A cancelled sermon prepared for Nov. 19, 2000
I was with you here exactly a year ago. At that time the papers and radio and television were full of prophecies about Y2K. That was the name given to the beginning of the new millenium on January 1, 2000. People thought the world was ending or civilization was about to collapse as all the world's computer systems crashed. People refused to fly in planes. Many of you are still eating the food you collected to survive on January the 1st.
I warned you that our Lord Messiah was in control of the situation. And sure enough the world did not end on January 1. No major computer systems failed, even in third world countries.
So I want to remind you of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves (that means they collect a lot of money). You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16).
For the past 150 years we have had false prophets telling us that the world is going to end, they tell us who the antichrist is, and the Second Coming is on the doorstep.
When all their hype about Y2K nonsense ended like a damp squib on January 1 this year the radio and television false prophets have been quieter than usual.. But don't worry they will be back. They will just give you time to forget their false prophecies, and by next Advent they will back to collect their donations. Jesus told us to beware.
The word Advent means coming, and the word Messiah means God's anointed King. If you read the Old Testament you will see there were many comings of Lord King Messiah as he intervened among the Jewish people and among the nations. Let me list a few of them:
He came to walk with our first parents (Genesis 3:8) in the Garden of Eden. He came to stop the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:7), and he has kept coming to individuals in many different ways and for different purposes ever since (Genesis 11:5, 12:1, 15:1, 17:1, 18:1). He came to bring the Jewish people out from slavery in the Exodus from Egypt. The prophets also recognized days of the Lord, when the Messiah came to deal with nations such as Babylon (Isaiah 13:6, 9), Egypt (Isaiah 19:1), and other nations, and he also came to help and judge the Jewish people (25:8-9, 26:8, 30:26-27, 34:8, 63:1, Jeremiah 46:10, 48:47, etc. in the Minor Prophets).
In the New Testament the eternal Son of God made his advent as a baby taking birth in our world. And Jesus spoke of his coming advent to topple the temple and destroy the city of Jerusalem. And that happened in AD 70, as he had prophesied in the life span of his hearers.
Since then for the past two thousand years the Messiah has intervened among the nations in what the prophets called Days of the Lord. A Day of the Lord is when the eternal son of God steps in to change the normal course of history. In 1773 the Boston Tea Party began a five year day of the Lord in America. In 1789 there was the fall of the Bastille in Paris. Germany suffered two terrible days of the Lord in 1918 and 1945. Russian Communism began with the toppling of the Czars in 1919, and equally suddenly collapsed very recently in 1989. The Arabs and the Jews have been involved in their Day of the Lord wars since 1948. In each case we can recognize the interventions of the Lord King Messiah among the nations.
The problem is that whenever the Messiah comes to deal with nations false messiahs also appear to confuse the situation. In addition to false prophets who claim to be the messiah for their nation, there are false prophets who announce that the time for this or that has now come.
How then does the Advent season affect us? First of all we remember that the eternal Son of God, our Lord Messiah King, is indeed reigning among the nations. Paul said "He must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25). Most of the time he leaves us free to exercise our responsibility in our nation, our church, and in our own family life. It is only when things get out of hand that he intervenes. For some his intervention is a day of wrath. But for others the Day of the Lord brings blessing, freedom, justice, and it opens up new opportunities of service.
Right now things are going smoothly in Canada and the United States (apart from not knowing who the next President is going to be). It seems to me that things are going well in your Episcopal church here in the Diocese of Albany. I heard very good news of new life in the Diocese of Texas. In Canada it looks as if our national church office in Toronto is going to go bankrupt, but that hardly bothers us in our parish churches.
But our Lord also makes his advent in our personal and family lives.
Some of you are facing a day of the Lord as a crisis has come upon you.
My task is to remind you that the Lord is reigning and he cares about you
and loves you like a mother caring about her child.