DECEMBER 6, 2020 SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Dear Sisters and Brothers who wait in Advent,
On Sunday the Second Sunday of Advent we light first, the Candle of Hope, and then the Second Candle – Love. In the readings, note the deep and ever abiding love of God to comfort and save his people – all creation. That is also the hope captured for us now, in these present days, also echo in the Collect of the Day. God sends messengers – prophets like John the Baptist, to call people to life in God’s realm. In the Gospel we’re introduced to John in the wilderness, the last of Old Testament prophets who call us to turn toward God again, each day, and be washed anew by divine forgiveness and love. As in that day – we do the work of self-preparation. Salvation is here. To receive it, we align ourselves with the Lord’s vision for us.
Isaiah’s words to captive Israel begin with that familiar recitative from Messiah – Comfort ye my people. Handel captures the prophet’s words in the prophets words from the Lord. God is the faithful comforter of sorrowing souls. As someone once said, “God comforts the afflicted, and afflicts the comfortable.” If it doesn’t always seem to happen for you that way, rest assured. One day it will. God will come and straighten our ways out, smooth the uneven places of our lives, and His glory will be revealed, in gathering us all, safely home.
The Psalmist echoes Isaiah’s words. God’s promises are laid for us. Pay attention. It’s not so much fear and threat — though that has its way of getting our attention. Focus instead on what the Lord is doing and will do. With our eyes and hearts, our actions fixed upon him – we are able to respond properly and faithfully to receive and live God’s promises.
God’s love for us is reflected in Peter’s second letter. The focus is clearly on the Second Advent. The first Advent inaugurated a new relationship with God for us, the Second is promised to those who wait for Christ – living with hope — and engaging actions of love for what God loves — all peoples, all creation which God creates and loves. All of this is remarkable and disorients this present world’s values, and ours, prepares us for Christ’s second coming project of full reclamation. While we wait – get with God’s program. Examine and make needed changes – work to help others live God’s agenda — practice for life to come.
The Gospel focuses on John the Baptist in the wilderness – preaching, calling for repentance, and baptizing for forgiveness of sins. The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, starts with John. Mark harkens back to our passage from Isaiah to cast Jesus as the Lord in the wilderness to lead us out — and John is the voice of the prophet, this time. John makes Advent, but is forgotten by Christmas. I once preached on John in Advent — noting no Advent or Christmas cards carry John and his message that begins the good news. Nor does he rate an appearance in holiday scenes on front lawns. The husband of our Deacon at the time brought me a picture the next Sunday from their front porch. He’d dressed a figure as John the Baptist — a wilderness hippie looking rough and austere, lighted and sitting by their front door. John got his moment at Christmas. Jesus will later say John is the greatest of these prophets. There are still prophetic voices among us — but not with the charism of those in the Old Testament God called, or John. Year B – we meet this last prophet who prepares God’s final path home for us.
Continue as I suggest — to read, reread, pray, mark, inwardly digest — and meditate to listen to what God is saying to you. The sermon is another word – someone else speaks. Sometimes God may speak through a sermon. God’s most direct route is through the time you give him – and the listening you do.
Blessings as we continue our Advent journey – Fr. Steve
Second Sunday of Advent – December 6, 2020
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.