Sermon: Advent 2C,Dec 9th, 2012.
A way to God
Spirit of God, make the way straight for us to hear and believe your word, for your word is truth and life. Amen
Friends, we hear of the way to God this Advent morning. “The Way to God”?
If there was ever a quest that would mark our age it would be the quest to find a way to the divine
Of course, in our climate, any way to find God – without Christianity is all the rage. Any other way is OK. If we Christians ever comment or criticise another way to God being offered, then we are bigoted and narrow. If other ways to God on offer criticise Christianity they are applauded! Nothing new here – we are used to it now.
Regardless of this, there are many ways to God, or fulfilment, of life, or the divine on offer daily for us and our young people and children.
Here’s a few ways on offer – ways to God.
The way to god is:
- Being good – doing what the bible says to keep God happy with me
- Pretending to be good – keeping up appearances out of loyalty to church or family or self expectations
- Not bothering to be good at all. Finding God in not seeing the world in “good and bad” terms but just as it is terms – of course though, then we have the problem of meaninglessness. If nothing is good and noting is bad and all of this good and bad stuff is just a human construction – then all is nothing.
- Not bothering to be good at all – searching for meaning in anything and everything – no limits of sex, relationship boundaries, and moral code in behaviour…..
- Concentrating on self – rejecting God and religion and becoming myself through various experiences – chasing the bucket list, attending events, courses, groups to fulfil myself – because no one can or will – including God…..
- Concentrating on others – doing good things for others regardless of God – just because it is better to live that way.
- Emptying one’s self and finding the great unknown – the great spiritual existence that exists somewhere – finding the secret way, the hidden way, the way to peace and contentment
- Collecting gods and keeping them happy – a good luck charm for travel, for sport, for study, for peace in the home….
How shall we find a way to God? How shall we help people find a way to God?
But maybe this is the wrong question? It seems that God is finding us!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation
God is the one making finding him possible. God is the one making a way for us to see his freedom and love for us – our “salvation”.
So, because God is finding us and making the way to him possible for us, John can then cry out how we receive God’s new way.
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”
We don’t find God. We receive what God is already doing for us.
And the way receive God’s new way?
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”.
The way to receive God? “Repent” cries John. Turning toward God, laying down self, sorrowing for wrong done to and against; an act of humility, an act of faith in God’s goodness….
The way to God; the way to fulfillment, purpose, and meaning is repentance? The way to receive God’s life is a turning away from self and sin and darkness and evil and a turning toward truth and light and life – in the Advent king Jesus? Not what people are hearing or want to hear….. Well maybe…..
I heard this story once.
A number of years ago a couple travelled to the offices of an Adoption Society in England to receive a baby. They had been on the waiting list a long time. They had been interviewed and carefully scrutinized. Now at last, their dreams were to be fulfilled. But their day of happiness was another’s pain.
Arriving at the offices of the Society they were led up a flight of stairs to a waiting room. After a few minutes they heard someone else climbing the stairs. It was the young student mother whose baby was to be adopted. She was met by the lady responsible for the adoption arrangements and taken into another room. Our friends heard a muffled conversation and a few minutes later, footsteps on the stairs as the young mother left. They heard her deep sobbing until the front door of the office was closed. Then, there was silence.
The lady in charge then ushered them next door. In a little cot was a six week old baby boy. On a chair beside it was a brown paper bag containing a change of clothes and two letters. One of these, addressed to the new parents, thanked them for providing a home for her baby and acknowledged that under the terms of the adoption each would never know the other’s identity. Then the young mother added one request. Would they allow her little son to read the other letter on his eighteenth birthday? She assured them that she had not included any information about her identity. The couple entrusted that letter to a lawyer and one day the young man will read the message which his mother wrote on the day when with breaking heart, she parted from him.
I wonder what she wrote? If I had to condense all I feel about life and love into a few precious words what would I say? I would have no time for trivia. I would not be concerned about economics, politics, the weather, clothes, even future job prospects of career really. I would not be at all concerned the size of house or the type of car. At such a time I would want to dwell on the life-giving things of life, on what life was all about and what things were absolutely essential. I might find myself outlining the way to God.
John was doing just that. Time was short. Like this couple in a big moment, John had to get to the core quickly. Soon the sword of Herod’s guard would flash and his tongue would lie silent in the grave. Soon the way to God would be here – the messiah, the new road, the new way, the new holy highway to peace and joy and life and people had to get ready for this massive change and huge shift in destiny.
One word; Repent. Metanoia. Turn around. Turn back toward God for he is meeting you now where you are at, and calling you to a totally new way to deal with your sin, your idolatry, your brokenness, your weakness. A tsunami of change is coming and complete peace with your Creator is on offer.
Repent of your self-aggrandisement, your chasing for the way to God in the things you think you know. Turn away from triviality, mere surface level observance – religious or otherwise. Repent of reliance on family tradition and custom. God can make church members out of rocks on the ground, says the fiery man in the desert.
Repent of your comfortableness with unforgiveness and grudges. Turn away from judgemental heart – keeping all the “bad” people at bay and all the “good” people free.
Give up you your distraction, your indifference and seek the new man, the new way to God and his peace, his life, his calling
“Repent” – Short and simple – the only way to be known by God.
Repenting for John is more than having a change of heart or a feeling of regret. It is more than a New Year’s Eve resolution. Repentance is a turning away from ourselves, and in simple trust and faith in God’s grace, turning back to him.
Each of us is invited to come to Jesus one-on-one. At least that’s what John says.
He says prepare for the advent; the coming of Jesus. There is no room for relying on your pedigree as a dyed in the wool Lutheran or an extra special member of this parish. There is no room for pleading ignorance concerning God’s call to come clean with him and repent. No, there is only room in your heart for the grace of Jesus – your heart filled with his peace so you can live in his peace and get on with his mission to bring peace to all those you know who know no peace with Jesus.
Turn to him this Advent so that your peace may be full this Christmas.