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Rooted Growing Branching

Dec 4, 2016

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Advent 2: Awaiting God’s Justice

Jodie Hatlem, preaching

Advent begins in the dark. And yet, during Advent we confess that the light shines in the darkness and darkness did not overcome the light.

Advent begins within empty wombs. And yet, during Advent life will be implanted and quickened in the most shocking and the most surprising places.

Advent begins with a lone, disgruntled voice crying in the wilderness. With the promise that the entire world will be redeemed by the commonest of things: the birth of yet another baby to another poor woman.

Advent begins each year by calling our attention to the “end of all things.” To the second coming, to the last days, and to the shaking of all that can be shaken.

And yet, in Advent time begins a new. Like the first creation, where light is proclaimed in the darkness and the spirit hovers over the unformed void. During Advent, there is light and the spirit hovers over a world that humans have made dangerously dark.

And like an anxious pregnant woman we are attentive to the undeniable sign that is birth: the most excruciating pain, the most delicious joy.

And for all these reasons Advent is a unique season.

As a season not only of light and darkness, of beginnings and ends.

The one upon whom everything depends has been born.

The one upon whom the salvation of the world depend has already come.

Because of this: We proclaim a good hope that rightly reverberates weirdly into the great big non-confessing world. But whether the world can comes to understanding the significance of this strange, non-pure, convulsive echo that is secular Christmas will depend in part on us, the people of Advent.

Are we the kind of people who can wait again for the one who has already come?

The one who has come and because of this nothing, nothing, nothing, can ever be the same.

 

Psalm 72
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more. May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.  May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service. For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight. Long may he live! May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long. May there be abundance of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field. May his name endure for ever, his fame continue as long as the sun. May all nations be blessed in him; may they pronounce him happy. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen. The prayers of David son of Jesse are ended.

Isaiah 11:1-10
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.


(NRSV)