The Time Is Now
Today we being the Season of Advent, the beginning of our Church Year.We begin now, not in January, to say ‘Happy New Year!’ This is the time when we start agin the spiral walk that marks time on our spiritual paths. This is when we begin to experience again with those around us the cyclical nature of time as it is celebrated in the Church Year. We know the order of the seasons, so there is no big news here. But we are different each time we begin the year. Each new Advent and each Season which follows, there are opportunities for new experiences and prayers and work. The question becomes: How will I grow this year? How will you grow? How might we grow together?
One of my favorite folk songs, just right for advent, is ‘People Get Ready’
People get ready, theres a train a coming don't need to worry, you just hope on board don't need no baggage, you just praise the lord …all you need is faith
Curtis Mayfield made this tune famous, and Eva Cassidy made it even more so; its a song with a great advent message: get ready AND you have what you need to get ready. It always reminds me that while I need to get going now, I can do it…I am called and equipped for the work of building the reign of God. We are all called and equipped.
This is the message of Advent - get ready, now. You care called and equipped.
Those who have gone before us in faith have experienced these same messages:
The Isaiah passage, written down in 800 BCE, contained information actually know from an earlier time, passed thought the generations in the oral tradition. And we know that the Matthew passage is likely written around 80 AD. It seems that the people of these times, almost a thousand years apart and thousands of years ago, like the people of today, needed reminders and encouragement. Perhaps this is a timeless message: They needed, and we still need to hear words of encouragement and comfort: the mountains of the lords’ house shall be the tallest…. and words of motivation: be ready! you know not the time! They and we seem to need great, inspiring prophesy, and dreams not yet come to fruition. In these advent Readings, we are invited again to ‘put on the armor of light’.
Our Advent Scripture is here to remind us the the work is urgent, that the time is now.
I find that the elegant writing of Rabbi Hillel the Elder, of the about 100 BCE, also speaks to this idea. He wrote Mishnah for the Talmud; that is, he interpreted and taught the Scripture for the students of his day. Even today he is well known as a learned teacher, and he asked the question in this way: if not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?
His teaching reminds us the the work is urgent, that the time is now.
The idea of this urgent work is also a part of our current living, our conversations now. More than once, I have heard Bishop Brian Prior say: “where your passion meets the worlds’ need is your greatest opportunity for ministry.” I know that we all have that place in our lives….where my passion meets the worlds needs…and the good news is, we are all called to holy work. We may all have different passions; and this is how we, collectively, can accomplish a needed variety of work. Bishop Brian reminds us that can do this work together.
Brian is here to remind us the the work is urgent, that the time is now.
There is a children’s story by Dr Suess, called “the Lorax”. It is a fable which invites children of all ages to consider the importance of the environment and how corporations and greed might impact our environment. It is a children's book with a serious social message. In it, a ‘person’ discovers that the fluff of a Truffula tree makes a wonderful garment. This person, the Oncleor, takes full advantage of the forest to provide raw materials, and makes a fortune doing so. He does not, however, heed the prophesy of the Lorax, who speaks for the tress, and eventually the forest is gone, the land is polluted, and he can make no more garments, no more money. He moves out (moves on) and leaves the mess. The problem is, there are no more Truffula tress anywhere on the entire planet; he has not been a good steward. However, a young boy comes into the life of the developer and is given the opportunity - in the form of one seed, the last truffula seed known - to begin a new forest. Although is is not clear in the story what becomes of the boy or the seed, the challenge is clear, begin the work, do the work, if you do there will be hope. The opportunity and challenge is phrased, in true doctor Suess fashion:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. Its not.”
Dr. Suess is here to remind us the the work is urgent, that the time is now.
Our work of advent, your holy work of Advent, is being held out to you for consideration and action right now. We each need to begin to do the holy work which is ours, whatever is ours. We are called to look around, to assess how we are doing right now, to consider our next holy action and to fearlessly begin it. To “let the holy one enter in”, is to make time and space this advent to bring our passion to the worlds needs, to bring our energy and resources to our work and our call, to be the hope in our society and in this time.
The work is urgent, the time is now.
There is work for each of us. Our children, who remind us of our priorities, have used the sermon time so far, to consider what they are each called to this advent. They remind us: be kind, to help and share, to remember family. Their work can encourage our dialogue and our work. It can remind us, if we we let it.
The work is urgent, the time is now.
Rev. Cindi Brickson 27Nov 2016