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Homily For The First Sunday of Advent - Year B
Isaiah 63:17 - 64:8; I Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:32-37
"An Advent Prayer - Meditation"

READING:  Isaiah 63:17 - 64:8;  I Corinthians 1:3-9;  Mark 13:32-37
SERMON :  "An Advent Prayer - Meditation"

by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
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I have decided to do a sermon that is more like a  prayer,  
a sermon that is addressed to God.  

I would ask you to listen to and to say Amen to.

          Why O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and
          harden our hearts so we do not revere you?  Return
          for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are
          your inheritance.

This cry perhaps captures the essence of Advent best.
         Advent is about waiting,
          About wondering,
             And yes - it is about fear,
                 The fear that the way will be lost,
                    And in that fear, Advent is also about hope,
                        Hope for the return of the Lord,
                           Hope for the time of the kingdom in all of
its richness, fullness, peace, and beauty.

          Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
          that the mountains would tremble before you!  Come
          down to make your name known to your enemies, and
          cause the nations to quake before you.

Oh yes - Advent is about hope,
         hope that the wrongs of this world will be righted,
          hope that the evil of this world will perish
             hope that justice will be done.

But more, Advent is also about personal things,
         it addresses our deepest needs, our deepest worries...

          All of us have become like one who is unclean, and
          all our righteous acts are like filthy rags, we all
          shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins
          sweep us away.

O God, we sit here today,
         and we are a people who are waiting,
         and we do fear that we will forget your ways,
          we do fear that the time of peace will not come,
          we do fear.

Jesus your son knew of this fear,
         and he talked to his disciples about the end times,
         the time when the temple would be destroyed and the land
          ravaged, the time when there would be wars and
          rumors of wars,
         a time when a brother would betray his brother and
          a father his child,
         a time when the people would be uncertain and afraid,
         a time when evil would be loose on the land,

God -we do not always understand why Jesus talked of these times of

We get excited by the depiction of the horror of that time. -
         Like the announcers on the TV News 
          we become breathless in the face of the latest footage,
          and we get excited,
             we become shocked,
             and we seek to know more, to talk about it more,
                 or, in revulsion, we change the channels,

God, help us to see why Jesus told us of this time we live in,
         we know that when these times have run their course,
          that He will return, 
         we even know that when those times are at their worse
          that You, in your mercy, will cut short the days
          so that some can survive.

But why, O Lord, this way of fear,
Why do we not see you yet coming in glory?
Why this way and not another?
What did Jesus really want us to do when he said

          No one knows about that day and hour, not even the
          angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 
          Be on guard!  be alert!  You do not know when that
          time will come.

Did he say this to simply remind us to wait,
         to long for you
         to want you,
         and to watch for you.

Is that, O Lord, the only purpose of this time,
         to have us to either get excited or fearful,
         and to wait in longing for something better?

Or Lord, is there more?

Is it perhaps like when our children were young?
         Like the times when they messed up their playroom, toys
         strewn everywhere, and we would say to them, "I'm going next
         door for tea.  When I come back I want everything tidied up"
         - and then leaving and coming back some time later and
         quietly going up the stairs to look through the half-open
         door to see them fighting amongst themselves, or fooling
         around or just absorbed in something.

         Is it like those times when we then crept away to give them
         another chance to get the job done?  Is it like the times
         when we would then shut the front door a little extra hard
         or make a loud noise in the kitchen, and then hear sudden
         noises of bustle as they hurried to get the room
         straightened up - with one of them calling out "Give us just
         a minute".

Is this time, O Lord, more than waiting?
         more than fear?
         more than longing for what has not yet happened?

Or is this time also a mercy?
         a time for sparing us judgement?
         a time for allowing us to get it right?
         a time for us to grow in faith and in obedience?

Is this why Jesus said,
          Be on guard!  Be alert!

Is this why Jesus said
          It is like a man going away.
          He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge
          each with his assigned task,
          and tells the one at the door to keep watch?

Is this why Jesus said
          Keep watch because you do not know when the owner of
          the house will come back - whether in the evening,
          or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at
          dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you
          sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone,

This place is your house O Lord,
         and we are your servants,
         we are your children,
         our brother Jesus died for us,
         and then rose, and said he would come again -
         that he would come,
         and that he would take his place on the throne
         of our world.

Help us Lord - 
         help us to keep him on the throne of hearts right now,
         and to do the job you have set us,
         help us to be loving and caring,
         and to do what you have asked of us.

You spare us judgement O Lord,
You do show us mercy,
Yet we would pray for you to come, and to come soon.

But help us in the meantime, O Lord,
help us in this time between our death and our resurrection.

Help us Lord - because we do become afraid -
         help us - because we do begin to doubt.
         Help us to remember.

          Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has
          perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who
          acts on behalf of those who gladly do right, who
          remember your ways.

You, O God have given us every spiritual gift,
         we can wait with your help,
         we can keep the faith till that time
         when our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed.

And we know O Lord, as did Paul,
         that you will keep us strong to the end,
So that we will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So help us Lord,
         help us to wait in faith,
         help us to watch eagerly for your coming,
         help us to do our job right,
         and relieve the fears of hearts.

Make us a people of peace and hope,
         a people of confidence,
         a people unafraid to call upon you,
         a people who proclaim the coming of your justice,
         and your love in the midst of darkness.

As Christ was born in Bethlehem and grew to maturity in Israel,
         so he was born in our hearts at our baptism,
O Lord, let him grow to maturity within us,
         as we await his return to the world in glory.  Amen.

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1996 - 2005
             please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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