Sunday, December 14, 2008

3 Advent: "The Mantle Of Praise" (Isaiah 61:3)

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My advisee Seminarian Catherine Hicks sent me a copy of her sermon for today, 3 Advent. Thanks, Catherine! Here is a brief excerpt on the "mantle of praise" of Isaiah 61:3:

...The mantle of praise is that gift from God that gives us power. When we wrap that praise around ourselves we feel God’s everlasting covenant with us. The mantle of praise is the thing that gives us the strength we need, as we praise God, to tackle all of those things that oppress us, no longer with an inadequate self sufficiency, but through the power of God’s love and favor for us.

The mantle of praise makes us visible, in a witnessing way, to the rest of the world. Others see us praising God, rooted in God’s goodness and favor, like huge, strong, oak trees lifting their limbs high into the sky, their branches swaying with the rhythm of the Holy Spirit when the wind blows through them. The rest of the world sees us praising God in our ongoing worship, the praise we sow in our gardens, the praise that springs up as green shoots and that grows into a harvest of thanksgiving.

Others can see our strength when we wear the mantle of praise, because we look toward God, and not to ourselves. When we open ourselves to Him in gratitude and thanksgiving, we find a source of power we never knew we had. We will be able to build up the ruins of ancient cities--we will be able to do all that we need to do here at Christ Church, and more. We will pay off our financial debt, and we will find that we are growing, because others will see and experience our praise. They will want to take part in our strength. Our mantles of praise become our wedding garments, when we find ourselves united with God through Jesus, the One God has sent to us.

Praise Jesus Christ—the One to come among us, as an infant, wrapped lovingly in swaddling clothes by His mother Mary, the One who came to grow up into the man who would touch us, and heal us, the One who would bind up our broken hearts, the One who would scatter our sorrows like ashes, the One who would give us garlands, pouring over us his gladness, so that his gladness would soak into us and wash away our sadness. The One who, without pretense of any sort, died naked on a cross, and rose again on the third day, wrapped in his own blindingly white mantle of praise, the One who would walk among us as the One resurrected, witness to God’s power, love, and everlasting covenant with us....


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