Joyous Generosity

 Gate Pa – Advent 3 2012


Hebrew Scripture:     Zephaniah 3: 14-20
Psalm:                         Isaiah 12:1-6
Epistle:                        Philippians 4: 4-7
Gospel:                        Luke 3:7-18

What I want to say:
Our hope is in a God who is reshaping the world
            it is hard to see sometimes
            easy to get despondent
John Baptist baptism is one of reordering all things, letting go of all that separates us from others, and entering into new community which embraces all people

What I want to happen:
what do we need to let go of that separates us from others?
what new way seeing and living in world do we need to embrace

The Sermon

     1.      Despair

events over recent weeks lead one feel pretty depressed about future
Failure Climate change talks – Doha (and our countries sad role in that)
            if scientist half right - even if we do meet targets, still deep poop
Europe economy still struggling
US approaching fiscal cliff – sounds terrible
HSBC fined over $billion money laundering
Ross Taylor saga just keeps on going – bad news story that just seems to keep on giving
Where is hope face of all that?

     2.      Hope in scriptures?

two prophets lived equally uncertain times
all known seemed falling apart
in face that offer hope heard this morning
prophets for our time, not only advent
time in history
hope isn’t just setting things right
return to good old days
radical change way things are
God’s peace and justice massive restructuring how things worked
writer Revelation describes this as God creating new heaven and new earth

     3.      John’s hope

John also offers us hope
hear it we need to stop and pay attention – not take him quite so for granted
interesting fellow really
father priest
            part ruling Judean elite – Jesus so much conflict with
            power and honour
            worked rigidly maintaining boundaries’
grown up and been educated follow father’s footsteps
become priest at temple
            clearly rejected that and gone off into desert
here he is baptising people in Jordan
lots people think he invented baptism
forms baptism around for long time
go to Jerusalem today; walk from western wall towards David’s city find sacred pools uncovered Israeli archaeologists
how it worked
washing cleanse oneself pollution, corruption, accumulated through contact unclean things, animals and people
means by which only those belonged could enter
and all others were excluded
society people in or out
important to know who is in and how in out
baths at temple were means of maintaining the boundaries who in and out
            washed self clean all that corrupted you
            excluded all those not able enter temple
as you entered
you came within boundary of God’s love and care and concern
God would act on your behalf
by implication
those outside beyond God’s love care and concern
God did not act on their behalf
worked against
was hostile towards them
act of washing declared all those others as
less than you
less than human
unimportant to God
able to be treated imply as objects satisfy needs and desires, greed and lust,
if God was hostile towards them then so should you be.
declared to be beyond God’s love and care
            treated with contempt, hate,
            to be used in any way one sees fit
other forms baptism equally exclusive

      4.      John’s baptism of repentance

Johns by very description is different
rather than ritual cleansing and boundary maintaining
described as baptism repentance
what repenting of?
bad behaviour
moral indiscretions
treating others badly
look at interchange with scribes gives us clues
remember no love lost between priests and Pharisees
John is on offensive
            brood of vipers
                        sons of vipers
                                    attacks – families
                                    foundations on which system of honour and exclusion is based
                                    likens that foundation vipers
                                                imagery used Jeremiah describe contemptible Egypt
                        before respond – removes another foundation
                                    God makes children Abraham from these stones
                        stagger from that insult
                                    axe laid at roots
                                                all experience through events around exile – new people Malachi heard last week demanding purity of remnant or root           
                                                hope always based that however bad it got, God would use those within boundaries lover, care and concern to build a new people
even that root, that root is under threat
who is being baptised
including people would never enter temple
seem there is no exclusion at work here
new thing happening
all are welcomed
maybe baptism repentance is one letting go of old ways,
old boundaries,
all that separated people into in and out
all that allowed you treat others as other
            as less than
            as outside God’s care and concern
truly baptism of inclusion
invited to see others as brother and sister

      5.      Advent - Hope for today

in this baptism we see glimpses of hope announced Isaiah and Zephaniah
hope God’s radical new heaven and earth
reworked by Luke
hope where all belong
all within boundary God’s love care and concern
where God works on behalf of all
hostile to none
where all are brother and sister
and are to be treated as such
last week repented or confessed all those things separate us from others
repentance also about embracing new way being in world
so this Christmas
            rush around buying present
                        how can we do that treats those in shops, those make gifts as brothers and sisters
                        do we dare ask if we need to give those gifts and instead use CWS or other agencies to give gifts of goats and chickens and seeds brothers and sisters in other lands?
            buy food Christmas feast
                        how buy honours farmers
                        honours animals as God’s creation
how might we engage this Christmas in a way that allows us and others to glimpse the hope that God is offering this Christmas?


Popular posts from this blog

Wilderness Peace

Joy in a hard year

Good News in a Wilderness Year - #slowadvent