Advent IB, December 3, 2017
Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13: 24-37
St Thomas the Apostle
The Rev’d Joy A. Daley
“Love Means You Never Have to Say You’re Sorry?”
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving I was taking a bike ride in my neighborhood trying to work off some of the pie I had eaten on Thursday. I wasn’t riding very fast. All of a sudden in the distance but not too far ahead I heard one of those old fashioned ice cream trucks playing a song. Now usually they play some peppy kid’s song like Pop goes the Weasel But the song that was playing that day was familiar but I couldn’t place it . What was it? Then as I was peddling along it came to me. It was the theme from the movie, Love Story. It seemed strange to hear a song from a melodramatic movie coming from that little rectangular truck with ice cream treats painted on the outside of it. There was a disconnect. It didn’t quite match up. Then, as the ice cream truck drove by me there was another level of disconnection because the guy driving looked really grumpy. Shouldn’t someone driving that truck look cheery? Well, believe it or not this little experience lead me to start thinking about Advent which we begin today. This is the beginning of a new church year that time before Christmas when we prepare for the coming of our Lord. I like to think of it as a time of hopeful expectation a time for us to slow down a bit while the world speeds up in the rush of Black Friday and the frenetic pace of Cyber Monday. We have the opportunity to be in a holy hopeful space of preparation and yet… There’s a disconnect. We have these readings that don’t seem to match up with that mood, that indicate the world is in a mess that things are not OK between God and his people. There’s a sense of the brokenness of the human race in Isaiah, about God being angry, and in our gospel the impending doom about the end of the world. We need to stay awake, be ready .It doesn’t seem to match up to a reflective time of hopeful expectation, of new beginnings, of possibilities. So are we stuck in that place of disconnection? Maybe not. Lutheran pastor David Lose has suggested that we use the ominous sense of the end times in our readings to ask ourselves, “What we would do if the world was going to end tomorrow?” We know all to well how the world can change suddenly through death or disaster. It is in that dark place that we tend to remember the things that really count in our lives with others. It usually brings us back to focus on relationships which are beautiful and life giving but sometimes fragile and vulnerable, which brings me peddling back to – that theme from Love Story. Remember the story? The world was ending as the couple faced life threatening illness. And do you remember the most famous quote from that movie as Ali McGraw looks lovingly at Ryan O’Neal? “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” The worst quote about love and relationships ever written. If you’ve loved anyone, eventually you are going to have to say “I’m sorry.” Love means having the humility to say we’re sorry to reflect on our own behavior to stop blaming others for everything to be reconciled to God and each other. The story of us and God is a Love story. Over and over God reaches for us comes to us in in our brokenness. It is we who mess up who disconnect. How we act many times does not match up to the love that has been given to us. And we need to be reconciled to God and one another. So maybe Advent is about having a new beginning, spending some time thinking about that gift of love given by God that is many times taken for granted and how we might need to have an attitude adjustment, connecting to our need of reconciliation, to say we are sorry for hurtful things that we may have done, not waiting to be called on the carpet but living our lives from the heart and recognizing that we don’t have forever to do that. How do we begin again this new year, this season of Advent?
We seem to live in a world today where sincere apologies are issued only after there is no other choice, when people are backed into a corner in one way or another. What would our world be like if respect and care for those we live and work with was freely given without pressure. What if we were motivated by reconciliation rather than power, by repentance rather than getting our own way. Let’s face it, we all want our own way. Our Prayer book defines sin as the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God which then distorts our relationship with God others and all of creation. The human race has always been tempted to be willful. It is not only in the present day. We hear the sense of longing and repentance in our scripture from Isaiah today. The plea in our Psalm, “Restore us O Lord of Hosts. Save us.” The need for reconciliation and a new beginning. Even though we are tempted to live by our own will doesn’t me we have to do so. We can decide in the words of our Collect to “cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Sometimes that means walking in humility rather than willfulness. Jesus came to visit us in great humility. Are we willing to visit him and each other in the same way? To ask for forgiveness sincerely when we know we have hurt someone taking that initiative from our own souls rather than being pushed into it. What if we started this new year with behaviors that restore and heal relationships with others, our God or perhaps even with ourselves.
As we begin the season of Advent things on the outside look different the colors, the candles, the lack of flowers suggesting spending some time in the wilderness. May these outward signs call us to inward reflection about a king who came and is still coming to us in love, who chose humble service rather than willfulness. During this Advent let us walk together in that same spirit being humble enough to know that Love means sometimes having to say we’re sorry.