Care and Hope in Advent
Second Sunday of Advent
December 7, 2014
The Episcopal Church on Edisto
II Peter 3:8:15a
If there is one person who represents the season of Advent, surely that person is John the Baptist. Not only is John featured in today’s Gospel, but he also reappears next week as well. Indeed, in many ways, John the Baptist is the Advent man.
John is a complicated person. Actually, though, such an observation relates to the season as well. After all, Advent calls us not only to anticipate Christmas but also to get ready for Christ’s Second Coming. As we know, that event is full of complex meanings. Like the season of Advent itself, therefore, the person of John the Baptist offers complexity and complication.
In addition, as a figure in history, John represents a throw-back to earlier times, but his message points most certainly into the future. That is, John looked and sounded like an Old Testament prophet. He set up shop out in the wilderness, and his appearance and actions seemed like ones from former days. We read, “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mk 1:6). The people recognized in John the symbol and reality of a prophet.
At the same time, though, John’s message was one that demanded people’s preparation for the future. “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me” (1:7), he proclaimed. There is no doubt that John the Baptist understood his role as being one that prepared the faithful for the Messiah yet to come, even though in his person he represented the prophets of old.
Therefore, I want you to understand today the close connection between John the Baptist and the season of Advent. Both are complex in meaning, and both call us to look backward and forward in time. However, I want us to go further with this message today. Like other communities, The Episcopal Church on Edisto shares some characteristics with John the Baptist and with Advent.
It certainly is true that your history is complex. Indeed, as you attempt to explain that history to others – outsiders – you realize again how complex your history really is. And it is not only history that seems complex and complicated. The present and future possibilities may not be any clearer or easier. In fact, future choices and opportunities for this community will emerge that may make the past seem relatively straight forward.
Welcome, therefore, to Advent! As we prepare for the anniversary of Jesus’ birth, this season calls on us to get ready for the return of the King of kings. Our seasonal preparations, therefore, are both short-term and long-term. It may even be that preparing for the one impedes preparations for the other. In any event, though, it is complicated – this season of Advent.
Also, like John the Baptist and like the Advent season, this community of faith is called to understand yourself on a continuum of time. You have a past that you need to remember. Some of that past is good and positive and true. Therefore, it should be celebrated as such. However, other parts of your past experience are not so positive. At best, they offer lessons about things to avoid in the future.
Ahead on time’s continuum, the future looks bright for this community. As I have mentioned, it may not always be easy. In that regard, ask any adolescent if growing up is always fun. However, your future is spread out ahead of you. The reality that there will be choices is more about possibilities for the journey than about comfort and simplicity along the way.
Thus, as we consider this season of Advent, I commend to your thoughts and your prayers the example of John the Baptist and the experience of this community of faith. May preparations be made with care, and may the future be embraced with hope. Amen.
The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg
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