Sermon for Advent 2 C Interruptions

It’s been a long day, a hard day at work, or just with the kids, or grandkids, a long day of getting things done, paying the bills.  It’s been a long day of school, you’ve finished your homework, and now it’s time to play.  It’s your time. You sit down with a book, put your feet up with a nice glass of wine, or turn on your favorite show, the movie gets good, you’re kickin some zombie whatever.  Maybe you’ve even fallen asleep.

The phone, the doorbell rings; you hear the noise, cries from the kids’ room, the apartment next door, the neighbors; the power goes out; your program, your time, your life gets interrupted. No one likes to be interrupted, even when it does turn out for the better; when it’s a pleasant surprise like, “hey let’s go for ice cream, or a hug and a kiss from a child, or a call of good news.  That turns out great, but you were still interrupted.

However, there are a lot of other interruptions we just rather not receive—the call with the bad news, a diagnosis of illness, and emergency, getting laid off, or cut in hours or pay, having to move.  We plan, work, and hope, but the flow of our days, our life, is destroyed by interruptions.

That’s pretty much what is happening in our Gospel reading for this morning.  The writer Luke begins this section with this list of names and titles of the important and powerful—names like President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Governor Walker, Walmart, Rupert Murdoch, John Stewart, or for the younger set Facebook, Psy, Jay Z, Edward or Bella.  Yes, I know those aren’t the actual names Luke uses, but who of us can really relate to Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanius, Annas, and Caiaphas?  We know they are political and religious powerhouses.  Luke is giving us a list of the movers and the shakers, the important and powerful and then he tells us that the word of God comes to –“dundded dah” trumpety sound  — John son of Zechariah.

Huh, who’s that? – shouldn’t that word of God go to somebody we know, somebody we recognize, somebody else?  The chain of command here is all out of wack—John’s a nobody in a nowhere corner of the world.  It’s like if a message were to be flashed on a screen, “We interrupt this program with an important message from, I don’t know fill in just an anybody’s name: Melanie, Mike, Andre, Nancy.

The thing is God’s not done interrupting by choosing John.   You see, the word of God from is what?  Prepare.  How do we prepare?  Do we go out shopping, put up the tree and decorations, eat lots and lots and lots of cookies? No we repent.

God is doing a lot of interrupting—interrupting our life.  And, that’s really what repentance is all about.  You see we like to, well and to be honest, the movers and shakers, the powers that be like it when we just kind of go with the flow.  If we just kind of keep on doing whatever we’re doing, and we don’t actually stop to think, we don’t pay attention. Going with the flow, buying the lines we tell ourselves—I’ll quit tomorrow, I’m not hurting anyone, no one will know, they deserved it, I’m right, I’m better than.  We go with the flow when we buy the lines we hear—well that’s just the way it is, that’s how the world works, everybody’s doing it, you deserve it or you’re just not worth it.

Into all that God interrupts that; God says stop.  Stop right where you are.  Look at yourself, look at the people around you, look at the world around you.  Stop just going through the motions, stop blaming, stop arguing, stop killing yourself with all the junk you eat, smoke, think. Stop killing others with all the junk we buy and sell.  Stop lying, cheating, Don’t just go along with it all.  Stop it, stop it, stop it!

God is interrupting us; God is turning us around—turning us from the ways of death and turning us to something else.  In these verses it’s called “the salvation of God”.  God iturning us to life, turning us to love, turning us to forgiveness, turning us to see and be.  Because God didn’t stop interrupting the ways of this world.  God isn’t looking for anyone else but each and every single one of us to keep interrupting.  Yup, you heard me right.  I’m telling you from the pulpit that you can, you should, you are called to interrupt—not to get your way, but God’s way –the salvation of God.

You may have noticed that this morning I skipped the confession and forgiveness.  You might have thought I forgot it, and well that always is a possibility with me, I did not forget it.  Instead we are going to practice a Divine interruption right now.

I Want One – Forever Lazy

I want one!
Forever Lazy. It’s a soft fleece lie around, lounge around, full-body lazy wear. This thing looks soo warm and comfortable. It’s just the thing for me. I want it. No, I NEED this.
Isn’t the goal in life to be more comfortable? At least that’s what merchandisers and some politicians preach. We are told we shouldn’t have to go without the latest gadgets and gizmos. We are told we shouldn’t be concerned with the common good and instead focus on our own wants, our own desires, our own comforts.
Compare that message with the words we hear from Mark’s Gospel for the 2nd Sunday in Advent:
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,'”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed words that made people wince. He named their sin—out loud.
John’s message of repentance is not about being or feeling comfortable. Repentance is turning away from our sin and brokenness. This is usually uncomfortably hard work. It is easier just to ignore our shortcomings, our weakness. It’s easier to ignore the evils at work in our economic systems. It’s easier to go with the flow, but that is not God’s intention for us and this world. God is loving us into being the people God intends us to be. That is why noted preacher and faith leader William Sloan Coffin is quoted as saying, “I’m not OK, you’re not Ok, and that’s OK”. Sin is not OK, but God’s love is more than OK.

Prayer: God who is beyond forever. Through your love, give me the strength to see myself honestly. Open my eyes not only to my own faults, those of others and those of our world, but to your presence in me and in the world. Help me to feel your forgiveness; help me to forgive. Amen.

Suggested Action: This week practice forgiveness. Look deeply and honestly at yourself. Spend time thinking and praying about your words, your thoughts, your actions. Pick one thing; name it, and write it down. Accept God’s forgiveness; forgive yourself, and take real steps to change.