day.
Light the first candle on the Advent Wreath. The first candle represents the Patriarchs - our fathers in the faith. A prayer for lighting the first candle:
We light this candle to give thanks for the Patriarchs, who first held faith in God. Thank you God, for sending Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to help people learn about you. And thank you for sending Jesus to be the light in a dark world. May Jesus be the light in our lives as we look forward to Christmas. Amen.
As we begin Advent and look forward to Christmas, let us offer to God all that is dark in our lives and in the world today:
God our Creator, bless all those who know nothing of Jesus. Help the Church to reach out to them, that this Christmas they may know the radiance of the love of Jesus.
God our Creator, help all those who lead the nations of the world to make wise decisions. May they see Jesus as the light of their world, hear his voice and follow his guidance.
God our Creator, we pray for all those who live in darkness or despair. Help them to know that you love them, and to believe that you can bring them out of darkness and into light.
God our Creator, we remember before you all those who are sick, asking you to make them better. And we remember all who have died, asking you to cuddle them in your arms.
We ask these prayers through Jesus, who faced so much darkness for our sake. Amen.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
who brought the light of Jesus into a dark world,
fill you with his love and his glory.
And the blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you now,
be in your homes and in your families
and with all those whom you love
and for whom you pray,
now and always.