Sermons on threshold time
The other odd thing about Advent is that our scriptures for the 1st week of Advent, the beginning of our church year, start out with the texts of Jesus right before he’s crucified. Maybe this makes sense, maybe it’s a statement that, for Jesus’ death on the cross to mean new life for us is emerging, we have to put the end of life, Jesus’ crucifixion, up against and connected to the anticipation of new life – his birth in…
For the piece we know about God from our passage today is that God has chosen not to be God without us. God’s promise, through this statement in the gospel of John, is that God has promised to love us, to make room for us, to know and be known by us, and that promise never ends, and, with that certainty, there is no reason for our hearts be troubled. When we look within, through the doorways that lead into our hearts and souls, may we find the place of God, the place we have set aside for God, so that our lives may be touched with a peace that passes all understanding, for it is only God who can offer us that comfort. And the challenge to us is to match God’s preparation for us with our preparation for God.
As Christians, we stand at the gate of our own Jerusalem each time we peer into our own souls, into that holy city where God resides within us. The process of making our hearts ready to receive the holiness of Christmas is one of cleansing ourselves from distractions, purifying our souls from the darkness which creeps in occasionally, forgiving others and ourselves, and releasing our reliance upon ourselves. This is our Advent work, so that when we awake on Christmas morning, we will be ready to receive the Christ child into our lives, again and anew.
Disorientation is really hard. It’s uncomfortable. It makes our heart hurt. It shakes our beliefs to the core. All that we have believed had been true is suddenly not. It’s what the psalmist wrote about and it’s what we experience in life over and over again, if we’re honest with ourselves. The prosperity gospel tells us all these things are bad, and yet the gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that in each of these moments, resurrection is possible. And that’s the difference between what the psalmist experienced: if it’s bad, it must mean God is absent and needs to be reminded to pay attention and us, as Christians, who will say, if we are disoriented, if we are experiencing something that appears and feels very bad, then God is present and is inviting us into something new. This is a huge distinction. Reorientation, not the previous state of orientation, follows disorientation in the Christian faith
Our Christmas message this evening shows up in an expected place. We all have heard the story of the baby in the manger from Luke’s gospel, and although there’s actually very little detail about the birth of Jesus, the circumstances tell us a great deal about the intent of God in this miraculous meeting of the holy and mundane. But in many ways, the concise statement from Paul’s letter to Titus speaks to us more precisely about the deep importance of this extraordinary event. Paul tells us the Christmas message in one sentence: The grace of God appeared, and all are saved. . Luke describes the event and locates it in history, Paul tells us why it’s important
We know that the Way made across the threshold is better than standing there in fear and bewilderment.
But you probably know this ~ God doesn’t work in the comfortable or solid. God works in the threshold times of new possibilities. So perhaps a life in Christ is not finding an equilibrium to hold onto, nor trying to control the stasis, but of knowing it’s a constant process, it is a dance, that we must rely on our spiritual maturity to lead us through