Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Living Toward the Dream and the Promise

This week's scriptures are Isaiah 61 and John 1:6-8, 19-28.

So far this Advent season, we've talked about how important it is to speak our cry out honestly about what is not right in our world and in our lives; and to be willing to live in the tensions about what we believe we know about what God is doing, and what we don't understand.

This week, scripture helps us move to the next step: that is to live toward the promise and the dream.

Now I have to be honest and say that I believe that until we've done the first two, truly doing the third with integrity is difficult-and often impossible. It is, in fact the facing of the realities of life and the mystery beyond us that opens the door for imagination and Mystery to meet in dreams of what God's promises might look like.

John when he is approached and questioned sounds a bit like Joe Biden going "I'm not the guy" when reporters were asking if he was Obama's pick for VP. But John points beyond himself to the One who was coming. John was a 'get ready' voice "crying in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord." He was picking up on the promises made in Isaiah; he stood in a long line of those who trusted in the dream and the promise.

Isaiah gives shape to the dream. He fleshes out the promise. And I think it's important for us to notice what part of Isaiah's vision that Jesus is going to pick up on when He begins His ministry. It isn't the nationalistic vision of verses 5-7 where 'aliens' and 'foreigners' work for the once disposessed Israel. It is the binding up of the brokenhearted, good news for the afflicted, freedom for the prisoner.

Jesus embodied God's love and fleshed out the promise. You and I are called to continue living into that dream. Lest we get the idea that this is an easy task, let me make it clear; living into this dream and into God's promise is hard work...and we may not see much of what we live into come to fruition in our life time.

I heard an interview with one of the Tuskegee Airmen this morning. Obama has sent special invitations to those still living to be present at his inauguration. Mr. Wheeler (the former airman) stated that he didn't believe that without the service of black soldiers, an African-American could ever have been elected president. These were men living into the dream about what could be. They were living toward the promise of America as a place for all people. Now, mind you, I don't believe that we're there yet by any stretch of the imagination (just look at Prop 8). But we're definitely further along because of the service and sacrifice of men and women like the Tuskegee Airmen.

I recently had an email conversation with a member of our congregation about our dreams regarding Broadneck's place as an inclusive and welcoming congregation. Our personal visions of how this dream may get lived out are a little different...and that's absolutely okay...but what we were both asking was, 'given what we're called to as God's people, in this particular time and place how do we live into this dream of how God's promise will be expressed here, now, at Broadneck?'

Do you remember what Jesus said at His first sermon after He read the passage from Isaiah? It's in Luke 4. He said, "today this scripture has been fullfilled in your sight." Are we also called to "fullfill this scripture" in the sight of the world around us? To live out the promise by giving flesh to the Word in our time and place as representatives of God's love in Christ? I think we are.

Advent reminds us to listen to the cries of our own lives and those of the world around us for God to act in the difficult and painful situation. It calls us to be willing to live in the tension of not always knowing. And it invites us to live toward a dream of what God's promise might look like for this moment as God's people at Broadneck Baptist.

Do we have a dream? Do we have a vision? Do we believe the Promise is part of our call as a community of faith?

Come on Sunday and let's talk about it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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