Just As We Are

Deacon Katherine Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Advent 1 – December 3, 2017

Mark 13:24-37

Just as We Are

         Have you ever noticed that God keeps showing up?  Throughout the Bible, God provided for us and made an agreement with us called a covenant outlining how we were to act towards God, towards one another, and how we were to live this life given us.  But then what happened?  Historically, we messed up.  Over and over again, we messed us.  

         After messing up, we’d call out to God in anguish and God would come to us again.  God would offer another way – another covenant – giving us another chance.  The Bible does describe God getting angry at times, but regardless of what we do, God continues to show up for us.  Who does that for someone?  How does that make sense? 

         The readings leading up to Advent and often times during Advent can be quite dark.  In our readings today, we hear in Isaiah and in our Psalm a calling out to God.  We hear the authors acknowledge the mistakes we, as a people, have made towards God, and call out to God begging for God to not desert them.  In their desperation, they beg to be delivered from their transgressions.  They beg for God to once again restore the relationship and to shine God’s light upon them.  We can hear the desperation in their words.  And if we allow ourselves, we can feel it too.  Most of us, if not all of us, know that feeling of being left or no longer having someone we love in our life – the sadness that comes from their absence.  Throughout today’s readings we hear how much we need God in our lives.  We also hear how much it hurts when God seems to be gone from us.

         Today’s Gospel reading from Mark is sometimes called the “Little Apocalypse.”  Once again, an example of a light-hearted reading during a time when so many are joyfully decorating their yards with lights and celebrating Black Friday sales.  But if you will, stay with me for a few moments – there is something to this.       

         When I hear apocalypse, I think of end-of-the-world drama and scenes from Bryan Scorsese or Steven Spielberg’s movies fill my mind – fire and brimstone…flying creatures…a world crumbling around us.  What if though, this wasn’t that kind of apocalypse?  What if this reading from Mark was actually describing a different end? 

         Apocalyptic literature was written not to dispel hope but to give hope.  When Mark was writing this Gospel in the 1st century, he was writing to people who were facing a crisis.  His hearers would have been folks who were experiencing persecution and destruction at the hands of Rome.

         Our 21st century ears may not know how it feels to live amongst destruction or to be persecuted, but we do know fear…anxiety…and stress over what is happening in our country and in our world.  We do know what it’s like to live in a time where our dollars don’t seem to go as far as they used to, and folks are feeling the pinch of bills being due and health care costs changing, and of wallets feeling tight here at the holidays.  And though this is a VERY 21st century problem, let’s not forget the feeling of scrolling through our social media accounts to see all those Normal Rockwell type selfies people love to take this time of year and which can bring that subtle, nagging doubt of …am I as successful as they are…is my family as happy as theirs …am I enough?

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