Sunday, December 7, 2014

Comfort, O Comfort My People (Advent 2B)

Here we are again for another week – in the parish hall – another police action has been deemed not worthy of examination in the death of another black man – more people are out protesting in more cities - do you ever feel as though you are on the endless hamster wheel? Wash – rinse – repeat.

“Comfort, O Comfort my people” says your God – that’s what I hear as that still small voice in my head as I prepared for today. “What shall I cry out” this week? What can I say – what can I do? What can we do as a group? 

“Prepare the way of the Lord – make his paths straight” – that’s seems to have been John’s job. John the Baptizer. John the wild man, based on the archetype of Elijah, eating locusts – also a favorite of Daniel’s – we know from this alone that Mark is signaling to us that John is a great prophet. We know from other sources that John and Jesus were cousins – John 6 moths older, only son of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  Mark’s Gospel is minimalist though – did you catch all of the details of that manger scene? Mark is written for those who had not been Jewish, those who knew nothing. Everything in Mark happens quickly with very little context and very few details.

It’s interesting to note that in this succinct passage we get two different ideas of baptism – did you catch that? With Mark, no words are spared – you’ve gotta be AWAKE to see it all. John’s baptism signifies repentance of sin. There are other churches that hold that idea of baptism – in that tradition you could be baptized many times over your lifespan as a symbolic cleansing of sin. John tells us about Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit – which is the one we as a denomination preach – one baptism – God’s action – infusing us with the Holy Spirit.

John’s job is to point to everyone to Christ – in fact, you can decode works of art and icons by watching for this – John is usually depicted pointing to something off screen. On the cover of the Joyful this week, John is casually pointing off to the side.

If we are to emulate saints, I’m sure I do not want to emulate John by wearing camel hair with a leather belt and eating locusts – how about you?  What about pointing though? Not in a rude way, but in an enlightening way – look over there – God is at work there, see?  What do we point at right now?

In the police/race conflict protests – can we as a group point to where God is at work? Can we say that in our belief about what happens at Baptism, we promise to honor the dignity of every human being – and invite others to even explore that option? Can we have a voice in our own local police forces to see what work they may already be doing and walk that journey with them, not as combatants, but as people who care and are curious about their strains and stresses? Apparently San Antonio has been at work on some of these race disparities – what can we learn from them and maybe help implement here if it’s needed?

“Comfort, O comfort my people,” says your God. Let it be so. Amen.

Audio of this sermon will be in the Podbean player on the right sidebar - sometimes it takes a bit to populate.