Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get Ready to Meet God

The Advent Season is about getting ready to meet God. It reminds me of those signs that we used to see on the mountains when I was a boy. We’d be going up the Saluda Grade (NC). The curves were so sharp that we often got sick. Round and round we’d go and then up ahead we’d see something painted on the side of the mountain: “Get ready to meet God!” Well, I tell you I felt like I was going to meet God and soon. The First Sunday in Advent started this year with that marvelous Luke 21 and talk about the end of the age and the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds. We are warned to stay alert and wait and pray lest we miss the Messiah when he comes. I often wondered how anyone could miss him coming in the clouds, but… Then, the next couple of Sundays the Gospel takes out to the Jordan River where we meet that wild prophet of Israel, John the Baptist. Some scholars tell us that John was probably a member of the Essene community that had moved out to the desert, away from the evil city, to wait on the coming of the Messiah. He preaches a repentance for the forgiveness of sins. It sounds strange to us mainline, modern, Christians. Repentance is something that you hear revivalist preachers preach, not cultured uptown preachers like me. But, the Gospel for Advent, preparing us to meet God, takes us out to hear John. John says that a new world is coming so you’d better get washed up. Repent means to change your mind. The word in Hebrew means to turn around, to turn yourself. You’re walking away from God which we all tend to do, and repent means to turn around and go back toward God. No one is spared in John’s preaching, the religious, the rich, the average person. All are brought face to face with the reality of life without God. John was so impressive they wondered whether he was himself the Messiah. Some asked him: “What then should we do?” If the Kingdom is coming in Messiah, then what are we to do? Now, you might expect that he’d say something that sounds high-minded and thrilling like: “Go, save the world!” Or that one that we hear all the time around here: “Go change the world!” Instead John says: “If you have two coats, give one to someone who doesn’t have one. Don’t steal from anyone. Treat all fairly. Be content with your wages.” Just take care of the little things, the simple stuff, and you’ll get yourself ready. No grand sweeping requirements, just simple acts of human kindness. Jesus, the Messiah, will take care of the grand sweeping stuff. You do what you can where you are. This Season is about being alert to meet God. Last Sunday we met God in the Children singing and celebrating and sharing the story of the hymn “Silent Night”. Next Sunday, the pipe organ and the youth/adult choirs will give us the love of God. In our quiet services of vespers we meet God/Christ in Holy Communion. And, in the many acts of kindness that you will do for others: the angel tree, money for the poor. In all these things, keep alert, God/Christ is just around the corner. John the Baptist says: “Here’s Jesus.” In him, the kingdom of God is met. Blessings! Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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The Sea of Galilee