Second Sunday of Advent 2022 Preaching by Sister Joan Delaplane, OP Second Sunday of Advent - December 4, 2022 Isaiah 11:1-10 Romans 15:4-9 Matthew 3:1-12 Janet Schaeffler, in her book Let This Be the Time , quotes Maya Angelou: “If you must look to the past, do so forgivingly. If you must look to the future, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing that you can do is to be present to the present gratefully.” So, last Tuesday, as a Community we looked to this past COVID year with its sometimes darkness within and without, and received God’s forgiveness for where we have missed the mark. As to the future, Isaiah and the psalmist present a poetic and remarkable picture of peace and harmony, where justice shall flourish for the lands afflicted, and the afflicted land. “There shall be no harm or ruin, for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord.” Seem too good to be true? When one knows Jesus and his Word, however, we have to admit, it is too good not to be true. And in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ, it is a truth, we believe, that will come to fruition at the end time. “The wisest thing that you can do is to be present to the present gratefully.” When we put the picture of the vision of the future next to the reality of the present, we recognize our call as Christ’s Body to be open to the challenge of being part of bringing about the change being called for. Perhaps now we can understand Paul’s words at another level: “Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope .” Yes. We dealt for two years of our Awakening Sessions with the what and how and why of our part in this risky transformation. We realize that we are in the early Acts of this Divine/Human Drama, but we each have an important and unique role to play. Although we are in it for a short time of the long haul, it will call for endurance in the struggle to birth a new creation, rather than assurance of quick fixes. All of this is possible by deep faith in Christ’s promise in the Scriptures: “I will be with you.” We remember, we celebrate, we believe! We were loved into being at this Anticipatory Age of Evolution, as John Haught would name it, to know the joy of playing a part in bringing about God’s vision of peace and love and community. Haught emphasized that in our human experience, it is in the anticipation of something wonderful, exciting, and meaningful that can actually be as joyful, if not more joyful, than even the fulfillment of the longed for event: Anticipation of Santa for little ones these days; or for adults, looking forward to family reunions. weddings, jubilees, trips, etc. True for you? Alice Camille, in her Advent reflection, tells of the man in the grocery store pushing a cart with a rambunctious toddler in the seat. As they went down the aisle, the child reached out and grabbed items off the shelf, throwing them to the ground. Each time, the man stooped down and gently put the item back. Each time he said, "It’s OK, Jimmy, we’re almost done. Only a few more minutes and we’ll be going home." When they arrived at the checkout line, a shopper who had seen this whole episode told the man how impressed she was by his kind patience with the willful Jimmy. The man looked confused for a moment, and then told her: "I’m Jimmy. That little monster in the cart is George." As the author points out, controlling a two-year-old may be tough, but controlling our grown-up selves is the real challenge. Instead of blaming the "monsters" for our sad state of affairs nationally, internationally, or even in our Community or Church, we need to focus on what needs to be changed in one’s personal behavior, one’s personal response to others. Dorothy Day said: "The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us." John the Baptist cried: "Repent!" Most commentators today, however, agree that the Greek word metanoia is better translated as change of mind and heart and attitude. That understanding is a little more challenging that just saying “I’m sorry,” especially when that change involves moving from I to We in all we say and do. After much discussion and discernment, our Enactments name how we are committed for the next six years to bring the Isaiah vision closer to reality. This will, of course, cost a lot of letting go, probably more change than we realize, but we’re in this together. Endurance is possible with encouragement of the Scriptures. Thomas Merton said, "Advent is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not of Christ." Perhaps we can take a few minutes of silence today and search the depths of our deepest longings. What within me is not of Christ? What do I want from God this 2022 Christmas? What does God want from me? God is not the One who has everything. There is something God does not have unless I choose to give it. What might that be?