After preaching in what is called a lectio continua (a continuous reading) for most of the summer, fall and early winter, the advent texts are herky jerky. One moment you are in Mark and the Next you are in John or Isaiah or Paul. Since I used the Markan text for John the baptist last week (and Mark is the primary Gospel this year), I didn’t jump on the Baptist from John. The Paul text just jumped out at me on second reading. I broke a rule about choosing a text and sticking with it as I changed texts last Tuesday after going not the Baptist again.
I am glad I did. There are many things I like about this sermon. I still wish I was better at merging interesting life stories into sermons, or maybe that is just I wish I was a better storyteller. I’m afraid my sermons too often may come off like lectures. The story I feel best prepared to tell is the biblical story, the story behind the readings. And I am getting more confident in talking about intersections of that story and our modern existence. I think this sermon did that as well as I am able to right now.
Too much of religion is just our own version of oral tradition. We make up laws or only look for laws from religion. Christianity gets reduced to ethics. The resurrection of the Son of God morphs into the Judeo-Christian tradition. That is not what we are waiting for – more tradition or laws. We are waiting for resurrection, the revealing of glory, the kingdom come. Our temporary problems with sin and the old order of things passing away are inconsequential to what the Spirit is working in us and the salvation given through Jesus Christ. Religion is about hope and joy and prayer and thanksgiving. Not about do’s and don’ts.