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Summary: Subject: Second Sunday of Advent (Year C) 2018 This sermon focuses on the idea of refining; of allowing the LORD to refine you as well as you being a refiner of your own minds, soul and heart (co - operating with God).

Scripture: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 3:1-6

Theme: Prepare the Way - Refine

Title: Refined to a Shine!

Subject: Second Sunday of Advent (Year C) 2018

This sermon focuses on the idea of refining; of allowing the LORD to refine you as well as you being a refiner of your own minds, soul and heart (co - operating with God).

INTRO:

Grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ our Savior and LORD!

Pause for a moment this morning and reflect on the home you grew up in and all the things that surrounded your growing up years. If you could only use one or two words to describe that journey what one or two words would you use?

Recently, a survey was done that asked that very question - If you could describe your family or your growing up years with one or two words what would they be?

Here are some of the top answers:

+Busy +Carefree +Loving +Crazy and Loud +Lonely +Kindness

+Tidy +Safe +Challenging +Chaotic +Dysfunctional

If you are like me you would need several one or two word answers.

One of those words for me would have to be the word "SHINY".

I know - rather odd word, right?

But then again that was one of the things that both my mom and dad loved. They loved it when the floors, when the cars and when practically everything else around the house was clean and shiny and that even included the faces of their children.

Another word would be "Work".

My parents did not believe in giving an allowance. If we wanted to make some extra money then we either had to do something special around the house or seek outside employment. I did all kinds of things like mowing yards, raking leaves, tending to cemetery sites and even cleaning houses. One of the those houses belonged to my aunt and some of the things I remember doing most was cleaning up her bathrooms, waxing the kitchen cabinets, the floors and cleaning the brass bed. Each one of these tasks included both words - "Work and Shiny".

-All the bathroom faucets had to be "shiny"

-All the wooden cabinets had to be waxed and polished so they would be "shiny"

-The kitchen floor had to be waxed and polished and be "shiny"

-The brass bed had to be cleaned, polished and looking all "shiny"

The hardest of all of those tasks was the brass bed. Over time that brass bed would get badly tarnished and would need a real good cleaning. Most of the time I used some old rags and this cleaning/polishing solution called "BRASSO". It wasn't an easy job but when it was done that bed looked beautiful - it was clean, polished and "shiny".

I also remember as a child I would occasionally take my coins and spend some time using the same "brasso" or some silver cleaner and clean up my collection of pennies, dimes and quarters. It always has amazed me how dirty money could get over time. Later on when I worked at Jackson County State Bank during my time at Seminary I found out that money (paper and coin) can be some of the dirtiest things we have on our planet. I always thought someone should have made a money cleaning machine and recently I looked on Amazon.com and found that actually someone has and for around 40.00 you can buy one.

Our passage in the book of Malachi this morning refers to the spiritual work of cleaning, refining and making things shiny. Of course it is not talking about one's money or some brass bed. It is talking about one's relationship with God and one's own spiritual life.

Bible scholars tell us that our prophet lived around the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah (455 - 420 B.C.). Like them he would have been working with both the local Jewish community and those who were returning back to the land of Israel from Exile who were determined to rebuild the Wall, the city of Jerusalem and restore Orthodox Jewish Worship.

You see, a great many of the Israelites that had been left behind by the Exile had given up worshipping the LORD - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They have even given up learning and speaking the Hebrew language. They felt that God had either abandoned them or rejected them all together. They came to believe that it would be best to worship some other god or goddess or merely forget worship all together.

So, what we see happening at the time of Malachi is rather simple. Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah were coming back to live in the Promise Land. They thought they would find things in great shape. They also thought that the revival that had been spurred by the Prophets Haggai and Zachariah ( ca 516 B.C.) would still be having a major impact. The temple had already been rebuilt and worship was suppose to be flourishing. However, they found themselves having to be missionaries witnessing to their own people about God.

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