“Don’t Duck and Cover’ Lk. 21:25-28 12/2/12
In the 1950s the animated Bert the Turtle was employed by the government to teach us that when there was a nuclear attack we should “Duck and Cover.” Most today think that is a bit of naïve advice that gives false security. T.K. Jones the underseceretary of defense of engineering and research said in a 1981 interview that people shouldn’t fear a nuclear attack if they could dig a hole, put a couple of doors on top and three feet of dirt. “ He said, “Everybody is going to make It if there are enough shovels to go around.”
Shovels and ducking do not save those who are targeted by nuclear bombs. Hoarding and being afraid of apocalypse is not a good way to live. In our lectionary passage for today, Jesus tells us that when we see great disaster, do not be dismayed or cower in fear as some will- but he said that believers should lift up their heads for God is near. Ironically, in times when many are in fear that the peace of Christ shows itself best. Advent means the ending of the world’s idea of peace and the beginning of God’s peace.
I. ADVENT MEANS ENDING- The world’s idea of peace is to be left alone- kind of like don’t interact and I’ll be okay. That is the peace of death- for in death we do not interact. But God’s idea of peace involves love and life. The coming means that the absence has ended. The coming means that things change.
Christ comes to us- symbolized in communion- to show us that He is not absent from us- and we are not alone.
It is the end of our non-redemption. That is we are not in a helpless and hopeless situation.
It means the end of the status quo. Herod is not the only king; the manger is not empty; the skies are not quiet- but something is happening. An ordinary carpenter and his ordinary wife become extraordinary. When Christ comes- things get as Elvis said, “all shook up.” It is the end of normal, ho hum. The Prince of Peace said, “Peace give I to you- not as the world gives give I to you.” It is not the peace of death- it is the peace of life and love. It is not the peace of status quo- but shalom- peace w/ God, self, neighbor.
When the president comes to town, normal doesn’t work. Main street may be blocked. Flights ma be restricted at certain times and over certain air space. Often three or four different routes are blocked off. Snipers sit on top of roofs, and people with dark glasses are snooping around weeks before he arrives. Lives are disrupted. Do not expect status quo or normal.
When God comes to you- do not expect your life to be the same. When you come to God- do not expect your life to remain as it was. God comes, and life changes- for the good. I think of how much a person’s life is changed the second they are asked “will you marry me.” — especially if it is a short engagement. Jesus comes to engage us- get our attention, change us- we are never the same.
II. ADVENT MEANS TO NOT BE AFRAID- The world will tell you to be anxious about what may come (like fiscal cliffs or North Korean long range missiles- this week). The angel told Mary- fear not. The angel told Joseph do not be afraid. The angel told the shepherds- “fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be for all peoples for unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior who is Christ the Lord.” The tendency, when something unusual or supernatural happens is that we would be afraid- that we would duck and cover. But when it is God coming- it is not time to duck and cover- it is time to lift up your heads. It is time to go tell it on the mountain. It is time to tell it in Bethlehem and all about.
. It is often in the valleys and on top of the mountains of life that we experience God clearest. In such times we do not need to be afraid- or duck and cover. Rather- then we need to look for Him- His presence and life. Sometimes the little signs around us are tokens of His presence and love. In our church I think we have had a lot going on this week. Four members lost a parent this week, Jim Algar lost his wife. The Leveretts had a baby. It is in the highs and lows that we often see God’s presence. I can remember when Kay’s mother died, everyone was looking down, it was a gray day. But at the graveside that day there was a double rainbow we would have missed if we simply and only looked down. It is hard sometimes- but lift up your head. The world will tell you not to- but lift up your head. Lift up your hearts this advent- find His hope anew in you. Our passage tells us when things are tough lift up your heads.
III. ADVENT MEANS TO HAVE HOPE! The advent devotional book that we wrote this year is entitled, “Hope in the Lord.” Let me make clear- and don’t let them fool you- the world apart from Christ has no hope beyond the grave.
Listen to these verses on hope: Let your steadfast love be upon us- even as we hope in you; We have this hope as an anchor for the soul; Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord; But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love; Why are you downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him- my Savior and My God! This is the great mystery- Christ in you- the hope of glory; God will never forget the needy- the hope of the afflicted will never perish. When Simeon held Jesus in his hands he said, “Lord, now you may let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have finally seen your salvation- the glory of Israel, and the hope of the nations.” [Atniphonal Hope- reader/Response]
For the widow- Christ is our hope; For the orphan- Christ is our hope. For those who have gone through the heart ache of broken relationships- Christ is our hope. For the grieving. For the soldier in harms way- Christ is our hope. For the person who lost everything- Christ is our hope. For the person who has just been engaged- Christ is our hope. For the person who is just married- Christ is our hope. For the person who has just had a baby- Christ is our hope. For the person who has just gotten a new job/promotion- Christ is our hope. For the newly retired- Christ is our hope. For those who are living an extraordinary or ordinary life- Christ is our hope.
I did not say and did not say Christ is THEIR hope. Christ is the hope of the whole world- and we hope togetehr.
No matter what is going on in your life- do not be fooled that your problems are too great to have hope, or that your joy is so great that you don’t need Christ’s ultimate hope. My friends- it is not time to duck and cover. It is time to lift up our heads!