|Lent 2, Year A – March 8, 2020 – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||March 8, 2020||Lent 2, Year A||John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1, Year A||March 1, 2020||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11|
|Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020||February 25, 2020||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Joel 2:1-2, 12-17|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 23, 2020||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 16, 2020||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Sirach 15:15-20; I Corinthians 3:1-9, I Corinthians 13: 11-12; Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119:1-8|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 9, 2020||Epiphany 5, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-9a, [9b-12];Matthew 5:13-20|
|The Presentation||February 2, 2020||Presentation of Jesus in the Temple||Luke 2:22-40|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 26, 2020||Third Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 4: 12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Congregational Meeting||January 19, 2020||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, Congregational Meeting||Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 12, 2020||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 3:13-17|
|Epiphany, Year A||January 6, 2020||The Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas 2, Year A||January 5, 2020||Christmas II, Year A||Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Psalm 84|
|Christmas Eve, Year A||December 24, 2019||The Eve of the Nativity||Luke 2:14|
|Advent 3, Year A||December 15, 2019||Advent 3, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10|
|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
Advent 1, Year A
Sermon Date:December 1, 2019
Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44
Liturgy Calendar: First Sunday of Advent, Year A
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season in which we prepare to remember not only the birth of Jesus, but also to get ready for the second coming of Jesus to complete and fulfill the kingdom of God which is already present and growing on this earth.
The season of Advent reminds us to be intentional in this season of demands and distractions that can send us wandering around in confusion, pulled in many different directions and frustrated and aggravated in the process.
The season of Advent invites us to be intentional about being on a particular journey.
Maybe you’ve heard that saying, “It’s all about the journey, not the destination.”
But we have the season of Advent to remind us that a journey is not a journey without a destination.
Because a journey, by definition, is an intentional passage from one place to another,
in contrast to wandering, which is to move or to travel without having a purpose or a destination.
The season of Advent reminds us that as Christians, we are not just wandering around in this life, but that we are journeying, with intention, toward a specific destination.
We are intentionally traveling, with God and in God to God.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, we are to “find the journey’s end in every step of the road.”
So on every step of the road, for us Christians, when we journey with intention toward God, we will find God.
The season of Advent reminds us that we are to travel with intention to our ultimate destination, to the One who made us good, who goes with us through our lives and then in the end, brings us back home into the Ultimate Goodness from which we came.
In today’s readings, the people are journeying with intention.
The Psalmist is glad about starting out on a journey with a specific destination—“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”
Isaiah gives us the vision of a journey in which people go with intention to God, to the Lord’s house to learn from God.
When we go to God, God teaches us—as Isaiah says, “The Lord teaches us the Lord’s ways, so that we can walk in the Lord’s paths.” For our intentional journeys with and toward God, we need God’s teachings about how to walk in the paths that God has laid out for us.
We can receive God’s teachings by being intentional about studying God’s word, being aware of God with us in every moment of our lives, by praying, and by being intentional about worshipping and studying together.
This season of Advent also challenges us to be intentional on our journeys to God in the ways that we live and move and have our being in this world.
We are to put on the armor of light, and that armor is Jesus Christ our Lord. We are to walk in God’s light. Isaiah says, “O come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
When we walk in God’s light, wearing the armor of light and putting on Jesus Christ, we ourselves become people of light. People who are searching for the way to God can see God’s light shining in us.
That light with which we shine may be just enough to make the way bright enough for them to see The Way too, and to want to come along.
When we walk in God’s light, we find that we want God’s peace to define our every step.
The season of Advent reminds us that an essential part of our journey in and to God is to be intentional about being God’s peacemakers in this world.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Putting on Jesus Christ and walking as a child of the light helps us to become God’s intentional peacemakers on this earth.
As people walking in God’s light, we no longer want to spend time engaging in the quarreling and jealousy that divide us from one another, but to live in peace with one another.
Becoming peacemakers is a life long process, but the first thing to remember is that God’s peace and God’s justice go hand in hand.
When God’s justice is at work in the world, we can turn our warring ways toward peace, take the resources that we’ve used for war, and use them instead to sustain the earth and its people with equity rather than being content with a world defined by those who have more than they need at the expense of those who do not have what they need. We will be called to be peacemakers in different ways throughout our lives, so we have to pay attention to the ways in which God is calling us to be the children of God through our peacemaking on behalf of God.
I like this story from StoryCorps because it’s a good illustration of all of these Advent themes about intentionality—being intentional about being on a journey with and in God, being intentional about walking as children of light, and being intentional about being peacemakers who work for justice.
So here’s the story—about a mother and daughter who became homeless.
Sandy, aged 44, was in a terrible marriage. She finally left her husband, and took her sixteen year old daughter, Ashley, with her. She was seeking peace from this abusive marriage. At first, Sandy and Ashley lived in a motel, scraped up rent to move in with a friend, then ended up living in a tent. Sandy worked as a waitress, and Ashley was trying to stay in school and graduate. Their grocery budget was only $6 a week.
Ashley remembers that time as horrible. “School was rough. My parents were divorced. I was homeless.”
But then, Ashley’s youth pastor put Ashley and her mother in touch with an organization called Family Promise that houses families in converted Sunday schools.
This group gave Sandy and Ashley a place to stay while Sandy worked and saved money and Ashley finished high school.
Now, ten years later, Ashley, age 26, has finished college, and her mother works on the board of Family Promise so that she can help others who are homeless—because she is so grateful for the way that she was helped.
Ashley and Sandy say that when everything is taken away from you, you are left with the only thing that matters—the people who love you.
In this story, lots of different people who were being intentional about their journey in and with God, who were walking as children of the light, and who were working for justice, were the people who loved Sandy and Ashley and ultimately through their work for justice, brought peace to these two women.
The words of today’s sequence hymn, written by Kathleen Thomerson, describes the peacemakers, the people who are intentional about their journeys with and in God toward God—people who put on Christ and then work for peace and justice for the benefit of those who lack justice and peace.
“I want to walk as a child of the light. I want to follow Jesus.”
“I’m looking for the coming of Christ. I want to be with Jesus.”
At the end of our journeys, when we have been intentional about knowing our ultimate destination, already on The Way to One who made us good, who goes with us through our lives and then in the end, brings us back home into the Ultimate Goodness from which we came,
“When we have run with patience the race, we shall know the joy of Jesus.”
When we have been intentional about our ultimate destination, then, when Jesus returns to gather us in, we will not be wandering around aimlessly, and oblivious to his coming, but we will already be on The Way to meet Him, and Jesus will gather us in, and we will all be glad.