Saturday, 8 December 2018

Be Prepared

Malachi 3: 1-4; Luke 3: 1-6
In the 57th year of the reign of Elizabeth the second, when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Alex Salmond was First Minister of Scotland and Barak Obama was President of the United States; during the Moderatorial Year of Right Reverend William Hewitt…
Now with a bit of thought, I am sure you wold be able to work out what year I am talking about?
It is 2009…

For the readers of Luke’s narrative, the information he gave them, enabled them to know what the year was, and fixed the point in history.
They would know when it was that the Wildman came out of the wilderness proclaiming the year of the Lord.
Declaring that it was time to get ready; to be prepared.
His message was strong…
His message was uncompromising
His message was prophetic.
Get yourselves ready!
Turn away from sin!
Be baptised and God will forgive you!

The simplicity of John’s message struck a chord with simple folks; it touched the heart of their hunger
They all knew they needed to connect with God
They just had lost touch with HOW to do so

People today are not so different really
The wilderness some of us encounter may not look like that desert, but it exists nevertheless.
It may be loneliness
Or a feeling of isolation
Or being overwhelmed by the world and everything that is happening around us…

The sense of emptiness can touch each of us at any time, and leads to a seeking of … something.
Something intangible; difficult to explain or define…
We are seeking something other in our lives
We are seeking to know how to connect, or reconnect with God out of the wilderness as we respond to the call to be prepared.
We respond to the call to “be prepared” because we can identify with it

This time of year is all about preparations:
Making lists
Tidying up
Planning meals
Buying gifts
Writing cards
Sending invitations
Accepting invitations
And journeying – near or far there are also going to be journeys
And the busy-ness of all that festive cheer is so overwhelming, so all-consuming
That sometimes we forget; we totally forget why we are doing it

What is Christmas all about?
What do we do all of the planning and shopping and writing and journeying for?

Well I have an answer
It is an answer that came to me out of the blue – when, if truth be told, I was feeling uninspired, lost in the wilderness and a little blue myself...
 And suddenly I remembered!!

All of the preparations are not only for me
They are so I can share something
 All of the preparations are not just for the family
They are so I can show something
All of the preparations are not simply for the fun
They are so we can all share something
 And the something?
The something is love

Christmas IS about fun and family and feasting and friends and the fullness of life
 But more than anything else it’s about love

All the preparing
Of house and home
And life and living
And body and spirit
All comes down to love:
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Second; when Theresa May was Prime Minister, and the country was waiting with baited breath for answers and resolution: the people of Earlston listened again to the voice crying: in the wilderness prepare for the God of Love
In your wilderness prepare for Love.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Be Alert

Be Alert - sermon for 2nd December 

Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Luke 21: 25 – 36 

Traditionally the first Sunday of Advent signifies HOPE.
And of our two readings this morning, the prophet Jeremiah starts out as a beacon of hope: Surely the days are coming… he writes as God speaks, when I will fulfil the promise  made.
There is much to hope for in God’s promises; God’s promises can be relied upon… and as we prepare to remember God’s greatest promise, fulfilled in a vulnerable baby more than 2000 years ago, it is good to have hope.
And then we come to the third week in a row of doom and gloom and the end of the world as Jesus comes back in judgement…
But, hang on a moment! That second paragraph tells us something else; something that really is hopeful.
Jesus and parables; yes, they always have some hope if you know where to look.
Fig trees; buds, new growth… that is a good sign, isn’t it?
(You all know of my connection with the RevGals, and I know I have told you before about the reflections we share on the week’s passages and how that might inform our preaching and worship each week. Over on our blog, there was a really helpful discussion about the fig tree and changing seasons.
Jesus talked about the signs of spring turning to summer; of buds and leaves and what we all know to look out for; and that when we see these things, we will know that the Kingdom of God is near at hand... In other words, the Realm of God is always at hand!!
Wow!! I had never looked at it like that before, but there it is; every year, day follows day; week follows week  and seasons come and seasons go… and as we witness them, we witness God’s kingdom at world all around us.
Now, if that isn’t hopeful, I don’t know what is!!
There’s more… because, obviously, sometimes we are not aware of God’s Kingdom; we get weighed down by the worries of  the world; we read in the news of terrible things happening and we forget to remember God’s Kingdom.
Counter to that –
When we pay attention, we are able to see the nearness of God’s Realm and the possibilities there are for hope and liberation.
As soon as we are able to listen for God and follow holy ways, we discover that it really is possible for Christ to come again.
In the deepest mysteries of faith we are able to recognise, that even in the darkest times, God is there; even in the worst situations, Hope becomes possible.
God does not just leave us to our own devices but calls us to bring the Kingdom of God into the here and now.
Jesus calls us to be alert… to be ready, to keep a lightness in our hearts and let the light shine.
As we witness the signs of winter we know that the earth needs to rest in order to have the strength for spring growth; as we hunker down, keep warm, and share the joy of Christmas – deep in the darkest weeks of winter, we remember again why Jesus came: to bring light in the darkness. Darkness we see; darkness we pierce with brilliant lights! Darkness that shows us hope.
Winter sunlight JMR2010

This hope is indeed, Good News.
Good News that our world needs in today’s tumult and confusion.
In this first week of advent, may we all be agents of Hope and may we remind ourselves again to be alert for the light of the Kingdom.