It was Sunday (days ago) and we gathered (as we do) around the table. The coffee was hot for those who wanted & the lights were on especially because there was less natural light streaming in (since the windows re-installation had begun & cardboard filled a large window). We opened in prayer.
And then of course was that delightful time of the homework check-in. Not all had necessarily understood it. There were mixed thoughts. Are we there yet, at this time where creation (the creation without “voice” — sun, moon, stars) is giving us signs and we — humanity, from all over — are confused; are we at the time when Christ is coming again to us — returning to earth (as we know it) in the way that he left it after the resurrection — in a cloud & this time in the pomp & circumstance that was expected the first time? Well…yes, in the sense that we are confused, and there are things (say like climate change…or if you prefer the fires, earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis, etc.)…and also no, in the sense that there has always been storms, and climate change, and no one is shouting that they’ve spotted Jesus on a cloud. And what about the second question, are we ready? Are we prepared for Christ to come back? Yes — in that exasperated space of — God is so much better, there’s so much brokenness, pain, death — yes we are ready. And, yes — in that hopeful space of we can’t wait for Christ to come back — to get to really know him — to be living in “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” — to be there! And yes too — in the sense that by grace, as far as we are able we’ve been doing what we believe God has called & equipped us to do — we are ready! And no, no in the sense that if we were ready Christ would be here; and no in the sense that not all who will come to the saving knowledge of Christ are there; and so no — because we are still lighting the advent candles and we are still praying and we are still here…
So the questions, are we there yet & are we ready, are useful to invite us to think and to pray and to reflect. But it seems the answers might always be a “both-and” and a “yes and no.” Which of course can be frustrating, but y’all that can happen as we read scripture — especially when the Holy Spirit gives further revelation and the Word speaks powerfully into our lives in new & different & unexpected ways (which is something God has always been in the business of doing). And we turned to a new text to consider in our Advent season, Luke 3:1-6.
We noticed how the story is situated in a specific time, a specific social & political context. It was named how John the Baptist was doing something that was not new, he was baptizing the people — doing a faith ritual that was familiar, and God was using that in a new & different way — God was breathing new life into an old practice. And we saw that the seeing of salvation of God was for everyone — not just some, but all. While unsaid specifically (I think) it is worth noting how the proclamation & the practice of baptism roots John & Jesus too in the faith practice & tradition of Judaism — this is not something new, but something old with new life — this is God using what is known to bring more life — this is the faith of the ancestors in fullness and something they could speak to but not fully know (using the voice of prophets that came before them like Isaiah) — this is a type of fulfillment.
Our homework this week connects a bit with the idea of joining into the (already) movement of God to bring a fulfillment now even as we wait for Christ to come again! It also coincides with the candle we lit during worship, the candle of Peace, in which we prayed,
Dear God, we pray for the peace that only You can bring through Your Son, Jesus the Christ. May we walk in the paths of peace. Amen.
Thus the homework is this: bring peace in at least one way this week.
I know…perhaps not an easy task, but we indeed are called to be peacemakers, and indeed we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ — who is the Prince of Peace; so while hard it seems rather appropriate that we would seek in this season especially (but really for at all times!) — to be those seeking to bring peace!
As always — looking forward to when we gather getting to hear the stories of peace & be blessed by what God is up too through each of you who will gather round the table.
Waiting for Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater