St. Matthew's Episcopal

The 3rd Sunday in Advent

Posted on: December 12th, 2016 by Robin Jarrell


For the Third Sunday in Advent, (Gaudate, or Rejoice! Sunday) I continue my practice of summarizing the sermon because in these turbulent times, it is important to keep the Good News ever before us.

I don’t know about you, but today, of all days, I am feeling as if I want someone – anyone, really – to ride in on their white horse and save me, us … the nation, the world.  I keep looking over my shoulder in case I can spot the rider in the distance.  I feel like I’m one of those elders in a documentary I saw once on PBS that told the story of African-Americans during the years leading up to the Civil Rights movement.  Every baby born was placed in the hands of one of the elders who would gaze intently upon the face of the newborn child and ask:  “Are you the one?”  Are you the one to bring justice and mercy to our people?  Are you the one who will peaceably bring forth the kingdom of heaven to those who are oppressed?

It’s the question that the followers of John the Baptist ask of Jesus:  Are you the Messiah that is to come or is there another?   Are you the one?

And Jesus gives the answer in a stunning way:  “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

So John’s disciples hurry off to spread the Good News and meanwhile, flash forward some 2000 plus years later, and we need to stop looking over the horizon for a savior.  Even in dark times.  We already have a Savior.  He came to dwell among us as a tiny child.  He grew into his full humanity to become the Son of God and redeemer of the world.  He died for us and rose from the dead and is now fully present in the Holy Eucharist and in the revealing work of the Holy Spirit.

My sisters and brothers, WE are the body of Christ.  We have been given the mandate from Christ himself who said that the things he did – WE can do as the body of Christ.  I used to think that when Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel: “The things that I do you can do also … and greater … and more,” he was speaking to us as individuals, but the longer I do the work of being a Christian, I begin to understand that Jesus’ “you” is the “we,” who are all sitting right here in these pews at St. Matthew’s.

WE are Christ’s hands, hearts, minds, body and soul in this world.  Christ has saved us to that we can keep building that beautiful city of God.  Even in the midst of evil and injustice, in the midst of danger and sorrow. We can.  With God’s help.

Let our prayer be the Collect for this 3rd Sunday in Advent, this “Stir-up” Sunday:

“Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever.” Amen.



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