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HARE AND TORTOISE/LION AND LAMB
Advent 2 yr A Cygnet, Isaiah 11;1-10,Psalm 72;1-7,18-19,Romans 15;4-13, Matthew 3;1-12, John Middleton
December 2, 2016
There is something a bit hare and tortoise about our readings today.
We are seriously into Advent now. Looking forward to Jesus birth at Bethlehem and looking forward to his second coming when the faithful will enter God’s kingdom and the winnowing fork will dispatch those who do not measure up who will then be separated from God, variously described as the pool of burning Sulphur, the abyss, the pit,
Our readings today paint a beautiful picture of Jesus reign, Isaiah speaks of extreme peace,
Wolf and lamb, leopard and kid, lion and fatling together and led by little children. Similarly, cow and bear, lion eating straw, babies and toddlers safe about the snake nest even reaching into the tunnel.
Jesus institutes righteousness and justice, especially for the poor. It is hard to imagine a more harmonious pleasant situation.
The Psalm is similar, righteousness, justice relief for the poor, for eternity. The picture of continuous springtime rain on the paddocks, perhaps with longer sunny breaks in between as we know what that is like.
Blessed be the lord, the God of Israel.
Romans speaks of the blessing Jesus is to the gentiles. The word gentiles appears six times in this short passage, each time reinforcing that Jesus has redeemed, saved the Gentiles, he is the saviour of the world.
Matthews gospel while he heralded Jesus coming rule, speaks as though Jesus would deliver judgement of a permanent nature to those who were living at the then present time.
He speaks of Jesus authority and power, that his sandals John was not worthy to untie, or carry and that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
The Spirit of life and power and the fire which purifies, not destroys, other than evil.
It is at this point that the mood changes and rather than Jesus kingdom being a bed of roses there is some spiritual muscling up.
Matthew speaks of Jesus having his winnowing fork in his hand, gathering the wheat, his harvest but burning the chaff in unquenchable fire.
John gives the Pharisees and Saducees a serve, “Who warned you of the coming wrath” , he says,” you brood of vipers, bear fruit worthy of repentance.”
Is accusing them of just joining the crowd, appearing to be genuine about repentance but in fact putting on a show.
When we look closer at the previous readings, even amongst the dripping honey of Isaiah speaking of extreme peace, he states that the Lord will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth and kill the wicked..
The psalm has one line also going against the theme of peace and harmony
, the Lord will crush the oppressor. The psalmist says.
So gentle Jesus meek and mild has a tough side, We are reminded that the lamb of god is also the lion of Judah.
That as well as being salvation for the world, he is judgement for the world also
At this present time in the world it is very important that we recognize and proclaim both the Lamb and the Lion.
Personally I would love every non believer into God’s kingdom. There are many Christians and Churches who would frighten people into the kingdom through the threat of eternal fires of Sulphur.
In good Anglican tradition the walking of a middle road seems appropriate.
Would not the responsible authority put a sign at the cliff edge, Danger, risk of death. Do not approach cliff edge.
We the body of Christ are responsible for alerting people to the dangers of separation from God.
We need a sign.
Welcome to the love and protection of Jesus which overcomes eternal separation from God and misery. Or some such
The violence in the world has been greater than any time I can remember in my life. The Syrian war is described as the worst humanitarian catastrophe since world war two. It is on top of two Iraq wars, and Afghanistan, over ten years of relentless turmoil for those countries, Terrorism popping up about the world, Isis attempting to create caliphate and conduct Jihad wherever possible.
Governments about the world are progressively moving to the right, Brexit, Trump, our own conservatives, Austria, hungary all becoming nationalistic and heading towards Fascism.
This is a time for Christianity to not only proclaim the love of Christ but also the consequences of leaving God’s path.
Some muscling up within the Church is called for to remind the hawks of the world that certainly at a spiritual level, Christ is not a lap dog who will roll over and run for cover when the going gets tough. Remind them that there are consequences for intentionally killing innocent people and using violence to advance political or ideological causes.
As we consider the challenge before us we are reminded of stories of martyrdom and bravery shown by God’s people in the past. By the Jews in the Holocaust and in every persecution they suffered over the course of history.
Of Christian martyrdom which similarly has taken place constantly since Jesus walked the earth and still does today
The world like individuals tends to have cycles of war or tension and peace. Individuals have cycles of closeness and distance in relationships. As this time of tension in the world continues, we pray that we, the Church can pray for peace and all will be well, It is likely that the bulk of humanity will need to go through the violence stage before the peace, and God become highest priority.
How do we prepare, how do we respond.
Muscling up does not mean responding to aggression with aggression but it does mean proclaiming the message that war, violence, greed, tribalism are not God’s plan, Justice, righteousness, peace, equity all of the characteristics Isaiah speaks of are the values of God and that the coming judge will not hesitate to burn the chaff, to cut down the tree and consign to the fire, to strike the earth with the rod of His mouth and the wicked will face the power and wrath of God.
I opened with the hare and tortoise and picture the Devil, the hare as racing here and there, win here win there, the tortoise, began with 12 disciples, now 2.6 billion disciples and plenty still to come.
It demonstrates the value of perseverance to follow a pathway which is right.
Bernie Banton, contracted melophylioma from exposure to asbestos and took the giants to court, he finally won despite all the might of the defendant and he paved the way for justice or at least compensation for fellow sufferers through negligence by the mining company
New Zealand took on America and barred their nuclear warship from entering NZ waters they also took on the French Government over the Rainbow Warrior sinking and this minnow of a country which was expected to roll over and bow to the international giants did what they believed to be right and won.
In the world today , Australia is included in the moving inexorably away from welcoming the stranger in the land and supporting the downtrodden and moving towards political pragmatism, get a vote wherever you can.
That is an environment in which God’s values usually drop to the bottom of the pile. It is even more important that we continue to press on, tortoise like, Christ like in what we know to be right, the proclaiming of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, the proclaiming of his coming at Bethlehem, the wolf and the lamb together in peace and the proclaiming of his coming with peace and harmony and also with winnowing fork and axe, and that repentance and turning to God in Jesus is the personal, national and international pathway to eternal peace. Amen