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Third Sunday of Advent

Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11; Psalm 126; I Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8,19-28

WWJD.  What do those letters signify?  Not sure when the bracelets were popular, perhaps in the 1980’s.   “What Would Jesus Do?” is what I think St. Paul wrote about in I Thessalonians.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

“Pray without ceasing” is to be aware of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, dwelling within us, and to connect with that Spirit as we go through our day.  “Pray without ceasing” is to reflect on what Jesus would do as we walk through our day. 

So, in a way, the call of the proper collect for today can be realized by us each and every day. 

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us.

In a very real way Jesus is among us as we do God’s will here on earth as it is done in heaven.  That’s what the first Pentecost was all about.  God’s “bountiful grace and mercy [does] speedily help and deliver us”. 

Now, this is not discounting the early Church’s expectation of the return of Jesus, sometimes called the Second Coming. Yet I am convinced that the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is within us and fueling us with “bountiful grace and mercy” now.

You have heard me speak of the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, generosity and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23a

As these gifts flow from us through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is present.

In our own day these fruits of the Spirit are so much needed.  As we watch the news the forces of bad behavior are front and center.  Yet, as my son, the middle school principal, always reminds me, and the students and the faculty of the school, there are no bad students, rather, there are just poor decisions.  So, our ministry as we live the fruits of the Spirit is to guide decision-makers in the ways of                  

love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, generosity and self-control. 

These gifts provide light, even in dark places, even in dark times. 

As it was written about John the Baptist, so it is true for us and for our ministry.                  

[John] came to testify to the light.                                            

Our ministry is “to testify to the light”. 

Again, turning to scripture, while sometime Isaiah 61: 1-4,8-11 is said to be descriptive of the Christ, of the Messiah, of Jesus, it is also true for us as the current body of Christ.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon [us] because the Lord God has anointed [us] [in baptism] …to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. …to provide for those who mourn in Zion, to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. 

The people of All Saints are with us.                

The people of God are with us.

The angels and archangels and all the heavenly host are with us.

God is with us.       

In boldness there is so much to do for the people of God here at All Saints.               

Be light in the darkness.

Amen

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