Posted on Wed, Dec 3, 2014
Nov. 30, 2014
First Sunday in Advent
Gospel Text: Mark 13:24-37 “A New-Age is about to Begin!”
The Coming of the Son of Man
24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
The Necessity for Watchfulness
32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
Open Our Eyes
D G A
Open our eyes, Lord
G D Bm
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
D G A
Open our ears, Lord
G D Bm
And teach us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus
What is the main message Matthew the Evangelist has been telling us to do through Jesus’ words and example for the past weeks? Matthew has been telling us over and over, open your eyes and ears to Jesus’ coming because Jesus WILL come to you at a time you will never expect! The only thing you can do is prepare your heart, mind, eyes and ears to see Jesus coming to meet you, to offer you an opportunity to be the blessing of God to another person in need, or to just gaze in wonder at the beauty and majesty of our God we see through mercy, hope, faith and joy.
Did Jesus believe that the end of the age would occur after he arrived in Jerusalem? I love what the prophet Isaiah (or possibly Joel) says, 24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Think about the time when Jesus was hanging on the cross and what the people witnessed in the skies, there was darkness; on the ground, there was an earthquake; among the religious and leaders, there was fear.
All along the road from Galilee to Jerusalem, the works of God in Jesus were done not just to amaze the people but to first, to proclaim the mercy and favor of God and second, to fulfill the prophesies about the Messiah. All the signs of the season of the Coming of a New Age born out of the Cross of Christ were fulfilled in Jesus’ journey to the cross. The Advent scripture texts are full of the prophesies of the coming Messiah, and then the prophesies being fulfilled in the birth of Christ.
But did the people see God’s Glory in the Cross of Christ? Could the people see the grace, mercy and faithfulness of God in the suffering of Jesus? What did they actually see and feel at that terrible time?
They saw nothing regarding what God was doing in creating a new age because they were afraid.
Fear for themselves, Fear of the confusion and terror of the moment, Fear born out of misplaced expectations they placed on Jesus looking for a leader with unbridled force to defeat a military enemy rather than a Suffering Servant, blinded them to the truth that the old age of the Law was ending, and a new age of Gospel, forgiveness and mercy had begun.
We live in the age of the Gospel fulfilled! We are Easter People living in the gift of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
On OUR kind of Thanksgiving Day I feel as though this truth is especially true when I see people of all sorts coming freely to eat and fellowship. I am thankful that part of our tradition is sharing God’s bounty with anyone who comes to our campus for food, fellowship and community. As usual, the ANC volunteers and Mac did a magnificent job and the day was wonderful.
Every ANC Thanksgiving draws interesting, if not unforgettable, individuals from all over the island. One ‘kind’ of individual that oftentimes comes to our tables are self-proclaimed, “pastors, evangelists, ministers” or some kind of self-proclaimed, “reverend.” This year was no different.
One such individual came to our campus with two other of his “ministerial staff,” and he immediately wanted to know who was ‘in charge’ of this event! He was rather loud, and his attire also seemed make him stand out, and people quickly ushered him to me… even though I have little to do with all the work that was going on around me… but I soon understood why people quickly brought him out to me.
We shook hands and I we introduced ourselves. He seemed to have many degree titles following his name, most I had never heard of. Let’s just call him, Dr. Bob. He quickly told me that, ‘one day he just took all his degrees and pieces of paper and threw them all away to “do the Lord’s work.’”
He began to tell me how he mostly works amongst the homeless in Waikiki… and that is what his card says. He went on and on how difficult his was; difficult in just how difficult it is just to live. It was clear that when he was talking about the suffering of the homeless, he was also talking about a personal experience. Then his tone and volume began to rise quickly and the told us how the homeless are just criminalized for being homeless, there aren’t enough facilities for the mentally ill, (voice volume really going up, rocking back and forth and standing on his tippy-toes), then the stories of torture by the police and how not one of our elected officials have done anything for the homeless even though all of them said they would! By this stage is really on his toes trying to stand over me, a finger is wagging in the air, his voice is booming, “THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT ALL PEOPLE NEED TO BE BORN AGAIN!” The crowd around us has grown quiet and was slowly moving away from us… I am feeling a little uncomfortable…
In order to try to bring him back to earth, I ask him to introduce his friends to me. He shook his head returning to human form again, introduced me to his fellow ‘ministers’ and quickly made a bee-line to the food table. One of the ministers was a member of the Apache Nation, and when I told him I was from Minnesota, we immediately connected and he called me ‘brother.’ They came, because they were hungry.
But as I couldn't help but recall Dr. Bob’s instant revival type sermon and think about the message for today, I couldn’t help but think Martin Luther would totally agree with Dr. Bob.
In order to walk with our Savior in the discipline of faith, each of us must be reborn, or re-Created with new eyes, ears and heart, EACH AND EVERYDAY! If I hadn’t opened my heart to putting myself in that spot at that moment for the purpose of greeting and feeding the hungry on Thanksgiving Day, there is no way I would be able to hear the stories of the hardship of living on the streets, the fear that comes with suddenly being laid off and being homeless for the first time in their lives and they are no longer young and spry.
As I looked at all the people coming for the best food on the planet, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of thanksgiving for being given the gift of eyes and ears to see and listen to the stories of the amazing people that come for a simple meal. I was totally humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.
What I am teaching you here is, “Spirituality;” The exercise of taking what Jesus, through Matthew and Mark, has instructing us to do SO THAT we can see and experience Jesus and the mercy of God in the people and experiences we find ourselves living within, no matter if the circumstances are good or bad, easy or difficult, joyful or filled with pain. It is not easy, but it is a calling not for the needs of finding merit in humanity and our brokenness, but to see and experience the goodness and mercy of God even in the most difficult of situations. There are wars, hunger in the midst of plenty, the continued rape of God’s planet for the sake of human profit, the continued betrayal of human against human on racial, economic, social and educational levels, YET, God calls us to be thankful and ready to SEE, HEAR, and EXPERIENCE God at any moment and then ACT in the discipline of Jesus.
In 26 days we will celebrate Jesus’ Birthday. Jesus was born into a world with the same kinds of pains our world is experiencing now, but the angels, shepherds, Mary and Joseph rejoiced… Because they knew that with the birth of Jesus, a New Age had Begun, and the Old Age will pass away. The “Kingdom of God is at Hand,” that means the crucified and risen Savior is around us ready to meet us, call us, and work through us at all times. The work is plentiful and God will use our hands and talents.
Open your eyes, open your ears, open your hearts, we want to see Jesus! Always be ready! Always be thankful! A New Age has begun Easter People! Amen.
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