Summary: I want to talk about Easy Rider, Advent, and then you and me. Easy Rider. Do you remember the movie? Late 60’s. Peter Fonda - looking all buff and studly in his leather jacket, the one with the American Flag. Dennis Hopper - ragged and wild, scraggl
Easy Rider Meets the Messiah in Afghanistan
The Rev. Dr. Benjamin R. Doolittle
December 2nd, 2001 - First Sunday of Advent
Loving God, we do not know the hour or the place when you shall come. We know only that you come, again and again, you come to us. Open our hearts by these words and our meditations, that we would recognize you, and greet you with all joy. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
I want to talk about Easy Rider, Advent, and then you and me.
Easy Rider. Do you remember the movie? Late 60’s. Peter Fonda - looking all buff and studly in his leather jacket, the one with the American Flag. Dennis Hopper - ragged and wild, scraggly mustache. The movie is a cultural icon. It captures the spirit of the late 60’s counter cultural movement.
They drive around the South on their loud motorcycles, camp outdoors, pick up women, do a lot of drugs. They just did the big drug deal. They have a lot of cash loaded on their motorcycle. And now, they are just “easy riders” cruising around the country, looking for a good time. They have no connections to anybody, no relationships with any one person, no obligations to anything. They are perfectly free.
Two scenes from the movie. One, they befriend an alcoholic lawyer, played by a much younger Jack Nicholson, who joins them on their escapades. One night, around the camp fire, he says to them, “You are perfectly free. You represent freedom. And that scares other people. Other people aren’t free, and so they are jealous.”
And then they further their escapades. They visit a house of ill repute, do some more drugs, and get chased out of town.
Second scene: Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda are again around the campfire. Dennis says, “Hey man, we made the big score. We got a ton of cash. We won, man. Let’s go to Florida and retire.”
Peter Fonda says, “No man, we failed. We blew it. We failed.”
What I have tossed over in my mind was, “Why did Peter Fonda say that? What did they fail?” They achieved what they set out to do: to be perfectly free. But where they perfectly free.
This is what I think: they were close to freedom, but at the same time impossibly far away from freedom.
Drugs gave them a rush, but not as great a rush as the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Having sex with ladies-of-the-night fulfilled their lust, but no where near approached the love eternal with God.
Their perfect freedom on the road, meant also they were running away from something, running away from the law, running away from themselves.. Their perfect freedom on the road was not as free as a loving relationship with God.
While we might not play out our lives in the extremes like the Easy Riders, we get caught up in the temporal and lose sight of the eternal. We might not wear a lot of leather biker jackets or cruise around in a Harley, but we know what it is like to get caught up in the temporal and lose sight of the eternal. We have our own addictions. We have our own broken relationships. We all are running from the thing that plagues us: a bum job, a ragged relationship, guilt over past mistakes.
When we sing the ancient hymn, “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” we are inviting ourselves into a relationship with God.
When Jesus is born in Bethlehem, it is God who comes into relationship with us.
Advent is exactly the opposite of Easy Rider. Advent is all about building a relationship of perfect freedom, or lasting, perfect love. Advent is all about obligation and relationship and accountability and perfect, enduring, everlasting love.
Christ is coming. The Messiah is coming. “He shall judge the nations. He shall arbitrate the people, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spear into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall their be war anymore.”
We are a country that needs Advent. We are a people on the open road with perfect freedom. We are a country of Easy Riders. We are on the open road looking for something good and true and eternal.
There is Anthrax in Oxford, Connecticut. Our Senate buildings are being fumigated. There are bombs in Jerusalem. And then there is Afghanistan. Afghanistan. Afghanistan. Let the tears of sorrow rain from our eyes.
One look at CNN, and it is clear. We are not Easy Riders. We need our Savior. We need our Savior now.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
Come home to us. Be in us. Dwell with us anew. “Let us put on the armor of light,” for we need you now more than ever.
Let us pray….