Matured | 1st after Christmas

Luke 2:41-52

41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom. 43 After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. 44 Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. 45 When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were shocked.

His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!”

49 Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he said to them. 51 Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart. 52 Jesus matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people.

Matured

The Sunday after Christmas Day typically has a less-than-normal attendance rate at worship services. It’s the same with the Sunday after Easter Day. The big celebration of Christmas is now over. Decorations are probably coming down in some people’s homes. We’re tired because we’ve all been busy with travelling, visiting family and friends, going to Christmas parties and gatherings, eating Christmas meals, the craziness of Christmas morning when the kids (or grandkids) open their gifts. Not to mention all the shopping that some people have been doing for more than a month.

It’s exhausting! Wonderful, but exhausting.

I feel like I had two Christmas Days because I saw Christmas morning twice. Once from midnight to about 2:00 a.m. after our Candlelight Vigil Service, and then again at about 8:00 a.m. when I woke up for the day. Honestly, by Christmas evening, I didn’t want to do anything but go to sleep early.

And now we have the revelry of New Year’s Eve to look forward to tomorrow. I’m still tired frim Christmas. My New Year’s Eve will be me sitting at home finishing off the last of the eggnog. I may or may not stay up to ring in 2019 because 2018 just made me that tired.

So, I get why church members stay home on the Sunday after Christmas.

In fact, today is almost an image of our Gospel text from Luke. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Passover festival, as usual. Now that the festival had ended, they headed home with all the other faithful pilgrims who’d gone to the temple for worship. The temple, which had been a crowded place during the celebration would have boasted plenty of room for the few who might show up now that it was over. Maybe these were, like the young Jesus, the faithful whose devotion lasted year-round. There were people like that: people like Anna who “never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37 CEB).

Apparently, the smaller crowd allowed extra time to discuss important matters of faith, which was just what the twelve-year-old Son of God craved. Really, Jesus’ motive for staying in the Temple while his parents hit the road isn’t clear. Maybe he had questions that were important to him and wanted to discuss them with those who really might know the answers or, at least, how to find those answers. Maybe he lost track of time, like kids tend to do. Maybe he thought he was grown up enough to stay behind in another city while his mom and dad headed back home to Nazareth and figured he’d catch up with them later. Maybe he didn’t think he was lost at all.

His parents, Mary and Joseph, certainly thought Jesus was lost. At least, they came to that conclusion after travelling a day toward home before realizing that their son wasn’t with their group. The text suggests that Mary and Joseph were travelling back to Nazareth with a rather large company of extended family and friends, so it’s easy to imagine how a tween-age boy could get lost among the other kids in the group.

When we had our Romain Christmas gathering, we walked into my cousin’s house and I didn’t see my children for hours. I assumed they were somewhere in the house, but I figured as long as there wasn’t screaming that suggested pain or blood puddles on the floor, I just assumed they were good.

Now, I know that Mary and Joseph occasionally get a bad wrap from some people who think, how could they travel an entire day and not know their kid was missing? Were their parenting skills that bad? But, I’ll defend them. As a parent with kids currently ranging in age from eight to thirteen, I get it. I really do. Being a parent is exhausting on any day but being a parent on a holiday is ridiculous! I mean, nothing can prepare you for the energy it saps out of your bones.

When I first became a parent, every sound Kara made had me running to her cradle to make sure she was okay. Every! Sound! And it got tiring. I think it’s one of those learning curves every parent experiences. So, over time, a parent learns to pay attention to the kind of sound your kid makes. And we parse out whether the sound is just a sound, or a distressful sound. And we get really adept at learning to tell the difference.

So, for instance, take screaming.

Parents—and adults who are used to kids—pretty much know the difference between happy screams and screams of pain. But there are those moments when a scream’s pitch makes parents sit up with a racing heart and listen hard, because the way a scream sounded, it could go either way.

