Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Advent 2 Sermon: Pause
Isaiah and Matthew
That’s how we should be during Christmas season. All the hustle and the bustle—Advent is about pausing. About reflecting. Can you imagine the wonder in our acquantaintance’s faces, kind of like those passers by in Grand Central Station?
Have to adjust to life knowing that the real world isn’t like a DVR. We can’t just pause it!
That’s what the season of Advent is all about. It is about pausing it. It’s about waiting. There’s all these scriptures and songs and liturgies, they’re full of words like “wait” and “watch.”
Today’s scriptures are like that. “Prepare the way of the Lord!” How do we do that? By sweeping the leaves off the front porch? I got a call from someone the other day who was going to stop by the parsonage, so I went outside and saw the pile of leaves on my front porch and thought, “that’s not very welcoming!” So I went out there and swept them up and then bagged them up in a garbage bag.
I think you can mentally and spiritually do this by spending more time in silence. By “pausing it,” especially during this season amidst all the hustle and bustle and decorating. The family got all our Christmas stuff out and we have boxes of stuff all over the place, our house is a wreck, but you know what—we have lights on the tree and ornaments, and it just looks magical. One of my favorite things to do (and to my delight, my kids love doing it with me) is laying down with my head under the tree looking up through the branches at all the lights and ornaments glowing through the fir needles. I said to Wesley the other day that this is what it must feel like to be a present. This is what it feels like to be present. Yes, even with boxes of stuff all over the wrecked house, taking a moment to lay there with your head under the tree with your kids, or perhaps the prayerful equivalent, is a spiritual “clearing off the porch” to prepare the way of the Lord. Why? How? Because it’s a good place to listen. That’s how we prepare—we listen. We wait. We cultivate silence in our day, so it’s not just jam packed and messy with all the “I gotta do’s”
You know the problem with those leaves on the front porch? You sweep them off, and then somehow they come blowing right back. I don’t understand the fact that my east facing house gets all these leaves nestling up against the front door, but it happens. That’s why all throughout these four weeks the theme of Advent is waiting.
In today’s scripture, we hear from John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness, setting the formula for us. Part of the expectant waiting of Advent involves a harkening back to the voices of promise and hope found in the prophets.
He’s pushing the pause button, in a way, on what is going on in the world all around him. He looks at the temple system of worship and he sees corruption. He looks at the monarchy or his own country and he sees overfed users of the poor and oppressed in league with an occupying army. He looks at all this and he says “Pause it!” Wait! Listen! There is one coming who will judge all of this corruption. There is a doctor coming who will diagnose our illness and offer us a cure.
Instead of the same routine, the prophets invite us to look at the world with creative eyes. How can we be ambassadors of peace?
How can we bring news of the Christ child in ways that don’t just meld into the background of all the trappings of the season? Can that last video be a metaphor for an invitation that you might hear on this day. How can your life be an accompanying song to the ever present jingling bell of need?
Wait! Listen! Amen