It's Advent II at Sunshine Cathedral on Second Life. Below are the readings, my reflection, and some music selections for the theme of Peace.
Join us each week at Sunshine Cathedral in Second Life. Download the software and make your avatar at http://www.secondlife.com. Search Sunshine Cathedral in Classifieds to find your way to us. We meet each Sunday at 5pm EST/ 2pm SLT My name in Second Life is CristoferAslan Muircastle.
We look forward to having you at service!
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The text of this refleciton follows the Music selections below.
The Lighting of the Advent Candle
The Second Candle: Peace
Today we entertain the concept of Peace, Shalom.
Peace in our hearts.
Peace in our family and among our friends.
Peace in the institutions in whic we participate and Peace in our larger world.
“As the budding flower bursts into bloom; as the glowing light kindles into flame, may the spirit of life and love bloom and flame within us, with ever-renewing light and love.” (Dorris Dow Alcott)
Isaiah 40.3-5 (NRSV)
3A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
2 Peter 3.13-15 (NRSV)
13…in accordance with [the] promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found…at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
(The Inclusive New Testament: Priests for Equality)
1The Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s own, 2begins as it was written in Isaiah the prophet: “I send my messenger before you to prepare your way, 3a herald’s voice in the desert, crying, ‘Make ready the way of our God; clear a straight path.’ 4And so John the Baptizer appeared in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to John and were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 6John was clothed in camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and he ate nothing but grasshoppers and wild honey. 7In the course of his preaching, John said, “One more powerful than I is to come after me. I am not fit to stoop and untie his sandal straps. 8I have baptized you in water, but the one to come will baptize you in the holy Spirit.”
See Amid the Winter's Snow 3:31 Annie Lennox A Christmas Cornucopia
O Come O Come Emmanuel 3:56 The Choir of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh 20 Favorite Hymns - From the Cathedrals of Britain
Peace Be With You 1:41 Anne Marie David Peace Be With You
Peace 3:24 Michael McDonald This Christmas
Let There Be Peace 4:51 Mahalia Jackson I Wonder If I Will Ever Rest
In the Bleak Mid-Winter 3:09 Katie McMahon Celtic Christmas
Reflection Text for Advent II by Rev. BK Hipsher
Let There be Peace
There are images of peace in all our readings today. And the image of peace in Isaiah is one of smooth ways, a road through the desert, the mountains made low, an image of obstacles removed and a serene and safe journey. Anyone who has attempted to navigate the last few years in a faltering economy with uncertainty around every corner can see this as an image of peace and serenity. No sleepless nights, no anxiety wondering how to make the mortgage payment or the utility bill. All of us can appreciate an image of peace of mind and peaceful rest. It’s a beautiful thought to have peace inside us.
And our reading from 2 Peter speaks of anticipating a new heaven and a new earth, an image of wholeness and health, of peace and serenity. It speaks of God’s patience and our goal to emulate that patient serenity extending that good will to ourselves as God has extended it to us. Extending that good will to our neighbors and friends and family as God has extended it to us.
But what of this image of John the Baptizer in our gospel reading? This picture of a wild man dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, eating grasshoppers and wild honey. This is an image of an insane person. Today we would lock someone like him up if he attempted to wade into a local pond or lake and began to invite people to come in and submerse themselves in water as a ritual cleansing of sin. And he is heralding the arrival of someone else, someone greater whom he feels himself unworthy to even unloose the sandals of this holy one. This is one heck of an inferiority complex complicated by an enormous ego. So where is the image of peace in this reading?
I see it in those very last few words…”the one to come will baptize you in the holy Spirit.” The Greek word that is used in this passage that is translated baptism actually means immersion. The literal translation of the Greek text refers to “immersing” people but also says that he was “announcing immersion of mind.” This immersion of the mind initiates change that sends away sin.
And what is sin but that which separates us from God and from our neighbors? If we send that away, if we have a change of mind and heart that opens us to the possibility of peace then we once again begin to understand that we are all connected, we are all part of one human family. This is the beginning of TRUE peace.
This is the kind of peace that can change hearts. This is the kind of peace that can mend relationships. This is the kind of peace that can change our institutions and this is the kind of peace that has the capacity to change our very culture of hate and war and fear into a culture of peace all over the world.
But what can you and I do? We’re only one or two people? How can we do anything that has the potential to change the world? Well I submit to you simply that one man did… his name was Jesus. This is what we celebrate this time of year…. His birthday. We celebrate his birth because we know the rest of the story. We know that in three short years he changed the entire course of history! We celebrate Christmas as the coming into the world again, the coming of hope and the coming of the Christ child with all it’s potential for bringing peace to the world.
Let me read you an Advent poem written by one of my Episcopal Divinity School classmates, Rev. Tom Moussin…
We know to keep the door ajar for strangers traveling from afar.
We know to make a manger bed where ox and sheep are nightly fed.
But you whose birth we’ll welcome there, will turn our gaze to love and care
For every child at every birth, in whom we’ll see your sacred worth.
You see Advent and Christmas are not about celebrating the birth of one child. They are about anticipating, expecting, waiting, being ready, for the birth of every single child with all of their potential to spread love and peace through out the world. This is the stuff that hope is made of and this is the potential we all have the opportunity to foster. Every child is God’s holy child. Every human being is made in the image of the creator. Every human life is worthwhile. Every human being deserves dignity. No child deserves to starve or die from lack of simple antibiotics. And no person deserves to live in war and hate and hostility and fear.
What would the world be like? If we all knew for just one day that when we hate another we hate ourselves, when we harm another we harm ourselves, when we disrespect another we spit in the face of the Christ What would the world be like if we could hold on the kind of thought that immersed our mind in peace?
In this Advent season let us make straight the way and clear a path for peace in every way we can…large and small. Because every bit of effort we put toward peace in ourselves, between those we know, in the institutions and companies within which we work… all of these things move us forward closer to a world at peace. All we are required to do is our part, each day, in small ways. It all matters.
Let there be peace on earth… and let it begin with me.