http://sculpsureinwestpalmbeach.com/form.php The Sunday Sermon: Second Sunday in Advent – December 4, 2016
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citas de revistas impresas y online Road Construction Ahead, Brandon Ouellette (Student Minister)
Well here we are, at the second Sunday in Advent and I’m not quite sure that I can think of a better way to usher us into this season than to talk about a big, hairy, wild, locust-eating, crazy Baptist man springing forth from the wilderness! I mean, the man is just the epitome of Advent! Right?! Good tidings and joy and all that good stuff.
Ok, maybe I’m being a little ridiculous, but if you could imagine for a moment, let’s place ourselves in the time of John the Baptist, and suddenly you hear about this mighty man of God. You’ve traveled a far distance just to see him, to be baptized by him, and when you show up, you see this guy, dressed in camel’s hair. He has his favorite snacks of locusts and honey, and you think, “This guy?!”. “Come on God, of all people, this guy. He just doesn’t look the part God, I mean, you could have picked someone who at least smelled better, right?”
But as I think back to so many of our bible stories, is it not true that God often uses those who we least expect. Zacchaeus, Saul, even Mary, everywhere we find in scripture, God looks to those who are often looked over themselves. As I was reflecting on this, I began thinking, does this happen in our own lives? Have any of us perhaps looked at someone else and thought to ourselves, “but why him? Why her God?” Maybe that even goes as far as questioning God, wondering if this is truly God’s will. Perhaps some of you out there have self-directed a question like that to yourselves, “God can’t us me, not in a big way at least”. I certainly had those thoughts growing up, I even resisted this call, right here, for a long time. But as I continued to reflect on the scripture reading for today, I realized more and more that God not only works through all people, all of creation, God often works with those who will challenge us, who will challenge our preconceptions about what a person of God look like. People so often labeled as the “other”. There it is, that buzz word. This terrifying word, used to alienate and subjugate people throughout the entirety of human history. We as people have so often looked at ourselves as doing God’s will while those who do not necessarily fit into our preconceived models of Godliness are labeled as the other. It’s getting real now folks, so hang on tight.
I’m guilty of doing this myself! I’ve done it at school! I think to myself, ‘Of course I have the correct theology, of course I know how God works’, only to then realize that I was too busy claiming these “truths”, that I forgot how to listen. I forgot how to be aware, to notice my influence and how that might be silencing others. I was silencing other dear people who, with once sentence, could rock my entire world of understanding. John the Baptist was that kind of person, and perhaps if people had only judged him by the clothes he wore or the way that he looked, they might have missed out on the amazing work that God was doing through this man.
Now, as we continue to reflect on our passage today, I want to bring your attention to something in verse 3 when it says, there was The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”
Before we dive into this a bit, I want to point you to my sermon title in the bulletin. Road construction ahead. Now, some of you may not know this but I am a commuter student and I have to drive through a decent amount of road construction in order to get into Louisville. I make this drive every day, seven days a week, and as many of you can imagine, it gets really frustrating sometimes! Most of us have experienced it, the two lane roads with the concrete barriers that barely give you enough room to breathe let alone drive. The driver in front of you who is doing twenty miles below the posted speed limit and the person behind you who seems to want to be going 20 miles over the posted speed limit. You can tell because they’re so close to your bumper that you can practically see the veins popping out from their forehead. Then you hit the stop and go traffic, the people merging over at the last second, and the occasional wrecks that are guaranteed to add at least an hour to your commute. Needless to say, nobody likes road construction. And, Joel is going to kill me for saying this, when a combination of these construction frustrations start happening all at once, one or two perhaps non-church worthy words may have slipped from my mouth on occasion. Sorry Joel.
Despite these many frustrations with driving through it, I can’t help but look out at the men and women, often risking their lives, actually doing the construction work themselves. Surely it’s not ideal for them to be working in an environment where one misstep might be someone’s last. And yet they do it, because it’s necessary. It’s necessary for the maintenance and the upkeep that allow us to travel so freely form one place to another. And with that, I’m am reminded of our verse, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”. But how is that done? How do we make God’s paths straight? Perhaps, in a way, we have to become spiritual masons. In order to prepare for God’s kingdom, perhaps we are called to work towards change, real impactful change and repair here on earth. In order to make the paths straight, as the prophet Isaiah called forth for us to do, are we not called to do more, here and now, so that, as we heard last week from Pastor Joel, “every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low, the rough ground be made level, and the rough places plane, so that the glory of the LORD shall be revealed and all peoples shall see it together.”
Friends that is a beautiful scene. But the reality is that we do not live in this type of world, not yet. There are still so many out there who fight with hunger, poverty, injustice, loss, abandonment—people whose valleys are so low and whose mountains are so high that there seems to be no hope of ever getting out. And it is up to us, as God’s people to work towards a better future for everyone.
But it isn’t easy. Much like the frustrations of road construction, setting the path towards God’s will takes determination and patience and a willingness to be open, accepting, and of all things, to love deeply with reckless abandon. To show God’s love to all, especially those who are so often marginalized as the “other”. Much like those who judged John the Baptist on his appearance, or even those who would not offer room for Mary and Joseph because they were strangers, it is too easy to ignore those who may become an inconvenience to us. God calls us to more, to put in the work, to recognize the difficulty, but to push on even more, ever vigilant.
As we continue in this Advent season, amidst the busyness that inevitably envelopes all of us, let us remember those who often go unlooked, let us help those who so desperately need it, and let us show compassion and love towards all of God’s people. Maybe then, we can continue to make the paths straight. And although the journey is admittedly difficult, it is the continuation of progress that truly means something.
Brandon Ouellette, Student Minister / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / December 4, 2016