Sermons 2007
Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Advent 3A 2007 Matthew 11:2-11

Across the Northern Neck this summer we have been beset by drought. We have seen the crops in the fields struggle to pull what little moisture might be found from the parched, dry, dusty earth. We have seen the flowers and shrubs in our own gardens and yards wilt and shrivel unless we poured precious well water to them. We know of friends and neighbors who have lost many shallow rooted shrubs like azaleas. And we have watched roses and other drought stressed plants struggle against blight and disease. And seen crops wither and fail.

We can relate to what Isaiah said about what happens when the rains hit the dry earth. Water for irrigation is still a powerful and divisive issue in the Holy Land.

In Isaiah’s time, modern irrigation systems were not possible and so there was a dry season and a rainier season for the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan Valley. And just over 10 miles east of Jerusalem toward the Dead Sea, the desert began, stretching across to Mesopotamia – Iraq.

Anyone who has ever been to the deserts of the American West have seen the transformation that explodes when the rains come, as the once dormant plants cram all their energies into a brief vital moment of new growth and new life. Just like Isaiah said.

Now the rains have come to the Northern Neck and the land is green even this late in the year. But there are other signs all around us as well; signs and symbols of renewal, of resurgence, of new birth, of new life coming into being.

Consider the late blooming camellia. These late blooming camellias add color to our gardens and yards and to our lives at a time when the earth seems listless, ready to begin to sleep through the coming winter.

This camellia is hardy and its blossoms withstand the early frost and freezing temperatures. The late blooming camellia reminds us that the coming season is not the winter of our discontent but the time for our renewal, for our rebirth, for our new lives. Just as God came as fresh new life into the world of humankind 2,000 years ago, so Advent is the symbol and season of the rebirth of our selves, our souls and bodies, into new life and new purposes.

Advent, the season of renewal and rebirth, is about what our rebirth and renewal means for our role in the work of God. It means to live as if the Kingdom were already here or would be here in the next second or so. We never know when God will do something wonderful for us -- or make great demands on us.

There is a parable about a wealthy man and his son who collected fine art. His collection was world famous and father and son spent days collecting famous paintings. But one day war broke out and the son went off to fight. Just before Christmas day the old man learned that his son was killed, saving a fallen comrade.

The old man withdrew from the world that winter, but in the spring, after the war was over, there was a knock on his door. A young soldier stood there, the soldier whose life had been saved by the art collector’s son. He had brought a gift to the old man. The young soldier was himself an artist and he had painted a picture of the man’s dead son. The old art collector, amazed by the lifelike quality of the portrait, hung it on the mantel of his study. It was his most prized work of art.

When the old man died, his art collection was put up for auction. Buyers crowded into the mansion for the chance to bid. The first painting offered for sale was the portrait of the man’s son, according to his will. Nothing else was to be auctioned off until this portrait was sold. But the collectors refused to bid.

Finally, a poor cousin, fond of the old man and his son, made a small bid. No one bid against him and the portrait was his. The collectors all cheered. Now they could get on with buying the really valuable art.

But the auctioneer put away his gavel and announced that the auction was over. What! Screeched the buyers. What did he mean? The auctioneer pulled out the old man’s will and read the final codicil: “ Whoever buys the portrait of my son is given the entire rest of the collection. Whoever takes my son gets it all.” (1)

That’s what Advent is all about, isn’t it? God revealed himself to mankind, coming among us as one of us. And from that experience 2,000 years ago, we know what is wanted of us: new birth, new life, new creation -- and we carry the coming kingdom in our hearts.

Let me close with one of my favorite Advent, Christmas, and Easter hymns:

I come with joy to meet my Lord,
forgiven, loved, and free,
in awe and wonder to recall
his life laid down for me.

I come with Christians far and near
to find, as all are fed,
the new community of love
in Christ's communion bread.

As Christ breaks bread and bids us share,
each proud division ends.
That love that made us makes us one,
and strangers now are friends.

And thus with joy we meet our Lord.
His presence, always near,
is in such friendship better known:
we see and praise him here.

Together met, together bound,
we'll go our different ways,
and as his people in the world,
we'll live and speak his praise. (1)


1. InterNet sources

2. I COME WITH JOY, Words: Brian Wren, Words 1971 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission