|Lent 4, Year B||March 15, 2015||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B||Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21|
|Lent 3, Year B||March 8, 2015||Third Sunday in Lent, Year B 2015||Exodus 20:1-17|
|Lent 2, Year B||March 1, 2015||Second Sunday in Lent, Year B, 2015||Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Mark 8:31-38|
|Lent 1, Year B||February 22, 2015||Lent 1, Year B||Mark 1:9-15|
|Ash Wednesday, Year B||February 18, 2015||Ash Wednesday, Year B||Matthew 6:1-6,16-21|
|The Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||February 15, 2015||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||2 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9|
|The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Year B||February 1, 2015||Luke 2:22-40||Luke 2:22-40|
|The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 25, 2015||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:14-20|
|The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 18, 2015||Second Sunday after Epiphany, Year B||I Corinthians 6:12-10|
|The First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 11, 2015||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||The Book of Common Prayer –Holy Baptism|
|Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B||January 4, 2015||Second Sunday of Christmas, Year B||Luke 2:41-52|
|Two Christmas Eve Meditations||December 24, 2014||Christmas Eve, Year B||Luke 2:1-20, John 1:1-5, 14, 16|
|Advent 3, Year B||December 14, 2014||Third Sunday of Advent, Year B||Psalm 126, I Thessalonians 5:16-24|
|➤Advent 2, Year B||December 7, 2014||Second Sunday of Advent, Year B||Mark 1:1-8|
|Advent 1, Year B||November 30, 2014||First Sunday in Advent, Year B||Mark 13:24-37|
Advent 2, Year B
Sermon Date:December 7, 2014
Scripture: Mark 1:1-8
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday of Advent, Year B
"John the Baptist", Icon, Moscow school, 1560’s
In this season of Advent, as we prepare for God to come into our midst, and our lives are filled with mostly joyful and hopeful preparations for the Christmas season, and in scripture we hear lines from the prophets like those we’ve heard in Isaiah today, “Comfort, comfort ye my people,”
the sudden arrival of John the Baptist is rather jarring, to say the least. After no prophets for hundreds of years, suddenly here is a guy out in the wilderness, dressed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt about his waist, who eats locusts and honey, and he’s proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
After no prophets for hundreds of years, suddenly here is a guy out in the wilderness, dressed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt about his waist, who eats locusts and honey, and he’s proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem are going out to him and being baptized by him in the river Jordan, and they’re confessing their sins.
The temptation for us is to try to be cheerful about this prophet who shows up in our scriptures this week and next, and then relegate him to the dim edges of our memories, because he’s done his Advent duty by letting us know that someone really important is headed our way and we’d better get ready.
Thank you, John.
And now, get out of my way.
I don’t want to hear about repenting for my sins, especially when I’ve got so much on my mind this time of year!
But John shows up on this Sunday and next not only to point the way to Jesus, but also to remind us that we have some inner roadwork to do.
In fact, if John showed up today, I think he’d be a road worker.
He’d have on a helmet and steel toed boots and a safety vest and he’d be working on the roads I travel all the time, and on some of the back roads I travel, he’d be holding up one of those signs I dread—Stop—because the traffic is now able to travel on only one lane and now I’m going to have to wait for the oncoming traffic before I can go.
Now when I drive past people working on the roads, part of me is thoroughly annoyed. The work they’re doing is slowing down traffic, for goodness sake, and I’m usually in a hurry to get to where I’m going.
John the Baptist slows us down and reminds us that in order to prepare for God to come into our lives, we have to face up to what’s sinful and to work on getting rid of those sins as part of our preparation for the arrival of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
We’ve all got inner roadwork to do!
I’ve got some sins that are sort of like the small potholes that tend to open up on roads in the wintertime, and that I try to drive around, but sometimes, I have no choice but to drive over them and pay for a realignment later. And then there are the sins in my life more like the huge sinkhole that opened up on the GW Parkway last week and snarled rush hour traffic—a sink hole thirty feet wide and thirty feet long, obviously bringing traffic to a total standstill. And then there’s the problem of the roadways in my life that are just too narrow for God to travel—like maybe I’m too stingy with my love, or with my time, or with my money, and I need to make these roadways wider, or construct some whole new roads. And those of us who have driven to DC in the past few years know how frustrating and annoying road widening and building can be when you’re in a hurry to get to your destination.
But that’s the point. Once I repair the potholes and fill the sink holes and widen the road and construct some new roads, the journey is going to be a lot easier, and we want God to be able to have a smooth trip into our hearts!
However, the fact that all of our inner roadways could stand some work– that is, the fact that we are all sinners in need of repentance, is a downright unpopular idea in our culture these days, and let’s face it, it’s a message that tends to get glossed over even in church too.
We’d rather get straight to the joy of our salvation in our worship services. We don’t want to come to church to be made to feel bad, or guilty about who we are or what we’ve done.
But every Sunday in this church we pray that prayer of confession with its references to things done and left undone, and that we haven’t loved God with our whole heart, and that we haven’t loved our neighbors as ourselves. We say we’re sorry, and we humbly repent, and then we’ve confessed, and that unpleasant task is out of the way.
Done. Confession is done. Now let’s move on.
That’s the danger of saying the same prayer of confession, over and over, every week. Just like any other familiar thing, we can take this prayer for granted. It’s one of the drawbacks of having a set liturgy as we do in the Episcopal Church.
But saying this prayer every week can also be a big advantage to us as we try to do that inner road work, and make straight the way for God within—because then our road work and this correction of sin is ongoing and not just a one time temporary fix.
Repairing the potholes and the sinkholes and widening and building new road ways in our lives for God to travel is an ongoing process.
So when we pray the prayer of confession each week, and take it seriously, we are doing the ongoing inner road work and repair and construction that we need to do so that we can travel more easily to God and God will have an easier time getting to that home in our hearts that we are making ready.
So today, before the prayer of confession, we are going to have a space of silence, and in this silence, think about the road work you need to do. What are the potholes you need to repair? Where are the sink holes that need to be filled? And what roads in your life do you need to widen for God to travel into your heart?
And then we’ll pray the prayer of confession together and take those words to heart.
And next time you’re driving and you pass a road worker, think of John the Baptist.
There he is, reminding you to slow down and to give some thought to the road work you need to do to get ready for God to show up in your life.