God is Coming Ready Or Not - Again

Gate Pa – Advent 2 2017
Psalm                          Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13                                        
First Reading:             Isaiah 40:1-11  
Second Reading:        2 Peter 3:8-15                         
Gospel:                        Mark 1:1-8                              

What I want to say and what I want to happen:

Use Isaiah and Mark to suggest that God has come, continues to come and will come ready or not. So what does that mean for us preparing and waiting through this time of Advent?

The Sermon

        1.     Introduction:

Remember playing hid and go seek
            count up to 10, or 100 or some other number
            when got there yell out – coming ready of not
hunt was on
little ones usually easy find
            – squeal delight and anticipation of being found
older ones harder, sneakier
sometimes so busy finding best place
            found no place
            hearing words coming ready or not – all bad news
you are not ready

         2.     Isaiah

passage heard from Isaiah
beginning of second Isaiah
            chapters 40- 55
            written towards end exile.
has been suggested that one of the ways we can understand this passage
            God has counted
            and is coming for exiles – ready or not.
in fact God is more than coming
God is rushing headlong for the exiles
and nothing
but nothing is going to get in the way
            not valleys
            not hills or mountains
God is coming – ready or not.
which is a great image
unless you’re like the kid still trying to get it together
is this good news?
or bad news?
because truth was the exiles were not ready
Exile understood God’s punishment for abject failure Hebrew people to live as people of God
            not lived as people living in God’s presence
            sent into exile – punishment
                        chance to mend their ways
not a lot changed from when first came to Babylon
sure – some still devout – harder here without temple
others played lip service demands       
            not treat others well
            not treat poor well
            still in it for themselves
sadly many  others no longer worshipped one God
            and instead moved allegiance to gods Babylon
            in particular – Marduk the chief god
but people see what happening
            Babylon falling
            Persia rising
Persians known letting exiles return home
so how were exiles to make sense of this?

         3.     Making sense of it all

first thing did was reaffirm God’s sovereignty
            God is in control of everything
            God sent them into exile
            God will take them out
2nd Isaiah shouts his statement - God is coming – ready or not

second – shift away from strict reward punishment understanding of God
that’s how understood exile
            behaved badly
            got punished
            got sent into exile
            when behave well
            get rewarded
            get to go home
now that is changing
God isn’t waiting around
God is coming ready or not
It is God’s mercy and grace that is at work here.
God forgives long before the people have even worked out that something is wrong
God loved before there was a people
God continues to love even at the darkest hour
This sovereign God is a God of mercy, love and grace
This God is coming ready or not
and this God will stop at nothing to find them.

        4.     Mark’s Good News

Unlike Matthew and Luke – start with genealogies and birth stories
and John’s “in the beginning”
Mark – starts with
“The beginning of the good news (or gospel) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”
This is probably the title
while we might be tempted to read that John Baptiser represents the beginning of the good news
-         in fact the whole book is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the Son of God
-         this story Mark is telling is just the beginning of the good news
o   really important statement in how we are to read Mark
-         and it carries on beyond this story
-         and we are part of that good news

         5.     What is good news?

often say Mark invented a new genre of writing – gospel or good news
which is true
also not true
good news was a common term
-         Official proclamations of Roman emperor, whose titles include “son of god” were called “good news”
o   -> think about how subversive Mark is being titling his story “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God”.
-         news from battle fields – when won – were good news
-         -> people were looking for good news of God coming in victory over the Romans
o   if only they could be righteous enough
Marks good news starts with Isaiah
it is a restatement of that good news
God has come - ready or not
because God is a God of generosity, forgiveness, love, shalom, aroha
God is not waiting around for people to be ready
for people to be good enough
to deserve God’s blessing
God is continuing with plan A
the plan at work since the beginning
the plan implicit in Isaiah
God’s first thought
of self giving love
drawing all to God’s self
they are living in presence of God
living as people made in image God
treating others as also made in image God
            deserving of Gods mercy, love and grace.

        6.     Peace

This Sunday – second Sunday advent
lit peace candle
prayed for peace
wonder how God is subverting our hopes for peace this Christmas
wonder where we see God coming ready or not bringing peace
wonder how we experience that in our lives
            how we are being invited to respond
are we ready?
are we ready to be found by this God of peace this Christmas?
because God is here, ready or not!


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