Summary: An Advent sermon, following the theme of an adventure: the plan, the journey, the discovery.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do you ever examine the deeper meaning of commonly used words? Take the word “discovery,” for example. It is fairly common in our vocabulary. Someone may say, “The other day I discovered a six-month old tub of cottage cheese in the back of my refrigerator. It had grown a layer of penicillin over it.”
Another will say, “After balancing the checkbook, I discovered we had less money in our account that I thought.” Still another will share, “Looking in the mirror, I discovered I had wrinkles I never knew existed!”
We use the word “discover” or “discovery” fairly often. Now, to examine the meaning of words, we go to a dictionary or an encyclopedia. There, the word discovery is described as “detecting or learning something previously unknown or foreign to one’s culture. Discovery observations are acts in which something is found and given a productive insight.” In other words, a discovery is not just finding something but also doing something with it.
By the way, the encyclopedia adds, “serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.” That’s like finding the car keys while looking for your reading glasses. So, from now on, we won’t call such things “senior moments,” we will call them serendipities.
Christopher Columbus came upon an unknown continent while looking for an easier way to reach India. Captain James Cook found Hawaii while zig-zagging the Pacific. I am not sure if today’s Hawaiians would consider that event a serendipity, but the truth is, places and things don’t remain hidden forever.
Well, what have you discovered or serendipited lately? Have you stumbled upon a pot of gold in your backyard? Maybe we would settle for something more modest like discovering old family pictures in a mislabeled box stored in the garage.
For a reporter, the most exciting endeavor would be discovering a revelation of truth about a mystery – discovering some secret document that will shed light on something previously hidden. I can’t think of a worse torture than preventing a reporter from sharing such an information. Such discoveries usually make breaking news and sensational headlines.
We know of one discovery that changed the course of humankind forever, yet did not make immediate sensational headlines. This is, of course, is the story of Christmas, the story of God breaking into history through the birth of a little baby in Bethlehem’s stable. This breaking news was not aired by CNN or delivered to the high and mighty, but by a report of a heavenly angel to some lowly shepherds huddled around a campfire. Later, God send other messengers who shared the good news of great joy to everyone who would listen.
The Apostle Paul would have made a fine reporter. He was eager to share the discovery of the gospel that he encountered in his own life, and he also taught courageously what to do with the discovery, how to give it the “productive insight” as the encyclopedia puts it.