Sermon for Nov 27, 2016 Advent 1 “In The Days To Come”
In the days to come are words spoken by many these days. Having just endured three weeks of ‘black Friday’, an American presidential election, a renewed call for attention to climate change (at least in Canada) and we are in the middle of two months of hyped up commercialization. What are we, who choose to be here today, to do?
The words “In the days to come” spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah were uttered at a time when on the mountain of God only harlots and murderers remain. Not what we would consider a pretty sight. As is always the case God does not leave people in the consequences of their own making. On that very hill God will teach again the ways to live peaceably to the people. The first step is to beat spears into pruning hooks and swords into plows. God knows that the best way to peace is to disarm. On the mountain of God, in the day of Isaiah there is the renewal of great hope in that message.
In our day the image of “in the days to come” are muddied and confusing. No one is getting along with anyone else, we have become highly protective of our little bit of turf or power, co-operation that was once strong is now relegated to the dream realm of sugar plum fairies. Trade deals are being dismantled, soft wood lumber is on shaky ground and the idea of a Trump administration would cause Hitchcock to shake with tremors of horror.
As we wonder what will happen on this planet, as we ponder next steps and even if there is any hope, what are we to do? The answer is in the ancient texts of God. Let us go to the mountain of God. Yes the mountain of God, that place where murderers and harlots are, that place where our enemy resides, that place of arms manufacturing. Yes that ugly place where every wonton sin is employed with impunity. That is where we are going. And we are going there to proclaim the message of hope. What we carry in our tool boxes and heart is love. Only love. We meet the folks there on their terms not surrendering ours. Knowing that at the end of the day we are about transformative love.
I think that is why it is harder to make peace than engage in war. I have never beaten swords into plows. But I know that it is hard work. Hot work. Patient work. Heavy work. And it does not happen overnight. If today we do not succeed on God’s mountain then we go back tomorrow and the next day and the next until there is peace and the gift of hope transforms the people as people who walk in the light.
In the days to come, which is our Advent time. It is the season which offers an alternative view of the reality in which we seem to live. An alternative that says that power as we know it has no lasting strength; that the strident voices will be silenced by the songs of the angels; that the One who can truly save us is a baby born in a smelly stable; that our brokenness will be healed by God’s tender grace.”
What better time than Advent to preach about faith? Not faith that is grounded in some sort of ‘Golden Age’ past, but faith which looks over the heads of the fearful to see God coming to us. It is easy for us to retreat into fear. It easy to talk about “them”; those who are different; the outside; the stranger; the foreigner as our enemy. But that is not faith.
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as family among you, and you shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” And we were welcomed, at least our ancestors were and we were treated with life-saving hospitality. And that is acting in faith.
Now it is our turn to live out the love God places in our heart and be the one rooting for hope.
The ancient prophet said “in the days to come” I say we are in the midst of those days. I pray for strength, insight and patience that we can be instruments of transformative hope in all God’s holy creation.