The Message of Christmas

Pastor Jay’s Christmas Eve Sermon based on Luke 2:1-20:

Did you hear it? Did you hear the message of Christmas? Not the silly secular “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” message we hear so often. Did you hear the message of the angels? Did you hear the reason why we gather here this evening by candlelight to worship the Christ? It was there. Every year, it’s there. And here we are again to hear it.

As I was preparing for Christmas this year, I spent a lot of time on Amazon. I was looking for just the right book for our earlier All-Ages Worship and for our worship tomorrow morning. I like reading Children’s Christmas books. There’s something to the simplicity. There’s something to the creativity of delivering the same message in so many ways. And really, that’s all I’m doing standing here to you this evening: delivering the same message the angels sang all those millennia ago, the same message that every good preacher has preached since that first night of waiting and watching and welcoming the Christ. The same message that was in each of those books stacked on my desk: and as I read them, I realized, there are so many ways to tell the same story. So many voices, points of view, ways of imagining just what that blessed night looked like. Some were really really good. Some…well, not so good. But inevitably, every book I read had one line, one sentence, one page, one part of the story that gave me goosebumps, brought tears to my eyes, stopped me in my tracks.

Maybe that sounds odd to you, it certainly caught me off guard: that I would get choked up by the same old story, the same. old. story. that I have heard for all of my 29 years…and that you have heard for all of yours. But I did. In every book, in every way of telling it. Every time the message got shared, it stopped me in my tracks. That’s the power of this message, that it still is so desperately needed, can stop us in our tracks, no matter how old the story may seem.

Because it is the same old story. It has been told for millennia in basically the same format we read it this evening, or Linus and his blanket tell us in his moment in the spotlight. And after over two thousand years we often miss the important message of Christmas. We often bury the angels singing, the sheep bleating, the baby crying within our memories of a silent night. But my friends the message of Christ still packs the wallop it packed for those shepherds in a field near Bethlehem. It still has the radical, awesome, and frankly crazy implications for our world as it did for first century Judea. It is still a powerful message.

So…did you hear it? Did you hear the message of Christmas?

The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

And there it is. Right where it’s always been buried at the heart of the story, the wallop-packing, tear inducing, life changing message of Christmas: to you is born a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. To you. YOU. To you is born the Savior. And what’s more, it doesn’t just mean to you shepherds in a field near Bethlehem. But it is a message of great joy for ALL PEOPLE. To you—all people—is born a Savior.

There it is. Seems simple, yeah? Almost too simple. We didn’t have to do anything, we didn’t even has to ask for it. There were no lines at the mall for it. No lists of naughty and nice. Frankly, as the Grinch finds out, there aren’t even packages, boxes, or bags. But there it is, the message of Christ, the reason for this night, wrapped in the rags torn for a new mother’s skirts and laid in a borrowed bed of straw.

But there it is, the message of Christmas.

And we may sing of the silence of this holy night, but let us remember what was so silent about this night. The silence of this night is the way in which God comes to us. God comes to us in the silence of an unknown couple, in a backwater town, in a run-down stable, almost unnoticed. That is the silence of this holy night.

But let us not for one minute think that the message of Christmas is anything about silence. There is nothing silent about the message of Christmas. Because it certainly wasn’t silent when the angels choirs sang over the shepherds. It could not possibly have been silent when all those ruddy, smelly shepherds and their sheep made it to one lonely little stable. It couldn’t have been silent as the Christ Child cried in the cold harsh world he entered.

The message of Christmas has never been silent. Not for my 29 years, not for all of yours, not for the over two millennia that this story has been told. And here, tonight, we tell it again. You’d think it would get old, but somehow it never does. It didn’t even get old for those shepherds:

Once the shepherds were told the story…as we have for all of our years of hearing this story…they rushed to see what wondrous thing had happened in Bethlehem. They needed the message to be told again to them, in a new way. And there in a stable wrapped in rags, they received the message again. And we, for having heard the same old story year after year still gather this night to receive the message again. To hear it, to sing it, to receive the message of God dwelling with us in our very hands and on our lips.

To you. YOU. EACH OF YOU. Is born this night a Savior.

To you is born a Savior.

It’s a simple message. And it has been told on this night for over two thousand years. And it has been retold in countless ways. It is a powerful and desperately needed message of our wounded and weary world. There is a savior…and he dwells among us.

May your hearts sing that message as it has been sung for all those years…the same old story. May our voices we joined with the song of the angels:

To you, each of you, is born a Savior. And we have seen him. And we have touched him. And we have shared in him. And his name is Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Glory to the Newborn King. Amen.

Mary the Hippie or…How to Use Your Divine Imagination

Pastor Jay’s Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent:

Readings: Micah 5:2-5a, Luke 1:46-55, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-55

Have you every thought about Mary? I mean really thought about her? I don’t mean do you set her up in your nativity scene. I don’t mean do you like What Child is This? or sing about her in some carols. Have you taken time to think about who Mary was? If you have, great. If you haven’t, I invite you to do so. Right now.

What sorts of adjectives do you come up with for Mary? Perhaps young, innocent, forgotten, lowly. Maybe your Mary is more obedient, pure, meek. Maybe your Mary is holy and the virgin mother of God. Do you want to know what my Mary is like? My Mary is daring. She’s a force to be reckoned with. She has hopes and aspirations and a God who can help. And she doesn’t mind telling you about it. Interestingly, my Mary is a lot like Mary Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary…although maybe not so blonde-haired and blue-eyed. My Mary is vocal, she stands up, she dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, for me Mary is still holy and the virgin mother of God. But I don’t think she has to be a blushing flower to be that. My Mary has a vision of what the world looks like with God in it and she’s telling anyone who will listen. This is a Mary who has a divine imagination.

A seminary professor once told me that there are three miracles of the incarnation of the Christ. The first is God becomes human. And that is miraculous. The second is that a virgin bears a child. It doesn’t get much more miraculous than that. Except when we think about that virgin. In Mary we see the third miracle: Mary believes it’s gonna happen. And that, my friends, is that divine imagination. That, is the greatest miracle of the incarnation. Someone believes that God is going to dwell among God’s people. And what’s more, she gives of her whole self—quite physically—to the process of bringing this to birth. Pun in every way intended.

That’s my Mary. The Mary who in every way points to the incarnation. The Mary who with every fiber of her being points to her son, to God-with-us, who is fully God and fully her little boy. The Mary who magnifies the Lord, sings the praises of God, understands—and explains—just what it means to live in a world with God in it.

And for all of us, Mary is an example of what our lives should look like as people of God. We are called to use our divine imaginations and declare to the world just what it means when our God dwells with us. We are called to give of ourselves in witness to the Christ, to the one who brings peace and hope and love and wholeness to the world with but a Word.

We are called to raise our voices and declare that when God dwells with us world is an awesome and amazing place. There is no hunger, there is no poverty or homelessness, there is no pride or arrogance, but there is joy and the fulfillment of all the promises of God.

But, my sisters and brothers, before we get too carried away and start dreaming of feasts without end, let us remember just what it means to believe in a God who dwells with us. Let us remember the greatest miracle of the incarnation: someone—Mary—believed that God dwells with God’s people. That is the miracle we are called to be a part of this fourth Sunday of Advent. We are called to believe that God dwells with us.

But it’s a miracle for a reason. It doesn’t always happen. And it is divinely inspired when it does.

We are called to believe that God really and truly dwells with God’s people. We know it, we confess it, but we don’t always believe it. We gather around this table and place that very God in our hands and on our lips and still we don’t always believe it. We share with one another stories about times and ways we have seen God with us, but then we go out those doors and do not live our lives in that belief.

We don’t.

How do I know. Well, for one thing, there is still bigotry, hatred, rhetoric, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, preventable violence, war, famine, homelessness, pride, arrogance, greed, and injustice…you can add your own ills to the list. Those things still exist in this world. And we are afraid of them. And we are a part of them. That’s how I know we don’t really and always take to heart the miraculous belief in a God who dwells with us.

But Mary did. And Mary sings about it. Mary uses her divine imagination and trusts the promise of God to dwell with us and sings a beautiful world into being: a world without bigotry, hatred, rhetoric, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, preventable violence, war, famine, homelessness, pride, arrogance, greed, injustice.