So, we listen, ready to get up and run, while pausing to see how this thing’s going to turn out. Those moments, they’re like restrained tension: parents are a loaded spring ready to go. Then, a laugh rings out, or there’s a tell-tale change in pitch that reassures our hearts that the child in question is actually expressing joy rather than pain. And we relax and go back to what we were doing because we’re reasonably certain that the kids are okay.

At my cousin Amy’s house, I just assumed my kids were somewhere… in the house. Same with my cousin Ryan a day later. I just assumed my kids were with their cousins… somewhere. I didn’t see them for hours. But again: no screaming, and no blood. So, in my mind, they were good.

I say that to put Mary and Joseph’s situation into a little perspective. They were not neglectful parents. They were not travelling as a nuclear family, they were traveling as The Crowd from Nazareth. Jesus is the one who decided to stay in Jerusalem when his parents left the city in the caravan full of family and friends. Why wouldn’t they have assumed Jesus was in the caravan with them? Why wouldn’t they assume their son was off with some of his cousins or friends? Leaving would have been as busy and chaotic as any family trip I’ve ever taken. Jesus knew they were leaving. In their favor, the text does say that Mary and Joseph assumed Jesus was in the caravan, and they looked for him the whole day while they travelled. Jesus is the one who ditched them and chose to wander off for another visit to the temple.

And, he really didn’t waste any courtesy on his mom and dad when they found him—three days later(!)—in the temple. When Mary asked him why he did this to them and explained how worried they’d been and how they’d had to search for him, Jesus’ response was, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49 CEB).

No. They obviously didn’t know that. Luke only tells us that his parents didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, which is a clue that there’s more going on in the text than at first appears.

On one hand, I try to imagine how I would respond to this situation if this were my son. But that really doesn’t compare because my son is a normal kid, and I’m a normal parent. Mary, on the other hand, knew that Jesus was God’s Son, that he was special and different. Maybe this wasn’t the first instance of Jesus doing something odd and acting like it was completely normal. In any case, it seems that Mary and Joseph exercised a rare kind of patience with their son that was equal to the moment and met Jesus where he was.

Where Jesus was, in this moment and so many others, was in his father’s house. One of the things we learn about Jesus is that the temple was immensely important to him. He was carried into the temple before he could walk when he was presented to the Lord and recognized as Israel’s redeemer by Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:22-24). He, apparently, like to hang out there and ask questions of the scribes and elders. When Jesus visited the temple years later, Jesus threw the money changers out and turned over the tables of those who were selling things there. And he quoted Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, saying, “My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a hideout for crooks” (Luke 19:46 CEB).

Jesus called it his house, because his father’s house was his home, too. And what was going on in his house necessarily demanded his attention. “Didn’t you know,” Jesus said to his mother, “that it was necessary for me to be in my father’s house?”

I’d posit that it’s necessary for us to be in God’s house, too. We need to be present in God’s house so that we can mature and grow in perfection. God’s grace is necessary for us to grow, and that necessarily requires something of us.

Here’s the curious thing—at least it might seem a curious thing to us: even Jesus matured. Even Jesus grew in perfection. Even Jesus needed to be in the temple to worship God. Even Jesus went to the synagogue every Sabbath day, as the Gospel reminds us in Luke 4:16.

The fact that Jesus “matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52 CEB) wasn’t some miraculous event that just happened, it was due to the practice of his faith! He was in the temple. He was an observant Jew from a family of observant Jews who went to temple during the pilgrim festivals, and to the synagogue every Sabbath. It was important to Jesus to be in God’s house. Jesus grew steadily from his religious roots, not in spite of them. There is no such thing as being either a Jew or a Christian apart from the community of faith!

John Wesley saw this text as evidence for practical divinity, that growth in holiness is a process that requires progress. Jesus, though he was already perfect, continued to grow in perfection. If even the perfect Son of God had to mature and grow, it plainly follows that even the purest and most seasoned of Christians have room to mature, too. Isn’t that why we come to this place every week?

