Advent IV: Love

Advent IV: Love

This Sunday was our final Sunday of Advent. On Thursday we will celebrate Christmas with two Christmas Eve services. The fourth Sunday of advent is traditionally Love. We had glimpses of Mary, but the scripture and sermon turned to John the Baptist. Once again, I’ll leave you with a poem, one that ended my sermon: Rumi’s “The Way Wings Should” as translated by Daniel Ladinsky.


Like prophets before him, John shares both warnings and hope. The stories tell us that as the crowds gathered and heard his news, they asked “What should we do?” What should we do?

I want to ask each of you to think of the identities you bring to this question. Luke names tax collectors and soldiers, but we bring our own contexts. First, a personal one: whether it is Student, or Retired Person, or New Parent, or something else (there will be many but just chose one for now). Next, one about your relationship to TSP: whether it is a visitor, someone involved in governance, someone in the choir… (once again, there might be many, but just chose one). I’ll give you a third one for free, as a congregation – a congregation beginning interim ministry. Bring these identities to the question: What Should We Do?

If we go back to John’s answers, we’ll notice a few things. He looks at what is possible – he isn’t suggesting wholesale career changes. He does tell people a number of things about not misusing their power and taking advantage of others. He does remind people to look to the basics, to share food and clothing, so that we are not holding on to things that others could use. Taking these principles, what would John say to us, as we ask what should we do?

It may seem like a strange text when the Sunday is supposed to be about love, but I was reminded of a quotation I keep up in my office (originally I heard this attributed to Martin Luther King, but the internet informs me it is actually from Cornel West, writing about King): “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

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