Sermon – 11-27-22 – Advent 1 – Cycle A
Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 43; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
Sermon Title: Is There Hope At The Table?
If the residents in your home all sit at table at the same time, eating of the same food, you are indeed blessed. However, you may be a severe introvert and you cherish that time alone to read the newspaper or better still your daily devotion.
Then again, does a table, around which more than one person are gathered, automatically exude joy and happiness and affirmation? Or are there negative comments and is there grumbling? Who decides what your gathering table is like? How can a negative, gathered table be redirected to become a refreshing time?
Who sets the tone in your family? Who is the dominant person? Does that person lead a negative conversation or even just a bunch of grunts? If you are really blessed, the dominant person in your family has a joyful attitude, seeing some good in every situation; seeing a way to highlight a way forward with hope. Negative thinking gets us nowhere but backwards and down. We don’t need to go there. Even the youngest child can change the tone of table-talk.
Have you noticed that some children are given the gift of helpful speech? Their timing is part of the gift. When the family is on the brink of being in a bullying situation, the little fellow sitting in a booster chair says, “Patty helped mommy to set the table today. Thanks, Patty!” An alert person sitting at the table could be led to say, “Wow, Patty, thank you! How old are you anyway, Patty?” Soon you can help Mommy cook? The little guy in the booster chair sits there and beams, taking delight in having shifted the conversation.
Do you ever find yourself in the company of negative people? They seem to lack decent words, using only despicable and disparaging words over and over like there are only 50 words available in their dictionaries and in their spoken language. Someone else at the table may be led by the Holy Spirit to say a whole sentence without one unpleasant word. Let’s hear what Jack says after listening to Sam, the 50-word vocabulary guy.
We hear Jack saying, “Yes, Sam, I think you are on to a good idea. I agree that the leader of the borough council could be supported to gather people to clean-up the streets. I think he has done some other good projects to make our community better. However, I think we can get more done if we put our negative words in the trash bin over there, and find more encouraging words.” Sam’s eyes get big but in a few seconds he nods his head in agreement. Then the work can start. Sam and Jack can now lead the movement to work with the mayor and council members to develop a plan of action that will bring hope to this community.
You see, God is in the middle of our tables, even though we have not invited God. God is all-knowing, all-capable, all-present. God embodies hope, peace, joy, love. God helps us to serve him better with increased hope, increased peace, increased joy, increased love.
The little guy in the booster chair may be the first to notice God’s presence. “Hi, God,” little Brandon says, “Why are you here?” God says, “Brandon, I can be anywhere and everywhere that I choose. I choose to be here with you today.” “Why?” Brandon questions God. “Well,” God says, “I happen to love everyone I create. I created you and your family so I want to help you to be the best people that you can be. Each of you has some potential.”
“What is potential?” little Brandon asks. God says, “Potential is what you could become. Each person has potential. It is related to ‘hope.’ ” Each family group, each community council has potential as does each state and nation. The world, as you know the world, has potential. In whatever group is made of people, there is hope!
By this time, everyone at this table is wide awake. God is in their midst. God came to them. God’s Word tells us that Jesus is coming again. The Father is sending Jesus to us a second time. People on earth, at one point in time, were able to see Jesus. They walked with Jesus. They listened to Jesus. They watched him die on the cross. Of course, Jesus lived again. Then the Father claimed Jesus and drew him from earth with the promise to Jesus and to people on earth that he will come again. If I were Jesus, I am not sure that I would want to come to earth again. But Jesus wants what the Father plans. So we can expect to see Jesus again – either in heaven if we die before the second coming or on earth if Jesus comes while we are still here.
That is our hope. We live and work to that goal. We need to watch and wait for Jesus to come again. He will come to our tables if we are gathered at tables. Where will you be gathered when Jesus comes again? Where will I be? Will I be alone at a table reading a newspaper instead of God’s word?
Will you be sitting at a table with all eyes focused on a football game? Will you be sitting at a table where all words are those of complaining and shaming and bullying? Will Jesus find us with lust in our eyes? Will Jesus find us in hopeful planning for more loving relationships in our community? Will Jesus find us at a table in Borough Council or the State House of Representatives, or in the United States Senate? Will Jesus find us at a Consistory Meeting table? Will Jesus find us taking food to the people who are sitting at an empty table?
Or will Jesus find us, as Isaiah describes, on a figurative mountain top where negative thinking is gone and hope for ourselves, for the world, for our future appearance in heaven will prevail? I want to see this new time; the time of no more war, no more weapons, no more fighting between nations. This is our hope! This is our vision of hope that leads into an existence of peace! Praise be to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen