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November 29, 2020 

  

FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT 2020 A

Isaiah says, “We’ve continued to sin for a long time.  Can we still be saved?  We’ve all become unclean, and all our righteous acts are like permanently stained rags.  All of us shrivel like leaves, and our sins carry us away like the wind.”  If you ADD IT UP, if you add up our sins and come up with a TALLY, we come up on the negative side of the ledger, to be sure.  When the Son of Man comes on JUDGMENT DAY, our ledger will most assuredly come up short.

Fortunately for you and me, we are not just made up of SPIRITUAL LEDGER SHEETS where we add up all the positive points and subtract the negative points and see what the score is.  And remember, it’s not just our ACTIONS, but it’s also our THOUGHTS & ATTITUDES that enter into the FINAL COUNT!  The BIG QUESTION for you and me is this:  How do you want to be judged?  By what ACCOUNTING SYSTEM DO YOU WANT TO BE SCORED?

Apparently, however, it’s not JUST THE ACCOUNTING SYSTEM:  It’s also the TIMING.  It’s how things ADD UP when the PAYMENT FOR OUR DEEDS comes due.  You think the Stock Market has it’s UPS & DOWNS.  Wait till our Lord is so near that he is AT OUR DOOR KNOCKING!  No one knows when that day or hour will come.  So BE CAREFUL!  WATCH!  BE ALERT!

But, is that how you want to live—always looking over your shoulder?  One thing I know for sure:  That will most assuredly MESS WITH YOUR QUARTERBACK RATING!  The quarterback who is always hearing the footsteps of those coming to attack him, rather than focusing on what he is planning to do is not in touch with his relationship with the rest of his team and how he can connect to what they’re doing—what they can give or receive to a winning effort.

More importantly, is God looking for a WINNING SCORE or for a WINNING COUNTENANCE?  Now that’s a word that you don’t hear too much nowadays.  A person’s countenance is how they compose themselves.  So, instead of asking the question of HOW DID THEY SCORE on God’s TEST, the question should be WHAT TUNE DID THEIR LIFE COMPOSE?

When you read today’s Psalm, it’s obvious that we, God’s people, have not lived as God desired and the result is that we are in conflict with our neighbors.  We, who are intended to live in harmony with others making harmonies, spend our time grating on each other, making fun of each other.  There is little music—just the grating of fingernails on life’s chalkboard.

The only score that God wants is the music we make with those we treat as beloved family.  Listen to what St. Paul says to the Corinthian community.  “I always thank God for you because Christ Jesus has shown you God’s good will.  Through Christ Jesus you have become rich in every way—in speech and knowledge of every kind.  You don’t lack anything on the day of our Lord.  God will continue to give you strength until the end so that no one can accuse you of anything on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. He called you to be partners with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Now, that’s MUSIC TO OUR EARS!

Before we think that we are in harmony with God in Christ and with each other, Jesus reminds us that the DAY OF RECKONING could come at any moment and we should BE ALERT!  But let’s not revert back to the SCORE KEEPING we were trying to avoid for our MORAL GUIDANCE.  

So, what is it that we are supposed to BE ALERT TO, SO AS NOT TO MISS OUT?  Let’s take the most pressing moral concern that most, if not all of us face today, namely the Covid-19 Pandemic.  We are in the midst of Thanksgiving Weekend and yet there is so much talk about sickness, distance from our families, struggling finances, and the like.  If I was into KEEPING SCORE, I would think that maybe GOD ISN’T SCORING VERY HIGHLY.  Come to think of it, NEITHER AM I!  

In the midst of driving some food I prepared to share with homeless people on Friday, my car decided to die on the 10th Street Bridge during the 4pm going home time.  What did I do to deserve that?  Our Gospel says that “GOD ASSIGNED WORK TO EACH ONE OF US &WE SHOULD BE ALERT TO IT.”  Here is what I was ALERT TO.

I was alert to the police officer who was there in minutes to keep me safe from oncoming traffic. I was alert to the tow driver who charged me $65 for a normal tow instead of the $245 for an emergency tow after he heard what I was on my way to do.  I was alert to my mechanic who is working on my car this holiday weekend.  And I was alert to Jenelle, my secretary, who loaned me her car so I can finish this sermon on time and deliver the food to the homeless shelter.  

If we were keeping score, that was quite a comeback after some major setbacks.  But we aren’t keeping score.  We are listening for the harmonies that God provides if we listen to each other to make the music that God knows is there if we are looking to harmonize with each other.

So, yes, we will SIN & SING the wrong notes that clash with each other and God.  But, the very people we could clash with are also the people that God can help us to make unexpected harmonies with.  I have heard so many people make beautiful music this past week and find so much to be thankful for, even in challenging times.  Advent is truly the season to KEEP ALERT—ALERT TO GOD’S HARMONIES!

And all of God’s MUSIC MAKERS sang…AMEN!