December 22, 2019

Happy Christmas!
Advent 4, Year A
Service of Advent Lessons & Carols
Becky Robbins-Penniman

This particular service of Advent Lessons and Carols is unique; unique to this parish, this little corner of God’s world. In this service, we look the story of the Nativity in a huge sweep of time; we begin with a peek into God’s heart at the beginning of Creation; we recall, as people have for thousands of years, the thundering promises of the prophets; we hear those words of yearning, sighed and sung and shouted by so many people of different times and places.

Christians often frame these lessons as being about who’s right and who’s wrong. Of course, I would be both a fool and a liar if I were to stand up here and say that Christianity isn’t good and right. But CHRISTIANS? Well, maybe not so much. Christians disagree deeply not only about matters of dogma and doctrine, but now about politics and impeachment of the President.

Who’s right? who’s wrong? We each can dig in about how right we are and how wrong the others are, about religion, politics, and the ridiculous names that college bowl games have now; the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl? That sounds like a truly spectacular recipe fail, not a sporting event. I said last year that I had been wrong in thinking how our national family feud, with its polarization and vicious rhetoric, couldn’t get worse; I’m deeply grieved that my reluctant assumption for this year, that it could indeed keep on getting worse, has been right.

It’s times like this when I remember that whether I’m right or wrong, I’m not the one in charge of deciding how the universe is ordered. God is. God loves whom I love, but God does not join me in my dislikes. As the years roll on, no matter how hot our mess, God keeps sustaining us all, saints and sinners alike – day after day inviting people of all faiths and none to join in the divine project of healing creation. And billions of folks accept the invitation, even if they don’t realize it come from God. How? As Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers, said: In a disaster, look for the helpers. For every mass shooting, there are countless caregivers who serve out of love; for every heartless layoff to improve the corporate bottom line, there are millions of random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.

Here in this parish, we intentionally accept God’s invitation to heal creation. Every day, we aspire to live in a world where all creation thrives in God’s love, and to become who God reacted us be by worshiping joyfully, respecting all, sharing generously, and nurturing every spirit. For every selfish act in the news, just look around here and we’ll find a dozen people from Good Shepherd who give of their time, talent and treasure to make a positive difference in Kenya, the Dominican Republic, in our community, and right here in our church family.

Our service today has a series of lessons showing God at work ordering Creation, sometimes acting directly, but more often by empowering ordinary people – people not so different from us – to do the right thing. After each reading, I’ll give a short reflection, and then we’ll sing the carol…

For the full sermon text, including scriptural readings and hymns, please click HERE.