You know, I was reading a blog post this past week about Mary in preparation for this sermon. And in that blog post it talked about imagining Mary as a young hippie, torn jeans, long hair. And in that imagining the lullabies she sang to Jesus were protest songs. We Shall Overcome. If I Had a Hammer. This Land is Your Land. I love those songs. I hope you love those songs. But as much as I love those songs, I often find myself mystified that anyone could actually sing them. They seem so impossible, so foreign, so hopeful. Stupidly hopeful at times.

But that is what we are called to this Advent. We are called to be carelessly and stupidly hopeful. Because that is what happens when you trust, believe, and sing of a God who dwells with God’s people.

And this week, these last few days before Christmas, these final days of preparation and waiting, we are called to point again to the one who comes as a child in the most impossible ways, born of a virgin, God made human. And we are called to believe and live into that belief.

Because God dwells with God’s people. I promise you that. And when we believe that and live that belief the most astounding things happen. Our lives begin to look more and more like the song of Mary. Our world begins to stand up to the bigotry, hatred, rhetoric, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, preventable violence, war, famine, homelessness, pride, arrogance, greed, injustice… We allow ourselves to have divine imagination and see what the world could be, what the world should be, and we know that when our God dwells with us we are able to be a part of that, to bring that dream to birth. Just like Mary.

And so as you finish your preparations for Christmas, as you place your Mary in your nativity scene, no matter how demure and obedient and bashful she may look, don’t let it fool you. Mary was daring. And she sings through time to us today and calls us to be just as daring in our dreaming. Because we can. That’s what happens when God dwells with us.

And when we just can’t believe it, we raise our voices that much louder, and sing with Elizabeth and Mary, Come, Lord Jesus…and quickly. Amen.

 

Yous Guys Rejoice!

Pastor Jay’s sermon from the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday).

Readings: Zepheniah 3:14-20, Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18

A happy Gaudete Sunday to you! Traditionally, this third Sunday of Advent has been celebrated as Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of Rejoicing. Gaudete is Latin for just that: Rejoice. And it’s a command. Rejoice. And if we look to our readings, we can see rejoicing throughout: Sing aloud, O Daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! says Zephaniah. And then sang the song of Isaiah: Shout aloud and sing for joy, O daughter Zion! And the apostle couldn’t be more clear in Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say: Rejoice. He really wants to be sure we rejoice. And then we get to Luke, to John still crying in the wilderness: and there we hear: You brood of Vipers!…huh. I guess John doesn’t talk much about rejoicing on this Rejoicing Sunday.

But, you know, I’m not convinced that John’s message isn’t about rejoicing, isn’t about joy. I would say that John really does want us to rejoice. Joy is at the heart of what John is doing, at the heart of prophecy and baptism in the wilderness. It would have to be…because I’m not sure anyone could stomach the locusts otherwise.

But where is the joy? It doesn’t seem to be in John’s outburst that we are a brood of vipers. It doesn’t seem to be in the unquenchable fire, the burning of or chaff, the repentance, the exhortations. Yet, Luke tells us John was proclaiming good news. And I would add that good news is about joy. So, where is the joy? Well, it’s Advent, we are three weeks in…can you see where the joy is to be found? John said to the crowds: one who is more powerful than I is coming. There is the good news of great joy. The Messiah, the Christ is coming. So rejoice!

But that doesn’t really sound like what John says. John talks about fire and chaff and axes and stumps. John talks about being worthy of baptism, of fleeing the wrath. It doesn’t sound like this coming Messiah is something to rejoice in. Frankly, John doesn’t sound like he’s talking about joy at all.

And, while John’s teaching doesn’t seem to be about joy, I actually think if we read this with last week’s prophecy about preparing the way, we can see that John is teaching us how to be joyful, John is teaching the way of Joy, John wants us to rejoice in the coming Messiah and is trying to get us there. John knows who is coming, knows that there is good news in the coming of the Messiah. John knows that the way of life on this side of the water, knows that the way of life with the Messiah is all about joy.

But, and this is the part John seems most emphatic about, it’s not joy like you or I might think. Joy isn’t what it seems on the surface.

