Third Sunday of Advent / Luke 3:4-14
(Watch past sermons on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hope-United-Methodist-Church-116517175038771)
Today we will share a brief message focusing on Joy. We are to rejoice with the birth of baby Jesus and prepare the way for the Lord who will bring hope and joy into the world.
Today in our scripture reading, we hear from John the Baptist but the good news from him sounds harsh. He calls for repentance, threatening wrath, fire, and axes saying “You brood of vipers, you sons of snakes. I don’t want to hear about Abraham. I want you to do something….Bear fruits worthy of repentance,” He was calling for people to change their hearts and lives.
Then they ask “What then should we do?” The crowds ask. The tax collectors ask. The soldiers ask. ‘Teacher, what should we do?” Then, John says “whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, collect no more than you are authorized to collect, Don’t harass anyone….”
Do you see what he is preaching about? He says, ‘build a home for all’ as we share resources, build relationships of trust, practice faithful stewardship…
But, in building a home for everybody, he doesn’t ask them to fix the world but to change themselves. They ask “What should we do?” because the crowds who came to him could not eliminate poverty, but he says, change yourselves, you can share what you have with the cold and hungry. The tax collectors who came to him could not change the entire tax system, but they could be honest. The soldiers who came to him could not end the Roman occupation, but they could act with integrity and not abuse their power. So, his answers were simple enough that they can practice them.
So, this morning, we hear from John the Baptist ‘repent from your sins’ and we are challenged by asking ‘what should We do to build a house for all, to share joy with all’. Here are some examples. Some of us serve at Beacon House, and we have a little food pantry ministry to help our neighbors. We help with the kids’ weekend meal for Meadowview elementary school. Some of us work with JONAH. Those are acts of repentance, I believe. We have not yet, and we can’t eliminate hunger in this community but we do what we can do. Which means, in those ways, we engaged the world and we refused to be indifferent. Jesus did it too. He didn’t change the world in regards to any oppressing power but engaged in and gave himself to the world. We have worship services to rest in God while we pray, praise, and listen to the words of God. Also I know many of you take a quiet time with God at your places. That also is an act of repentance as we return to God. That will not change the chaos and noise of the world, but it reminds us that God is present in that noise and chaos and we can be still and stay with God. We won’t end the various forms of violence and wars of the world, but we plant seeds as we share actions of peace, justice, and kindness even if it is so small just like smiling or saying hello to strangers.
…(Use the above link to our Facebook Page to hear the rest of the message)