#Citizenry is the podcast for this Sunday, December 17, 2017. This week, we focus on the power we possess because of what Isaiah said, John the Baptizer said and what Mary said for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. What does it mean if a girl says yes, a man says no, and life goes on? Listen to find out. #Good News #JesusChrist #Afremov #Painting #GreatChristianPreaching #Advent #PowerofBaptism #Baptism #Mary #JohntheBaptizer
(This podcast was originally aired, Sunday, December 14, 2014)
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For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 12/14/2014 The 3rd Sunday of Advent.
Please pause this audio and read John 1:6-8,19-28.
Why can’t the holy people get some joy?
You know what I mean? People who see a great thing happening and it is in the Spirit of God’s proclamation through Isaiah, but there are those around who look like they have been sucking on lemons, I just don’t get it. If we are rejoicing instead of meditating, why is that bad? Why is it bad to be making a difference in the world through the power of good? Why can’t we do both, do good and celebrate? If we are celebrating instead of chanting, why is that bad? I want to say to these folks,
For everything there is a season,
A time for chanting,
A time for letting it rock out,
A time for being repentant,
A time for jumping for joy,
A time for walking solemnly,
A time for dancing down the aisle.
A time for being quiet,
A time for singing loudly so God hears in heaven.
A time to light a purple candle to fast,
A time to light a pink candle to “proclaim the greatness of the Lord.”
The pivot of the season of Advent begins in this third Sunday. Up to this point in Advent, we have been speaking in terms of judgment, the Second coming, repentance. On the third Sunday of Advent, the situation turns because we begin to talk about something that cannot happen without the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Messiah: a baptism that is more than just for repentance. We turn to talk about the promise of life after death, living anew after we have sinned, deliverance after destitution.
Today is also called “Gaudete” Sunday. “Gaudete” means, “rejoice”. Imagine you are a teen age girl. You are faithful. You are pregnant. Your fiancé has agreed to keep you even though he has the right under religious law to divorce you. You had a vision of an angel telling you that you were carrying God’s child. RIGHT. There has been no other confirmation up to this point. Then, you go to visit your cousin and two things happen in the Gospel story from Luke that precedes the reading of the Canticle of Mary, which is read or sung on this Sunday traditionally.
The first thing is that John the Baptizer leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. The second is that Elizabeth, ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’, exclaims, “And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” It had to be such a wonderful feeling in young Mary’s heart: to be confirmed that you weren’t crazy. The Lord did come to you and someone else noticed. Someone else verified. It is no wonder that Mary begins to exclaim, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” Whew! God fulfills his promises.
Then, there is John the Baptzer, sassy as always. John says, just wait, you wonder what is going on with me because you can see all these people coming to be baptized for repentance? There is one who is coming after me that will baptize people so that they will do great things! They will do more than repent! This should cause every person who is a Christian to be happy.
We should be happy and rejoice because we have been baptized with the baptism that was given by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. May I remind us all that there is no life with birth? There must be birth for us to have life. There is the birth of the child in the manger. There is the rebirth of us in the baptism which applies the sacrifice of the baby born in the manger to us. The sacrifice meant nothing if the child born was not fully human and fully God. That fully human part came from the woman who said yes to God and stands singing, rejoicing before her cousin and the Lord. We would not understand that the child, born from the woman who said yes, whose birth gives us new birth in baptism, without the prophet, John the Baptizer, coming to proclaim that there is a baptism that is to come that is more. That baptism is your baptism.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel is about to come.
These are hard times to rejoice. I know I face my own personal situations that make the idea of “rejoicing” a ridiculous notion. That would be true if we were only citizens of this earth, but we are not. We are citizens of heaven. John sets us looking toward the hope of the coming of the child we will celebrate being born in the manger.
I like the paintings of Leonid Afremov. They are knife oil paintings made from mostly dark colors. The dark colors are accented and sometimes dominated with the bright light of yellows to make me happy when I look at them. They are stunning. I have posted a link to his website in the picture posted above this podcast. Afremov was born to Jewish parents in the Soviet Union who still practiced their faith within their apartment even though they knew they could be persecuted. Afremov moved to Israel where he was persecuted for being a Russian. Here is a man whose paintings should be filled with dark colors of pain and hurt. Yet, if we just look at them, they are some of the most joyful looking paintings I have ever seen, every one of them.
Afremov’s paintings should be like us. We are in a world in love with itself. We are in a world in love with striving for fame, money, and so called “success.” Achievement and advancement at any cost, even the destruction of the careers, jobs and environment of people who are just trying to live their lives is considered acceptable. I have not remembered living in a more angry time. I have not remembered living in a more selfish time, yet here we are. We are a people who are called to do everything that Isaiah claimed that the Lord would do:
Preach good news.
Bind up the brokenhearted.
Proclaim liberty to the captives.
Proclaim release to the prisoners.
It is a litany of things that should give any of us wondering what to do with our baptismal lives a running list that never ends. It is a list of things that should give us so much purpose that we should rejoice for being born! The time is now, the season is now. By virtue of our baptism, proclaimed by the Baptizer today, made earthly and human by the flesh of the woman who said yes, and made effective by the child who will be born, live, die and rise, we are not just any people. We are God’s people. Let’s get to work. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of MySpiritualAdvisor.com and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of MySpiritualAdvisor.com, LLC. MySpiritualAdvisor.com, 2014.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian