Advent III+B 14, December, 2014 Fr. Robert R.M. Bagwell+
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 Canticle 15 I Thessalonians 5:16-24 John 1:6-8, 19-28
We are at the mid-time of Advent and we are told that even in the darkness and barrenness of winter that there is light ahead. We have the wonderful admonition to "rejoice"! And this rejoicing is more than that little song from a few years ago: "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Rather this is something much more profound. Life is difficult,, that is a given. The denial of that reality has driven many of our fellow human beings into all kinds of neurotic behavior, often getting us in trouble with the law, the bank, the credit card companies and the like. In this pre-Christmas season, the stores are filled with shoppers. ,many who will give little thought to "Jesus", being "the Reason for the Season". With all of the turmoil caused by human sin, things we often do to ourselves and God allows the natural outcomes of those wrong choices, Isaiah brings the word of comfort. Episcopal preacher Barbara Brown Taylor wrote: It is easy enough to see why some people think history is drawing to a close. All you have to do is hold a newspaper in one hand and Lukes gospel in the other. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom." Check. There will be great earthquakes. Check. In various places famines and plagues. Check , check. Dreadful portents and great signs from heaven Check.
This Sunday in the church year has been known by various names, Stir up Sunday where the cry of God=s people (and our cry this morning presumably) is that the Holy Spirit will come among us and stir us up with His power and break down the sins, the character flaws, the addictions, and patterns of living that hinder us from pleasing Him and living out His plan for our lives through us.
We must respond as IHS teaches us. Paul says that God who calls us is to be depended on and He, not me, not the vestry, God will accomplish His purposes through us if we are willing. His power is stirring, so let us rejoice! We cannot expect the Bible, the Church or God to work for us if we are refusing to obey. The Lord said through Isaiah today: Behold I create a new heavens and a new earth; God is doing part of that creating through us, the Church, the God family. Will we respond in prayer, repentance, self-giving and self-examination? Only then will we find the riches that both the Church and our salvation have to offer us in Christ Jesus.
Stir up thy power O Lord and with great might come among us, ..