IV Advent

December 23, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Today is the third in our Sermon Series.  Today we will be focusing on “Preparing for Christ in the Future”.

When I was a Sociology Major at the University of Maine, I took a course called, “Deviant Behavior”.  One day, the Professor was talking about the fact that in our country we are innocent until proven guilty. 

He pointed out that when we talk about someone committing a crime before they are found guilty, that we use the word “allegedly”.  I have noticed ever since that when a crime is talked about on the news that they will always say that someone “allegedly” did something until they are found guilty.

One of the other things that the professor talked about was that there is no behavior that cannot be seen as acceptable at some point in time in some culture.  It may be hard to believe, but it is true.  Each culture defines what is acceptable and what is deviant behavior.

Let me turn to another subject.  (Don’t worry, I will bring this back to our theme in a moment)  If you are like me, perhaps you like to watch what I believe is soon to be recognized as the longest running TV show in U.S. history – Law and Order.

In case there is someone who may never have seen the show, it focuses on the justice system in New York City.  It begins with the words, “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate but equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

During the course of each episode, we see the investigation done by the police and then the prosecution by the District attorneys.  I think that one of the reasons that this show has been so long-lived is that it combines the best of both worlds – it is a cop show and a lawyer show all in one.

What does any of this have to do with preparing for Christ in the future?  Let be turn to the creeds.  In the creed that we say every week, these words are spoken about God the son – Jesus Christ:  “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”  And in the Apostles’ Creed said at Morning and Evening Prayer we say “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”

We profess in our creeds that we believe that at the end of time – that is, “in the future” – that Jesus will come to be our judge.  This is Law and Order – eternity style.

It is important to realize that although as human beings, when we organize ourselves we determine what is deviant behavior.  We are the judge.  But when it comes to eternity, it is Jesus who is judge.  He will be judging us on things such as this:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.   Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?   You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”

Or this: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

I do not say this to scare us.  There are some who use fear as a tool of evangelism.  I do not believe that we should scare someone into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  A relationship which begins with fear does not seem to be one that is set on a good foundation.

What I do say is that if we are to prepare the way for Jesus in the future, it means that we need to examine our lives today.  Do not put it off.  Remember these words of Jesus:

“But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into.  Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

It is important for us to examine our lives daily and look at our relationship with God and our neighbor.  And, as I have said so many times before – where we are doing well, rejoice.  Where we are not doing well, repent – ask for forgiveness, and begin anew. 

It is also good to remember that the one who comes to judge us is also the one who loved us so much that He died for us.  I have quote a number of things that Jesus says to us in sacred scripture.  I remind us of this interchange between Jesus and Peter:

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’   Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’” AMEN.