1st Scripture Reading: Isaiah 64: 1-9 & Psalm 80
So here we are – it’s hard to believe that we are entering the Christmas season again, isn’t it? But we’ve already had the annual Legion Auction, and Mary Mary’s had a Christmas breakfast fund-raiser for the Food Bank on Friday. The Christmas Craft Fair in support of our local artists and craftspeople was a gorgeous offering yesterday, and tonight is the Christmas Tree Lighting at Mary Mary’s…and on it goes!
And we remind ourselves, in this the busiest season of the year, that “Jesus is the reason for the season”. In our pluralistic, multi-cultural, intensely secular society of today, we are more and more conscious that we have a calling to hold that Light – to remember this Jesus who taught our world a better way to live – a way that we are struggling to implement, even after more than 2000 years.
As we look around this world today, in the news and the newspapers, we cannot escape the depressing stories of armed conflict, ethnic cleansing, persecution of minorities, economic exploitation, and gender inequality. Even as we live in the most advanced civilization in recorded history, we are surrounded by the kinds of injustice that our Bible graphically describes even before the time of Jesus. In many ways it looks as if we haven’t made much progress.
The prophet Isaiah cries out to what he sees as an angry god, a god who has hidden his face from his people. The psalm writer intuits that the people yearn for a god who is not angry and punishing, rather a God who will shine the light of love and forgiveness on the people of Israel. And that God, children of God, is the God of Jesus of Nazareth.
Which brings us to Advent: the season of Christmas begins with the approach, the four weeks of Advent – the time of waiting, the time of knowing he is coming, but he is not yet here, the time of anticipation and preparation for the birth of this very special child.
In those dark days of Roman oppression, burdened by the legalistic application of Judaic Law, the Jewish people so needed to see some light at the end of the tunnel! Spiritually they thirsted for a God they didn’t know very well – the God of Jesus, the God of Love.
Hymn #509 VU “I the Lord of Sea and Sky”
2nd Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37
The people of Israel spiritually thirsted for a God they didn’t know very well – the God of Jesus – the God of Love. And as we have pointed out, nothing much has changed over time, tho everything seems to have changed a lot!
Time itself is a bit of an illusion, as many thinkers have tried to tell us. But we chronicle everything according to linear time – we call it history – and we can’t really imagine how we would organize our world without it.
But the best-selling author Eckhart Tolle tells us that there is no such thing as time: only the eternal “now”. The only moment we actually have is this one we are presently experiencing. The only way we can experience the past or the future is to bring those thoughts into the present moment – the eternal now.
So when the apostle Paul says, “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also the fellowship of his son, Jesus Christ the Lord.” We might try to collapse all that into the present moment – which is after all, all we have – and know that our generous, loving, faithful God is with us now, and has always been with us, and will be with us – to the end.
And so then, children of God, there is nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, nothing to regret. Relaxing into God’s presence, we can surrender to the beauty, the richness, the inevitability of this moment, and thereby enter the fellowship of Jesus, even of the Divine, and experience ourselves as that spiritual being we have always been in the eyes of the Creator. Doing that we let go of the ego-self, and become conscious of our true spiritual nature. Let me illustrate how this works by reading you a story from Eckhart Tolle’s book: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
(story about Stephen Hawking, p.211-212)
Stephen Hawking was completely surrendered to the present moment – and his life was a beautiful thing to behold – not in the form, but in the substance. All of us know that our form is not a permanent thing – but many of us are still afraid that death is the end of everything.
But here we are – anticipating the birth of a new baby, a new hope for the world, and new way of perceiving what is real and what is “fake news”. If time does not exist, then this spiritual gift of newness, of possibility has always been there, has always been true for us.
And it seems to have something to do with being awake and alert – being “in the moment” rather than distracted by some attachment to form, in the form perhaps, of the pursuit of pleasure, or power or eternal youth. Those ego-satisfying activities put us asleep – deeply unaware of our spiritual nature and unconscious to who we really are and what, in surrender to that nature, we are truly capable of. In our alignment with our spiritual nature, the Divine Presence within us, we are creating the kindom of God right here on earth. We are the hope of this world. But first we have to wake up, be alert and prepared, and consciously living in each moment, in fellowship with God and with Jesus. It is our joy and our responsibility to be children of the living God. Made, each of us, in the image of the Creator, it is our purpose to live out the truth of our essential being – what does the great Potter want to form in us? Let us sing together, children of God.
Hymn #157 MV “I am a Child of God”