Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cliff Notes: Advent 1 Sermon

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“Mark 13 speaks to those who expect too much and to those who expect too little. [But most of all, it speaks to] those who have forgotten to expect anything at all”, says author Lamar Williamson.

We worship the God of the impossible, who can will the unimaginable.  How can we expect too much from such a God as this?

Maybe it’s not that we expect too much from God, but that we expect too much from others and from ourselves.

We expect too much when we demand perfection and refuse to accept or forgive anything less.

And sometimes, we expect too much from our world, allowing disappointments and setbacks to turn us from hope towards bitterness.

We expect too much from human understanding when we read our Bibles and think we know all the questions and already have all the answers.  When we hear Jesus’ words and think that ‘end times’ are at hand, we claim too much, for in God’s word, there is no such thing as end times.  God’s Word is of beginnings, not endings.

When we claim God’s judgment and not God’s love as the final word,  we claim at the same time, too much and too little, for our God.  We claim too much in our certainty that we know, when even Jesus reminds us that such knowledge is reserved to God and God alone.  And we claim too little when we think the devastating picture Jesus paints is the final word.

We claim too little if we stop there, overlooking Jesus’ promise that such times are a beginning – a promised birth.  His pronouncement, will all its fearsome imagery, is a promise of wonderful things to come:  just as a mother struggles in agony to bring forth a child, so will all creation struggle in pain to bring forth God’s new creation.

We expect too much and too little if we understand this passage as anything less than a promise of the redeeming transformation of all creation.  This is a word of Good News indeed, for we are in great need of such change.

But this text speaks most of all to those among us who have forgotten to expect anything at all.  Jesus encourages the unexpectant, in the words of Ignatian Brother Larry Gillick, to live towards our eternal existence, to know that the ‘when’ is now:  “The fall of the leaves is not the beginning of the end, but the beginning of the beginning. . . God is always coming to make more of us than we can make of ourselves.”
To the unexpectant, to we who have so much we can think of nothing we lack, to those of us who stopped waiting for anything a long time ago, Jesus is issuing a wake up call to the spiritual and earthly reality of his transforming presence in our lives and in our world.

Live as if I were coming back right now! says Jesus, because I am.  In every moment of every day, I am coming back to you. Can’t you see me?

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