You see, what John recognizes is that life in Christ—life post-baptism—life that is lived in the waters of life, is about joy. But, again, let us not forget John’s prophecy last week: prepare the way…and all flesh shall see it together. Let us not forget that together word. Because the joy we find here with the coming Messiah is not solitary, lonely, singular joy. No, the joy we live this side of baptism is communal joy, joy of all of us together. We rejoice together. Interestingly, Gaudete—as in Gaudete Sunday—is plural. Yous guys rejoice. So too is it in Philippians, all y’all rejoice. And again I tell all y’all rejoice. Rejoicing is plural. And it needs to be. Joy is a communal experience. Joy is not the same—I would argue true joy is not possible—alone.

And that is what John is talking about this Sunday. John is preparing us for life with Christ, life lived in anticipation of the coming Messiah, life lived waiting for the Christ to come again. The life of Joy we are called to is a life we are called to together. It is one where weak and strong, rich and poor, old and young, male and female, slave and free, persecuted and persecutor live in joy together. And John is calling us out—as a brood of vipers—for not seeking communal joy. When we come to the waters seeking the life of joy, we necessarily bear the fruits John is talking about. When we come together to the water, we step in together. And we step out together. And rejoice in this life…you guessed it…together.

And life on this side of baptism is full of joy: joy in the many ways God blesses us. Joy in our life together, in sharing and caring for one another, in telling our stories, uplifting and supporting one another. Joy is all of ours to share.

And just as we celebrate this week of Rejoicing, this Gaudete Sunday every year, we need John to call us out every year, remind us to share the joy that abounds when we live together with our God. Because…it is seldom shared these days. There is less and less joy and more and more frustration, anger, short tempers, and hurt in the world, in our community, in each of us. We are not living the joy of life with the coming Messiah, and we are certainly not sharing this life of joy with those around us. We aren’t. This world—especially today, especially in this season—needs a word of joy, a word of life and health and hope as can only come for God.

There are frustrations with preparation, decorating, planning, cooking, baking, visiting, shopping, traveling… This season doesn’t seem nearly so joyful.

There are women and men across this country losing their lives to senseless and preventable violence… And our communities do not seem nearly so joyful.

There are millions upon millions of women and children and men who are seeking just to live without bombs and persecution, million upon millions who are being faced with xenophobia and hatred and ignorance… And life for them does not seem nearly so joyful.

There is rhetoric spewing and swirling all around us full of ignorance, hatred, discrimination, prejudice, violence, and denial… And our nation does not seem nearly so joyful.

There is disease and famine and homelessness and job insecurity in every corner of our globe…and joy seems that much more impossible.

And we gather together, seeking the life of joy on this side of the waters, we gather together trying to be joyful in the coming Messiah. But instead we find ourselves wondering, “what, then, can we do?” And here on this side of the waters we hear a voice tell us just where to start:

Share with those who do not have.

Take no more than is yours to have.

Be satisfied.

And we see that John’s message is all about joy. It is about the small steps that make big differences in this world of fear and hopelessness and frustration and anxiety. John’s message is about the life of joy that we know in the one who came and is coming. It is about the ways that on this side of the waters we can live the life of joy together. The ways that we can make the joy we know a communal experience. So that all of us can rejoice together.

This Rejoicing Sunday, I call you again to rejoice. Be glad. Shout aloud. Sing for Joy. Share the glad tidings. Rejoice. And again I say, rejoice. All y’all. Yous guys. Rejoice together.

And in our rejoicing, let us look to the one who fulfills all our expectations and in whom we rejoice: come, Lord Jesus…and quickly. Amen.

The Dawn from on High

Pastor Jay’s sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent.

Readings: Baruch 5:1-9, Luke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6.

In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us.

 

You know, I love the year of Luke, this Year C we find ourselves in. I mean, every gospel has their unique and good points, but I just love Luke. Perhaps it’s that Luke’s story of Jesus focuses on the radical welcome of Jesus. Perhaps it’s the parables, the beautiful stories Jesus tells to show forth just what it looks like when God is at work in the world. Perhaps it is that Luke is a historian. But no, I think it’s Luke’s songs. In no other gospel do we get the songs of Zechariah, Mary, and Simeon which we will sing through this year. The Song of Simeon this morning as our Psalm.      Of the four gospels, Luke is the only one to give these otherwise bit players such beautiful songs to sing, such profound prophecies. And while we will have to wait a few more weeks for Mary and Simeon’s songs, this week we have this beautiful song of Zechariah:

And while he sings to his newborn son, John, Zechariah also sings to us of love and power and the glory of God. Zechariah blesses God for the great deeds God has done. Zechariah foretells John’s own life of prophecy. And then Zechariah sings through time to us today: In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us.