I’m glad you’re here to worship God on this typically low-attendance Sunday. Maybe you know why you decided to come or, maybe, you don’t really know. Maybe you just felt compelled by some inner-necessity to be in God’s house today with your extended family and friends. Whatever got you here, your presence on such a day suggests that your faith is important to you, and that—like Jesus—you know you have room to mature.

Which, if you think about it, is a rather mature insight.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!

Rev. Christopher Millay

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Rejoice! | 3rd Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20

14 Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem. 15 The LORD has removed your judgment; he has turned away your enemy. The LORD, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you will no longer fear evil. 16 On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem: Don’t fear, Zion. Don’t let your hands fall. 17 The LORD your God is in your midst—a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. 18 I will remove from you those worried about the appointed feasts. They have been a burden for her, a reproach. 19 Watch what I am about to do to all your oppressors at that time. I will deliver the lame; I will gather the outcast. I will change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth. 20 At that time, I will bring all of you back, at the time when I gather you. I will give you fame and praise among all the neighboring peoples when I restore your possessions and you can see them—says the LORD. (CEB)

Rejoice!

How many of you knew there was a black prophet of African ancestry in the Old Testament? Well, if you didn’t, then meet Zephaniah. He was the son of Cushi, which, in Hebrew, means African, and usually refers to the upper-Nile region south of Egypt. Whether Cushi is the name of Zephaniah’s father or a racial designation, we don’t know.

Zephaniah the prophet went beyond naming the usual two generations of his genealogy, expanding it to four. He was the grandson of Gedaliah, and great-grandson of Amariah, and the second-great-grandson of Hezekiah (c.f. Zephaniah 1:1). It’s assumed that his second-great-grandfather was King Hezekiah. So, Zephaniah was a distant part of the royal family: maybe second-cousin to King Josiah.

After all, King Hezekiah had strong political ties to the 25th Dynasty of Egyptian Pharaohs, who were Nubians of the Kushite Empire. The Scriptures mention several people of African descent living in Israel in the days of the prophets Zephaniah and Jeremiah. It was common for marriages to be made between royal families to seal political alliances. It’s possible that a daughter of Gedaliah, who would have been King Hezekiah’s great-granddaughter, was given in marriage to a Nubian noble named Cushi as part of the continued alliance between Judah and Egypt. If that’s the case, then Zephaniah was born from that political union. And, we have a black prophet in the Old Testament.

This section of Zephaniah’s writing stands out as a sudden and unexpected shout of joy. The first eight oracles are only bad news for, and judgment against, Judah and Jerusalem. While King Hezekiah “…did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, just as his ancestor David had done” (2 Kings 18:3), his son and successor, Manasseh, was one of the worst. And, while Josiah was described as a faithful king who tried to reform the Kingdom of Judah by returning to the laws of the Covenant at Sinai, Zephaniah saw a different reality on the streets.

The people neglected the matters of justice and righteousness. They didn’t take care of the poor. They withheld their tithes and offerings from God. They treated their neighbors with disrespect. They worshipped idols. They put their trust in wealth, power, and prestige. They believed that God wouldn’t act on account of these things. They thought they were secure.

But, through Zephaniah, God said, “I will wipe out everything from the earth, says the LORD. I will destroy humanity and the beasts; I will destroy the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. I will make the wicked into a heap of ruins; I will eliminate humanity from the earth, says the LORD” (Zephaniah 1:2-3 CEB).

Not only did Zephaniah suggest the destruction of the earth, but he said that the Lord would invade the darkness of Judah’s heart like a person who takes a lamp into a dark place to ferret out secret and hidden sins (c.f. Zephaniah 1:12). The people thought that God didn’t see the things they did or read the thoughts of their minds, or know the sinful desires of their hearts, so they did whatever they wanted. But Zephaniah declared that the day of the Lord is coming: a terrible day of judgment, and a bitter day of distress and anguish, ruin and devastation, darkness and gloom.

It’s almost-but-not-quite astonishing that the last oracle of Zephaniah is one of rejoicing. To be sure, Zephaniah doesn’t foresee everyone rejoicing here. God declared that the corrupt priesthood which was more worried about appointed feasts than justice for the poor, lame, and outcast, would be removed. Their concern was for ritual. But they neglected the weightier matters of righteousness, namely, caring for people.

