Friends, with this 2nd Sunday of Advent, we, as followers of our brother, Jesus, are called in rich and profound ways “to prepare the way for our God,” in the person of Jesus of Nazareth whose coming into our existence, we remember in a special way at Christmas. It is worth the effort, if we do nothing else during these four weeks of preparation, to spend some time reflecting on this one historic, theological fact—that our God thought enough of us to come and live our life so that we would know how much his Abba—read, “Loving Parent” loves each of us!
From the cries of John the Baptist, “to make straight all paths,” leading to God, to requests from Paul that we all, “live in perfect harmony, with one heart and one voice,” to Isaiah’s detailed recitation of what our human existence could look like if we did live in accordance with God’s ways—“the wolf dwelling with the lamb, the calf and young lion grazing together, with a little child guiding them,” we have ample reason to pursue such a course.
When we see the representation on Christmas cards of such a time of peace, the lamb and the lion grazing together, we smile and usually think, “Well, that’s nice and sweet, but it will never happen!”
The psalm response today, “Justice will flower in their days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more,” is again the same type of thought.
So, is all of this a pipe dream or is there truly any possibility of such justice, such peace, such goodness in our world?
And my friends, all I can say is that it’s like trying to “see God” in our world; we have to be more attentive, look deeper, ponder more, have eyes and ears open to all that is around us, in people, in people’s lives, to see that there is great reason to hope in this Season of Hope.
Our God, in Jesus, came to renew our hope and let us know that peace upon this earth is possible, if we all work together, to make it so! Let me just share some things that I have seen recently, and others that I am aware of that give me great hope that our world, and specifically, our country is striving after the pipe dream of justice and peace for all.
- On a very personal note, I know our community has Eric and Pat on their hearts and in their petitions to our God these days as Eric is struggling day to day for his life.
- We have a group of faith-filled folks who meet here in Winona each week to write Congress people and others in positions of power, asking, begging, imploring them to act on their principles and do what is needed for the good of all in our country. I like the fact too that they write notes of thanks in response to work well done in that regard.
- Our wonderful city of Winona has been working diligently this past year through an interfaith circle of churches, ours included, to address the issue of homelessness here, making great strides through much community support to double the capacity of our Warming Center, giving overnight shelter to the homeless during the coldest months, November through March, along with several other entities looking at ways, “to fill in the gaps,” so to speak, in coverage, for those in need. In addition, these groups are looking at the possibility of more year-round assistance to the homeless—all reasons to hope.
- And with regard to gratitude; I have great hope as well with the process going on in Washington at this time. From a purely, ethical, Christian, and moral stance—wrong is wrong and at some point people must decide that they will move beyond politics and personal gain to do the right thing. So, no matter the end result and whether it is politically good or not for those bringing the action, it is the right thing to do because evil triumphs when good people remain silent! I see this very much as a step toward the “lamb lying down with the lion.”
You may have to think about that a bit—but what we are talking about here is once again, being our best selves, reaching for that pipe dream, that we may never see in our life time, but knowing that we did our part just the same to make it so.
These are the kinds of small things that former president, Jimmy Carter was speaking of in the Sunday school class we were privileged to attend. No one thing will be enough, but all the small things, like “paying forward” a kindness for a good turn, just being more aware of all the ways that people suffer in this world and doing our small part—“lamb and lion” stuff, friends.
So, as we are pummeled through the busyness of this season, try to carve out a few minutes each day, light a candle, sit in quiet—to wonder, to reflect, to be grateful for all that life has given us thus far—for all that we are capable yet of doing! Amen? Amen!