A baptismal meditation delivered by the Rev. Timothy C. Ahrens, senior minister at the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Columbus, Ohio, Advent I, November 27, 2011, dedicated to Jack and Benjamin Allen in honor of their baptisms on 11/23/11 and to Gabrielle Elizabeth Collins on her baptismal day, to all persons across the globe living with HIV/AIDS, and always to the glory of God! “Longing for the Day”* Isaiah 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-37 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of each one of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our salvation. Amen.
We awoke this morning to a new day and a new year! With the rising of the sun, the season of Advent dawned. Past Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Sad Saturday (at least for Buckeye fans), we arose to a new reality. It is a day full of new colors, new candles, new light, and new hope. For Gabrielle, it is her baptismal day and with this day, she has entered our family of faith. For us, it is our day of grand welcome to her, to Advent, to new life - most all - to renewed hope. This is the day we have longed for!
As we open our eyes and our ears to this new day, we are told by Isaiah that God is coming and that we should be praying for the arrival of God, for the potter’s hands to shape us into the people God longs for us to be. In the apocalyptic passage from Mark, he tells us that God will be coming soon - breaking the cycles of days, seasons and everything we know to be the way it was before. Mark proclaims that when God comes, the farthest star and the smallest blade of grass, everything else in all creation will be affected by the power of our creator. For Isaiah, our job is to prepare through prayer. For Mark, we are told to stay awake, to be faithful in our work as though we are already standing in the presence of the One who is coming in the name of the Lord.
As we live into our longing for this day, we are called to pray, to watch, to wait and to stay awake. With this, the message has shifted from just a week ago! How can that be? Just last week, Matthew’s gospel was telling us to see our brothers and sisters in need and to act on their behalf. In fact, Matthew told us that to “NOT” act will cause our eternal demise. Now, at the dawning of this new day and new season we are called to be still and to wait.
Seriously? Could the Gospel writers get their stories straight? How we be called one week to be people of action and now, all the sudden, be called to people of inaction? What kind of crazy faith do we have? Who is in charge of the messaging around here? Who is doing the test marketing? Who is branding this product we call Christianity? Which is it - act or wait? Move or be still? Save people or pray that God comes and saves us?