Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sermon for Nov 30, 2014; Mark 13:24-37

Rev. George Miller
Nov 30, 2014
Mark 13:24-37

Today’s scripture deals with the themes of staying awake, of seasons and of waiting.

There is an art to waiting; an ebb and flow that comes with rituals and expectations. Events that mark rites of passage and of time: hunting season, Superbowl, prom.

Events that mark both an end and a new beginning: end of summer leads to 1st day of school. Easter ushers in winter’s end.

We all have traditions, we all have special days that hold meaning for us, something we look forward to that says something new has begun.

For me, Thanksgiving is that mark of time. It’s a full day off from work in which I choose to stay in and not leave home.

I look forward to starting the morning with no alarm, a pot of coffee and homemade pancakes.

Of watching the Macy’s Parade. Calling family. Making a turkey with turnips and my Mom’s pearl onions in cream sauce.

At some point I get to take out the Christmas tree, the red and green storage box full of decorations, and the CDs of Luther Vandross, Natalie Cole and Vanessa Williams singing seasonal standards.

The best part: putting up the ornaments. If you recall, last year I shared how I got rid of the ornaments that I no longer liked or those that had negative memories attached to them.

What you may not know is that throughout the last 2 years I’ve been purposely collecting ornaments from everywhere I’ve went and everything I’ve done.

Ornaments from days at Disney with Cornelius. Ornaments from my trips to New York and Connecticut; even places like Cats on Main in Wauchula and events like Small Business Saturday in Sebring.

Ornaments given by friends, theater folk, church members. Ornaments made by nephews; mailed by my brother. Some a year old, some from two decades back.

Virtually each one tells a story and reminds me of a person and a time. Some mark sad moments, others the good. Some represent transitions, others travels or tribulations.

But all these ornaments tell a story, come with history, and are therefore a blessing.

I’ve been waiting for a long time to put them up. Every time I’ve opened the hallway closet, they’ve been there in their gift boxes. When I received one as a gift or purchased one at an event, I’ve peered upon them all, waiting to be hung.

Every day this month has been one day closer to pancakes and parade, Christmas carols and putting up those priceless items.

And now they are up; there is light in the living room illuminating the night and the cats are having a great time hiding under the tree, jumping upon the branches and swatting the decorations.

Another year has come to an end; another year has now begun. Transitions, seasons and waiting.

That’s part of the sense I get from today’s reading.

On first read it’s bleak and terrifying. It features talk of the world falling apart, signs of suffering and stars falling from the sky.

Taken on its own it can seem scary, sad and soul-sucking but amidst its prophetic words are images of Good News and light.

First, it makes clear the presence of God with great power and glory. That just as barren branches of a fig tree do bring forth fresh fruit, the Almighty is near and not too far.

Second, while the world is in constant flux of the familiar and the comfortable constantly changing and falling away, God through Christ is doing something new.

Something that is wonderful and life-affirming, such as gathering people from far and near, from north and south.

Third, though the world at times may feel like we are all a motherless child, God is still working to fulfill and make real the promises that were made so long ago to Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Jacob and Joshua.

And while chaos may be all around, our hope comes from knowing that while God is near, active and promise-keeping, we are called upon to be alert, to wait, and most importantly- to live.

To live in the moment before us with the people alongside us.

To live, not stuck in the past, not uber-focused on the future, but to live in the present moment, alert and aware.

We, as Christians, are called to live in the now; to find our ways to receive and reciprocate the gifts of grace.

Called to nurture forgiveness and to get back on up after mistakes.

To do what we can, when we can, to do justice, to love kindness, to walk humbly with our Lord.

To continue to find ways to say we have faith in Sebring, we faith in the United States, we have faith in the world.

To continue to see and to celebrate all the ways in which God, through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit continues to create, save and to bless.

So, this Advent Season, we wait.

Amidst news of rioting, looting and protests in Ferguson, MO- we wait.

In the cold of winter and the change in the climate- we wait.

Amongst the political undercurrents and the financial strains of the season- we wait.

With bright lights that illuminate the dark, ornaments that decorate the tree and carols of Christmas- we wait.

While waiting, we seek out the ways in which God is active.

We seek out the ways in which the Son of Man is fixing to arrive with power and glory.

We seek out the ways in which the Holy Spirit surprises and calls us to live in the moment.

The ways in which we can experience and witness the beauty and the abundance of a world created by our God who is not absent and who is not asleep.

For the baby born in a manger so that we may all experience the joy of eternal life- we wait.

Amen and amen.

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