The spirit of the Lord came upon Isaiah – He was charged to bring good news to the oppressed – the year of the Lord’s favor – this is the same passage that Jesus reportedly read in the synagogue in Nazareth according to Luke – For the spirit of the Lord was upon him – there is good news – comfort to those who mourn
We mourn here today those who remember this day two years ago – and we have to reflect – how could such things happen in God’s world? How can the innocents be slaughtered as they were? – was God not with them? I remember today as I remember the day two years ago the story in Matthew of the slaughter of the innocents – A voice heard in Ramah – wailing and loud lamentations, Rachel weeping for her children – she refused to be consoled because they were no more.
And it is on this anniversary day we hear that the good news is proclaimed – comfort to all who mourn – garlands instead of ashes – the oil of gladness instead of mourning – the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit – well I imagine that today is a hard day for any touched by Sandyhook – that the grief is still just as raw – the emptiness just as deep – the darkness in deep need of light
We are the comfort – we are the bringers of garlands to each other – to those who still mourn – we who would be followers of this person proclaimed by John in the river Jordon must be the comfort in the dark – that is the way of the cross – not that we physically suffer crucifixion – that we act with the depth of compassion to feel with those who suffer – we feel with those who’ve lost through murder or neglect – through age or illness – we walk with them as Christ walks with us – being the hands and feet of God in the world
When we as a people do this – the year of the Lord is at hand – None of us is a prophet – although we all may be – none of us is John the Baptist or Isaiah though no one truly knows what tomorrow or next year will bring – We are not the light but we can come to testify to the light – we can testify to the light to those who dwell in darkness still – so that all may believe through our example
There has been much in the news these past few days and weeks – there are wars and rumors of wars – we try to fill the needs of the hungry and the naked with food and clothing and the need just seems so deep – this was true in Jesus day – it was true in Isaiah’s day – God though is with us – even in the need – for when we serve him in each other – we know his peace – there is a strength that comes from giving – not to the masses but to the one in front of us – we pray globally yet are of service locally – we fed those who braved the cold last Monday and shared coats with those without this week – because we could – because it is what we are called to do by John – by Isaiah – by Jesus himself – the good news is at hand – at our hand
Paul in his letter today talks of us to rejoice always – to pray without ceasing – to give thanks in all circumstances – How are we to do this? – How can we rejoice in the profound grief many here have known? – How can we pray at all times and still function in the world? We can give thanks that we are not alone in our loneliness when we remember the good news of Christ – we can rejoice that we are loved and can love when our hands are helping another – and these actions can be our prayers – our actions can be our meditations – service our prayer – peace like a river can attend your way even when sorrows like sea billows roll – we who remember the love of Christ do not fear the tears – either ours or our neighbors
This is the Mary week in Advent – we lit the pink candle today – Advent has entered its end of pregnancy phase – Christmas is at hand – the anticipation – like those last weeks of pregnancy are about anticipation and last minute planning – it can all be too exhausting with the parties – the shopping – the rushing – Take time – any time this week – ½ hour to stop and remember who it is we celebrate and what difference the knowledge and love of Christ has meant in your life – remember the times you have shared that joy with another – remember the times when you too have felt the Spirit move upon you – it probably wasn’t some earthshaking event – it might have been when you held a sick child’s hand – or visited a friend in the hospital – or comforted a parent or spouse – the rest of this Advent take ½ hour to remember that the light of the world is something as small as a babe swaddled in a mother’s arms – something as meaningful as a hug from a friend in a time of grief – and that the light of the world has come into our lives in the form of Jesus – let us rejoice it that – remember and share that even when we weep.