Rev. Chris Snow
North Hill Christian Church
December 1, 2019
Jeremiah 33:14-18, Mark 8:27-29
For the past ten or so years, I can remember an awareness of this duality present on tv during this time of year. The abundance of feel good movies and tv specials, that are entirely meant to make us feel happy and encouraged. That feeling of warmth as if we are snuggled up next to a fire with a hot cup of cocoa. The movies that try to make life seem more simple than it really is. Specials that bring forth our favorite Christmas songs and a few new ones that no one likes. Movies that try to remind us that the most important thing is to be surrounded by the ones we love and love us in return.
This goes against the news that we hear each day. The fear and dread about when and where the next mass shooting will occur. The sadness when we see horrendous tragedy in our world. The reminder that there is great poverty in our world and in our own communities. It seems like the Christmas movies and specials are simply an escape from the ills of our world. The struggles that we face when to comes to paying for our own healthcare within a broken system.
Even some of our celebrations and parties become a way to escape from the brokenness we know is present. Look at who is invited. Usually people that you either agree on most of the contentious issues with, or an unspoken agreement to avoid such topics. We don’t invite those who are in different life circumstances from ourselves, because we don’t want to be reminded of the brokenness when we go to a party. When we gather together around a table for thanksgiving with family, most of us found our selves with those that remind us what we are thankful for, not what still needs to be mended.
As we return from those moments of celebration and distraction, we are constantly reminded that our world is in need of something more, and it is our God that reminds us time and time again that there is indeed something more. It is in the promise of the messiah, that we are assured that there is one who can bring healing and wholeness into our world. That there is an answer to the cries of poverty, and violence. There is the promise that the least of these will be cared for. The promise that the cries for justice will be answered.
But here we are at the beginning of the season of Advent where we are remembering that expectation of what is yet to be. That expectation of our savior and anointed one. The expectation of that reminder of how God broke forth into the world to bring about healing, and wholeness in the world. We are awaiting the fulfillment of God’s justice and righteousness. But sometimes we get distracted or misplace our hope for what is possible.
I am well aware that as we are making our way through this season of waiting for the birth of our savior, we also find ourselves waiting for our newly elected officials to come through on their promises. Their promises, that they will clean up downtown and reduce the crime rate. Their promises of what they are willing to do that their competitor would not. Their promises to improve our quality of life without us experiencing a rise in our taxes. Their promises to solve the problems of homelessness.
As we wait for these newly elected officials to take office, we have this hope for what they are able to do. Placing maybe too much hope in the promises of their campaigns. But we also have this dread in the pit of our stomachs of what if they don’t live out those promises, or do so in a way that goes against our morals.
Even as we hope for what is possibly by our elected officials, we have an even greater hope in the one who has consistently been true to their word. We look to the scriptures that remind us time and time again that God has stayed true to the covenants, and God has not left the people. There is a continual promise throughout the texts that God will continue to lead the people if they will follow. The promise that if the people stay true they will know the divine justice for all the people. The reminder that as God provided for the people in the wilderness, God will continue to look after the needs of the people.
But we forget. We forget to look and recognize the places in which God is moving in the world, to care for those in need. As the days get shorter and the nights become darker, we can get bogged down by the ills of the world. We can get weighed down by the struggles of others who are seeking to make ends meet. Our hearts get heavier and heavier as we witness the brokenness in our community.
As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth we find ourselves identifying with the scriptures of the old testament. The need for God to break forth into the world and establish true justice and righteousness. But we also look forward knowing where the story of the birth of our savior leads. It leads through a life of ministry and sacrifice that continues on through us. We can recognize those places in which the promise that we hope will come into full realization, is already breaking through into our world.
In those places in which we see the best of humanity. In the face of tremendous tragedies as communities come around those who are mourning in support of one another. As we witness poverty in our community and find ways to respond. As we learn about and support those organizations that are well suited to answer the needs of our neighbors like Family Promise of Spokane or Cup of Cool Water. As we collect food for those who are struggling and hats and gloves for those who are cold.
I see hope when I witness communities of faith wrap their arms around the broken and outcast. When God’s love is declared loudly to those who have been shunned. When, as we respond to needs in our communities, we are also willing to ask about the underlying cause of that need, so that we can create real change change. So, that we can declare God’s justice as we work towards the Kingdom of God.
I find hope in the world where the messiah is recognized. When we go beyond the cute little sayings of the season that make us feel all warm and cozy, to pursuing the transformational nature of the good news that Jesus declared to all who would listen. Hearing again the promise of the messiah is one that should bring us hope even in the darkest of spaces. God has continually remained faithful and continues to declare true justice for the world, if we are willing to follow. If we are willing to declare the good news of the messiah, we will become messengers of that same hope here in this place.