Hark! Good News!

There aren’t many people who can’t tell you exactly how many days there are left before Christmas. That’s because time is running, and there is still so much to do. Menus to be finalized, food to be bought, baking to get done, presents to be bought and wrapped, cards to address, decorating to finish.

And so we limp into our places of worship this Sunday, and what an uplifting message we get. Just exactly when we need it.

And it comes, with a fanfare of trumpets blaring.

Listen. You can hear them.

Just like in movies of the times of merry old England, and certainly in those times in Rome when the Emperor was about to arrive, the trumpets were heard upon the ramparts.

The Good News is on its way! Rejoice, we hear again and again. Rejoice. We have been blessed with a God who listens and who responds to our call.

From Isaiah we are told that glad tidings come to the poor, the brokenhearted will be healed, the prisoners will be released. In the Magnificat, Mary rejoices that God will fill the hungry with good things and will have mercy on every generation. Paul says we all will be made perfect because our God is faithful and it will be accomplished.

John reminds us that we may believe all this because John the Baptist told us so. He told us that he was the one coming to announce the coming of the Light.

Such an important word “the Light.”

Such a word was known to Jews. Light was knowledge of the Lord, yet here it is used in a new way. Light is God and that God is coming among us to perfect us, and to heal and to have mercy. God as Light will teach us.

John the Baptist may indeed be a prophet of the Good News. But Paul warns, “test everything, retain what is good”. Paul is of course speaking after the fact, and is reminding us that we know what Jesus taught. Examine all that is given by so-called prophets in that light. Retain what is good. In other words, lay everything that is preached to you alongside the teaching of the Light, and keep only that which aligns with the Master’s teaching.

Would that that occurred today.

Today, we unfortunately have a plethora of spokespersons for the Light. And too many of them, sad so say, have messages that in the end serve to further other agendas. They seek to serve political parties or perceived ingrained beliefs that may have little or in some cases, nothing to do with what our Master taught.

When someone tries to tell you that Jesus would be for a certain economic ideology, by twisting a parable or taking a sentence all too literally, beware. Test everything. When someone attempts to  tell you that Jesus would be of this or that position in regards some sexual moray, beware. Test everything.

Prophets abound even today. And some are indeed listening to God, but some are not. Retain what is good.

Test against what the Light proclaims. What is warm and life-giving? What opens up for all to see? What offers hope, healing, mercy? What on the other hand is dark, divisive, and fearful? Reject it as not light.

Indeed, this is GOOD NEWS!

It is this good news that will carry us through the days and hours to come. It is this which sustains us through real and perceived obstacles and the dark. A new day is dawning. Come to the Light!

Amen.

Is 61:1-2a, 10-11
Lk 1: 46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1Thes 5: 16-24
Jn 1: 6-8, 19-28

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 15:26:20

    Sherry, I don’t expect I’ll be very lucid, as I’m still reeling from one of–if not the–greatest sermon I’ve ever heard. Yet your thoughts intersect perfectly with those we heard this morning.

    Advent calls us to sharpen our awareness and senses (“clear the clutter off the Messiah table” is how our pastor put it) so we can perceive the Light wherever it shines. God’s invitation to join in the Good News beckons us to discover the obstinately unpredictable divine in the least likely places. It glistens in the eyes and hearts of those God anoints us to serve–in the burdens of the oppressed, caverns of broken hearts, shackles of captives and prisoners, tears of the bereaved. It glows in words of random kindness, tender touches of compassion, instinctive selflessness–in the widow’s coin and the infant’s laughter. The list goes on and on and on.

    The Good News is we’re encompassed by the Light. And if we prepare Its way, relentlessly overturning holier-than-thou hurdles and obstructionist façades erected to obscure the Light, It will illuminate our lives. It will draw us to the manger and lead us home.

    Sherry, what a precious gift to to share the joy of Advent–and to do the hard work it asks of us–with you. I’m so grateful for all you’ve done to help make this the richest Advent I’ve yet to experience!

    Many, many blessings,
    Tim

    Reply

    • Tim
      Dec 11, 2011 @ 15:31:33

      PS: I hope to post Joy’s sermon on Straight-Friendly as soon as she publishes the manuscript–probably in the next couple days or so. Keep an eye out for it. It won’t be as powerful in type, but it will be the next best thing to hearing it in person! It’s called “a place where change is possible.”

      Reply

    • Sherry
      Dec 12, 2011 @ 10:47:46

      Oh yes Tim, so perfectly said. There is something so touchingly beautiful about the message this Sunday. I am such a love of the “light” analogies. This is indeed becoming a wonderful wonderful Advent.

      Reply

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