the one about The One...
December 16, 2019, 8:00 AM

Sermon from December 15, 2019

Text: Matthew 11: 2-11

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord who has and is to come – Jesus the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, as I read this morning’s Gospel reading, I cannot help, but think that in my best moments I ask questions like John the Baptizer (who if you notice is in one of his worst moments). As I read his question that he gives through his own followers to Jesus I cannot tell if it is intended to be read as hopeful or cynical.

As I read them, I cannot help, but think that the Baptizer is being a bit cynical. I think this, because I think that’s how I’d speak it.

John was like those prophets of old. He loudly and forcefully burst on to the scene. He drew people to himself with a message of hope, forgiveness, and repentance. All the while, he spoke out and against those in traditional seats of power. He made enemies with the wrong folks because he told them that they were not doing what God has intended. We heard last week that he called them a brood of vipers.

John the Baptizer was the thorn in the side of the powerful and elite within his culture and society. He shone the light on hypocrisy, and he gathered all to come and see. He upset a lot of people.

Naturally, when the powerful get upset, they attempt to silence those speaking out against them. The try to discredit them, say that they are speaking ‘fake news,’ ostracize them, turn people against them. When all of that doesn’t seem to work – they do the next best thing. They silence them by removing them from the equation. That could be killing them, or sending them to prison (with the intent to end their life later). John gets the latter treatment.

So, he sends his followers to seek out Jesus and ask him, “Is he the one – or is there another?”

Whether his question is asked in hope or in cynicism, I think the same unspoken question is asked – Was I wrong and was what I spoke about all in vain?

For those who are leaders in ministry and invested heavily into that ministry this is a question that is always on our minds.

Is what we’re doing worth it? Are we doing the right thing? We’re we wrong because things don’t seem really good right now?

What a great message to hear two weeks before Christmas right?

Things seem to be lurking in the shadows at the moment within the world – just as they were for The Baptizer.

Hope seems lost. Rumors are in the streets. People are working against what we perceive to be the intentions of God. It isn’t quite fun.

And yet, what did Jesus say?

What do you see at work? Where do you see the wonder and goodness of God alive and thriving?

For us here at Redeemer that is in the outpouring of love for those within our Angel Tree ministry. The ability we have to share our space and facilities with so many organizations within our community. The prayers and visits with and for those who are hurting and recovering. The conversations filled with warmth and kindness had between members of our community in the places we all run into each other out in the world. The songs and hymns of hope that blow the rafters off of this place through voice and instrument.

That is the Spirit at work; within those things we can readily see and those that we cannot.

God is at work. Hope abounds. And yet we wait.

The work that we get to participate in with God never seems to pan out exactly – or in any way – like we’d want it to. There are hurdles, obstacles, and more. Feelings get hurt along the way because different directions are taken or there are mix-ups in communication as we share in ministry together.

All of us at one time or another have the silent question upon our hearts – is this the one? Or do we wait for another?

Is what I’m doing for you going to be good? Or am I to wait some more…?

I remember a time early in my ministry where we hosted a slightly changed fall event. Where before there were ‘hundreds’ of people who would pass by the church and receive candy out of trunks. But, there was no community building or relationship strengthening at work. People literally just walked by.

So, it changed the next year. We brought the people inside. We had games. We had fun. People stuck around. But the numbers were lower. Way lower.

Some were distraught. Some were filled with apathy.

The statement was made – Sorry it was such a bust this year pastor.

But, was it? Sure, we had less people. But all those people stuck around for 45 minutes to an hour instead of the hundreds that passed by in minutes. People had fun, smiles were on every face, hope was in that place.

So much hope and love that there was a young woman who was differently abled. She was 22 at the time, but had the mental faculties of someone who was a young child of 6 or 7. She had a great time. She left with her family, but 10 minutes later she came rushing back. She found me and asked with hope and earnest in her voice, “Can you pray for me pastor?”

And I did. We surrounded her with our prayers. That wouldn’t have happened with the hundreds passing by in minutes.

Yet in that place, in that community, that woman found safety, warmth, acceptance, and love.

Through her, I and the community felt God’s presence and hope. Through us, that woman experienced the hope of God in her life.

Go and tell what you see here. People are healed. The poor have good news brought to them.

That is ministry. That is good, faithful ministry.

It doesn’t always look like a raging success – when you only look at the numbers. It doesn’t always feel like ‘you’re winning’ in the world. And you’re not always going to be ‘winning’ in the ways that the world determines.

John pointed the way to the one who was to come who was more powerful than he. He baptized with water and called for repentance. Yet, the one who came baptized with the Spirit and brought life to a world and to people without hope.

That same Lord – that same God – that same Spirit – is at work now. That one that brought hope and life to the poor, the pushed out, the ostracized, the ridiculed. That same one is here. Still. Now.

God is at work. God is at work around you. God is at work in and through you for others. God is at work in and through others for you.

Hope abounds. Go tell that upon the mountain. And in the valleys. On the streets. Go tell what God is up to in this place, in your life, in the world.

Hope is here. Hope is coming down.

What did you expect to find? Go and share the hope that is here and is to come. Amen.

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