The Adventurous Lectionary – December 7, 2014 – Second Sunday of Advent

The Adventurous Lectionary – The Second Sunday of Advent – December 7, 2014
Psalm 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

Make haste! A way is being made! The Holy One is coming! Perhaps God’s revealing one is already here. God comes to save and heal. Let us open our hearts to God’s new age.

Isaiah 40 continues the theme of preparation, characteristic of the Advent season. Something wild is about to happen, something that will change everything, and the way for God’s coming needs to be prepared, in the highways and byways and in our spiritual pathways. Isaiah 40:1-11 plays with a lot of images: comfort and restoration, punishment and amnesty, a reversal of fortunes, global revelation, human mortality and divine immortality, divine strength and divine tenderness. Beyond destruction and loss is comfort and recovery. The whole earth will proclaim God’s reign of healing and transformation. Love will abound in a glorious new age for Israel and the whole Earth.

The words of Psalm 85 proclaim recovery and renewal. The wayward nation has been pardoned and justice is transformed to healing and unity. A new people is emerging, free and joyful, and in communion with its liberating God.

2 Peter begins with an affirmation of divine and human temporality. God’s timetable is beyond our fathoming. The divine infinity dwarfs our imagination. Our days are like grass – we are like mayflies, living a moment, and thinking it to be ninety years – in light of God’s infinite, interstellar, intergalactic journey. How quickly it all passes, and how insignificant it seems in light of our multi-billion, multi-galaxy cosmic adventure. Yet, this is the moment of transformation, forever changing the universe, infinitesimal, yet ever-lasting in impact.

Each moment is holy in a God-filled universe. Yet, no moment is final or all-encompassing. Still, we need to be awake. In the language of Paul Tillich, this day might usher in the divine Kairos, the in-breaking of divine infinity and dynamism in the course of our moment-by-moment existences.

The day of God’s Kairos is like a thief in the night. It comes unexpectedly when we are making other plans. It comes as we are Christmas shopping and baking for the holidays. But, it is always in this holy moment, hidden yet ready to spring forth, in surprising wonder, beauty, and demand. The reality of God’s moment by moment coming – the Kairos of this very moment – calls us to be self-aware and mindful and to be people who already live “on earth as it is in heaven.” In this fleeting moment, treasured in God’s everlasting life, we ought to live holy and pure lives, indeed, godly lives.

What might such a holy, godly, and pure life mean? Certainly it is not the affirmation of killjoy asceticism, but, a deeper, passionate, fiery asceticism, passionate for God’s pathway of wholeness. to live a holy life is to live wholly, immersed in God’s timely and revelatory presence. It is be whole persons, body, mind, and spirit, living justly and lovingly. Second, to be pure is to live by love, to seek the well-being of all and let self-interest be blurred with God’s vision. To be godly is to seek the god’s eye view of your life and every situation, connecting every moment with God’s dynamic and everlasting, ever-living and ever-changing vision of healing love.

Mark’s Gospel cuts to the chase. There is no angelic visitation, pregnant mother, perplexed father, Gloria from on high, or magi from the East, simply, the telling of good news by a wild and crazy prophet. John the Baptist tells us to get on the road. He reveals our spiritual GPS and tells us to set our feet in the direction of God’s new age. John challenges us to get rid of excess baggage, focus on what’s essential, and get moving on the road God is preparing for us.

In the few weeks remaining till the annual celebration of Jesus’ birth, there is much to do. Yet, this few weeks participates in God’s everlasting journey. The Christmas spirit is more than buying gifts; it is a transformed mind, changed heart, and caring hands. It is becoming Christ-like as we await the advent of something amazing out on the horizon. The ways need to be made straight as they travel through Ferguson, Missouri, the halls of national power, board rooms where calloused decisions make the difference between life and death, neighborhoods in Africa where Ebola is still a threat, and communities in Syria and Iraq where historic Christian communities are still at risk. The pathways need to be made straight – but not preventative of holy meandering – in our churches and our lives so that we might be holy, pure, godly, and a little bit wild and crazy – like John the Baptist – as we walk the road of repentance, changed lives and minds with Christ as our companion. (For more on lectionary readings from Mark, see Bruce Epperly Mark’s Holy Adventure: Preaching Mark’s Gospel for Year B.)

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