Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I am Lost, for I am a man of unclean lips...

If I had to choose one word to describe what life is like between now and Christmas it would be “busy”.

Thanksgiving, as a holiday, has nearly disappeared and has become the unofficial starting date of the Christmas season.  The spirit of “shopping” has taken over this holiday so much that stores are now even open on Thanksgiving Day!

Now, I must be honest with all of you…I have been Black Friday shopping…twice to be exact.  Neither time was done so willingly nor neither time I enjoyed it…but there is not much arguing with your older siblings.

Sadly, due to this, we are skipping one of the most beautiful seasons!  Advent! 

Many families will put their Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving…begin decorating and listen to Christmas music nonstop from November 28 until after New Year’s.

Personally…I love Advent.  The more I learn about it and the more I read scripture during Advent…the more I fall in love with it.

Starting today, I will offer my own Advent reflections all the way through Christmas.  These reflections will correspond with the meaning of the candles in the Advent wreath.

This past Sunday, we lit the first purple candle on our Advent wreaths.  This candle is known as the Prophecy Candle or the Candle of Hope.  It is lit on the first Sunday of Advent….the day the church begins its new year on the liturgical calendar.   So….Happy New Year!

Now, while we are on the subject of New Year’s…let’s think about all those things we do for New Year’s.

Many of you may be thinking things like, watching the ball drop, Auld Lang Syne, eating black eyed peas, going to Winterfest (that is where I will be and you can sign up to be there too just by clicking here!)…

Something else that you all probably thought about is making a New Year’s resolution.  Now, just for fun, how many times have you made a New Year’s resolution?

How many times have you followed through with your New Year’s resolutions?

My guess is that second number is pretty low. 

Did you know that in the United States, less than 12% of people actually follow through with their resolutions!  Just 12%!!! So let’s say that everyone who comes to church this past Sunday made a resolution…so that is 494 people…making 494 resolutions… less than 60 people will keep those resolutions.

So what is the point?

Why do we make the “promises” to ourselves and then not follow through with them?

I may be wrong, but to me the purpose of making a resolution is to do something to better yourself. 

Eat healthy, work out more…Most of the time, it is a way of making ourselves better people. 

We are hoping that we can better ourselves as we enter the New Year.  Who doesn’t want to make their next year better than their last year?

I compare this same concept to Advent.  In Advent, we are preparing for the parousia, the second coming of Christ!  We are looking forward and hoping for a better time.  We are preparing ourselves for this.

But this can make ourselves ask some questions about ourselves…

A few weeks ago we heard the scripture about the owner of the house who would have stayed awake all night if he knew the hour that the thief was coming…but we do not know.  All we are told is that we must “…Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” -Matthew 24:42.

Whenever I hear this story, I can’t help but think of the movie Johnny English.  Now in this 2003, comedy about a mediocre spy (Rowan Atkinson, better known as Mr. Bean) tries to stop Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich) from taking over England.  Hilarity ensues leading up to the almost coronation of Mr. Sauvage.  Johnny English breaks up the ceremony and accuses the Archbishop of Canterbury of having a tattoo on his butt that reads “Jesus is coming, look busy!” 

Now if you had to simplify Advent down to 5 words…this may be close…but there is so much more to it! 

We can’t just look busy.  I do not think that when Christ comes again we can just start doing everything right and Jesus will be like…Ah, well look at you!  Good Job!

I believe that Jesus actually got mad at the Pharisees for doing very similar things and called them the following names… blind guides (Matthew 23:16), fools (Matthew 23:17), whited supulchres…full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27), serpents, (Matthew 23:33), generation of vipers (Matthew 23:33), hypocrites (Luke 11:44), and even compares them to unmarked graves that people walk on without knowing (Luke 11:44).

Ok so I think it is safe to assume that we do not want to be like them.

But as we sit back and look at all the things that are going on in the world around us, we look at our own lives… maybe we struggle to see the hope.

We may think that we are not living a life that is worthy in the eyes of God, we may fall short and now during this time of hope, we may find it difficult to fully allow ourselves to do what we are suppose to.

What good can we do as a just another person who is living in this world full of such anger, sadness, despair…  What can we do?

If you find yourself asking this question…then you will find that you are in good company.

In the Old Testament, there is a prophet who struggles with this same thing…

“Woe is me!  I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…”

In this passage we hear about a vision in which the Prophet Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on a throne.  Isaiah feels something that I think many of us may feel if we were in that situation or may even feel now as we look at our purpose as Christians.

But immediately after Isaiah admits his shortcomings, an angel takes a coal from the fire and places it to his tongue and tells him “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin blotted out” (Isaiah 6:7).

After this, Isaiah is willing and ready!  The Lord then commands him And he said, “Go and say to this people:
‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.’
10 Make the mind of this people dull,

    and stop their ears,
    and shut their eyes,
so that they may not look with their eyes,
    and listen with their ears,
and comprehend with their minds,
    and turn and be healed.”
-Isaiah 6:9-10

So again, I ask what can we do?  We may feel weak…


We may feel that we are the wrong person…

We may feel like Isaiah.

This week’s candle is known as the Prophecy Candle.  A symbol of hope.  We are looking forward to the coming of Christ…we are called to go out and spread this message…but I am lost.

I am a man of an unclean tongue…

I live among people of unclean tongues…

But still the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send…”

“Here am I; send me!”

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