Jesus, Also

Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29: Luke 3:15-22

We are baptized in fear. From the mundane, like the Seattle Slowdown, to the existential, ‘terrorists are coming across our southern border by the thousands’—our frightened cultural language washes over us every time we turn on TV news, pick up a paper, listen to NPR. We are educated to be afraid of certain people.

To say nothing of our own capacity to drum up fear. Built on a structure of shame, I’m not good enough, smart enough, creative enough, pretty or handsome, strong, powerful. I am unlovable and I am unforgivable. We are awash in fear.

“But now, says God, I who created, formed, redeemed and called you. DO NOT FEAR. I have called you be name, you are Mine.”

Do you believe this sentence is for you? Do you believe that you are more than an accident of history and biology, that you exist because of the intention of God?

This is the redemptive ground we stand on today to hear the good news of the gospel: In Jesus Christ, we are redeemed. We are bought out of bondage to empire, to our own petty fallenness, depravity and sin. We are called Beloved.

Jesus' Arrival

Advent is this anticipatory realization:  Jesus, Emmanuel is coming (again) but we celebrate His arrival as something unknown, yet known.  It’s a little weird.
I tease out this notion:  In one year, let alone a lifetime, one cannot know the fullness of Christ.  The longer I am a Christian, the more I realize I don’t know.  He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end.  He extends God’s mercy and forgiveness to the whole world, like a warm winter shawl.
Jesus demands justice and equity from the powers that be.  He challenges tyrants and raises up the lowly.  He is so powerful as to destroy evil structures.
Dear Christ,
Save us now.  Amen

God's Location and Habitation

There is another trap though.  An intellectual pattern of if/then emerges:  if you are weighed down, depressed, dissipated, drunk, with the worries of this life, like Black Friday or Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, you will have no strength to stand & raise your head.  Instead, be like the BUYNOTHING movement.  Resist the pull of the false kingdoms around you with their insatiable demands and appetites.  Gather yourself together and pursue the faithful life.  Even as we live and work every day in an economy that demands loyalty, we can bring our justice critiques to the structures that narrow abundance to the few, rather than the many.  We can expand our own vision of what it means to live a shared life in the presence of God.  We can be generous because God is so generous. 

Hold Fast

Worship takes us into a reality that is governed not by the principles of physics but the presence of the Holy.  It is truly an act of resistance to come together every week:  Through Christ’ sacrifice, we are now blood brothers and sisters of Jesus.  Worship is a Christ act, that generates a Christian response of resistance:

*seeks the welfare of the city
*justice for many, if not all
*no personal gain
*names evil, unjust structures
*pursues peace
*does not vilify opponents for character flaws

“You meant this for evil, God will make it good.”
These tired old bodies, these fisted-minds, these broken relationships, these discouraged souls, these disease-ravaged families, we’re asked to hold fast, to cling to faith.

Life Worth Living

We must challenge our government and society to care for the widows, orphans, resident aliens, border crossers, as we understand this is the primary witness of the church to the faithfulness of God.  WPC does not exist for its own good.  It exists for the salvation of our neighborhoods and our city.  We are witnesses to the healing power of the risen Christ.  We are to bind up the broken, mourn with those shot down with grief, to struggle to release people from sin, fear, oppression and injustice.
Ruth 3:1-5, 13-17; 4:13-17
Mark 12:38-44