December 17, 2006
Advent Sunday 3
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them. —Luke 3:7-18, NIV
What does it mean that God came to earth? The universal became local for the purpose of being universal. Makes sense?
This morning for Advent I taught on election, Abraham, Israel, tribal gods, and mission. How do those things relate you ask? We need advent. I think we need it now more than ever for the sheer fact that the god in America, "in God We Trust" is not the Almighty, High God. This mysterious being who belongs to no, but belongs to everyone.
I think election has become something that is misconstrued in our modern theological systems. I believe election is for the purpose of mission. Both Abraham and Israel were chosen, not for themselves, but for the world. We as Americans like to do the same thing that Israel did, put God in a box (hence the pic). By claiming that God is on our side, and that we are in a place of privilege we are making God less than who he is. This was a huge problem for Israel. They would become inward focused, believing that God chose them for the purpose of honor and privilege. This is a huge problem, because they were not chosen for themselves.
The church has this problem too. We forget that we are chosen, elected, not for ourselves. Neither are we in a place of privilege, but rather we are chosen for the purpose of mission. We cannot allow ourselves to get so wrapped up in our world, worrying about our spiritual growth, reading our bibles, prayer in our prayer times. We must remember that how we love others is how we love God. We are elected for mission. When we are not living for mission than we are not allowing God to be who he truly is, we are making God a tribal god.