Rev Kathy Hammer's sermon for Advent 2
Welcome to Advent! Have you put your tree up yet? I know so many people who have put their trees up early this year! Good Anglicans! People who, under normal circumstances would not dream of getting the tree out of the garage until December 1. But there they are on social media in droves – posting their pictures of sparkling Christmas trees a week, or even two weeks before Advent. Even me! My tree has been up for over a week! What is it about this year that has led to all these violations of advent etiquette? What do you think? And what's with these dark and brooding Bible readings we always get for Advent 1?
Long, long ago there were four ways societies reacted to women with leadership gifts. There were those who reacted to women leaders like the people of Israel reacted to Miriam – taking advantage of their skills to bring liberation and life to their people, but never being acknowledging them with official leadership roles. There were some in which the only option women leaders had was to act like Jael – making the most of every opportunity to act with stealth behind the scenes to do the things that acknowledged leaders are too visible to do. In too many societies women have suffered the fate of the exploited and brutalised women at the end of the Book of Judges. Women whose voices have been silenced by abuse. Women whose life-giving contribution to their communities was cut short by violence. And at some rare high points in the history of humanity, women like Deborah have been recognised for their leadership and invited to bring life and hope to their communities: when women of competence, confidence, courage and conviction have not been dismissed, silenced and abused but sought out, honoured, believed and followed. Long ago. And ever since. Which sort of society do you want to live in?
So, what does it mean to be wise? And what does it mean to be foolish? And, for that matter, what does it mean to be a bridesmaid? The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids: 25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Mt 25:1–13). (1989). Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Why would anyone sacrifice their souls for the insipid rewards that broken systems offer? Why would you do that when true blessing is right there for anyone willing to experience the poverty of spirit that opens our eyes to the kingdom of heaven.
Why would you let the insipid pleasures that money can buy numb you and prevent you from feeling the deep sadness around you that makes you run to the arms of God who loves and comforts you?
Why would you use force to obtain grudging submission from people who are weaker than you when you could have the great blessing of being meek and gentle and thoroughly, joyfully at home with all the creatures of the earth?
Why would you make yourself sick by eating the bread of injustice when you could let yourself feel true hunger and thirst in anticipation of the great banquet of God’s kingdom?
Why seek the illusory pleasure of revenge when you could bask in mercy given and mercy received?
Why smear your heart with the muck of moral compromise when you could keep it pure and light and able to see God?
Why would you choose to be a child of violence when you could be a child of God – a peacemaker?
Why would you make friends with perpetrators of injustice when you could be their enemies and be citizens of the Kingdom of God?
Why would you enjoy flattery from dishonest people when you could stand shoulder to shoulder with God’s prophets as you challenge dishonesty and experience the blessing of being insulted and rejected by worthless people?
It is all about love. The greatest commandment. The second commandment. All the commandments. All about love. Where does that leave justice?
Rev Pam Hynd's sermon for Pentecost 20
Rev Kathy Hammer's Sermon for Season of Creation 3
We live in polarised times. It is hard to disagree well. But it can be done, with discipline and a willingness to engage in uncomfortable but respectful conversations.
Welcome to the Season of Creation! We start the season with the perfect passage to address the way God speaks to us through the created world.