This was a problem that persisted to the time of Jesus, who said, “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You give to God a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, but you forget about the more important matters of the Law: justice, peace, and faith. You ought to give a tenth but without forgetting about those more important matters” (Matthew 23:23 CEB; c.f. also Luke 11:42).

It’s somewhat ironic that the lame would have been considered sinners according to Deuteronomic theology. They would have been outcasts. Their infirmity would have been proof, in the minds of some, that they were sinners. Yet, it’s the lame and the outcast whom God will deliver, gather, and change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth. These are the very people who were neglected by the king and by the priesthood. He tells those who were being oppressed, “Watch what I am about to do to your oppressors…” (Zephaniah 3:19a CEB).

One thing we need to understand is that, in the Scriptures, promise does not come apart from judgment. The Scriptures do not offer comfort to the comfortable. Rather, God’s promises, like that declared by Zephaniah, come after dark times of death, destruction, despair, and pain. Yet, twice, in the imperative for the people to rejoice, Zephaniah tells the people not to be afraid, and he says that the Lord is in their midst.

But, if we’re honest, we’re afraid of a lot. One scholar suggested that, if we read between the lines of verses 16-20, we can see something of our own souls. “We fear that God is not in our midst… We fear that our hands are weak and powerless… We fear insignificance, doubting that we matter in the course of events and dreading that we will be crushed by them. We fear political defeat and natural disaster. We fear shame and reproach, that our faults… will be discovered and render us less than the person we had fooled ourselves and others into thinking we were. We are afraid that we won’t have enough, won’t be enough. We even fear that God may keep God’s promises, and interrupt the safety of our fears and the familiarity of our enemies with something new” (D. Block in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Vol. 1, pg. 54-55).

Zephaniah’s oracle acknowledges our fears and dispels them with a promise of restoration and joy. It’s as if the prophet has brought us forth to the very lip of the chasm of judgment and doom, only to draw us back at the very last moment. Our joy is made all the more intense because of the absolute hopelessness out of which it springs. The word of God which began as irredeemable judgment has been transformed into transcendent gladness! That which once anticipated the silence of the people (c.f. 1:7) or, worse, our cries of sorrow (c.f. 1:11), now celebrates with a song of joy (c.f. 3:14).

The roots of this song of joy don’t lie in the strength or sudden turn toward goodness of the people. Rather, this song of joy is rooted—absolutely—In the grace and benevolence of God. The God who is Israel’s judge is also Israel’s lover and faithful partner in a holy covenant. The coming of the Lord looked like a moment of disaster and fear, but all that has changed. Now the presence of God among us removes all of our fear; it brings salvation.

This song promises us a day of great joy and exultation. It’s a day of renewed love, gladness, singing, salvation, gathering in, and the restoration of fortunes. It is the Lord who has championed the cause of God’s people. Because our God will now rejoice and exult, we, too, can be caught up in this same celebration. Since the Lord our God will renew us in his love, we are invited to accept this love and to participate in this love with gladness and joy.

Today we are called to rejoice! Rejoice in God our Savior! Rejoice in the one who comes to save us, to heal us, who comes to BE our joy. Christ our Savior not only gives us reason to feel joyful, he IS our joy.

Every December, I hear people lament that they can’t get into the Christmas spirit, that they don’t feel like they should at Christmas time, that they’re missing a feeling of joy. I can relate to that. I think we all can admit there are times in our life where the feeling of joy has been absent. Yet, while joy is a feeling, it’s also a response to what we know to be true. That’s one of the beautiful things about this Sunday: we are reminded that no matter what trouble, trials, or tribulations are going on in our lives, there is reason to rejoice!

Rejoice!

Rejoice that God loves you!

Rejoice that God has put God’s own love into us so that we might share it with everyone around us!

Rejoice that God has redeemed us!

Rejoice that God remembers your sins no more!

