This past Sunday I had the privilege of being with the people of Trinity Lutheran Church
in Stillwater. Following the narrative lectionary, I was asked to preach from Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
and reflect on the theme of 'Preparing the Way.' What followed was a meditation on repentance and the much-needed prophetic voice that our companions offer us.
For what it is worth, here's a small sample of what was shared on that snowy Sunday morning:
... Wednesday, November 9th - the day after the election - I again met up with our guests and was greeted with warm-hearted laughter. Its joyous tone stood out in contrast to the subdued and somber air that had characterized my other interactions that morning.
"Peter, how are you?" came the question. My response, quite honestly, was somewhere between a sigh and shrug. General Secretary Chavalla looked back at me with a mischievous glint in his eye and a wry half smile. It isn't that he didn't know what was going on or why I was melancholy; it was that he was looking at the world differently.
"You people," he said, bearing witness to me and to us, "You people you worry too much. You need to turn to God." And then he laughed. Again.
Like the Prophet Joel thousands of years before him, this companion from across the planet spoke a word of truth.
The faith and confidence that we put in ourselves? The belief that we, as Americans, are masters of our own domain and have all of our problems solved? Our companion saw through us. These things rightly belong to God. Our fear, our anxiety, and our apathy too. "You need," he said, "to turn to God."
The way forward, it would seem, begins with repentance - a turning away from the inward curve of narrow self-interest and, as the prophet says, "returning to the Lord." To prepare for our journey to the manger, to the cross, and out into the world, let us first turn to God...
This advent season, as we gather together to stave off of the cold and the dark, let us tune our ears to the chorus of witnesses offered by our companions near and far, each in her or his own way. The world is much wider and wilder than we'll ever know and it just might be that there's a voice out there that speaks to us - to you and to me and to our situation - in the here and now. And this is good news.
All thanks be to God,
The Rev. Peter Harrits, Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop