1st Sunday of Advent—Year B—Nov 30, 2014
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen.
“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down”
This is quite a cry out to God. After returning from exile and re-establishing life in the Promised Land, life for the Israelites is still not great. Isaiah wants God to act again…to make another change…to do something to make things better.
And that is why there a three-fold focus during Advent, because God is act, is acting, and promises to act.
First, Advent is a reminder that God did act…did do something…made a radical change in how God relates to God’s people. No longer is it a seemingly far off relationship. No longer is it a call out when you need something arrangement. No longer is it about interactions marked by clouds, sounds of thunder, and hidden faces. The incarnation of God in human form…the coming of Jesus as a baby turned the world upside down. God took on human form so that there might be a permanent end to suffering. God lowered God’s-self and lived among us as a radical expression of love.
But Advent is not just about remembering the past, that one time event of incarnation, but acknowledging that Christ is still present today, embodied in our neighbor, working through our hands and feet, spreading the good news with our words and actions, molding us with faith to respond faithfully in this broken world. Jesus is still here among us today. Maybe not as obvious as two thousand years ago, but mystery is his new home.
And yet, Advent is still more. It is also a reminder that we live in a state of “already but not yet.” We rejoice the past and present, but also continue to wait. Jesus was born and died once and for all, but he promises to come again and finish the work. No one knows the day or hour that the Son of Man will be coming on the clouds. So we must keep alert and awake; we must prepare…to be “actively impatient.”
When we do that we realize all that God has already done for us and all that God promises to do in the future.
When we keep alert and awake as we read the scriptures…
- We will notice that in the evening Jesus ate with his disciples (even the one who would betray him and the one who would deny him and all would abandon him, but still called them friends).
- We will see that at midnight Jesus prayed that there might be another way, but nonetheless accepted what must happen even though those whom he loved could not seem to stay awake.
- We will remember that the cockcrow marks not just the beginning of another day, but yet another heartbreak perpetrated by the ones he was sent to save
- And we will rejoice at dawn when we remember that the cross and tomb are left empty and that from death comes new life, for Christ, and through Christ for us, even when we betray, abandon, fall asleep, and deny God.
But really, according to the Gospel of Mark, following Jesus is less about understanding and more about simply following Jesus though suffering unto death, but nobody historically made it, and neither do we but we can strive to follow Jesus to the cross…the ultimate example of self denial.
When we keep alert and awake as we go about our daily lives…
- We will notice Jesus all around us…with us in our need and in the needs of others
- We will see Jesus in our neighbors…(the people of Ferguson, the Homeless exiled from the Long Island Shelter in Boston)
- We will remember that putting “Christ” back in “Christmas” is not just about saving a word or celebrating a birthday, but is about:
- Feeding the hungry
- Sheltering the homeless
- Welcoming immigrants
- Forgiving others
- Embracing Outsiders
- Sharing with those in need
- Advocate for the marginalized
- Confront those abusing power
- Valuing others’ religions
- See t-shirt at http://teespring.com/ChristnXmas?utm_campaign=TAretargeting&utm_medium=retargetingTA
- And we will rejoice when we realize that the same has been done for us…in the manager…in the cross and empty tomb…and at the second coming.
Four weeks is not long to fit in so much of God at work, especially because societal-ly our lives are so busy during the same time, but all the more reason to remember that we do not walk alone, but Jesus is with us and in us. Amen.