Sermon Ideas For Luke 21:25-36 Part 2
We generally announce the arrival of Advent with great fanfare and rejoicing. We enter a realm of anticipation, of sensing the arrival of the new as focused most intensively in the eventual coming of the Christchild at Christmas. We depict this emergence of the new reality with rituals and symbols of light (candles), of new life (use of green motifs in various forms) and, by the presence of archetypal symbols of wholeness (wreaths) etc.
These manifestations of a new (Divine) reality are real and wonderful and will no doubt continue to warm and inspire us. However, our text today offers a reminder that there is a dark side to the emergence of the new dispensation, a shaking of the foundations, a melting and passing away of an old order which can and will turn our world insideout.
As I allow the totality of this text to speak to me, I sense something about which I might call the overarching purpose of God. This purpose seems heavily concerned with the movement from bondage to liberation. God's preoccupation with bondage is relentless and never ceases. We cannot only look for this bondage in narrow personalistic terms, although bondage surely manifests itself in this form also. No, in a very basic sense God seems very concerned with structural bondage, with unfreedom at the heart of our reality.
No doubt the first century Christians to whom these words were first addressed would have had their own understanding of the embeddedness of bondage in their world. We know about the tyranny of Rome, its legions and the ideology which supported it. We too live in an age of profound upheaval as technological, ecological, economic, and human factors collide at the end of this millennium.
Our eyes have begun to be opened to the bondage of patriarchy, of the oppression of peoples including women, children, and men in the name of control, and maximization of benefit for those in the power position.
Our eyes have begun to be opened to the bondage of exploitation at the most intimate relational levels. Whether this be the sexual exploitation of children or the sexual exploitation of so-called caregivers with clients, we have become aware of this cancer in our midst and God cannot be pleased.
We have only begun to see the continuing bondages centered around race and ethnicity and surely the God of Advent is at work undermining and seeking to destroy all such bondage. The kingdom of God is the realm of God's justice, truth and freedom. Advent is our invitation to stand erect with the call of the writer, to hold our heads high (v. 28), even as we recognize that suffering, chaos, and collapse of worlds may accompany this transforming action of God.
The Christ of Advent is not just a matter of living in the hope that a sweet baby will enter our midst and bring us warm, cuddly feelings. The Christ of Advent is a call to action, to transformation, a cry to the Divine to liberate us in our bondage in all its forms.
Our text suggests that this season become a time of preparation, of purification, of alertness and awareness. Advent calls us to pay attention, to pray, to enter a state of wakefulness (v. 36).
Perhaps the most worshipful way to enter this process is to pray for the growing capacity to recognize bondage when we see it. No transformation can occur without awakening and our text is an attempt to grab us by the shoulders and shake us from the lethargy of the status quo. No greater preparation for Christmas could be made than to pray for openness of eyes, ears, and heart in order to come to recognize where God wishes to transform our personal and corporate world.
William S. Schmidt