“Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow & distress..put on the beauty of the glory of God forever..” ..a call 3000yrs ago for the holy city to regain its essence, its holiness..Jerusalem.. Jeru-shalom..the city of peace [shalom].. Fr Edward was there recently & told us first hand of apartheid..Palestinian & Jew.. he met a young Israeli soldier, an ex paratrooper & sniper, whose life was now in danger because he had “broken the silence” ; he had told secret of what was really happening in the conflict.. & will we have the courage this Advent to risk breaking the silence & telling the secret? of what is really happening these precious days..will you share the secret of Advent? ..or do you not know the secret? ..the secret which isn’t life threatening but is life changing..
“..peace through integrity..” integrating difference; sheep & goat.. ; Lord have mercy “..honour through devotedness..” ..faithful through thick & thin.. ; Christ have mercy “..now God brings them back to you..” ..to share the secret.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Luke at his best, precision reporting..he gives you all the coordinates wanting you to know exactly where John the Baptist fits politically & socially..rather like reading a passport or a baptismal certificate, its all there on paper, but nowadays, whether en route to USA or buying lunch in school canteen, its fingerprint identification to confirm your uniqueness & certify your authenticity. Advent a lovely season to establish & confirm your unique relationship with Jesus; let him enjoy seeing you & marvelling at your spiritual fingerprints all over place as you recreate the face of earth & Advent 2018..John the Baptists fingerprints betray his adventurous nature; he wasn’t a healer or reconciler, he was needlessly abrasive & relished being an opponent..& he was “great” modest & realistic in knowing who he was in the great drama of salvation “I must decrease he must increase” a witness to truth pointing beyond himself & getting out of way so that the true light could shine out..he gets things started [ our role as Wk 2 Advent begins ] absolutely needed as far as he goes; we love him because he is so like us in many ways..”but we are not Baptists we are finally & hopefully Christians” “the Word of God came to John” his calling as last OT prophet was to speak word of God & be the voice before the Word himself became flesh..really good news was that news word truth was for everyone whole Jordan district, whole of Ryedale; Palestinian Jew Muslim & Catholic, owner occupier & tenant..privileged monastic community on 2000 acres of promised land ½ mile from here & unmarried couple & an infant Jesus born in hostel in York last night..”a baptism” full immersion, no toe dipping, no withholding of secrets; Advent is the real thing..”for the forgiveness of sins” forgiving your own sins first, self certification reconciliation..stop carrying years of mistakes poor choices & infidelities; a back pack which gradually earns you a stoop like mine, a broken neck & a broken heart..how can I hope to forgive others if I can’t forgive myself? Advent time of expectancy & risk, to rekindle your expectations of Jesus & crucially your expectations of yourself “I’m worth far more than this” as you wipe mud off your hands filth from your heart & look again at those precious fingerprints which gain you entry to manger in 16days time..season to listen to morse code..wordless.. listened again to Desert Island Discs of Kirsty Young interviewing Sue Perkins..early on she said “take away the words & I am lost” told story of BBC film crew visiting remote Karung tribe in northern Cambodia..to speak to them had to interpret 3 tribal dialects..so remote & difficult, interpretors abandoned them; Sue & team stuck in a clearing with 30 women..she desperately tried to find a way of saying “we are all the same” trust grew through smiles & eye contact..she “found herself” literally walking through Kashi forest holding hands with one woman & thinking “how can I feel so strongly about a stranger who I don’t share a language with? I really feel I’ve known you all my life”..weeks later back in studio producer beckoned Sue to look at film sequence..showed Sue & woman walking joyfully hand in hand & the woman voices something in her own obscure dialect which they can now translate; she says to Sue “how can I feel so strongly about a stranger who I don’t share a language with? I really feel I have known you all my life”..Elaine & Tony Teasdale are just back from an adventurous 8wks visiting 18 countries with a story & a secret to tell..Tony told me briefly last wk how they learned to speak to people with their eyes..wordless or the Word made flesh?..& Clare Jennings, having lost her power of speech with her stroke, trumps Sue Perkins opening salvo “take away the words & I am lost” Clare speaks volumes with her eyes, her facial expressions wordlessly, yet believe me the Word is made flesh, at her bedside, her manger in her conservatory of a stable..it isn’t what we say but what we allow Christ to say through us; we speak volumes by our way of life as the Word becomes flesh in us through us..in all the hardships struggles filth we are all the same, immersed in profound moments of journey & solidarity..& pray what is the secret of Advent?..knowing the morse code, keeping the silence, & finally realising secret..of who that stranger is you've known all your life. .[2ndSun Advent YrC; Lk 3;1-6]