|The Day of Pentecost, Year A||May 31, 2020||The Day of Pentecost, Year A||John 20:19-23|
|Easter 7, Year A – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||May 24, 2020||Seventh Sunday after Easter, Year A||Acts 1:6-14, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11, Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36|
|Ascension Day, Year A||May 21, 2020||Ascension Day, Year A||Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-14|
|Easter 6, Year A||May 17, 2020||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 17:22-31, I Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21|
|Easter 5, Year A||May 10, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 14:1-14|
|Easter 4, Year A||May 3, 2020||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 2:42-47, John 10:1-10|
|Easter 3, Year A||April 26, 2020||Easter 3, Year A||Psalm 116; I Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35|
|Easter 2, Year A||April 19, 2020||Easter 2, Year A||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 12, 2020||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, 2020||April 10, 2020||Meditation on the Cross, Good Friday, 2020||John 18:1-19:42|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 5, 2020||Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday||Matthew 26:18|
|Lent 5, Year A||March 29, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A 2020||John 11:1-45|
|Lent 4, Year A||March 22, 2020||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Psalm 23|
|Lent 3, Year A at the Cathedral||March 15, 2020||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2, Year A – March 8, 2020 – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||March 8, 2020||Lent 2, Year A||John 3:1-17|
Advent 2, Year C
Sermon Date:December 6, 2015
Scripture: Malachi 3:1-4
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday of Advent, Year C
“And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.”
The last book in the Old Testament, Malachi, was written a little over four hundred years before Jesus was born.
The times were turbulent. Judah was only a small insignificant place in the sweep of the great Persian Empire that ruled over that part of the world.
Where was the Lord in the lives of the people of Israel?
Malachi told them that the Lord they sought would suddenly come into the temple and purify the priests, the descendants of Levi, so that they could do a better job of cultivating God’s presence in the temple.
Where is the Lord we seek? The Lord we pray to when we say the Lord’s Prayer and ask for God’s kingdom to come on earth, for God to be present with us?
We Christians are the priesthood of all believers, and so we must take this passage from Malachi personally.
God wants to purify us so that we, like those ancient priests, can present offerings to the Lord and worship in righteousness by cultivating God’s presence with us here in this place.
The season of Advent calls us to exactly this sort of purification, this preparing of the way for Jesus to come into our hearts, our home, and our church so that we can share our gifts of love with God and one another as fully and as richly as possible—so that we can share that gift of the abounding, merciful and compassionate love that God has for us and that we have for one another –so that we can share this gift of love like sharing with one another refined gold and silver.
When you came in, you may have noted the signs on the church doors. “Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God.”
Now we all know that sounds help us hear God and feel God’s presence—music, loving words spoken to one another, scripture being read aloud, the sound of the river, the rustle of the wind in the trees, birds singing—of course, God speaks to us through sound. And we’re attuned to those ways of hearing God.
Our own worship services are full of sound—singing, reading, praying, passing the peace, talking with one another, laughter—happy loving sounds.
But we could deepen our listening for God and more intentionally prepare the way for God to come to us by also practicing the art of simply being silent when we gather.
The kind of silence I’m talking about is not just an empty space to be dreaded and filled as quickly as possible.
I’m talking about creating a reverent, hopeful and spacious silence—a welcoming silence into which we may hear God speaking to us.
A person in this congregation recently told me about her experience of entering a cathedral in a big city—and many of us have probably had similar experiences. She said that the quiet spaciousness filled her with a sense of awe and wonder.
Once I went to the National Cathedral to learn more about contemplative prayer from Thomas Keating, who is one of the great authorities on praying in this sort of silent way. The cathedral was packed.
At the end of the day, Keating invited the hundreds of people in that cathedral into the spacious silence of prayer, so that we might together reverently wait upon the Lord. For twenty minutes, that resonant space that so often is full of the echo of music and voices was completely, hopefully, and reverently still and silent.
And suddenly, in the midst of that silence, I could feel God’s merciful, compassionate and boundless presence overflowing in that space.
I’ve felt that quiet spaciousness full of God’s presence in the woods, in hospital rooms, and yes, even here at St Peter’s, especially in Holy Week when I’m in this space alone before the evening services late in the afternoon, when as that beautiful prayer in the Prayer Book puts it, “the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done…”
That sort of silence is restoring, life giving, renewing and also refining, because it’s the spacious sort of silence that allows us to wait on God with reverence and with hope . Silence gives us the space to hear the refining things that God has to say to each one of us and to us a congregation.
Last week I spoke about the abounding love that we share with one another in this congregation, and how that abounding love that we intentionally share with one another is one of the ways that we prepare to stand before God on the last day. This abounding love is a gift we give God and one another. And we are great at that.
Today, I’m offering all of us the opportunity to deepen that abounding love we already have for one another by being intentional about offering one another yet another gift—the gift of the reverent and expectant silence, shared in this space, that allows us to wait, not only on each other, but also to wait reverently on the Lord.
What would that sort of silence sound like here in our little space?
Let’s face it—this is the only space we have to share on Sunday morning. We don’t have a separate space for the choir to rehearse.
They must rehearse here in this space. We don’t have a separate space in which to visit before the service begins. So we use this space not only for worship, but also for conversation, for business, for updates, for catching up with one another—and all of these things are good—but I’d like to see us make some space as well for this gift of silence that we can give one another.
So here’s what I propose—that we move our conversation, business, and catching up with one another to right after the service—to continue to use our space for that purpose, but to adjust the time in which we do that—at the end of the service, rather than at the beginning.
I propose that when we enter into this space on Sunday morning, that our first thought is of entering into God’s house and to practice doing so with that reverent and hopeful silence that makes the space for God to show up and to be heard among us as we give the gift of this spacious silence to one another.
This sort of expectant silence allows us to prepare our hearts in prayer for God’s presence in our midst.
And then the bell rings out, and we enter into that time we have set aside to worship and to praise God with sound–with words, and music, and spoken prayer.
I propose that once the bell rings, that we continue to listen, in prayerful silence, to the prelude, the sound of which can carry us even more deeply into this reverent and hopeful space of waiting on God.
Silence after readings, after the sermon, during the prayers, before the confession, a silent prayer before receiving the bread of heaven—all of these silences give us space to hear God speaking with tender compassion not only to us as individuals, but to us as a congregation.
Where is God today?
God is here among us, not only in our abounding love for one another, spoken aloud, but also in the gift of silence that we can graciously give to one another, the kind of silence that gives God the space among us to refine us and draw us ever more closely to one another and to God.