Sunday, December 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Advent
We employed our second Lessons and Carols liturgy for Advent. The theme was: From Darkness to Light, From Lament to Healing. Following the readings and songs we engaged in our regular practice of healing space with prayer stations.
Receiving the Perfect Gift
An Invitation to Hearing and Healing
How goes the gift buying? Did yesterday’s snow event keep you from planned shopping time? Essential shopping time in this busiest of months in which so much of our time is planned for us by to-do lists and social obligations?
What is your style of gift shopping and giving? Do you make the list of who and then go through and assign any old what, satisfied just to have something for each recipient? Or are you the type who thinks of that one thing, or related items on that one theme that will satisfy everyone on the list and then you buy a whole bunch of that item or those types of items?
I confess, when it comes to gift giving, I obsess a little too much. I want to give a gift that is going to be valued and used by the receiver. I want them to look at it and say “this is exactly what I wanted” or say “I didn’t even know how much I needed this” and then watch them perfectly fit it into the routine of their life, forever enriched.
This morning, our lessons and carol sequence seeks to shine it’s light on our need for the perfect gift of Jesus our Savior that God is sending us. We begin reminded of the darkness of sin and death that hangs over us. This year perhaps the world’s darkness seems a little heavier, the shadows are casting a bit longer. With war drums sounding, new levels of greed dominating, and victims of oppression, injustice, and abuse making us pay necessary attention; this broken world of suffering seems to be developing new cracks all the time. Floods and fires seem the least of our worries.
John the Baptist points our attention to this great gift of Christ. The Baptizer calls us to repentance – to change our thinking, to do an about face from the direction we are heading. But his message is filled with hope – not just more things to get done on our own insufficient efforts. For he is telling us that, while his is a baptism of water, a sign of God’s forgiveness; the one coming after him, that great and perfect Christmas gift from heaven, Jesus the Christ, will baptize with fire. Wiping away the old and clearing the way for new life, new life that is ours in the Spirit – poured out in our baptism, renewed every day.
In these lessons and carols, witness our movement from darkness to light. Not by our power, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit bringing us to the new born savior who is new born in us – gifting us with healing, light, and life.
Having been reminded of our plight, having heard of God’s deliverance by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, unwrap the gift again for the first time as you engage the healing stations, as you sit quietly in prayer, as you sing songs. Make good use of the gift that is exactly what we need, at this time, at all times.
The Rev. Mark Erson