Preaching the First Sunday of Advent, Year C, cont.
Let me continue to add some thoughts to yesterday's post on preaching Jeremiah 33:14-16. If you need some good general background on this text before going farther, however, click here.
Let's delve a bit deeper into possible relevance and application. I noted yesterday the stress in our text on communal life displaying true covenantal qualities. In the comming messianic era, righteousness will characterize all of communal life, it will not just be a quality of the Messiah.
The term "righteousness" in the passage comes to apply to God's people living out the covenant from day to day (33:16b). Then, in the coming era of the Messiah's reign, there will be "justice" and "righteousness" on earth (33:15).
In light of this vision, we are certainly found wanting in this Advent world of ours! In our world, we have certainly not yet received the Messiah in a spirit of wanting him to set things right.
Right now, in the present, we're still there with Jeremiah, on the verge of disaster. We're still living under the judgment of texts such as Jeremiah 22. Here's how E. Petersen renders Jer 22:17: "You're blind and brainless. All you think about is yourself, Taking advantage of the weak, bulldozing your way, bullying victims."
Might this Word be applicable to us today in the US? Please add any illustrations you can think of in the comments section below. One thinks perhaps of the growing gap between the wealthy and poor in the world. The US has 4% of the world's people and consumes 40% of the world's resources. The wealthiest 20% of people in the world hold 85% of all wealth. For a helpful video clip, click here.
Perhaps Jeremiah 33 calls us to enter Advent with a sober yet restless and yearning spirit. Jude Siciliano, O.P. probably has it right: "We are found waiting in this Advent world, a world of alienation and division, longing for justice and peace. Let the Advent preacher hear the longing voices and the incompleteness that permeates our lives."
Such a message will resonate with people in the pews far more than Christmas nostalgia. Our passage is a reminder of people's deepest yearnings and a call to transformation. It is also a call of hope. Siciliano continues: "The 'just shoot' is being planted in the land and there will be an abundant harvest."