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    Dec 10, 2017

    Sermon Advent 2 Year B

    Preacher: The Rev. Ted Foley Deacon

    Series: Deacons

    Category: Advent, Weekly Sermon

    Detail:

    In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer, and Life-Giving Spirit.

    The first thing that I would like to do today is to introduce Alberto Cantos. Alberto is the son of Deacon Jose and he recently moved here from Argentina. I had the opportunity to get to know Alberto a little when he helped move one of our IHN families. I think that you’ll find Alberto to be a very interesting and talented young man. One of his talents is his gift for music. He’s going to be sharing that gift with us today. So, thank you Alberto.

    So, today we find ourselves in church with Christmas day just a little over two weeks away –just two weeks – no, just two short – no very short weeks away. Before you know it, Christmas will be here!

    Now, on hearing me say that, my guess is that there were more than a few people sitting here who went into a minor panic mode thinking, “OMG, two weeks. Yikes! I need to get a move on.”

    I get it. The commercial side of Christmas can be a high pressure, high stress, anxiety inducing time.

    And yet, at the same time, from a church perspective it’s not Christmas yet. It’s Advent. And Advent is a time of preparation – spiritual preparation. Which means that it’s a time for quiet, a time for prayer, a time for reflection.

    As we live our lives today here in central NJ, we live in a world with these competing and sometimes contradictory worlds. On one hand, we need to get ready for Christmas. And, at the same time, we need to prepare our hearts for Jesus. The commercial side pulling us in one direction and the religious side pulling us in the other. Quite frankly, speaking only for myself, I find that the commercial side wins out far too often.

    So, today, on this second Sunday of Advent I thought that we could give ourselves a break from all of the commercial stuff and just take some time for quiet reflection, and prayer. I thought that we could all pray together in song – an Advent song called, “Come, O Lord and set us free.” 

    You have the lyrics for the song in your program and we’re going to sing it now. We’ll sing it through twice. Alberto and I will sing it through the first time. And then I would invite you to join us and sing it through the second time.

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    This is such a perfect song for Advent. Not only does it provide the room for quiet reflection, it’s also a powerful prayer – a prayer that really fits this season of Advent. “Come O Lord and set us free.”

    During the season of Advent we invite Jesus to be present amongst us. We invite him into the world and invite him into our hearts. There’s a word that you’ll sometimes see at this time of year - Maranatha. Sometimes you’ll hear it in a hymn or in religious music. Maranatha is an Aramaic word meaning, “Come O Lord.”

    So, in this time of Advent, let us sit back and relax and together sing,

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    As we sing this song we are praying an ancient prayer. In scripture – very often in the Psalms - mostly in times of trouble - we hear this prayer being cried aloud. “Come O Lord.”

    In today’s first reading, the Israelites were nearing the end of the horrors they endured in exile in Babylon. They pleaded for God to come and save them, “Come O Lord.”

    And, God tells the prophet, “Comfort, O comfort my people.” A message that the prophet gladly delivered, giving the people a sense of peace. Who among us today doesn’t need that same message of peace?

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    Centuries after Isaiah, when John the Baptist shows up on the scene, people were again in trouble. The people of Palestine felt trapped. On one side there was the cruelty of the Roman empire which maintained control through torcher and intimidation. On the other side was a religious elite that, not only was out of touch with the needs of the people but was also colluding with the Romans. Common everyday people felt trapped. They were looking for a Messiah.

    At first, they thought that John the Baptist was the Messiah, but he quickly corrected them saying, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.”

    The one more powerful than I is coming. Let us pray…

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    One of the metaphors that is often used during Advent is the struggle between darkness and light – between evil and good. Over this past week I found myself in several conversations with different people who are struggling with darkness in their own lives.

    Some were talking about how they’ve been the victim of racism, or anti-Semitism. A few people talked about the darkness of addiction. But everyone – every single person also talked about light. Every person said that they refused to be overcome by the darkness. They insisted on turning towards the light and be set free.

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    So, is there darkness trying to overcome you?

    Are you being pulled into the craziness of a commercial Christmas?

    Are you despondent over the affairs of the world or even your neighborhood?

    Is there someone in your life where your relationship is strained or broken?

    Is there any malice in your heart causing a darkness?

    Whatever darkness it may be, I suggest that you now lift it up and hold it in prayer. I invite you to sit back and close your eyes and sing a song of Maranatha.

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    Come, O Lord, and set us free.

    Give your people peace.

    Come, O lord, and set us free.

    Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

    In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer, Life-giving Spirit. Amen.