Saturday, December 22, 2012

Newtown & Third Sunday of Advent

Listen to this sermon at St. Simon's website - sermons

You may remember a couple years ago,
the movie, Eat, Pray, Love
which was based on the book by Liz Gilbert.

In case you missed it, Julia Roberts plays a woman
who has gone through a messy midlife crisis
and is motivated to travel around the world
on a journey of self-discovery.

At one point in her story,
she travels to Italy, India, and Bali
where Liz has a rather direct conversation
with a new Brazilian friend
and says –

“A true soul mate is probably
the most important person you'll ever meet,
because they will help tear down your walls
and smack you awake.

“A soul-mate’s purpose is to shake you up,
tear things apart,
and maybe even break your heart along the way
allowing new light to get in.

You know when I saw this –
I thought of our readings…
and what a perfect definition this is
for both John the Baptist and Jesus.

Someone who comes into our life,
shakes things up,
and prepares us for the New Light
which is to come.

Unfortunately, this morning
there is very little New Light in NewTown, Connecticut.
Quite the opposite, actually…
so many broken hearts.

People of all ages and backgrounds,
have been shaken up by this…

But as the prophet Isaiah
and even St. Paul wrote…
“Surely it is God who saves us,
trust in him
and be not afraid…
God IS very near to us…”

But you know,
part of our real challenge as "Christians"
is to REALIZE that the miraculous birth of Christ
and ultimately his resurrection
took place right here.

Not on some far off planet somewhere
but God came to live right here on earth,
in human form…
and even in the midst of a hail of gunfire
from a mentally ill 20 year old boy…

To the rejoicing of two parents,
with unexpected news that she would give birth
to the savior of the world.
God is near to us.

But, what a contrast…OR is it?

Well, if God is very near to us,
as Paul says – this means both:
in those broken hearted places
and when we rejoice – Gaudete.

John the Baptist knew a lot about both….actually.
and so did Liz Gilbert in her travels.

But, neither one were very confident…

In fact, at one point John asks,
“Who are you Jesus;
Are you REALLY the right one?”

A simple “yes” or “no” response
would have been good enough,
but that’s not the kind of answer Jesus prefers to give. Is it?
He’s not always clear…

But like John,
one day we may be sitting in a prison,
OR what feels like one…

Locked in a midlife crisis
like Liz Gilbert,
and be confronted with the question –
“Who are you Jesus?”
and, “When are you going to do something?”

Like John, it is here
when WE have to make a decision…
whether or not to put our faith in Jesus.
Or cut and run…
and start shooting people.

There comes a moment when we have to ask --
“Am I really reflecting the Love of God?
Or am I trapped in selfish…Evil?”

Of all the accounts over the last 48 hours,
the hero who still stands out for me

First grade teacher, Victoria Soto.
She was 27 years old from Stratford, Connecticut,
and apparently hid her students
in closets and cabinets,
and told the shooter the kids were all in the gym.
He killed her, but not one child of hers was harmed…

Those children and each of us today
experienced Christ Jesus
by Victoria’s actions.

But for now, the good people of Newtown
and the rest of us, wait…
We wait for Christmas to come.
To take away the darkness.

Sure, the stinging questions linger…
but somewhere deep down in side all of us…
let us by Faith, KNOW that Christ really IS coming.

That beautiful North Star is real…
and like Aslan, it’s on the move…and Bethlehem is the destination.

Until it arrives…Let us:
Rejoice in the Lord always;
Again I say, Rejoice.
Let our gentleness be known to everyone.
Because the Lord is near.

Do not worry…
but in everything by prayer and with thanksgiving
let our requests be made known to God.

Because the peace of God -
it surpasses all our understanding,
and WILL guard our hearts
and our minds,
so that we can truly reflect…
the Love of Christ.