For the Second Sunday in Advent, we are confronted with a story in the Gospel According to Matthew in which John the Baptist appears, calling the people of Israel to repentance and baptism. Historically, in the Christian tradition, Advent was a serious time for fasting, prayer, penitence, and daily readings focusing on themes of judgment and purification. Historically, Advent was a time of waiting and preparation. It was not a time for feasting, decorating, overspending, and gift-buying. Today, we don’t want to hear about judgment, repentance, challenges to our lives. We don’t want to spend any time at all in the wilderness, because we already spend enough time wandering in the wilderness, wondering why God doesn’t hear us and “fix it,” whatever the “it” is in our lives that needs fixing. But John insists that we take time to prepare our hearts, change our hearts, our minds, our directions, because we’re not ready for what God is going to do, even already doing, in our lives, in our communities, in our families, in our congregations, in our nations. It’s challenging for us today to think about preparing our hearts and redirecting our lives in anticipation and expectation for something that God has already done in the person and life of Jesus. We already know how the story ends – that Jesus is punished, killed, yet was resurrected. What can it possibly mean for us today to wait, to wonder, to prepare during these weeks of Advent? What does it look like for us to wait and to prepare? For what exactly are we waiting? For what do we hope? How do we seek and find peace in the season of Advent? What is John the Baptist saying to us today?
In our Worship Gathering on Sunday, our Choir will be singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” with lyrics by Natalie Sleeth. For our Opening Hymn, we will sing verses 1, 3, and 4 of “Get Ready,” which is in the Burgundy Songbook (#36). Our Closing Hymn is Hymn #101 in the New Century Hymnal, “Comfort, Comfort, O My People.” Our Closing CIrcle Song is the chorus from “Go Tell it on the Mountain!” Our Peace Song is “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” The Stivers will lead our Advent Candle Lighting as we light the candles of Hope and Peace this week.
I look forward to spending Sunday morning with you all!