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    Dec 02, 2018

    Advent 1 Sermon

    Advent 1 Sermon

    Passage: Luke 21:26-36

    Speaker: Father Will Lowry

    Series: All

    Category: All

    Keywords: advent

    Paradox is a vital part of Christianity. There is no resurrection - no life - without death. Seeing as we are a people of resurrection, we are also a people of paradox.

    "Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

    Renowned teacher and activist Parker Palmer wrote, “The way we respond to contradiction is pivotal to our spiritual lives.” Paradox requires “both/and” instead of “either/or” thinking.

    Luke’s apocalyptic ….. in today’s reading seems to be a strange way to start Advent - the season of joyful anticipation we begin today. The doom and gloom of  the larger narrative from Luke recalls judgment, terrors, and cosmic signs of the end times that most other apocalyptic biblical writings contain. So it’s no big deal that Luke follows suite. But why now?

    A paradox, as you know, is something (an act or statement) that seems self-contradictory or even absurd - but in reality it expresses a truth that is well founded.

    Allowing the tension of a paradox to remain is a difficult thing, especially in America today. The country is polarized, often relying on either/or logic: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us”.

    But, here we have it, in the middle of the Bible, in the middle of Luke - a paradox about the expectant birth of Jesus, the Messiah and the end-time talk of the 2nd coming of Christ.

    “The 'signs' that will prefigure the risen Jesus (21:25), juxtaposed with the 'sign' that is the infant Jesus himself (2:12). Power and glory on the one hand (21:27), humility and helplessness on the other (2:7). A warning that the 'nations' will be 'distressed' and 'anxious' (21:26), set alongside a message of 'good news of great joy for all the people' (2:10). As odd as it might seem to draw these contrasting images together, there is wisdom in it.” (Michal Beth Dinkler)

    As Dinkler and others have pointed out, paradox is a vital part of Christianity. To their point I remind you there is no resurrection - no life - without death. Seeing as we are a people of resurrection, we are also a people of paradox.

    How we live with the apparent opposition between good and evil, scarcity and abundance, individuality and community, death and new life is vital to our claim of hope in Christ Jesus. IF we can hold these things as paradoxes, not “either/ors,” we can allow them to open our minds and hearts to new ways of seeing and being. That is The Promise of Paradox.

    Put another way, “What is at stake is not just another annual celebration or making Christmas memories with friends and family. What is at stake is the coming of the kingdom of heaven, which, Jesus reminds us, is both already and not yet here.” (Michal Beth Dinkler)

    That is Advent. A paradox - the hope, expectation, joy, and celebration of the coming of the Christ-child that also holds in the same hands the upside down events of the 2nd coming.

    Jesus’ words are not meant to scare or trouble but to call attention to what God’s Kingdom means. “Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

    All of it leading to the redemptive love of God in the coming Christ-child - our past, our present, and our future.

    Amen.

    Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash