Sunday, December 13, 2009

Third Sunday in Advent

Today's Saying

8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
.-Luke 3:8

Today Liturgical churches will celebrate the third Sunday in Advent . The Gospel in the common lectionary is Luke 3:7-18.
In today’s gospel we run head first into John the Baptist and discover that he pulls no punches. What he wants from the crowds or to be more exact from each individual in the crowd is real repentance. He wants them to see their sin and be sorry and then change. He doesn’t want them to recite a liturgy, or belong to the right religious group> He couldn’t care less about their position in the community. He wants changed lives. He wants the lives changed on the side of doing good to others or at least doing no harm. He will settle for nothing less.
Just imagine you came to Church this morning expecting to hear that God loves you. The preacher moves into the pulpit and says “ I don’t care if your Lutheran ( substitute Catholic, Baptist, or what ever you are) , I don’t care if you can sing hymns at the top of your lungs, I don’t care if your grandmother helped to start this Church. I don’t care if you think you are saved by grace. I’m telling you this morning that God wants changed lives. He wants you to care about the people who have no homes, no food, no hope. If you really belong to Him lets see some fruits of your belief. Leave church today with some idea of who you can help.”
What a shocker that would be. Its almost Christmas and you came to church to hear a nice word, a comforting word. You certainly didn’t come to be hit by a two by four. You didn’t come to be reminded of all the people out there that you would rather pretend didn’t exist. You have done your best to ignore the requests for money from all the organizations trying to help the, Just last week you thew away a request from the battered woman’s shelter, the community food pantry, and the addiction center. Who wants to be bothered by stuff like that during the holiday season?
I doubt many preachers will be that brave.
But John was. He even called the crowd “ a brood of vipers”. He pulled no punches. He wanted changed lives.
Well the bad news is God still wants changed lives. The good news is that in Christ he will give you the power to change.
It is Advent and John the Baptist calls us to repent and change.
Will we?

It is Sunday morning in Pigeon Falls and Pastor Joan has begun preaching. As part of the sermon she points to an empty spot across from the pulpit and says “ John the Baptist confronts you here this Sunday” it was intend to be a rhetorical gimmick but there is a child n the church that sounds like it is babbling and it says:
Іоанна Хрестителя з'являються зараз.

There is a flash of light and standing where Pastor Joan points is a stange man . He has a locust hanging out of his mouth, and is dressed in Camel’s hair. He is one scary looking individual.. He speaks:
“ What we have here is a bunch of Lutherans. You think because you do your liturgy well and sing the old songs with such gusto God will love you. You feel comfortable here at Last Lutheran. It makes you feel good. Well I see you for what you really are, a bunch of sniveling cowards. You are afraid too do what God called you to do so you hide behind ritual and grace. You pretend you don’t know people are starving. Your National Church set up a fund drive for world hunger and what this congregation has given to it is a disgrace. Around the world people starve while you are planning your Christmas feast. Shame on each and every one of you. Shame!
It is time for you to repent and change. The special envelope is in your bulletin. It would be a good start. Then you need to look in Pigeon Falls for people who need help. The God who save, the God of grace demands this of you.”
At that he vanishes and the church is deathly quiet except for the sound of bulletins and pocketbooks being opened.


Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Thanks, Dr. John, for today's kick in the pants. We needed that.

You are one great blogger, do you know that?

That ancient language isn't Russian, it's Greek!

5:10 AM  
Blogger Melli said...

Praise the LORD, you were NOT able to guilt me out on THIS one! Praise the LORD, I do my BEST in this arena! Well... okay... maybe not my BEST. I do good. I probably could give more time. I'll do better! PRAISE THE LORD! Thank you Pastor.

I wish that child attended FIRST Lutheran!

5:35 AM  
Blogger Nessa said...

Thanks for the reminder Pastor John. I certainly can give more of myself.

Unconscious Mutterings

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Ilona said...

Oh my goodness... this is good!

Not just because it hits hard... but because it whacks its way through the cobwebs of our "life as usual" way of seeing the Lord and our service to Him.

Thanks,I needed that.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mahalo Dr. John. I think I needed that as well. Great sermon. :)

10:23 AM  
Blogger Finding Pam said...

Amen, Dr. John.
We are indeed called to help the needy, the hungry and the lost.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Brighid said...

Thanks for the wack on the head. I can do more, especially locally.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

..and there are so many opportunities to show we care about other.

Great sermon. Amen.

I hope you well and enjoy Advent.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Sorry, Dr. John, but "I gave at the office."

['Іоанна Хрестителя з'являються зараз'
translates as
John the Baptist now emerging.]

1:44 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

I forgot my question.
"Is he still headless?"

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Raphnexx Community Development Worker Turned Blogger said...

jeez this is unexpected,I never thought religion and internet could become compatible.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Mama Zen said...

Marvelous, Dr. John!

2:54 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Jim! John the Baptist has whatever the little girl sees him as having.He probably looks like the picture on the bulletin or in a child's book of Bible Stories.
I see you figured out the language.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Cherie said...

So, does this have something to do with Ooops? Very interesting indeed! :)

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh!! John the Baptist did not magically show up in the middle of the sermon at my church this morning, even though we are following the lectionary and read the same verses!
Perhaps it would help if I knew Greek?

3:25 AM  

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