“We curate our lives.
And when we do,
we present only our best pictures.
We publish only our wittiest thoughts.
We crave being seen living our ‘best lives.’
We’re always trying to show how
completely, ridiculously, relentlessly
interesting we are.
But I’ve got news for you . . .
“We curate our lives.
“So if we are the kind of Christians
who truly believe in the future return of Christ—
and we most definitely are—
but we’re not the kind of Christians
who are literalists, extremists, or zealots,
what, then, do we say about the Second Coming?
What do we believe about the future of humanity?
What do we believe God is up to in our world?
And, most importantly, why are we not afraid?
I’m so glad you asked.”
The real Christmas story is itself a mixed bag of darkness and light. And who better to teach us this lesson than the silent hero of today’s gospel, Joseph, a man called out of an ordinary life to play a quiet but extraordinary role in the birthing and the raising of the Messiah.
Today I wish to offer something different. Call it a “theological reflection” on someone who is not found in scripture and is not part of the Advent lineup; someone who is often grossly misunderstood and misrepresented; yet someone who is beloved by many and, as legend has it, will be entering many of our homes in just two short weeks. Today, I wish to talk about the ministry of the one they call . . . “Santa Claus.”
How do we reconcile being drawn to the comfort of Isaiah, and running from the Baptist’s crying out a warning for us to repent? Could there be Good News in both?
“We can never ignore it when scripture and real life intersect so plainly and brutally. When that happens, God may be trying to tell us something.”
“There is a manual Christians and Jews have used for centuries to teach them how to pray. It is the book that King David and others wrote. It is the book from which the high priest used to read as he climbed the steps to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. It is the book from which the medieval monks and nuns read their prayers every morning, noon, and night. It is the book of psalms.”
This sermon draws all its wisdom from Eugene Peterson’s book Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer. If you enjoy any part of this sermon, you will love this book.
The following is the video Fr. Lonnie references at 5:42 in his sermon.
❝Despite what others may say, we Christians believe this world is fundamentally good, not bad, if for no other reason than the fact that God made it. We also believe God is still at work, inching us toward that Great Day when all will be one as he and our Lord Jesus Christ are one. But what does that mean when it feels like the world is falling apart? What does it mean for you and me to say we believe love conquers all when it’s obvious that the forces of this world—including, if we’re honest, you and me—often seem to be working against it?❞
❝The identity of the Advent season is always threatened by our culture’s frenetic pull on our energies to prepare for coming celebrations. . . . Yet Advent stands stubbornly and faithfully in the way, giving us pause to turn around for a minute. To stop and think. To sit and wrestle with the message that Advent is not ‘Christmas light.’❞