If you have ever wondered why we get the readings we do,
in Advent, here’s why:
The first reading is a prophecy
and it describes what God’s people need
and what we have hoped for.
The Gospel shows us how that longing is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
So in Isaiah’s time, God’s people are in a bad way.
Depending on just when Isaiah said this,
either his people are facing the destruction of their country,
or else they are already in exile.
And God sends Isaiah to “comfort my people.”
They will be forgiven; and what’s high will be brought low;
what’s lowly will be lifted up.
In other words, it’s a promise of true justice.
In Isaiah’s time—and in ours—
People who down low, out in the cold,
look up and see the heights—and they wonder…
Then—and now—they wonder:
Can I be lifted up? Is there a way out?
Centuries later, John the Baptist comes,
And God’s people are still down low.
Now it’s the Romans who invade God’s City, Jerusalem—
To curry favor with the Roman overlords,
King Herod installed a Roman Eagle on the gate of God’s Temple.
Imagine our church were in Europe not too long ago;
and here come the Nazis and tell us:
put a swastika on the front of your church?
That’s what God’s People saw on God’s House
every time they worshipped.
God’s People were ready to be lifted up.
But John tells them something they may not have expected.
He doesn’t tell them, Christ is coming to destroy the Romans.
Christ will conquer—but not destroy.
And it starts in the heart—in your heart:
That’s where the path for the Lord begins.
It’s been a long time since John told us to seek that fire—
And there is still a lot of lifting up to do.
And there’s a lot changing in us still needed.
While we’re still waiting and asking, “When Lord?”
Christ is waiting for us—he invites us to do some of the lifting.
Let me apply this to a problem we face right here and now.
People who walk the streets and have no place to sleep at night.
We don’t huge numbers of homeless people in Piqua,
be we have some. Sometimes families with children.
And for some time, Wilma Earls and Cathy Large,
and others involved in the Bethany Center,
Have been trying to do something
about providing shelter at night.
There’s been talk of the Bethany Center becoming a shelter—
but that isn’t possible yet.
In the meantime, they’ve organized a “cold shelter” system
for the winter months,
for those who otherwise would sleep outside.
Several area churches are taking turns,
with a different church providing shelter each night of the week.
You may be wondering,
will St. Mary and St. Boniface be sites for this?
At the present time we’re not.
The pastoral councils and I are looking at it,
but there are some hurdles to overcome before we can do that.
In the meantime, other churches in Piqua are ready to go—
but they need volunteers!
Remember: it’s the Lord who is waiting to see what we’ll do.
We need volunteers to help welcome guests and check them in.
Some can help with preparing food or cleaning up;
some to stay overnight;
and some to put things in order in the morning.
And there are ways to help as well.
Not only is the Lord waiting o see what we will do,
Remember he told us, he’s the one waiting outside,
in the cold, for food and clothing and shelter.
And he told us, he’s also the one we don’t help,
who sleeps under a bridge in January.
Sometimes we make it complicated; we think of all the angles.
But in the end, it’s pretty simple.
We are confronted with Christ’s own words:
“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers…”
So Christ is asking for this—not me.
What are we willing to do?
There’s a form in your pews, along with a pencil,
where you can say, I’m willing to consider it;
I am willing to be contacted with more information.
If you put your name and address down,
And put it in the collection basket,
it doesn’t mean you’ve promised anything;
it only means you’re willing to hear more.
There’s still a lot of God’s promises that need to be kept—
to comfort his people.
Christ is waiting for us—and calling us—to help him do it.