Sermon for 2nd Sunday before Advent (B)
These weeks before Advent, known to us now as “the kingdom season” it is the time we direct our thoughts to what we mean as the victory of Christ.
What exactly is the Victory of Christ and how do we understand it?
We look at this through the readings and we see the effect which such victory has in the great scheme of things,
- In the fulfilment of creation,
- In making all things new.
- In putting right that which was wrong.
The weeks culminate for us next week as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.
The difficulty that you and I face in coming to understand these things is the way we view time as if it were linear, a before and after in chronological sequence. For us “Cosmic” has somewhat different connotations. We get all tied up with literal understandings of up and down, of body and Spirit.
I am told that the Temple in Jerusalem was an incredibly outstanding building, closely followed by the city itself, surrounded by a magnificent fortified wall. Some of the stone used in the temple were the largest ever used for building not just by that time but also since. Absolutely huge stones.
Of course they were not only building their special city, but it was all bound up with the place God had chosen. The Temple represented the place of God’s very dwelling. And to match their feelings and their belief in God, they built with the finest and largest stones they could. It was impregnable, God was not beaten. They had absolute and complete confidence, based on years of history, many victorious battles, and now also on the finest edifice in the world
It was against this confidence that Jesus words about the end of the Temple took them by unbelievable surprise. “Do you see these fine buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another” It was simply impossible to believe, they all knew how massive they were.
Every society possibly builds a Jerusalem, or a Temple, to house its gods. They may not even be built today with bricks and mortar, in fact we now realise these will probably fall. But there are plenty of other “Temples” …and we cannot bear the thought that our Temple will fall, but inevitably they do.
We find our confidence in some pretty shaky things sometimes.
Daniel chapter 12 lies at the heart of the Jewish understanding of Resurrection. The Fulfilment of God’s good creation. The restoration long awaited. The Christian Church developed this thinking and saw in Jesus the revelation of the resurrection after he was crucified. It changes and changed everything for those who believed.
This is worked out more fully in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which at best can be confusing, but works out the roll of Sacrifice and priesthood seen against the life of Jesus.
Written after the fall of the temple in Jerusalem it is able to masterfully point to where real confidence lies in a post Jerusalem society.
The Temple we worship in is none less than Jesus himself as far as the Epistle goes. We enter the sanctuary, no longer kept outside like in the old Temple. We are right at its heart.
The curtain (you remember according to Matthew was torn apart) no longer holds us back.
We approach with a true heart in full assurance of Faith.
The kingdom of Christ makes all this possible, as we head towards next week as we see Christ as the King.
It is set against this view of a world built upon a wholly different confidence than the world that went before, that we come to prepare ourselves through Advent to enter a once again God created space. A place where God dwells with us again, …and of course we see this as happening through the eyes of the Gospel writers in the babe of Bethlehem.
Simply to look on many things in the bible as history, is to belittle the importance of what is going on. Hebrews and Daniel and Mark 13 all point at the same time deeper and beyond the here and now.
Creation becomes NOT a moment in time but a present action of God.
The FALL is something that happens daily.
The RESURRECTION is the time each day that God fulfils his purpose in us.
The INCARNATION is when God again and again comes to right where we are and calls us to him as ransomed and redeemed, to use the words of the prophet Isaiah.
In what then can we say we find confidence in a world such as this.
Are we prepared to see Christ as King