Tag Archives: advent

Why did Jesus come?

Here’s my communion from last week. I didn’t realize until I was finished delivering it Sunday that I didn’t say anything about communion at all.

 

Merry Advent everyone.

Advent, as you know, is the time before Christmas.  It is the time of waiting and preparing for the arrival of Christ. (Just 19 more days.)

As the nights grow longer, and the darkness seems to grow darker, we wait for god’s light to come to us. We wait for the hope, peace, joy, and love that Christ brings to the world.

And the recent days have been dark. The news reminds us that we respond to fear with fear, hate with hate, violence with violence, murder and destruction with more and more of the same.  And the commercials remind us that often our first response to the darkness of the world is to look for solace in all the shiny things we can buy, the latest and greatest replacements for things we don’t need to replace, and all those cool gadgets to fill the empty places in our lives in this dark and scary time.

It’s easy to forget that it’s Jesus we are waiting and preparing for.

I want to look for a minute, as the darkness seems to be closing in, at why Jesus came, and what it is we are preparing for.

In Luke’s gospel several people speak to why Jesus is coming, to what we are waiting for.  Let me paint a little collage for you. Hopefully there is an image here that speaks to you.

Jesus’s mother says this about god in anticipation of the birth of her son:

He has brought down rulers from their thrones

   and raised up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things

   and sent the rich away with nothing.

The angels says this to the shepherds:

“Give glory to God in heaven,

   and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.”

His cousin John said, when asked how we should prepare for his coming:

“If you have two shirts, share with the person who does not have one. If you have food, share that also.”

About himself, at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said this,

“The Lord has put his Spirit in me,

   because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to tell the captives they are free

   and to tell the blind that they can see again.

God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly

 and to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness.”

There’s encouragement there, I think, that the darkness won’t last.

That’s why Jesus is coming–to bring hope, and peace, and joy, and love to our dark world.

So let’s prepare for that baby who becomes the man who is our light.

Let’s not prepare for Christ by dwelling on the darkness and our fear and our hate.

And let’s not prepare for Christ by focusing on our own selfish desires.

While we wait, Let us prepare the kingdom for our king.

Let us fill the hungry.

Let us share from our abondance what we have, with those who don’t.

Let us free the captive, help the blind see, and bring justice to those treated unfairly.

Let us be the light of Jesus in a dark and scary and selfish world.

And the hope, and the peace, and the joy, and the love.

That is why he came.

 

Amen.

The Raven

This one’s obviously from Advent time.  I loved reading the story of the Raven to my kids. Such a great book. And I still love Advent time around our dinner table.

 

The native Americans of the Pacific northwest tell the story of when the earth was dark and men lived short and brutish lives.  It was Raven who traveled far to the Sky King’s lodge, was born as a baby to the Sky King’s maiden daughter, then took the sun from the Sky King and with it brought light to mankind and the world.

The ancient Greeks told of Prometheus, the Titan who looked down on mankind from Mount Olympus, and saw man without fire, cold and huddled and shivering.  Prometheus sneaked down the mountain and brought fire, its heat and its warmth to the people.  Discovered and taken away in chains, Prometheus looked back and saw how one person had shared his gift with another, and one group with another group, and how the light of this fire spread throughout the land.

Then there’s pre-Christian northern Europe, pagans, as the church had not yet reached these people who huddled down each winter, watching the days grow shorter and the nights longer.  Until finally the winter solstice arrived, and the sun began to return.  And great Yuletide festivals were held during this coldest part of the year to celebrate the rebirth of the sun.

This past week as my family has gathered at the dinner table, we turn the lights down a bit, and we experiences the darkness and coldness of these short days.  And then I light a match.  And I hand it to Will, and he carefully lights one of four candles on the table.  And I ask my kids, “What candle is this?”  And they say, “Hope.”  And I ask them, “Who brings us hope?”  And they say, “Jesus.”  This week we will light 2 candles.  And today MaryEllen and I will read a little script about Peace, and our awaiting the Prince of Peace.  And next week we will light 3 candles and talk about Joy, and the “good news of a great joy, which shall be to all people.”  And then, just a couple days before Christmas we will light the 4th candle in great anticipation of God’s gift of Love.  And as the month passes, the darkness of our dining room gives way to the light of our four candles, and the light of the God’s hope, peace, joy and love.

Let me suggest that the ancient peoples I talked about earlier, reveal through their stories and traditions, a hunger for true light in a dark world.  Let me also suggest that that hunger still exists.

As we take the body and blood of Christ today, I pray that we continue to hope in God’s promise that Christ will come again to fill our lives and the life of the world with love and joy and peace.

Thank you God, for the light of hope.  As we prepare for the Christ’s coming, help us to share our hope with others.

Amen.

The King is Coming

This is from December of 2006.

It’s at this time in the service that we generally think of ourselves as coming before God.  We’ve sung together.  We’ve shaken hands and talked and hugged.  We’ll listen to the sermon in a bit.  But now is the us-coming-to-God time.  And here’s what I want to say about that.

As we’re in the time of advent, we’re waiting and preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus.

Of course we’re waiting for his coming as a baby Christmas morning, a wonderful reminder for Mary and Joseph, and us, that God is with us in the most trying of circumstances.

We’re also waiting for his coming on the last day.  None of us know when this will happen.  Could be today, could be in a-thousand years.  We all have stressful, tiring, angry days, or at least I do.  And I sometimes think during those days, Lord, today would not be a bad day to wrap things up.  But God is patient.

There’s a third coming that we may not think of as often.  It’s the coming of Christ into each of us, and into the world through us, that happens every day.  Everyday the kingdom of God grows.  Everyday Jesus comes into the hearts of new believers, and everyday Jesus, through his people, comes to hospitals, clinics, shelters, bombed out homes, back alleys, prisons, and all the other places that nobody wants to be.  And there he brings healing, and comfort, and compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance.

So, as we come before God for communion, let’s remember that we can do this because God came to us first.  He came to Mary and Joseph 2000 years ago in that stinky little stable.  He lived a stinky little life, spending time with the worst society had to offer, and eventually dieing an awful death on the cross.  And because of that, He comes to us today in our stinky little lives, loves us, cleans us up, forgives us.  And he sends us out to the rest of creation, stinky and awful as it often seems, to do the same.

Father God,

Thank you for the assurance that The King is Coming.  Not just in 15 days.  Not just when the last trumpet sounds.  But today and tomorrow and the day after that.

Amen