Dec18Wed- Second Sunday in Advent December 18, 2019
* The Young Adults spoke about their experience in the program regarding Safe Conversations as an introduction.
Together We Grow
I’d like to offer a few brief follow up comments.
Thank you Alicia and our young adults for sharing a little about the learnings you’ve garnered from your time together. It sounds like you’ve experience some moments of growth from these conversations. I want you to know how important that is for all of us. Because we are a system, connected together, we impact each other. When one person grows in the system, there is a possibility that we all benefit and grow. I want you to know you’re valued. You hold an important role. This is your church too. Together we are the church.
The Gospel helps us to imagine.
Through it we are continually invited to use our theological imagination.
Imagining the world as God intends it to be. Imagining the dreaming stage. The visioning phase. Where we allow our mind to mingle with the ethereal. To dream God’s dream, if but for a moment. To envision this third space we create together.
The Gospel (and readings) can help us delve a little deeper into this life together. Giving us a few helpful take aways.
The reading from Isaiah offers us a full of life vision of the reign of God that puts the world in harmony and at peace with one other, that balances power and levels up the lowly.
The Gospel narrative nudges us to imagine the Reign of God that has come near. A place where we participate in creating the pathway of God’s dream, putting it into sight when it has faded from vision. Together we prepare the way of the LORD.
This classic Advent narrative has John the Baptist making a large announcement to those gathering.
Repent! The Kingdom of Heaven has come near.
cries the one in the wilderness clothed in camel hair.
It sparks our imagination. Helping us to re-imagine who we are as people of faith and how we live into our own baptismal calling.
God’s kingdom is not far in the distance, it is near, it is here among us. It comes into our own wilderness, inviting us to taste and see, calling us to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight God’s path in our lives, and in the world around us.
We also hear in the Gospel, the centrality of Repentance as part and parcel of the Advent message. While this call to repentance and promise of forgiveness may be familiar to us, they are not words we should tire of hearing.
They are welcomed words, less about judgement and more about grace. Less about confession and more about recognizing God is present and active. That life abundant in God has already begun. This repentance that John proclaimed, and Jesus fine tuned, writes Westerhoff. “Is as much to lament our sins or be sorry for what we've done or left undone; as it is to have faith, to perceive life and our lives in a new way.”
Yes, why would we tire of hearing of a word of grace, found in repentance. Repentance - Metanoias – translated, simply means “to turn one's mind around and to change direction.”
But here is the challenge. It’s not simply about saying sorry and then doing the same thing over and over again. It’s about real concrete change that bears fruit. It’s about the creative and life actions that flow from repentance. This is part of building the way of the Lord. One small step at a time.
That’s why this interaction between John and the Sadducees and Pharisees whom he calls a brood of vipers causes me to pause. Coming for baptism isn’t enough. Repentance isn’t enough. All of it must lead to action. All of it must lead to bearing some pretty meaningful fruits. John says, it’s time to level up. Step up your game.
Fortunately, we don’t do this on our own accord. It is with God’s help and nudging that this moment of grace happens. Directions change. Minds change to be like Christs. Would you say the world is in need of this grace?- a change in direction - repentance that bears fruit that heals the sick and broken parts of the world. Climate, waters, political discourse, economic greed, having far too much of what we don't need and not enough of what we truly need. For some parts of humanity, a change of direction sounds refreshing.
And then in good John the Baptist fashion, we are pointed away from him to the alpha and omega. The one who baptizes with water and fire. The one who comes to us a a baby.
And we take pause once again.....