And in this day, we need that dawn more than ever. As we stand here we yearn to see that dawn, to feel the warmth of God’s sun on our faces, to see the brilliance of color and light and life all around us, to know that the new Day of God has begun. But here we stand, in the cool shadows of life. Here we stand waiting, yearning, pleading that Zechariah’s prophecy comes true. Waiting, yearning, pleading that Zechariah’s words of hope and light come to us as quickly as possible. Because all this waiting doesn’t seem so compassionate. Where is this tender compassion of God. Surely it should not be so dark.

Yet here we stand in the cool shadows and wonder and wait. We wonder and wait as we find ourselves in this valley. We wonder and wait on this crooked path that we can barely see in the dark. We wonder and wait and yearn for the beginning glimpses of that dawn.

Yet here we wait in this valley, growing seemingly darker and colder. As we look around us another shadow grows, grows in the shape of millions of refugee fleeing for their very lives and being turned away by a prosperous country founded on the stories of such refugees. As we look around us, those shadows grow darker, stained by the blood of persons abused and killed for the color of their skin. As we look around us, the air seems colder, emptier, as we distance ourselves from our neighbors, turn out backs to those who most need our help, choose not to see or hear the call of God in our lives. As we look around us, the path seems that much more confusing laid out in front of us, winding its way between rights and responsibilities, finger pointing and rhetoric, winding its way through yet more bodies piled high from more senseless violence. And we wonder and wait and yearn from the beginning glimpses of that dawn, the first rays of warmth from that sun to shine upon us.

Zechariah’s prophecy seems so far away. So hopeless and dreamy. Surely that dawn is a long way off, some time from now. And yet. And yet perhaps not. Perhaps if we but listen to his son’s prophecy we might get a different picture:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,

and every mountain and hill shall be made low,

and the crooked shall be made straight,

and the rough ways made smooth;

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

That dawn from on high is coming, but there is still some preparation. We are called to prepare the way. The path still needs to be straightened out. The valleys still need to be lifted up. And we are called to prepare the way. But, if the path straightening and the valley lifting is not ours to do—and it’s not—then what is this preparation? How can we possible prepare the way for God?

My sisters and brothers, may I suggest that we can prepare the way for our God by getting out of God’s way?

Now, please do not mishear me. I am not absolving you from any responsibility in working for God’s coming. I am not telling you cannot do anything. But perhaps, just perhaps, you, I, we are the biggest obstacles in God’s way. Perhaps, just perhaps, the voice of God is crying out to us in our wilderness—in our dark and chilly valley—just how we are to be a part of God’s work in this world. Perhaps, just perhaps, the voice of God is crying out, turning us again to see the glimpses of that dawn from on high. And we are too busy looking at the lengthening and darkening shadows, noticing the chillier air, look around us, rather than looking to the coming dawn.

When we look to the coming dawn, when we expect that God will fulfill the prophecy we hear and sing and repeat time again, when we trust that God was at work, is at work, will be at work among God’s people—no matter how dark and cold this valley seems or how crooked the path may be—then we cannot help but see that we are called to walk that path, steal ourselves to the cold, and as the people of God bring the warmth of God’s love and compassion to the world. When we trust that the dawn is coming, we can raise our voices instead of our eyes. We can speak for those who are in the dark. We can bring light to the hopeless dark of the world. We can shout at the cold wind with words of God’s warmth, God’s welcome and wholeness. When we trust that the dawn is coming, the cold no longer seems so cold, the dark does not seem so dark, and that path begins to make sense in front of us.

My sisters and brothers, Zechariah prophesied millennia ago, and I tell you again: in the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us.

And in the meantime, as we wait, as we watch, let us turn and prepare ourselves for its coming. Let us raise our voices against the cold wind and shadows of this valley. Let us, amid the cold and dark that seem to surround us plead for the coming of that dawn: Come, Lord Jesus…and quickly! Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus…and Quickly!

