Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; 2nd Sunday of Advent; Mark 1:1-8

Scripture Reading for Sunday: Mark 1:1-8

You can read it here: NIV and ESV

Hymns for this Sunday

UMH 383 – This Is a Day of New Beginnings

UMH 140 – Great Is Thy Faithfulness (verse 3)

UMH 108 – God Hath Spoken by the Prophets (use melody 400)

image

For some strange reason there are no Christmas cards depicting John the Baptist… At least I have never seen one…

Second Sunday of Advent Season is traditionally dedicated to John the Baptist. John the Baptist is described as a gruff, austere, and harsh individual. We read about him in Matthew 3, Matthew 4:12-17, Mark 1: 1-11 and Luke 3.

image

Mark describes John the Baptist as someone who lived in the wilderness. John wore a cloak made from camel hair with a leather belt around his waist. His diet consisted mainly of locusts and honey (Mark 1:6, Matthew 3:4). John is also described as someone who did not put up with idiocy; Matthew writes, “7 But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (NIV2010).

image

When John the Baptist was asked what people should do to repent, he gave them practical and sound advice. Check out Luke 3:7-14:

· “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).

· “Don’t collect any more than you are required to” (addressed to the tax collectors and bureaucrats, Luke 3:13)

· “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (Addressed to the soldiers / policemen, Luke 3:14).

image

I wonder what would John the Baptist’s message would be today? I wonder how many of us would have the courage to spend time with him and to hear what he has to say. I wonder whether we would dismiss him as a crazed man if we were to meet him today.

John the Baptist did not sugarcoat anything. The longer I live, the more I realize WHY there is very little demand for Christmas cards calling the recipients a “brood of vipers” and wishing them the “wrath to come” a.k.a. to burn in hell. {}{}{}{}

The sad truth is that John the Baptist was right.

image

The true meaning of the Season of Advent has been lost in our society and culture. By and large, we have been tricked by chocolate-filled Advent calendars and cheerful Holiday Parties that gloss over the very real evil that makes Jesus’ First Advent and his anticipated Second Advent so very necessary.

We forgot that the season of Advent is not a holiday party. Advent is not about ringing bells or glossing over the difficult realities of our lives. Advent is not about our best world, it is about our worst world. In many cases, holiday parties, feasts, banquets, and the pageants distance us from the realities that we do not want, or are even scared, to face.

image

John the Evangelist opens his account of Jesus’ life by writing, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … Through him all things were made…. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)

image

When we make this season one giant holiday party be-speckled with shopping, we do the LIGHT (John 1:5) a disservice because we sweep the darkness out of sight instead of recognizing its presence. Jesus entered a world plagued not only by the darkness of individual pain and sin, but also by the darkness of systemic oppression. Jesus’ people, the Hebrews, were a subjugated people living as exiles in their own land; among other things, they were silenced, targets of militant brutality, and exploitatively taxed. They were a people so beaten down by society that only a remnant continued to believe that the Messianic prophecies would one day come to pass. For many, the darkness of long-standing oppression had extinguished any hope for liberation and freedom.

It was into this “worst world” that the LIGHT of the world, that Jesus was born 2000 years ago, liberating the people from the terror of darkness. So it is in the midst of our worst world that we too, can most clearly see the LIGHT, because LIGHT SHINES MORE BRIGHTLY AGAINST A BACKDROP OF DARKNESS (John 1:5).

image

Advent season is an invitation to recognize our fears and to give them to Jesus in the hopes that the Holy Spirit of God will make us better men and women as we deal with the realities of our lives. Advent is about us coming to the realization that we need God in our lives. Advent is about preparing ourselves for God to come into our lives and us being open to God’s guidance. The season of Advent is about us coming to the realization that it is the Holy Spirit of God that makes us better persons, not our chocolate filled holiday parties and shopping trips.

The Sacrament of the Holy Communion

This message was inspired and influenced by the original reflection by Christena Cleveland. A colleague of mine posted this reflection on my timeline on facebook. The original reflection writen by Christena Cleveland can be read @ http://www.christena cleveland.com/2014/11/adventdarkness/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: