Sermon; Advent 4B
In the season of Advent it is our responsibility and joy to prepare ourselves . . .
So begins the Bidding Prayer for the service of Advent Lessons & Carols. Part of that preparation is to hear once more the story. There are traditionally nine lessons to this service, but it's not necessary to use all nine. This year we opted for five.
The five lessons we used today tell the Advent story from our creation and union with God and each other through our drifting away from God to his calling for our return and eventual promise of a Savior. Advent is the season of promise, but it is also the season of waiting. Preparing for the promise and learning to wait for the fulfillment of that promise is the story of Advent.
In the beginning God created humans to be in union with him and with each other. Eventually we turned against God and each other. We moved from living in harmony with God to seeing ourselves as masters of creation, and we saw creation as a means to achieve our desires rather than as a gift to be cared for. We moved from being in partnered relationships with other people to being in competition with them in an effort to have our desires reign supreme.
We have been living in this fractured way of being for so long that it seems normal. Very few of us live in a daily, harmonious relationship with God. Most of us relegate God to Sundays, and maybe even then to Sundays between 9 and Noon. I'm not even sure about “most,” because looking at society it seems the majority of people are unchurched, or maybe de-churched. So it seems normal to limit our time with God.
We have been living in this fractured way of being for so long that it seems normal. Instead of caring for God's creation we use its resources to pad our bank accounts. Why worry about the destruction of the rain forests, oil drilling in the arctic, over-fishing the oceans, or melting ice caps as long as our stock portfolios increase and we can drive our cars whenever we want? Why is it we will only make environmental changes when it becomes personally profitable?
We have been living in this fractured way of being for so long that it seems normal. Other people are seen not as suitable partners, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, but as competition. We see people of different colors and genders as less-than. Some of us actively work to keep systems of oppression in place, while others simply shrug our shoulders at inequalities and injustices, ignoring how much we benefit from those systems.
In this season of Advent it is our responsibility and joy to prepare ourselves.
For what are we preparing ourselves? We are preparing for the move back into a full, harmonious relationship with God. We are preparing to move back into the role of responsible caretakers of creation rather than as greedy takers. We are preparing to move back into seeing all people as bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.
In some sense we are preparing for a revolution. We are preparing to change that which we have normalized into that which has become abnormal but is that which God intended. And for those thinking “revolution” is too strong a word, doesn't it seem like everything working toward freedom, equality, and care are always revolutionary ideas and actions?
Our fights over independence, slavery, women's right to vote, school integration, LGBT rights, pay equality, safety regulations, and the list goes on, were all revolutionary ideas. All of these were a step towards equality and protection and care. So it is with returning to God's holy purpose. In some sense, Advent is a preparation for revolution.
As we wait for Messiah's arrival, as we prepare ourselves to live in right relationship with God, creation, and others, may we have the grace, dignity, and strength to usher in the advent of the Lord in the same way that Mary answered: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.