Summary: The breath of God changes us into people who care
Sermon for Sunday December 4 2005
Second Sunday in Advent
A preacher once played his clarinet right before his sermon was about to start. The piece was pretty involved and needed a lot of breath on the preachers side. When he was about to start the sermon, he said that he needed to catch his breath. The congregation smiled. Next he started his sermon with the words: Advent is a time to catch your breath, isn’t it.
This year I couldn’t wait to finally take out all the Christmas decorations. Some years I don’t really feel like Christmas till later.
Advent is a time of waiting and preparing for the big event that we will be celebrating in a couple of weeks. It is a darker time of the year when we light candles and decorate our houses with artificial lights to make the season bright.
It could be a season of new beginnings when we follow the star that will lead us to Bethlehem.
Mark’s gospel starts with the words the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. It reminds us that just as in the beginning the world was created by God. God also had a plan to change our lives for the better.
Like the people in second Peter we might be worried whether all that waiting will be finally brought to a good end.
Jesus assures us that it will. If you don’t believe it, remember the story of John in the wilderness. People came to him out of desperation and returned to their homes refreshed and renewed.
Jesus promises a greater gift yet. The Holy Spirit will come to us in the life and death of the Christ child.
Thinking of all the hustle and bustle of the season I think it is good for us to find some quiet place near the river where John the Baptist again can remind us of the great gift we have been given in Jesus Christ. Thinking of John the Baptist I think of a long pointed stick that teachers used to use before the age of computers to point something out on a map or a blackboard. John the Baptist is like that he points away from himself to Christ. How do we live this advent? Do our actions point others to Christ?
How do we proclaim the Good News. One translation reads Good News - this is the victory of Jesus the Christ. It is not our victory but his.
With John the Baptist we are invited to point to Christ’s victory. Those words can point someone who has lost hope into a new direction. We can make a difference by living our lives in a way that points people to Christ.
We have been washed clean by the Holy Spirit in our own baptism. Stay with that image. Feel the refreshment and energy of the spirit.
Just a couple more days and the movie The lion the witch and the wardrobe will be in the cinemas. Do you recall how the lion saved Narnia from eternal winter? Do you remember how his breath changed the animals from dumb to speaking animals? He touched them with his tongue and breath and they were transformed into creatures who knew him. In the Lion the witch and the wardrobe, the breath of the Lion changes the ones who had been frozen by the evil witch into living creatures who will use their lives to proclaim His glorious majesty that has saved them. The Lion in the Chronicles of Narnia is representing Jesus for me.
Advent is an invitation for us to become like the people who were frozen by the power of evil, who felt powerless. To be touched anew by the mighty breath of God and to be transformed into people who care is what we have been called to do.
Sometimes we have a hard time to describe how God has made a difference in our lives. And share an experience of grace with those around us.
Advent is a time that invites us into the story of light to share the light with those around us.
Prepare the way of the Lord, our gospel reads today. When I came up to the church this morning I saw the big snow plows and was reminded how they prepare the way for the cars. And then I came to church and saw people cleaning the sidewalks so that we could safely walk into the church. As you all know the roads are very dangerous this time of the year. It is easy to loose track and slip off the road. God has prepared a safe road for us. He has taken everything away that might lead us into dangerous places. And he calls us to come to him and to be refreshed by the promise of our own baptism that goes far beyond the baptism of John in the desert. It not only refreshes us but it leads us into life eternal which starts here and will be brought to perfection in God’s eternal kingdom.