Homily 3rd Sunday Advent Year A 2013
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.
This may be translated as
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
I don’t know if I have ever taken an opportunity like this to simply say thank you to each and every one of you? Your faith, your joy, your doubts, your fears, your hopes and your dreams, they lift me to heights I never in my life ever thought was possible!
So on this Gaudate sunday….I can truly say I do rejoice…I rejoice in you and in our God and in the abundant grace that fills this space every time we gather around this table.
For far too long and in far too many ways, I think many of us have approached faith and church and God from a position of fear, trepidation, and deprivation. We can’t help it, it was how we were raised or how we were taught.
Most of us or at least many of us did not grow up with an image of a God who rejoiced in who we are….a God who as the Gospel says….who even the least in the Kingdom is greater than John the Baptist!
Unfortunately my friends, and for many complicated reasons, we were raised on the Gospel of Fear not the Gospel of Grace! Somehow the Church forgot that the Good News is not that we are sinners and God is out to get us or God is just waiting for us to fail….some how the Church forgot that first and foremost, beyond everything…we are loved, treasured, adored and embraced by a God who wants nothing more than to be loved in return.
Unfortunately, for years the Church focused on how we fail in our return to love, but forgot to teach us the first part…..that we are Children of God
For the past several weeks we have been talking about the razor wire fences we put between ourselves and God….Corein so beautifully reflected last week that one of the most powerful images was Eucharist being shared right through the razor wire….breaking the bonds/dismantling the barriers….
Our task my friends is to be conscious and careful not to forget the first part of the Good News….not to erect more barriers to the grace that God just wants to pour out on and in us every day.
I was thinking deeply about it this week and this is the conclusion I reached:
One can not stop freedom, liberation and grace….we can only enjoy their blessings or deny that they are there!
Once we have tasted Gods love, forgiveness and redemption we can never be the same!
I grew up on a farm….once you cut barbed wire you can’t get it back together….you can only go to the closest post, and string new wire!
One can’t stop freedom, liberation and grace….we can only enjoy their blessings or deny that they are there!
Someone once said to me…this is not a table of radical hospitality…to which I replied…oh but it is indeed…to this table we say all are welcome, rich, poor, young, old, spiritually advanced and those who are just coming to grasp the concept of God…we place no barriers, no razor wire in the way of God’s grace…
We contribute to the Reign of God every time we gather….big crowds or small, with music or with our voice…so thank you for your presence here…thank you for your faith.
When the reign of God comes, at least we can say…tell Christ what we did…those who came were fed, those who asked received, those who had fallen are lifted up, those who needed prayer were surrounded with it, healing, compassion, grace and forgiveness were shared without limits and without barriers….
This season of Advent my hope and my prayer is that we continue to cut the razor wire that stands as an obstruction to God’s compassionate love and abundant grace.
When fear, frustration, anger, resentment, or any other negative emotion or experience enters our thought, I hope that we can find the grace to acknowledge it and let it go…lets not give power to something which is truly powerless.
In the end, make no mistake…Gods love will rule…we can only deny its truth or lend a hand in it happening.
I hope and pray we lend a hand!
My friend, Nelson Mandella once said:
- I have learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.