|Easter 5, Year C||May 19, 2019||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 12, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 23; John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 5, 2019||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 28, 2019||Easter 2, Year 2||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
|First Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 10, 2019||First Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 4:1-13|
|Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019||March 6, 2019||Ash Wednesday||Isaiah 58:1-12|
|Last Epiphany, March 3, 2019 – Rev. Mark Jefferson||March 3, 2019||Last Epiphany, Year C||Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]|
Advent 1, Year C
Sermon Date:December 2, 2018
Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Psalm 25:1-9, Luke 21:25-36
Liturgy Calendar: The First Sunday in Advent, Year C 2018
Clouds of gas and dust around the star cluster NGC 3572
Back in the 1800’s, stars became more than mysterious pinpoints of light in the night sky.
In her book, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory took Measure of the Stars, Dava Sabel describes the team effort that opened up a whole new way of exploration in the field of astronomy.
Through the development of “spectrophotography,” the photographing of the stars, astronomers were able to turn their gaze into the depths of the cosmos. Through this multifaceted process, they found thousands of new stars, and were able to learn about stars with a detail that had previously been impossible. Now they were able to see and document the changes that stars, seemingly changeless to the casual observer, go through in time.
We human beings tell ourselves that change in our lives is inevitable. We all believe in change on an intellectual basis.
And yet, frequently we put off preparing for change, and when that change finally comes to pass, we find ourselves surprised, disoriented, and unprepared, especially if we try to single-handedly deal with these changes, relying only on ourselves.
The season of Advent ushers in the new church year.
And one of the gifts that Advent hands us, at the very beginning, is to lay out in front of us the fact that a big change is on the way, not just for us, but for all of creation—and that we are all in this together.
We Christians believe that this change is two-fold: the coming of Jesus, born of Mary, to be in our midst, to bring the Kingdom of God near, and also for Jesus to return at the end of time to execute righteousness and justice, and to restore creation to the fullness and goodness that God intended all along.
This season also provides us with specific instructions and ways to prepare for the coming of God into our midst now and at the end of time, so that when the end of time does come to pass, we will be waiting and ready.
Advent is the Season of Spectrophotography, that season when we peer more deeply into the light filled work of God’s creative and inevitable changes in our lives.
Advent is the season to discover yet again the graceful gifts for helping us to prepare that God has woven into the changes that must and will take place for each one of us.
Right at the beginning of the season, we find ourselves unwrapping God’s graceful gifts, before Christmas even gets here!
Two gifts, love and prayer.
The prayer that Paul has for the Thessalonians is that they may increase and abound in love for one another and for all.
How often have you been outside at night and glanced up at the sky with only a passing thought, “Wow, the stars are beautiful tonight!” or maybe you forgot to look up at all.
The way we think about love can be similar to a cursory glance at the night sky, with a brief acknowledgement of its beauty, or we may just take love for granted.
But in this season, we have the opportunity not just to acknowledge love, but to delve into its mysteries, and its complexities. After all, love is not just some one-dimensional pinprick of light, but a whole spectrum of love light—
God’s love constantly shines on us, revealing things to us that we didn’t know about ourselves and one another.
And God’s love transforms us, so that as God’s light shines on us, we are changed into beings that can better transmit God’s light in this world by abounding in love for one another.
The foundation of this abounding, lively love is God’s eternal, steady, unchanging light and love for each one of us and all that God has made.
And God’s eternal love, even though steady, is not static, but is constantly bringing new life to everything it touches, multi faceted and dancing with color, like light shining through a prism.
When we engage together in depthy, God given love, we find that we are restored and then mightily strengthened in the ways that we can love one another.
Our love for one another, when it is God given, is steady love, active love, a love that grows and changes as God continues to strengthen the swaddling bands of love that hold us together in loving communion.
The second gift is the gift of prayer. This communion with God, with or without words, is indispensable if we are to be prepared for the changes and chances of this life.
Jesus says of the end times that we are to be alert, praying always for strength to deal with the changes through which we will inevitably pass until we stand before Him at the end of time.
The sort of prayer that Jesus refers to is that yearning, heartrending prayer with which Jesus himself was familiar—the way he prayed in Gethsemane as he faced the awful events ahead and prayed that God’s will be done.
This prayer gave Jesus the strength and endurance to go through his arrest, trial and crucifixion.
And this prayer gave him the strength to pray the “abounding in love” prayer that he prayed from the cross—“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Prayer, practiced as Jesus asks, builds up in us the desire to love God with our whole heart and mind and strength and soul, and to abound in active, life giving love for one another. This sort of prayer is full of the dancing, prismatic light that can make our hearts rejoice even when change is unexpected and difficult to bear.
Today’s psalm also holds within it some prayer helps.
The psalmist acknowledges the foundation of his prayer—trust in God, the One who is compassionate and abounding in love.
But the psalmist doesn’t stop with this acknowledgement about God.
The psalmist then asks to go deeper and to be shown things that are beyond his own understanding—“Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me.”
This is prayer using spectrophotography—the prayer that asks to be taken into God’s depths, expecting to find new things, and to make new discoveries in the company of one another that strengthen us for the journey ahead.
So may we give thanks for this Season of Spectrophotography, and enter into Advent with the resolve to abound in love for God and one another.
And may we pray with yearning to learn, yet again, the way that God would have us go—to set foot on the path through the darkness of the changes and chances of this life, the path by which God will lead us to a stable lit with the graceful glory of God shining from the face of the an infant in a manger—and then to travel on beyond, to the end of time, to stand, confident and ready, in the depths of the mysterious and transforming light and love of God.