Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday Sermons - Get your stuff together because the Prince of Peace is coming

Matthew 3:1-12 New International Version (NIV)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’”[a]
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
On this second Sunday of Advent, Matthew lets it rip with this fiery story about John the Baptist who told people that they need to get their stuff together because the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Then Matthew goes off dissing the Pharisees and the Sadducees saying that their teaching falls flat without actions and it is by their fruit that you will know them.
Matthew seems to threaten people saying that if you do good you will find the kingdom and if you do bad you will "burn in unquenchable fire." Matthew is teaching with a metaphor relating the suffering that comes from doing bad or being wrong minded to burning in flames like wheat chaff after the threshing.
What Matthew is talking about sounds a lot like karma. You reap what you sow.
The point of the story is that John the Baptist was trying to help people find their way. In Unitarian Univeralism we covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and where to search? John the Baptist is telling people that the search is not in the external world but an inward search for the coming awareness of the Divine presence in our lives.
Our awareness of the Divine presence is within our reach but we have to look for Love in the right places and a being is coming who will help us find the way. However first, we must tune in to the right channel or we won't be able to hear the Divine song. So clean up your act by eschewing the things of the ego and make way for the awareness of the Divine.

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