Sermon for December 13, 2020                    Advent 3          “Sent From God”

The prophecy of Isaiah and John the Baptizer point to the one who is called Jesus. Isaiah’s prophecy was interpreted within the context of harsh military leadership. Justice and judgement are viewed differently based on your circumstances. It is little wonder there was and continues to be so much diversity of thought on what Isaiah was really trying to proclaim.

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; …For I the Lord love justice” The words between these phrases point to the direction the new kingdom will take, one where there is equity, the poor are tended to and given opportunity, the sick are healed and the oppressors brought low. But in the time of Isaiah all that was heard was ‘I the Lord love justice’ and that was interpreted to mean the justice of the ruling class, and that was really do it my way or suffer the consequences.

Some fashion of the mindset has continued for thousands of years and each generation and each faith group claims to some degree ‘rightness’ at the expense of all others. I am convinced that neither Isaiah or John the Baptizer imagined how their prophecy would be manipulated.

John pointed to the one who would redeem and fulfill the waiting for the Messiah. , ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said,
‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said. The church leadership of the day was entrenched in power and in lockstep with Roman rule and they were in no hurry to share that power or give up any societal or political power.

Who are you? Is a question that we continually grapple with as we grow in understanding of God, Jesus and Spirit. It seems that our voice is crying in the wilderness and we liken it to the philosophical question: if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it does it make a sound?

It very much feels that we are in a wilderness place this year. The focus has been on, and rightly so, to flattening the curve and finding a vaccine. The voices are also encouraging attention to our inner landscape and the voices that nudge us toward joy. This third Sunday in Advent is one of Joy, to remind us that in the preparations for Christmas in our homes, communities, churches and hearts, there are to be moments of joy. Joy comes in many forms for everyone of us; from all the lights working when they are plugged in, your child learning a new skill, a sunrise or sunset, crashing waves, a look from your partner or a simple flickering of a candle.

For the Dali Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu it was collaborating on a book for their 80th birthday on Joy. A look at their lives and the joy moments for each of them and a nudge to people of the world to be on the lookout for moments of joy in life. Moments that can shout louder than chaos and crises of any generation. For Mary it was the realization that she could accept with grace and humility the gift of Jesus as she proclaims ‘my soul magnifies the lord’. For each one of us it is coming to terms with the truth that God calls each of us to accept the gift we have and are… for the benefit of all.

So often we neglect or hide from the truth… that we are called, chosen and redeemed. That we all have a role to offer in the move toward a more peaceable world. Being open to joy and accepting that from others we meet,  may very well place all of us in frame of mind and spirit to receive jo. It is also good to remember that when God’s angel appeared to Joseph, Mary, Zacchaeus, and the shepherds the first response was fear, and the second joy. we are at the right time and place, strategically placed to be messengers of joy. How great is that, humm.