• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Advent 2, December 4, 2011

Advent 2 Year B RCL December 4, 2011

Isaiah 40: 1-11
Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3: 8-15a
Mark 1: 1-8

On this second Sunday of Advent, the tone changes from lamentation to hope and expectation. Our first reading, from the prophet known as the Second Isaiah, comes from an earlier time than last Sunday’s passage. The people are still in exile in Babylon,  but King Cyrus of Persia has made headway against the Babylonian Empire. There is hope that he may defeat the Babylonians. One of his policies is to allow exiles to return to their homelands.

God sends a message of comfort to the people.  The exile will end. There will be a highway from Babylon to Jerusalem, and God will lead the people home. Human ways are not like God’s ways. Humans are like the grass of the field. The grass withers. The flower fades. But God’s word endures.  God will come with might. And God will also feed God’s flock like a shepherd and gather the lambs in God’s arms. Here we have the image of the mighty and tender God leading the people out of their bondage and caring for each and every one of them. The beauty and power of this vision is framed in the music of Handel’s Messiah.

By the time today’s epistle was written, Christians were finding that it wasn’t easy to follow Christ. Depending on where they lived, they could suffer anything from what we would call discrimination to outright persecution and even death. The followers of Jesus had expected that the Lord would come soon, but the years and then the decades were passing and he still had not arrived. Scholars have dated this letter as late as the early part of the second century after Christ.

The writer, a follower of Peter, begins by giving us a new perspective on God’s view of time.  To God, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day. This writer says that the day will come like a thief—when we least expect it.  There will be a transformation.  The writer says that, “the earth and everything done on it will be disclosed.” In other words, as Jesus says in John’s gospel, what was done in the dark will be revealed in the light. The writer says,  “But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.”  Imagine that—a world where right relationship between God and all people and among all people is at home, is just the way things are. The writer calls us to “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” In other words, the writer is saying that our Lord has not made his second advent because he is giving us time to prepare, time to make the world a place where righteousness is at home.

As Christians we believe that the kingdom, the shalom of God has already begun. Every step toward harmony every move toward peace, every act of healing or of compassion, every action that helps to restore the creation, all of these things are part of building God’s shalom. And we are called to do everything that we can to participate in that building. That is what we are here for.

But God’s shalom is not yet complete. That is very clear.  God’s shalom means that everyone has decent food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and meaningful work. Christ’s shalom means peace and harmony on the whole earth.  It means taking care of this fragile earth, our island home, and healing our environment and our atmosphere.

We aren’t there yet. When Christ comes again to complete his work of creation, that is the direction in which things will be going.  So, our job is to examine our lives and, if we need to, to do a course correction.

John the Baptizer is one of the great figures of Advent. He calls us to become a part of God’s vision of shalom. John is the last of the great prophets. He is a messenger, calling us to metanoia, transformation, repentance. Like most of the prophets, John is a person of the desert. He dresses as Elijah did and he eats a spare diet. The desert, the wilderness, is a place of clarity and simplicity with few distractions. It is a place where God can speak to us and lead us.

At this point, John the Baptizer is famous. People come from all over to be baptized. On the other hand, Jesus is virtually unknown. Yet John tells us that the one who is more powerful that he is coming. One of the wonderful things about John is that he knows exactly who he is, and he knows exactly who Jesus is.

In this portion of Mark’s gospel, we see the first use of the term “good news.” This is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And that is the first point that ties all these lessons together. There is good news. In the midst of exile and growing despair, there is good news. There is hope. For Peter’s congregation and other Christians facing discrimination and persecution, wondering whether Jesus had forgotten them, there is good news. There is hope.  And for the people who were coming to John to be baptized, there was hope, there was good news.

There are many kinds of exile.  Separation from family and friends. Separation from our true self, from our God-given potential. Right now there are so many people on this planet who are refugees, far from home. God speaks words of comfort (con-with fortis-strength). God speaks words of comfort and strength to us in our exile.

As we wait for our Lord to make his Second Coming, we may be tempted to become Deists, people who believe that God created the world, but God kind of wound up the world like a watch and walked off and left it. The world runs according to natural laws, but God is distant and unconcerned.  Well, that’s not the God we believe in.  God has given us free will and when we misuse that gift, we can make a mess of things. But that’s not the end of the story. God is forever, lovingly, patiently, faithfully, calling us to come to our senses. There is always hope. There is always comfort. There is always strength coming from God to help us to take the next steps in our own transformation, to help us to make even more room for God in our hearts and lives. To give us grace to pray for a situation we think may be hopeless, and to open up a sliver of light that says it isn’t hopeless after all.

Expectation and hope—these are the themes of this Sunday. Dear Lord Jesus, help us to prepare for your coming. Help us to advance your shalom.  Help us to be open to your transformation. Amen

%d bloggers like this: