1st Sunday of Advent
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Dear fellow ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
grace and peace to you
from the one who molds us into the image of God. Amen
What time is it?
Are we at the beginning? The middle? The end?
We have so many ways of organizing time
that when they overlap
it starts to get confusing.
According to the secular calendar
we are at the end of the year,
one more month
before the clock ticks over
to read a year later at the end of our dates.
According to the sacred calendar
we are at the beginning of the year,
the circular journey through the life, death and resurrection of Christ
is at the start again,
anticipating God’s entry into the world
but not just the observance of the birth of the baby Jesus
but anticipation of God’s final return
to make the world complete.
At the heart of our confusion
is the reality that while we try to control time
by organizing it in as many ways as possible,
managing the seasons,
looking for signs to anticipate what is coming next
the truth of it is
that it’s out of our hands,
God is on God’s own schedule
of which we are not privy to
nor can we anticipate.
We know the what,
we do not know the when,
but we are called to be watchful,
to be ready for God,
whenever God happens to come.
Sometimes when the imperfections of the world
become too much
we get impatient and cry in the words of Isaiah
“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down”
we long for God to come mix things up,
to show those people that are messing up the world
who is really in charge,
whose side God is really on,
the ones who remember and follow God’s ways
And then in the next instant
the next breath
we realize the we’re not ready for God to come,
that we’re the ones who have forgotten God,
that our relationship needs healing,
that we need more time to get things on our end in order.
Isaiah realizes this as well
and after lamenting the many ways the people have failed
in their relationship with God
still says this:
“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. “
God is the creator and we are the creation
In the end,
ready or not God will arrive on God’s own time
regardless of what our calendars read.
there will never be a perfect time for us for God to come,
we will always be a work in progress,
and God the potter is the one working.
God has claimed us as sacred clay
and is constantly working to mold us
into the image of the divine,
I don’t know too much about the art of pottery
but I do know that it takes a lot of skill
to work the clay into the desired form
and even then it may not look exactly like what the potter intends
because the clay participates in how the object is formed.
As sacred clay
we participate in how God is forming us,
we let ourselves be molded into a receptive vessel
or we resist the gentle or sometimes not so gentle nudges
that are intended to smooth out a rough patch
on our exterior or interior
and how we are molded matters
because we are how God has chosen to work in the world at this time,
how we respond to God’s molding work in our lives
makes a difference in the life of the world around us.
So when Jesus in Mark tells us to stay awake
for the coming of God
to watch for signs like the fig tree about to blossom,
it is a call to pay attention to how God is working in us right now,
molding and shaping us
in preparation for God’s final arrival
often the signs are subtle,
the growing feeling that we are being called to do something
about the injustice of some having a great deal while others have very little
Or perhaps it’s discomfort at something that once seemed normal
but when examined is shown to be harmful to others.
Or maybe it’s a renewed sense of joy
in your relationship with God
and the fellowship of those who come together to worship, pray and serve.
Taking part in a community that has faith when we find it difficult
All these signs and more
point to the coming of God
who will end injustice,
loneliness and hurt,
who will make all joyful, fed and free.
But in the meantime
we do the best we can to prepare,
and God knows exactly what we’re going through
because God is with us,
at this time of ending and beginning,
beginning and ending
God starts by molding the divine self
into the form of an infant,
joining creation to work from the inside out. Amen
Pastor Emily Johnson preaches weekly at Christ Lutheran. These are manuscripts of her sermons given at Christ Lutheran. Feel free to engage with them in the comments section of the blog.