Monday, December 14, 2009

advent 3.2

(from LWCC, 13 Dec 2009)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and separated the light from the darkness. And in the time that followed, God spoke the words, “Let there be,” and there was life—green things growing, animals in the water and the sky and on the land, and humans: male and female, created in God's own image. God saw all this creation and called it very good.

And Yahweh God walked together with these people in the garden in the cool of the day. But the people chose to sin; they chose to disobey Yahweh, to go their own way, and their own way was not the way of life. Their own way was the way of death. It was the way of selfishness instead of relationship, war instead of peace, struggle instead of harmony, power instead of justice. Their own way drove a wedge in their relationship with Yahweh, who was—who is—a good God of relationship, peace, harmony, and justice.

But Yahweh longed for a relationship with people; Yahweh had created something very good, and ached to see that good blossom and flourish. So even though sometimes the earth grew so full of violence and greed and hatred that Yahweh regretted creating it, Yahweh continued to reach out to people. Eventually Yahweh decided to express this desire for relationship and this deep, deep love for the created world by choosing a special people through whom the whole world could be blessed.

And so one day Yahweh spoke to a man named Abram and promised to make Abram and his wife Sarai into a great nation, to make them the mother and father of a special people. “You will be a blessing,” Yahweh told them “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you!” Throughout his life, Abram continued to hear from Yahweh, who kept reminding him of the promise, but still he and Sarai had no children. Abram believed, though, and to this day we remember Abram's righteousness because he had faith Sovereign Yahweh.

Still, Abram and Sarai held to that promise as they grew old and beyond childbearing age. When Yahweh finally told them that they would have a child within a year, Sarai laughed out loud with surprise! But Yahweh said, “Is anything too hard for Yahweh? You will have a child!” And she did, and then she laughed out loud with joy. And the descendants of that son, Isaac, were the chosen people, exactly as it had been promised.

The history of those people is long, full of comings and goings, ups and downs. In this long history, sometimes the chosen people were faithful to Yahweh, and sometimes they were not. Often, when they were not, their unfaithfulness got them into a lot of trouble, and they suffered greatly. Still, Yahweh was forever faithful, waiting for their return, reminding the people of those promises first made to Abram and Sarai, calling them back into the way of light and life. Yahweh often chose prophets to speak truth to the people in that history, and frequently the message was this: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I draw you to me with loving-kindness. One day I will make everything right; on the day of the Lord, I will bring justice and healing, light and life.”

We heard about this love relationship two weeks ago when Kristin explained how the book of Malachi is like a relationship Talk—with a capital T—between Yahweh and the chosen people. At this point in history, as Kristin said, the relationship was at a low point: most of the people, even the priests, were not living in the way of truth and life set out for them by Yahweh. Their society was full of selfishness, violence, injustice. Their righteousness was like filthy rags, or like tiny bits of precious metal stuck in hardened rock. They needed to be cleaned; they needed to be refined; and they couldn't do it themselves. Something had to change.

So Yahweh said to them, “See I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come.”

Yahweh made this promise to the people: a promise to come and make all things right. And then, the people waited. For four hundred years they waited, through political oppression, and civil war, through danger and finally, through Roman occupation, and heavy taxes, and widespread poverty, they waited. In darkness they waited. Where was the light? Where was the life? Where was the messenger?

(to be continued)

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