Sermon for Sunday, 12/02/2018
Text: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Luke 21:25-36
Theme: “Our God Comes to Us”
For most Liberian families, the fathers are the sole breadwinners. This is mostly true for the generation of our parents, partly true for my generation and no longer true for our children’s. These fathers leave home early morning for work and are expected to return in the evening with the money for the day’s meal or the next day’s. The reason is that many workers don’t earn enough to take them from one monthly pay check to another. So, papa must find other means each day.
A father who can afford extras usually brings home a plastic bag containing sweets, biscuits, bread, etc, for the family, especially the kids. So, papa coming home is a big deal for the family. There is a symbolic but meaningful Liberian colloquial that expresses it in these words, “Papa nah come.” That is to say, “Daddy has come.”
As the evening hours pass, every child is on the look out for papa, and the kid who is first to see him approaching rans to meet him with the shout, “Papa nah come,” thus calling the attention of the rest of the family members, and all the other kids will follow with the same refrain. This happens because papa’s coming home means something. It gives hope to a waiting and some cases, a hungry family.
In similar vein, Advent is the time when we believers are waiting and watching out for the arrival of big papa (God). But God does not always come to us in favorable times. At times He comes in challenging times, and like many Liberian families, his coming brings hope.
We see this in the scriptures read this morning. Jeremiah describes the coming of Christ to give hope to a hopeless nation. God spoke these through the prophets at the time when the people had been conquered by Babylon, and Jerusalem burned down. They had been dragged into exile and lost their freedom as a nation. It is during such troubling times that God promised to raise up the messiah from David’s lineage who would rule with justice and righteousness. These were words of hope to a devastated people. This is the first Advent.
The New Testament text, for its part, describes events that can make the bravest soul run for cover. The passage is a whole drum roll of disaster. Seas surge. Planet shake. The earth groans and threatens to come undone. The world Jesus describes of his second coming is full of tarrying events, but it is not unlike our world today. Wars? We have got them! Mass shooting even in schools and worship places? We are experiencing them! Wide fire disasters that take the lives of hundreds and leave thousands homeless? We get them even here. People being uprooted from home who are escaping violence? We see the images. Holding all politics constant, these are human beings like us who have no home to spend this Christmas because of the drag related violence they flee, and many may not make it to their designated home of refuge during this season.
Those words of Jesus in our text are describing that the end is near, but it always feels like the near end for someone. It may be that person who was laid off just recently week, or that friend or relative who has been diagnosed with cancer, or multiple sclerosis; I am talking about that person who has just lost a love one or experienced a devastating divorce and facing their first Christmas alone.
As I wrote this sermon and thought about these real-life painful experiences that bring people to the end of their rope even during this time, the words of one of my good American friends this week reminded me that I too am a human who is not spared or immune. In his words to me, he wrote;
“Both my wife and myself are so sorry that family separation is happening to you, especially at this Season of Love and Healing initiated by the Birth of Our Savior. We simply cannot imagine why or how the Immigration Authorities cannot see that you are a stable and employed person and should easily have your family immigrate here. This should not be happening! You will have our prayers for a quick re-uniting of your entire family…….May God BLESS you, your wife Eva and your entire family.”
We are very grateful to him and many of you who share similar kind sentiment, and we appreciate those concerns. As human beings, we face situations beyond our control at times. Things that hurt us and those dear to us. Things that get us terrified and send us for cover. But it is precisely at these moments that our God shows up. It is at these moments that our God comes to us.
At these desperate times, Jesus invites us to stand tall, to lift our heads and strain our eyes toward the horizon, our God promises to come to us. This is the Hope of Advent.
In the midst of my painful family separation at this festive season, I have hope that one day, the Lord who has led me on my journey in this nation during these years, will re-unite us.
I don’t know what you are dealing with during this season. But whatever it is; be it the lose of a family and friend, a fearful diagnosis, or the illness of a love one or family, or financial issues, we want you to remember, that amidst all these, our God promises to come. Imagine the hope and the possibilities that Christ brings even now.
He may not come to us today as he will one day, -riding on the clouds with all his power and glory on full display. But by his Spirit, he still promises to come. And he comes to us even now. This is the good news for us today, that our world will not end tomorrow, because our God Comes to us, and is with us even now.
God bless you.