Sunday, November 26, 2006

Preaching the First Sunday of Advent, Year C, cont.

Many thanks to those who have sent emails encouraging me about this RCL exposition series on my blog. I really appreciate the support!

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."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please add any illustrations you can think of in the comments section below.

OK, I don't live in the US anymore, but one big topic in the mainstream churches here in the UK is climate change.

Apparently Britain alone gives off more carbon dioxide than the entire continent of Africa. I can't imagine how much CO2 the US gives off. Climate change results in drought and famine in Africa but so many Western cultures think "That's not our problem, man". We can't seem to see the connection between what we're doing and the prophets! (One imagines them doing something more performative than simply turning over in their graves!)

Very broadly speaking, the West's consumer culture affects things like people in developing countries not being able to afford simple drugs or medical treatment, not being able to make a living wage, being ravaged by AIDs and having to live with the effects of global warming.

(By the way, thank you for this commentary on Jeremiah, which I'm finding most helpful. I'm not sure, though, whether I'm going to preach exegetically. You can check my sermon blog after Sunday and rap my cyber-knuckles if I don't!)

Fri Dec 01, 03:27:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Thanks so much, Pam. And yes, we shall all be checking up on you at Grace & Peace, ---S.

Fri Dec 01, 05:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not sure this counts as an exegetical sermon and it's not even a hard-hitting social justice sermon.

But I hit social justice pretty hard the last two weeks and this week, the church had some vandalism, so I've opted for waiting and hope with a supcon of theocity: Waiting and Hoping

Sun Dec 03, 10:08:00 AM GMT-5  

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