Trinity News and Sermons

12/14/14 Sermon Bullets

The Third Sunday of Advent
Holy Communion

  • I’ve always loved the symbol of the Advent wreath: as the days grow darker till the shortest day of the year, the candle grows brighter with each week’s passing as we light one more candle representing another week that has past, another week till Christmas Eve!
  • Without faith in our God, it seems to me, this world would be one dark place. One need only read or watch the news to see how dark and dangerous it is.
    • Young people are protesting all across our country because of the perceived brokenness of the criminal justice system.
    • According to recent polls, persons of color share that they feel insecure (to say the least) when they see a police officer in our country – whether that person of color has done something wrong or not.
    • Russia and Iran, enemies for a very long time, are contemplating and working on alliances to take more control in the world, as they see the United States at its weakest in years and want to take advantage of that circumstance.
    • If one is an immigrant, especially if without official documents, one must live with one’s eyes always looking over your shoulder, not certain of what the future holds.
    • One in five children on this earth suffer from malnourishment.
    • Professional athletes, who are paid EXHORBITANT salaries and are trained to be aggressive on the playing field or court, act out that aggressiveness in their homes and among their families.
    • Professionals tell us that there is so much loneliness here in NYC, this great metropolis with over 8 million people.
    • Fights continue about the location of Homeless housing, especially here in Queens as the population of those who simply cannot afford an apartment grows.
    • More and more young people are coming to me with a yearning for spiritual fulfillment: They say, “Something is missing in my life.”
  • How dark this world must seem to so many.
  • In today’s lessons we keep hearing about light, about what God is doing or going to do in the world. John the Baptist comes to testify to the Light that is coming into the world. St. Paul tells us that we are to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” These may seem naïve instructions given what we encounter in the world. How can we rejoice when we see violence and injustice around us? How can we give thanks when so many are hungry, and starving spiritually? What good does it do to pray without ceasing? Isn’t this all a bit Pollyanna?
  • The words of our first lesson are words that Isaiah spoke a very long time ago, to a people who had been exiled from their homeland for many years. They are the words that Jesus reads in Luke’s gospel as he begins his ministry. They are words for us today, in this dark time – for Trinity Lutheran right now, this very day.
  • They are words of power, of compassion, of challenge.
  • This is our mission in these dark days – just as Jesus told the gathering in the synagogue in Capernaum that he is the fulfillment of these words, so we – THIS VERY DAY- are called to be the fulfillment of bringing light to an ever darkening world. We are called to:
    • bring good news to the oppressed,
    • to bind up the brokenhearted,
    • to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    • and release to the prisoners;
    • 2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
    • and the day of vengeance of our God;
    • to comfort all who mourn;
    • 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion —
    • to give them a garland instead of ashes,
    • the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    • the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
    • And we don’t do this alone. Hear the first words of Isaiah
  • The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me.
  • Do the days seem dark to you? Is the task almost insurmountable?
  • Then pray without ceasing. Remember the words of Paul also this day: Do not quench the Spirit.
  • You and I are not doing this alone. We are called to be light and to bear witness to the light. To make our home, Trinity, and our individual lives places of light and hope and peace. We are called to make a place where ALL feel welcome, even if they differ from us. We are called to be a place of comfort, of hope, of love. We may not agree with each other at all times. We may not have all the answers. We may not be able to solve ALL the problems. But as a gathered community, as a family with each other and to those who seek our help – either within this place or the places where God puts us every day—we are called to bear witness to the Light of Christ that helps us get through the darkness.
  • As St. Paul also says: The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. God is faithful. He will give you light.
  • And remember the words from the first chapter of John also: the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never EVER overcome it.
  • Go forth and be light!