Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An Advent Sermon

by Eric

Given this past Sunday (12/12/10), centering on Psalm 146:5-10)

Brothers and Sisters, Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN.

Picture a neighborhood. Your neighborhood. With the usual amount of people. The usual amount of children playing. The usual amount of trees dotting the lawns. The usual amount of traffic passing through. And the usual amount of joy and thanksgiving. Of course, there’s also the usual amount of hunger. The usual amount of physical and mental disability. The usual amount of lonely people. The usual amount of broken families. And the usual amount of suffering and wickedness.

Sometimes, someone new moves in next door and disrupts the usual. Someone you and your neighbors aren’t so sure about. You don’t know who they are. For all you know, they could be a very sketchy character. Then again, they could be warm and kind. You might head right over and welcome them to the neighborhood, or maybe you’ll peek out your window every once in a while to see what kind of person they are. But only time will tell how they will fit in and what kind of effect they’ll have on the neighborhood.

The season of Advent is all about God moving into our neighborhood. Through the birth of Jesus Christ, God becomes fully present among us. Now, we’re getting closer and closer to God’s move in day, and we wait and prepare for his arrival.

But what kind of neighbor will God be?

The only way we can know what kind of neighbor God will be is to learn a little about the identity of God. Today’s Psalm is a description of who God is and what God does. It tells us of the miracles God performs and promises God makes. And then it praises God for these wonders.

Right away, the psalm tells of God’s work in the world through creation. God “made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them.” God creates. And God cares about the largest of mountains and the smallest of insects—and everything in between. Including you.

Next, the psalm reminds us that God is faithful. God promised blessings to Abraham’s descendants, God promised safety for Noah, God promised freedom for the enslaved Israelites. And God came through for them all. Today, we lift up God’s promise of a Savior. God’s promise of love for humankind. God’s promise of his full presence among us, bringing us peace, conquering death, and making us whole. It is this Savior, Jesus Christ, the one that that has come, has died, has been Resurrected, and has ascended into heaven, that God promises to send into our neighborhood. And God keeps God’s promises.

The psalm tells us that God is an active God. God does stuff. In fact, in this psalm alone, God is the subject of 11 different verbs. God makes, God keeps, God gives, God sets free, God opens, God lifts up, God loves, God cares, God sustains, God frustrates, and God shall reign forever. Quite the list, huh? Take notice of some of these words, because they reveal a lot about who God is and how God works in the world. And in our neighborhood.

God gives. God gives justice to those who are oppressed and God gives food to those who hunger.

God sets free. God sets free the trapped and captive people in our midst.

God opens. God opens doors and God opens the eyes of the blind.

God cares. God cares for the stranger and the needy when no one else will.

God sustains. God sustains the orphan and widow, and sustains us in our time of need.

Seems to me that God would be a heck of a neighbor. God transforms and heals a neighborhood and community. God puts an end to suffering and heartache. So when God moves in, God would really do some good…and probably keep a clean yard, too.

But when Jesus Christ first showed up on the scene in Bethlehem, and then made his way across the countryside and through cities, he was rarely received as the good neighbor that he is.

You see, there’s something scandalous about God. No, not some deep dark secret, hidden away behind closed doors. It's that God loves. Yes, God loves the faithful and righteous. But God also loves the outcasts, the wicked, and the down and out—God loves “those people.” This doesn’t sit so good with us. We’ve got a certain way in our neighborhood. There is its usual structure. There are the usual things we don’t talk about and the usual people we don’t talk to.

When God moves into your neighborhood, though, God shakes things up. God heals and God loves us all. Then, freed by God’s love and promise, God calls us to join in God’s good work in the neighborhood wherever we see a need. This can be quite the challenge, but through God’s love for us, God equips us for the work.

Luckily, God doesn’t just move in, do his thing, and move out. No, the psalm proclaims that “the Lord shall reign forever…throughout all generations.” Because of God’s deep love for us, God sticks by us. God moves into our neighborhood and makes it his own. God moves into our neighborhood, fills it with love, stirs up its people, and works for the wholeness of the community.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, God has signed the last of the closing documents. God has finished packing. The moving truck is in route. God is moving to your neighborhood. Things are gonna change.

Halleluiah, Halleluiah.



Anonymous Home Appliances said...

Halleluiah Halleluiah

12/16/2010 01:04:00 PM  

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