Advent 3B 2017

Readings can be found here 

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Magnificat

I remember playing with a magnifying glass when I was little. Using it to look more closely at objects that interested me. A blade of grass, a flower, an insect, even the dirt—brought closer, made larger, and clarified through a simple lens.

A simple lens, magnifying a simple object. Magnifying it so that I could appreciate its complexity and its beauty in a way that I could not have seen on my own.

Magnify.

Magnificat.

Magnify.

Magnificat.

And, I am drawn to the lens. To the image gifted by a single word. A single word and a simple lens.

A simple lens, held at the right angle, to catch the light and illuminate something that we had never seen before.

Light refracted. Light intensified--and, she, and he, and we, witness to the light.

We are not the source, but we are the glass and we are the witness. To the light that shines in a world full of shadows. To the light that illuminates even the darkest of nights with a power beyond our knowing. To the light, who is the light, who is Jesus the Christ.

Magnify indeed. To take the small seed and nourish it to grow into a life that will become the light, the life of the world.

What will we magnify? What light will shine through us so that we might be the ones who give glory to God? Glory that is the magnification of all of the hopes that God has for us. Glory that is the love that Christ shared with us. Glory that is the fruit of the Spirit which is the breath that takes the seed so that it can grow in some field beyond our knowing.  

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.”

Light, glory, magnification...these first witnesses to Jesus testified, not to glorify themselves but, to magnify the work of God in Christ. John the Baptist, the first person mentioned in the Gospel of John, is sent to be a means by which the world can come to know Christ. Mary the mother of Jesus, sings words of fierce prophecy indicating her deep knowledge of who her son was going to be and how he would transform the world. It was not about them, never about them…it was about the one who was to come.

And, if we are to live into who we are called to be as Christians, we too must recognize that we are the means and not the end. We are the lens, but not the light.

It is our calling to magnify God. To testify to Christ. And, to live a life in which we, like the people of Thessalonica to whom Paul wrote in this, the earliest of his letters, “hold fast to what is good”. Hold fast, so that we can resist evil, maintain hope and magnify the light of Christ that the world needs in the shadowed places where despair holds sway.  

And, that is the truth of who we are called to be.

Called, not so that we can be gathered up, but called so that we can be sent out. Sent out to testify to the light we have seen and, in that testimony, to carry the light amongst the shadows.
What then to testify? What will we proclaim to be true, to be truth beyond all truth, to be the truth that sets us, all of us, free?

As Episcopalians, we ground ourselves in scripture, tradition and reason. In keeping with the centrality of scripture to our life as Christians, let us consider the truth as expressed by poet, pacifist and priest, the Reverend Daniel Berrigan. His Advent Creed weaves together the doubt and despair sown by the world, with the hope and love proclaimed in scripture by our ancestors in faith and by Jesus himself.

This is a creed which defies the powers that be with a proclamation of the power of God that is.

Advent Credo

“It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—


This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—

This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—

This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—

This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—

This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity, of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—

This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.”

The Reverend Berrigan continues this creed with an invitation,

“So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.”

From Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Orbis Books, 2004.

This is our truth—our Advent, waiting, longing, yearning truth. This is what we have, this is what we can proclaim. And now, is the time.

This time,

This time in which we are sent to magnify the light.

Amen.







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