Sunday, December 3, 2017
First Sunday in Advent
This year, St. John’s will be using the liturgical form of Lessons and Carols for each of the Sundays in Advent. For the First Sunday in Advent, we used an exploration of the Lord’s Prayer, using Luther’s Small Catechism, together with a lesson and a carol for each petition, to begin a prayerful Advent journey.
Prayer of the Day
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. Your promises stand unshaken through all generations. Renew us in hope, that we may be awake and alert watching for the glorious return of Jesus Christ, our judge and savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SERMON: Waiting in Prayer
It is noisy out there.
Getting noisier all the time.
Events of this week seem to have turned the volume nob up a couple of more notches. But then we probably said that after some week in August. And another in September. Maybe there were even two in October that got such credit.
It is noisy.
And it isn’t pleasant noise like children laughing and playing, fireworks booming, cymbals crashing, crowds cheering.
It is that noise that pierces your eyes, bores a hole in your forehead, numbs your eardrums to the point of indistinguishable drone. And we just want to stop listening. Perhaps you have.
I see more and more people with their noise eliminating headphones on. It’s getting to be where even the polite words like “excuse me” go unheard. And everyone stands frozen, ignoring, overwhelmed, closed off, waiting for the noise to pass.
Waiting. How long, O Lord?
Well, it’s Advent: the season of waiting. And while our earth-tuned ears are waiting of the noise to pass, to be quieted, to be stilled; our ears of faith are waiting for the noise that is to come: the noise of the angel choirs, the sounds of peace on earth good will to all. We are waiting for that life-changing, world renewing announcement that our Lord, our Savior, our Light and our Life has come. That’s the noise we want to hear. Where is it? When will it conquer all that dissonant noise of this sinful, misguided, bombastic world?
Yet, in our waiting, we, of course, know he has come, is here, will come again, and that we are called to echo the joyful noise he brought until he brings it to completion.
So this Advent, this season of reliving the waiting of his first arrival while we awakedly wait for his coming again. I invite you to live into the tension of overwhelmed ears and listening ears. Let the world’s anxious noise drive us deeper into the peaceful sounds of prayer in which the Holy Spirit opens our ears to hear God’s voice.
Take time this Advent to be prayerful, listening more than speaking.
Hear your own breathing, the breath of life that comes from our loving creator.
Hear your own heartbeat, the pulse of life that seeks to imitate the loving heart of Jesus, God’s own merciful heart in our midst.
Feel the warmth that radiates from within, the fire of life fed by the Holy Spirit
Feel each member of your body, a reminder that we are joined to one another as the body of Christ.
No, we don’t get to engage in this comforting prayer with ears plugged to the world’s noise. The panels from the International AIDS Quilt hanging around us today remind us that our call is to listen to the world, inside us and around us, and, as the old hymn says, take it to the Lord in prayer. Find peace in the midst of anxiety, find joy in the midst of sorrow, find hope in the midst of despair, find love in the midst of fear – for in the silence of prayer we find God, present in the midst of all our noisy chaos.
Together, let us make time this time of Advent a waiting time filled with prayerful listening. Use the Advent calendar that was sent to you. (We have more if you didn’t get one.) to remember to sit quietly for five or ten minutes each day listening. Take one of the devotional books that will be passed out at lunch today (you can have one even if you don’t stay) to read and be encouraged. Find an online devotional that will be delivered to you each day. But make time to take time, and listen. Because it is noisy out there, and God not only desires to bring us comfort and joy, but is sending us comfort and joy, light and hope, love and life. Find new ways we receive these gifts even as we wait for the great gift born in that Bethlehem stable.
This morning, together, as a diverse community of faith, we begin our prayerful Advent journey with an exploration of the Lord’s Prayer, guided by Luther’s Small Catechism. Lessons, Carols and Silence will be offered for each petition.
So let us be still, and know that God is God. As we wait, as we journey, as we listen. Let us pray as Jesus taught us.
The Rev. Mark Erson,