I can hear Jesus calling to us: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."
It’s actually a privilege to be able to tell the truth. Some people can’t do it, either because they can’t see the world truthfully … truly (all they know are lies). Some people can’t tell the truth because if they do they’ll be fired, rejected, persecuted, or killed. It’s a gift to be able to see the truth… and talk about it. That’s something we shouldn’t take for granted.
We need guidance in our lives and we need someone to lead us. There is more than one source we can go to. Some voices will lead us astray, rob our lives and steal our futures, and we can easily fall for it if we don’t know the voice of the Shepherd.
The civil rights movement was deeply rooted in the ways and teachings of Jesus, and for Dr. King… this was not some set of beliefs or something he did occasionally… it was a deep communal way of existing on this planet from birth to death. It was faith and action.
Faith is not about how certain you are about your beliefs. Faith is about what direction you’re moving in your life. Acting to be trustworthy and to trust, despite the fact that you cannot be certain. Faith = active fidelity, faithfulness.
When humans are faced with injustice—with a wrong so wrong it can never be made right—or some sort of inhuman, inhumane, or dehumanizing event that makes us feel powerless, it’s only natural to look for some kind of help from outside the system—a hero who can put things to rights.
Jesus had come to believe he was bridging God’s future into the present; and he had to trust that when the future of God comes in contact with the blind, the sick & even the dead… God’s life will overcome death.
We have been charged with the stewardship of our lives and of creation; and God is very interested in how you and I steward those things. God is very interested in how we treat the gifts God has given us Have we been good stewards of them? Or have we buried them, or squandered them?
Our enemy nearly always carries our own dark side. If we hate them, we’re really hating our own darkness. We actually need our enemy… that way the problem can always be “out there” somewhere & not in here. Jesus says you’ll never grow up that way.
The call to follow Jesus is always a call to leave something behind. But it’s like what you are leaving behind pales in comparison to what you are being called to join – because you get to be a disciple. What is God calling you to leave behind, so you can follow Jesus? What do you need to let go of so that you can become a disciple?
All throughout the gospels, Jesus is trying to push us toward a life that is deep & rich & resilient & powerful it only comes through a kind of struggle w/questions that help us let go of our old way of seeing the world & to trust Jesus for his new way of seeing the world…
If we don’t have the kind of relationship with God where God can speak to us & we respond, then our lives will just naturally conform to the conventional wisdom of our culture. And it can be a really decent life. It’s just not the life we’ve been called to live… it’s not what it means to be part of the Kingdom of God.
Our text for today is a battle between the conventional wisdom of the day & the ancient story of a God who comes for his people in the form of a little child. And we’re encountering this idea that… Part of what it means to be the people of God is that we agree to throw in our lot with God over & against conventional wisdom of the day.
The way God has been leading us toward since the days of Jacob & Esau… Is a way of answering hate with love... Meeting hostility with hospitality… answering violence with peace… answering the grudge with forgiveness.
You can’t get cute when you read Isaiah 11. We live in a world with a dreadful abundance of human predators of all kinds. Predator nations, individuals, institutions, and societies … bent on destroying the vulnerable. When we make ourselves vulnerable, we are going to get hurt.
To those stuck inside a closed system it seems completely unrealistic, but Jesus came from outside the system… a new frame of reference.
And as Christians we cling to God’s vision of the kingdom… but we know what we are living w/some wild beasts… teeth & everything.
Advent reminds us that the reconciliation of all things will happen through ordinary people in still, small, acts of justice, worship, and peace that seem to come out of nowhere. Acts that pull you upside down and set you right side up. Radical loving acts that give people from all nations a new story to live by... a new imagination for their world and their future.
This is a story about a God with a ladder. And the idea of this story is not that we have to do special things or go to special places to get to God, because this God has this ladder… Jacob was no place special. And the promise God made to Jacob in this no place special… was… “I am with you.”