Rejoice that God calls you by name as his beloved daughters and sons!

Rejoice that God will one day wipe every tear from our eyes!

Rejoice that God has given us each other, to bear with one another through whatever happens in our lives.

Rejoice that God came into our very midst as a human being, born so many years ago, to dwell with us and share our humanity!

Rejoice that Jesus, the Christ, has gone to prepare a place for us where there will be no more sorrows!

Rejoice that our Lord will one day return and make God’s home among us.

Rejoice that we will live forever in the presence of the living God who is Love!

Rejoice!

Rejoice!

This Sunday, we are invited to rejoice and exult with all our heart in the salvation of our Lord and God. Don’t fear. The Lord our God is in our midst.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!

~Rev. Christopher Millay

Coming | 1st of Advent

Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 The time is coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The LORD Is Our Righteousness.

Coming

Advent seems like a strange season to many Christians. Not only is it strange, it’s maybe not-so-strangely misunderstood. It casts an unfamiliar vibe. Part of the reason for our misunderstanding of the Advent season is undoubtedly due to Advent’s conflict our cultural mindset which occupies the same time. After all, most of us are getting ready for Christmas before the dishes from our Thanksgiving meals are put away. I admit that I did my Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, albeit from the comfort of my chair in front of my computer.

Another oddity with Advent is that it messes with time. During the weeks of December, most of us are paradoxically looking forward to the birth of a baby that has already been born—and is yet still being born in us. And, we’re looking forward to the New Year when, for Christians, the first Sunday of Advent is the New Year.

The reality of Advent, however, is that it has no star in the east to guide magi toward the child born in Bethlehem. It has no choir of angels singing refrains of God’s glory, and no shepherds watching their flocks by night. Advent has no birth in a cattle stall, no swaddled baby in a manger, and no Blessed Virgin Mary who ponders in her heart the words of the angel as reported by those shepherds.

The Scripture verses we read during the season of Advent are sometimes strange and difficult to hear. The Gospel readings are all focused on adults who speak about the coming of God’s dominion in apocalyptic overtones. The readings from the New Testament letters all point to the nearness of the Lord’s return. The Old Testament readings speak of a future time of restoration and peace with the coming Day of the Lord which are spoken to a people who are facing the terrors of exile with their crushed hopes, dashed dreams, with a trail of blood, tears, and burned livelihoods either before or behind them.

Advent is not filled with the feel-good stories that we love. These are not the childhood favorites that draw the waters of bubbly nostalgia up from deep within our hearts. Even the songs we sing in Advent, with their minor keys and tempered tempos, fail to gratify our desire to sing the carols of Christmas joy and gladness. Advent can be frustrating to us. It can be confounding to those who simply want to get on to the joy of Christmas with its gift exchanges and family gatherings and well-prepared feasts.

For me, Advent is one of my favorite seasons—it always has been—probably because the theme of the season matches most closely to how I feel all the time. I may not always feel joyful during Christmas. I may not always feel a sense of wonder during the season after Epiphany. I may not always feel remorseful or repentant during Lent. I may not always feel like I’m living out the glories or the victory of Easter, or feel alive and empowered by the Spirit in the season after Pentecost.

You see, I’m the type of person who sees how messed up the world is and I long for something better, something more, something to heal the hurts of the world. I’m the type of person who grieves deeply with each injustice I hear about on the news: every life cut short with all the hopes, dreams, and potential that’s destroyed with them; every injustice against women, minorities, refugees. My heart hurts for every person living in the midst of war or poverty or violence, who suffers at the hands of nations and powers, and the inhumanity they inflict all for the sake of the illusion of control. I grieve for the trauma that each person with these experiences and in these situations will have to deal with for the rest of their lives, and for all they lost and won’t ever get back.

I know that all sounds rather bleak. Maybe even pessimistic. Maybe my words sound like those of someone on the brink of despair. Despair would certainly fit with those who heard Jeremiah’s words. They were facing exile. They were living in the midst of war and death and destruction.