Pastor Jay’s Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent

You can listen to the audio here:

Readings for this Sunday: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10, I Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see one like a human being coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Wait. That’s not what it’s supposed to be like! The coming of God among us a human being should be beautiful and snow covered. There should be fuzzy farm animals, a nice warm glow, maybe a couple of stinky shepherds…but it should be calm and bright. The coming of God among us as a human being should be a silent night. Isn’t that what we are waiting for?

Today we entered the season of Advent, the expectant, longing, waiting time before Christmas. In this time we are surrounded by the greetings of Christmas already. In this time we are urged to spend more money on the brightest, the newest, the shiniest models of our various toys. In this time we are rushed to the manger with store fronts, street lamps, even our own front lawn decorated with evergreen and bows and lights. And here we stand saying, wait a minute: take some time to prepare, to wait, to wonder at just how mysterious and unlikely and amazing and glorious the birth of Jesus into time and place really was. Here we stand saying the newest, the shiniest, the best and the brightest has already been given to the world…and you won’t find it in sales and stores and trappings of the season.

And that is countercultural, indeed, but certainly not distressing or full of fear like Jesus is describing. Maybe Jesus got it wrong. Surely he meant to say that when God comes among us as a human being, we will be found waiting in anticipation, looking to the skies, ready and waiting for a cute little infant to be born and to coo and squeal and be all cuddly and warm. Surely that’s what Jesus meant. Surely that’s what Jesus meant because that’s something we can handle. That’s something we can look forward to. That’s something we can get excited about.

Surely, that’s what this time is about, yeah? It’s about waiting for Jesus to be born again, isn’t it? It’s about pretending that Jesus isn’t born yet and then celebrating when he is. Surely Jesus must have gotten it wrong.

But what if, just what if, instead of ready and waiting we are more likely to be watching, praying, pleading for a savior? What if that is really the call of Advent? What if Jesus wasn’t so wrong in his prophecy of the coming of God among us as a human being?

What would that look like? If these signs and blood and waves and distress is really what Advent is all about? Well, my sisters and brothers, I would propose that Advent, then, would look like life. And especially life today. We are surrounded by distress and fear. We ourselves are often distressed and fearful. And there is every reason to be.

When we look to the news we see it all around us: we see women and men being degraded, abused, and killed for the color of the skin—a whole community that now lives in fear and distress. We see children and women and men shredding their own bodies to escape for their very lives, risking and spending everything to cross the waters to safety, and dying in the waves in the process. We see false prophets and teachers, leaders who claim to serve the people, our whole society rending itself over ideas and rhetoric rather than gathering as human beings and seeing the humanity in each other.

The signs are all around us and they are not pretty. They are not cute and cuddly. There is no soft, warm glow from a stable. There are no songs of joy from expectant mothers. No welcoming parents of prophets. There are signs all around us and they are full of blood and fear and tumult and distress. So what good is Advent? What good is drawing even more attention to the watching and praying and pleading for a savior from the heavens? We’re already there so why bother adding to the issue?

Well, perhaps Advent is about taking time to recognize our profound need for a savior and knowing where to look, to whom to pray, for whom to plead in our distress and tumult? Because Jesus didn’t get it wrong. There is distress all around us as we plead again for a savior. But Jesus wasn’t wrong with the rest of his prophecy:

Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

          We know where our salvation comes from. We know where to put our trust. We know where the source of all reconciliation and comfort and peace and hope comes. And we know that it has come near. We know that it is near. In fact, when we gather around this table, we know that it is here. That the savior for whom we wait is here now with us and still is coming.

That is perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of each Advent: Christ has come and Christ is still coming. And here we are in the Advent of life waiting and watching and pleading for Christ to come again…and if at all possible to hurry it up a little.

But in the meantime, in the meantime we are called to stand up and raise our heads. And there is only one reason to do that. That is the posture of proclamation. That is the form of raising our voices amid the tumult and distress and signs and waves and pointing the way to the source of all reconciliation and hope and love and peace. Because we know the one who is the source of all blessing and peace. And it is our call—especially in this time—to show the way, to proclaim the coming of God among us as a human being, and to live and show forth our knowledge that, while we wait, God is still here among us and continually bestowing all good on us. Regardless of what else is going on. Even while we wait.

And so let us, in this time of signs and blood and waves and distress raise our voices with all of creation, with sun and moon and stars and plead…Come, Lord Jesus, and quickly! Amen.