Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hope - Luke 21


Tony E Dillon Hansen

Sermon based upon Luke 21: 25-36, Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 and Psalm 25

Opening Prayer

After Thanksgiving and our plates full of goodies (our abundances), you can tell the mood of people changes as we look with anticipation towards Christmas.  

This is a fresh time, a new season, and a new church year! Luke will help guide us.

The lesson from Luke is apocalyptic and epic. Like Star Wars, it feels like the Empire has returned.  

Besides being foreboding, this lesson is hugely revolutionary. Why the revolution and stressful images versus the comforting thoughts of Christmas, gifts and family dinners. Why this?  Why Advent? Like Star Wars, despite the long odds and endurance of tragedies, there is hope.

Jesus reminds us such things are always present, but Jesus tells us “stand up and raise your head high to this moment” because the time is always near - you have made it this far. 

What does it mean to live in the context of questions, struggles, terrifying to find a future that has comfort? We are in the midsts of distress where everyone seems to be caught up with the barrage of the pandemic, life stress and maybe some dystopia.

This lesson encapsulates so much of us in the recent years. These are signs. How do we interpret these? Signs, even ominous ones, point somewhere - for us to look up and look forward in prayer and with graceful community.  

These Advent signs have meaning. They point to something that is very different than our brokenness, our own emptiness. Advent is a beginning, (perhaps a revolution even) and the signs point to hope. Advent is like children with youthful aspiration. So, we come to church - to restore our faith and love for one another and together find hope.

We hope because what we are living through now is not the end. Emptiness, brokenness or dystopia are not permanent.  Thus, you and I, we must lean into the Gospel and hear the promise that life abounds with gifts. The promise - the word of God will not turn against us - the promise of peace. That is the hope of the fig tree.

For who does the future belong is those who put their trust in God and the hope of Christ (Psalm 25). Just like we read in Thessalonians, it is not just the words we say, but how we live and pray that hope - how we increase our love for one another, in this moment and for the future. 

Advent is a shaking of our world. We need that so much. Let God shake the very space around you to know that God is not just near but here.  

Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us that people often focus upon the wrong things - large abstract things (the sun, the moon, the stars, cosmic distress, earthquakes and plagues). We find ourselves overwhelmed or ready to panic. This is not the cinematic, edge-of-your-seat, end-of-times thriller like the movie 2012. 

Some preachers dwell on themes like this to scare folks into warped obligations to God and church.  If you were looking for someone to scare you, I suggest there are other places to go.  Fear is a motivation for some, but it is negative. Fear can cause tunnel vision - to focus upon the wrong thing - to lose sight - not just of a future, but of all that is available or people around us.

That is power of the Jedi - not just flashy lightsabers, making things float or even simple desert wardrobes. The power of the Jedi is understanding that we have all we need right here and now. That is the ultimate power of Christ. That does not involve fear, or fear of these cosmic powers, which we have no control. Even in the midst of emptiness, there is light.

The fig tree reminds us not to run from the signs. Don’t run from God, church or these powerful themes just so we skip to the comfortable commercials, Christmas dinners and wishlists. Find there is something here for you and now.  

That means to consider the way we use time we have. Its all we have - while we wait for the miracle of Jesus - not just the history and mystery but hope in coming glory.  We are to be alert - mindful of signs, but we ready our hearts and minds with hope in our hearts for the return of God’s majesty.

We have been through a lot these recent years, but we need not cower in fear.  There is hope.  The fig tree is reminds us to have hope that things will pass, and our faith will carry us because we are rooted in God.  When you allow that hope to be your heart, you will feel God’s presence. 

Yet, we cant do this all on our own.  That is why we pray and why we come to church. No we can’t do it alone, but together, we have hope of better things, brighter futures and wonderful possibilities. Again even against dark empires, there is light and there is community to help.

Advent is not just about the birth - a long time ago - but the coming of Christ (history, mystery and majesty.) We don’t have to fret about life today, or even worry about the youth around us when we reveal God to them. Then, they too will be rooted in faith and God to go beyond the plagues and the disasters into the new world of Christ.  

These are the ways that God’s majesty (that future) breaks into current world.  Why Advent? The answer is founded in our roots in the Spirit. With a new season and new year, we are born again. Then in our newness, like a child, we find hope because the spirit is there among us helping us.  Reveal this hope in your lives!

Thanks be to God.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Sign - Mark 13

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Two Coins - Mark 12