Second Sunday in Advent

Dec. 6th 2015

Second Sunday in Advent

Good morning! There is no way that I can start my sermon without saying something about the shooting in San Bernardino. I like you am very saddened and very upset. Jesus said “Do not be afraid” strategic action is called for but not at the expense of our values as Christians.

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord”

St. Andrew and Jesus were both followers of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist who I believe was the first New Testament mystic, in a long line of the Jewish mystics, having a strong experience of God. John’s experience of God was so convincing that he took it upon himself to challenge the imperial and Jewish authorities a choice that would in the long run would cost him his life. He called the people to repentance, a call away from the vision of imperial Rome and the temple domination system. Next week you will hear John the Baptist say to the crowd, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

  • Susan Tobi’s first sermon at St. David’s

John calls for repentance (Greek metanoia) that is a change of heart. Not “I am sorry, please for give me”. But a change of how the heart is effected by an experience of God[1].

It is widely accepted that fasting in the wilderness brings a person into that space the Celtic’s call the thin place, a place that many have encountered God.

So how does all of this relate to St. David’s parish and the people in this community? My answer is very simple, “Try not to conform to this world” and set aside a time for the thin space. In a world that wants your support for war on terrorism, and criminalization of the homeless. A world of politics that seems void of spiritual values. A world that commercializes Public Radio Stations, Thanksgiving and Christmas, a world of corporations that claim to promote the American Way and have their headquarters in other countries.

This imperialism is not of land acquisition but of world commercialization. Jim Wallis in his book, “God’s Politics” asks the question, “When and how did the religion of Jesus become pro-rich, pro-war, and only pro-American” leaving many people to think that Christians are anti-intellectual, literalistic, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted[1]. Here is a clear call to enter into the thin place with your intellect”. This is a call to speak up when Christianity is misrepresented. We no longer have the choice to be quite. We no longer can just come and worship. We can no longer hid behind the church flag and the pretense of the established religion of the United States.

Joan Chittsiter’s spoke to the National Catholic Reporter origination this past Oct. Her speech was based on Mark 10:49 and entitled, “Take courage, get up, He’s calling you.” It was a rousing calls to action; “rise up, confront today’s challenges, seize today’s opportunities and build a new world[2]. Today as always we must be holy, bold and persistent”.

I am asking you to commit yourselves to adult theological re-education as a way of reclaiming the richness of Bible study and Christian tradition. Take classes at the school for ministry or EFM. We need thinking adult Christians to carry the message. Where better to find such people than St. David’s a community of people living a prophetic life.

This is the time for action. Bind yourselves into a community of teachers that encourage spiritual practices of tradition, such as contemplative prayer, reading the Bible, and reading of devotional classics that remind us of the presence of God in the dailiness of life. As Marcus Borg in his book “Jesus” wrote, “ Practice is about paying attention to our relationship to what is, the sacred”[3].

 

You are the church! So keep emphasizing compassion, justice, and peace as your central values for a Christian life. I was encouraged by John Koenig book “The Feast of the World’s Redemption” [4] as he characterized the Eucharist in the early church as a people of praise. I quote “Here we may detect a primal pressure toward missionary behavior, for the church’s regular expression of gratitude clearly put it into an expansive frame of mind characterized by a strong desire to share its gospel treasure”.

John the Baptist came with a confronting message for the dominant society; should we not do the same? Did not Mary also with what we call the Magnificat. Lets us be as one crying out in the wilderness. Denouncing the dominant society.

I would like to ask you to carry the message of God’s kingdom, only insofar as you accept it, enter it, live it, and there by establish it[5]. God’s kingdom is collaborative relationship. My evangelical friends would say, “The kingdom’s train is entering the station. Be on it or be under it”. But I say God’s train is entering the station that is the people of God they are the train and it is God that is the track. I have every confidence in you that you are not lacking in any spiritual gifts and you will actually grow God’s church in this place. The loving worship in this place will spill out into the whole neighborhood.

My hope is that you will find a path that is luminous, and numinous. Yes numinous mysterious, holy, and divine.

Prepare the way of the Lord make his paths straight. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Proclaim the good news to the whole creation[6].

 

[1] God’s Politics, Jim Wallis, Harper Collins

[2] Chittister: Confront challenges, seize opportunities, and build a new world Sr. Joan Chittister speaking at the NCR conference at Dominican University Oct. 24. (NCR photo),

[3] Jesus A New Vision, Marcus J Borg, Harper San Francisco, 1987

[4] The Feast of the World’s Redemption, John Koenig, Trinity Press, 2000 pg.102

[5] “In other words, not a realized, but a realizable eschaton or, better, a collaborative eschaton. ” Excerpt From: John Dominic Crossan. “The Power of Parable”, iBooks. https://itun.es/us/GTewD.l

[6] Mark 16:15Second Sunday