Why do we start off the Advent series with this scripture about the end times?
Consciousness evolves just like everything else – today we have a scripture with Jesus talking metaphorically about the end times – The readers of Mark’s Gospel would have been living through a rather dramatic end times – the end of Temple Judaism – the end of God dwelling in a place – the Temple of God had just been destroyed – within a decade of when Mark’s Gospel being written the dwelling place of the Most High would be gone
In a time when the theology of the world held that there were many gods of which Jehovah was the one true god – the followers of another God had destroyed the temple – The temple of the one who had defeated the gods of the Egyptians – there was no narrative like the ones in scriptures when the Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians that the Jews had sinned against God – no the narrative formed by this new branch of Judaism was that Jesus destroyed the need for a temple and in three days ended the need for one forever – And the early Christians had proof of that staring them in the face
It was the end of an age – as some point it is always the end of an age – and like most times ages end not everyone gets the memo
The world changes – my kids never knew a time without personal computers – their kids won’t know a time without instant access to anyone in the world either through text or voice or video – we are in a different age than when I was born and many in this room may have helped it come about
The world changed when Jesus lived and died and resurrected – it changed in an instant – yet the change that happened is still taking place today – we are asked during this time of Advent to open ourselves to new ways of looking at things – sometimes that new way will be earth shaking
I came here from California – and while I was there I experienced earthquakes from time to time – the building would shake – windows rattle – mostly not much worse than during a violent thunderstorm or when a big truck would drive by – I was in California however during the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 – the earth didn’t just shake – it rolled – solid ground was no longer solid – and not just for a couple of seconds but for a disquietingly long time
When things stop being the way they are supposed to be – we need to sometimes look to forming different relationships with our environment – well Advent is a time for us to remember that the Incarnation was and is a foundational shift in the nature of our reality – it is and was a tectonic change in the nature of the divine – the world now longer was the same – for we were and are given a means to have a relationship with God that is personal and communal
God and the gods of the ages were things that lived on the mountain tops – in the power of volcanoes and earthquakes – lightning and tempests – they needed priests – High priests and low to bridge the realms of where God dwells and where we dwell – Emmanuel changes that – Emmanuel – God with us means the divine is in our midst – that we can see God at work in the world – but to do that meant at some point the destruction of the way we related to the world and to God’s place in it – this is the end times Jesus is talking about here and why we hear this Gospel on Advent 1 – because to see Christ in our lives means our still normal ways of seeing and being in the world need to change – the event like an earthquake happens in an instant – the effects are felt over years
The message of Christianity – which we sometimes hold to and sometimes not is that in God there need not be Gentile or Jew – and this doesn’t mean literally this means metaphorically – it means there needs not be separations between peoples – need not be clans or tribes – that these things are meaningless in relation to our connection to God – a revolutionary idea – that we can see the divine not just in the divinely beautiful, or wealthy, or fortunate but in the desperately poor and wretched – we can see God in the stinky masses who are by all civil society’s definition unclean
We still don’t embrace this message fully even as Episcopalians – all we need do is look at the streets of our communities across this country to see the man-made fear in which we still operate – we see ourselves as separate from the oppressors and the oppressed – we identify with this group or that and there blooms in that short sightedness the sins of racism – poverty – hunger – We even say during our Eucharistic feast – on this very altar – the Gifts of God for the people of God – meaning literally – according to our rubrics – only baptized Christians – as if God favors us over his other children – that we Christian Gentiles are the new world’s chosen people
Well make room this year for life to change – make room for God to break things up – for if God is to enter our already too full lives then something has to give – maybe it’s just our horizons – maybe we need to grow to be more of who we are – maybe we need to remember that we’ve been changing all our lives and this is yet one more opportunity to grow – The message from this Gospel is clear – change is a coming so get ready – the Holy Spirit will be visiting so ready the room – Emmanuel is coming back into our lives here at Christ Church Tashua – God loves us all and asks much from us all – the hands and feet of God are not on some statue made of wood or stone but at the ends of your arms and legs – no matter how strong or frail they may be – Jesus brought forth a new message that in many ways is only being played out in our time where we can no longer deny that the world is one place
We were given a paradise the scriptures say – in our arrogance we thought we knew better than the divine how to tend that Garden – so God gave us what we wished for – we were made in our hubris the stewards of the garden and the stewards of each other too – in mercy God also gave us a manual on how to be proper stewards – tenders of heaven on earth – we Christians see that manual in Emmanuel – Look around and ask am I being a proper steward of my part of the Garden – am I being a good steward of my relationships – are we as a people being proper stewards or are we only looking out for our own? Let us make room this Advent season to welcome the solution back into our lives by making room for Christ – let us be guided more this year by Christ’s teachings rather than the principles and convention wisdom that tells us to look out for number one first and instead look out for each other – let us prepare a room in our hearts for Jesus this Advent and leave a light on in the window of our lives so he might find a way in the dark dark world.