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December 6, 2020 Sermon

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  • Intersection of hope and peace
  • We're turning the gem so to speak on hope, and I don't think anyone would mind that we spend a little more time on hope.
  • But peace is interesting here. That's the traditional candle associated with this week.
  • Peace is also a word that has different meaning at times in our context than perhaps outside of it. Much easier to define peace when it's reference is war, and not our hearts.
  • There is a place where we do talk about peace every week. Our confession sequence.
    • Every Sunday, we start with together confessing our brokenness. It's equal parts individual and corporate - we have our things, but as a body we collectively have our things too
    • Then, after a quiet moment, I begin to pour water into the font. A reminder of the sacrament, and I say a few words about that even though the words we just spoke are true, they don't stop us from being loved and forgiven. Then I say "in Jesus Christ, we are all forgiven"
    • And then we move to the peace. I say "the peace of Jesus Christ be with you" you reply, and then we pass peace. In the early days, it used to be a holy kiss. We don't do that anymore.
    • It's interesting that this hasn't been a common occurrence. It only became a part of our worship in the 60s. But I don't know how this part of the liturgy would work itself out right without it. There's anticipation of completeness here. It feels like a meaningful cycle.
      • Without confession I presume there is nothing broken and makes the rest seem unnecessary.
      • Without pardon I'm just left to wallow in my failures without resolve.
      • Without peace I don't reconciliation: that amidst anticipation and hope, that there is a renewal of good relationship.
  • So perhaps, at the intersection of hope and peace comes reconciliation.
    • Mark and Isa
      • Mark is a gospel meant to give you the facts. Everything's quick, constantly on the move, and Jesus is his most human (contrasted with John, where Jesus is way, way more like God - low Christology vs. high Christology).
      • We hear that this is the anticipatory hope of Isa in the person of John.
        • And it's our complimentary text today
          • What does that making straight looking like?
          • It's evening out, but it's also what we talked about last week:
            • A recognition that the world isn't what it should be; (we are finite, we're at the mercy of what is around us)
            • A belief that it will be in the end; (God will come)
            • And have the skill and courage to work out anticipation towards hope. (We shout it from mountain tops)
      • And John does this, but does more than this: he tells us that who is to come is even more than he is - it's not just physical remembrance, but it's going to be a change of the whole self - the Holy Spirit is coming.
    • We hear that same rhythm that we hear in our confession sequence - brokenness, healing, reconciling peace. What we add on from last week is that the skill and courage to work out anticipation towards hope is a belief of reconciling peace. Of a baptism of Holy Spirit for all of us. That who and what is coming is revolutionary. Powerful. World shaping.
  • What does this mean for us?
    • I don't think in my adult life I can remember a time when reconciliation has been rendered so useless.
      • COVID
      • The election
      • The fighting about whose lives matter
      • And culturally, I'm not sure this is going to get better. Conceptions of truth and falsehood are more bend towards a narrative that suits us.
        • It's like we don't need to confess brokenness that doesn't exist
        • And don't need to receive a pardon for what is not wrong.
        • And when that happens, well, we're just stuck and unable to see the better. There's no baptism of water or Holy Spirit. There is no peace. There is no reconciliation. At best it's a sinful detente.
    • This is, again, what we are good at! Of holding hope, of anticipating better. Of true peace and reconcilation and not just a cold war.
    • If we can't work this out here, what hope do we have elsewhere? If we can't figure out how everyone - and I mean everyone - can be reconciled, then we may as well stop singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" because why should we waste the breath?
    • Who do you need to hear the words of reconciliation from? Who do you need to reconcile with? All of that could be "myself" or an other. A concept. A culture.
    • It's in that movement that perhaps we feel the peace that's always been. We actually sense the cool water of baptism on us. In Jesus Christ we are all forgiven. Amen.


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