What keeps me from the brink of despair is my faith in God’s promises. When I hear about the horrors people have endured or are enduring, these things fill my prayers. And my prayers for justice, for peace, for righteousness, for restoration, for renewal: they shape my despair into hope and hopeful imagination. Instead of the paralyzation of despair, my soul cries out in longing and hope, Maranatha! The cool thing is, that word from Aramaic either means Come, Lord, or The Lord has come. One points to the source of our longing for God. The other points to the source of our hope in God.

I long for the day when the poor have everything they need, when no more children cry because they’re hungry, when cancer and other illnesses don’t cut lives short, when death is no more, when mourning and crying and pain are no more. I long for the day when refugees no longer have a reason to flee, and all are welcomed as friends no matter what insignificant border they happen to cross. I long for the day when every tear is wiped dry. I long for God’s dominion on earth.

It’s a sense of longing that runs through the season of Advent. The name of the season, itself, means coming. And that’s what we’re longing for in the season of Advent: that the Lord will come and set all things aright. We sing the mournful-sounding hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel in a minor key because only a minor-key fits when our unfulfilled longing for God’s righteousness can no longer be contained.

“The time is coming,” the Lord declares, when God’s gracious promise to Israel and Judah will be fulfilled. Jeremiah spoke this word of God’s promise to the People of Jerusalem when their world was crumbling around them. Jeremiah shouts to us that, even when things look bleak, we can trust in God’s promise that a new day is coming, when righteousness is the norm.

Jeremiah foresaw a future king of David’s line who would be righteous, who would do what is just and right. You see, Jeremiah blamed the unrighteousness of the Davidic monarchy for the exile that the people faced in his day. The Davidic kings exploited their own people, and they were unfaithful to God. They let justice and righteousness fall to the ground when they were supposed to be its defenders.

The righteous branch was also foreseen by Isaiah, who said, “A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse; a branch will sprout from his roots. The LORD’s spirit will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of planning and strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the LORD. He will delight in fearing the LORD. He won’t judge by appearances, nor decide by hearsay. He will judge the needy with righteousness, and decide with equity for those who suffer in the land. He will strike the violent with the rod of his mouth; by the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked. Righteousness will be the belt around his hips, and faithfulness the belt around his waist.” (Isaiah 11:1-5 CEB).

God promised to raise up a branch from the stump of a kingly line that had been cut off. Jehoiachin and Zedekiah were the last kings of David’s line. In the middle of hopelessness, Jeremiah offers the people hope. Jeremiah promises them days for which they might long: days when everything that the people have lost will be restored, and the coming-one of David’s line will govern the people with righteousness and justice so that they live in safety.

But, what does the word righteousness even mean? It’s a churchy word that we’re sometimes afraid of because we usually hear it used when we think someone is being self-righteous. Righteousness isn’t an attitude. It’s not an absolute standard. It simply means acting in accordance with God’s purposes. It’s doing the Godly thing. Righteousness is doing good instead of doing bad. It’s also doing as opposed to being. Righteousness is humility, and the ethics of living with and for others in relationships that are loving and just. Self-righteousness is the opposite of righteousness. It’s inflated ego and self-approval. Advent is an invitation for God’s people to remember that we are called to practice righteousness, now, even as we yearn for the future of God’s dominion.

Speaking of our longing: Holy Communion, this meal we’re about to share together, it’s a foretaste of our longings fulfilled. But we need to remember that this meal doesn’t point to magi, or a star, or the things of tender nostalgia. Instead, it points to a world gone mad: a world that desperately needs and longs for the salvation of our God. This meal is of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ whose body was beaten, broken, and bled out by people and powers also for the sake of the illusion of control. This table is set with food paid for at a costly price. Yet, we’re invited to partake, to share in this meal with each other so that we are reminded that our longing for God is not in vain.

God declares that “The time is coming.” Maybe Advent isn’t so strange or unfamiliar after all.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!

Rev. Christopher Millay

 

(c.f. Feasting on the Word, Year C, volume 1, pg. 2-7).